Coast to Coast AM (syndicated)
reviewed October 2003

I've been trying to trace my steady descent into functional madness, but I really don't know where to start, though it's probably somewhere around age 10 when I watched a hair-raising episode of "In Search Of … Leonard Nimoy's Career!" I mean, what happened?! He's all, "Beam me up, Scotty … to the retirement home!" Then he goes, "It's highly illogical that no one will hire me!"

Since then, I've ingested countless books, websites and magazines on things unexplained and/or paranormal, from ancient technology to sasquatch to Monica Lewinsky's brassiere (talk about unexplained, how did America not fall in love with Bill Clinton's chesty paramour!).

Oh, Monica!

Not to mention my brief but passionate love affair with Planet X, which by all accounts should have trundled past Earth in May 2003, violently turning the world upside-down. Sakes alive, if that had come true, the Chinese would now be digging to us!

There may not be a clear start to my topsy-turvy Yellow Brick Road, but there's definitely an Emerald City, and it's name is Coast to Coast AM, with two Wizards of Oz in this pained analogy: the formidable Art Bell and his bumbling, amiable "man behind the curtain," George Noory.

Coast to Coast AM

First, let me explain that no, I don't listen to the show all night every night. There are several ways to get your fix without losing much sleep at all. You could set up a tape recorder on a timer, but you'd have to get up every 90 minutes to change the cassette – great for weak bladders, not so great for deep sleepers.

The up-and-up method is to subscribe to the official Coast to Coast Streamlink for a nominal monthly fee, and it's probably worth it, though of course my style is far shadier …

My own huge-and-expanding collection of showgrams comes from daily Usenet postings of the previous night's show. At one point, a generous fan had offered an incredible FTP archive of shows dating back to the early 90s, but closed it after concerns about copyright infringement. I really don't know whether the Usenet postings are legally kosher, but my sense is the ephemeral nature of newsgroups places them under some sort of fair-use protection.

Regardless, if the postings stopped, I'd just record the show myself from the dozens of official AM radio web streams using software like StreamBox Ripper, or install a radio tuner card to directly capture the AM signal. (They don't call me Crimedog for nothing.)

That may sound like a ridiculous amount of effort for an AM talk show, but this ain't your past-life persona's radio program. It's the audio equivalent of crank.

C2CAM, as it's affectionately known, was Art Bell's baby, the first all-night AM ratings behemoth in the wake of Larry King's departure for the land of the Monica Lewinsky interview (and how about that bustline!).

Our Monica

Bell has a storied past – military service and years spent living in Okinawa as the only English-language broadcaster, had a successful career in cable broadcasting, is one of the nation's top ham-radio experts, and even heroically rescued 130 orphans from war-torn Saigon.

What happened to those orphans, no one really knows, though it's suspected he sold them to the alien overlords for genetic experiments … I kid, seriously, he used them for his private harem.

Though it's hard to confirm the full duration of Art's tenure, my sources at the Internet said (and don't tell no one!) that C2C started around 1989 as a standard call-in radio show. Then, according to a recent radio revelation, Art interviewed John Lear, son of the inventor of the Lear Jet and a truly remarkable character. Lear holds pilot licenses in a righteous number of aircraft and has spent more time flying than most of the rest of us have spent sleeping or masturbating. He also claims top-secret first-hand knowledge of all kinds of wild UFO and alien-type information.

Lear fondled Art's imagination and spiked his ratings, and soon Bell was devoting his nightly five hours to such topics as blurry lights in the sky and smudged photos, which was fine because he'd already gone nuts from all the HAARP rays directed at his face.

Broadcasting from his home in fabled Pahrump, Nevada, Bell has true populist appeal – he's whip-smart but folksy, expert at making sense of guests who speak scientific gobbledyjumbo and New Age mumbledygook. And he has a knack for asking the exact question that's on your mind exactly when he oughta. Even better, though he's kind to most, he takes it all with a grain of salt, and isn't afraid to laugh at his guests or force them to defend their often very nonsensical views. But he's also clearly enjoying himself, as much a fan of this bunk as his listeners.

Art Bell, halfling

As a voice in the night, at first Art sounds like a Halfling with minus-one charisma, but soon he's the gold standard for all other radio hosts. You can hear the excitement in his voice when a guest really sparks his interest. He's amusingly blunt with callers who don't turn down their radio, or those genetically incapable of getting to the point. His shows are fast-paced and entertaining, often spine-chillingly eerie or flat-out frightening, and very hard to turn off once you start listening.

Personal troubles have forced Art to retire twice. The first time, in 1999, his abrupt departure caused a tsunami of paranoia among fans. Unfortunately for avid paranoiacs and Art himself, Bell's troubles had more to do with suing the bastard who sexually assaulted his teenage son than the New World Order.

Art's more recent retirement was made official at the end of 2002, after close to a year of speculation resulting from mysterious absences sometimes lasting months. To my chagrin, I fully "got into" C2C in roughly April of 2002, and as soon as I was hooked on Bell he was off the air for most of the summer. Coincidence, or synchronicity? Check your Dark Crystal but don't get lost in the mirror world.

Enter George Noory, Art's backup host.

George Noory

At the time of Noory's introduction, I was a member of several Art Bell discussion groups and spent an embarrassing portion of my day poring over a nonstop tide of emails.

You'd be surprised how angry people were at being kept in the dark about Art's absences, as if he truly owed them a favor. And the speculation! It ran from, "Art's in deep salary negotiations" to "Art's defecting to another station" to "Art's been replaced with a clone."

The truth of the matter was far more prosaic: back pain. Art couldn't manage sitting down for five hours straight, and wanted to avoid surgery that might send him from the broadcaster's chair to the wheelchair. For a few months, Art gamely tried to host the show part time, then gave up the ghosts and went on full retirement, no doubt working on his mile-plus ham radio antenna and polishing his rusty cyborg joints.

Ouch!

It's not exactly clear why Art hand-picked Noory to be his substitute – for years Bell had co-hosted Dreamland, a similar show, with contactee Whitley Strieber, strangely simultaneous to C2C, so Strieber was the most likely candidate. Bell's other options were Barbara Simpson, who often hosted Weekend C2C, has a grating, tremulous voice and is so boring she's like an audial blind spot; Richard Hoagland, who's got a great radio voice and demeanor, but is a one-trick, Mars-obsessed pony; and Linda Moulton Howe, a UFO researcher with a irritating, dithery personality.

So George it is. Noory's a radio lifer, starting as a whiz-kid news guy and eventually gaining his own Art Bell imitation show in St. Louis as "the Nighthawk," which may explain Art's interest in him. St. Louis natives will recall the Nighthawk as a swooping man-bird, catching thieves and teaching children how to read … and the ladies how to love. When he was finally unmasked by Dr. Nefarious during their climactic battle across the St. Louis Arch, he vowed to someday find and bring to justice the elusive Dr. N and his wretched band of Nefarions by becoming a highly-rated late-night radio talk show host.

George is equally man-of-the-people, affable, very likable, big hairy cock, and to his credit has a voracious appetite for all things Bellian – unlike Strieber, Simpson, and Hoagland who have their one groove and groove it all night long. UFOs, cattle mutilations and Mars can't fill 250-plus nights a year.

Hoagland and Howe are regular contributors to the show; I listen avidly to Hoagland and with stomach achurn to Howe. Art himself recently returned to host C2C on the weekends, while Strieber and Simpson fill in when Art and George are busy plotting the New World Order with the Shadow People. It all seems like a juicy riddle wrapped in a delicious mystery topped with lots and lots and lots of fresh nuts.

Art's intellect, savvy and interviewing genius hugely overpower Noory's. At first, I quite frankly hated George, wincing every time he mangled a common word, asked a stupefying question or expressed heartfelt agreement with the most preposterous claims.

Electricity generated by elves on treadmills? "I totally believe that." The Space Shuttle powered by elves on treadmills? "I absolutely agree."

Oopsie!

It wasn't just me, Art's fans largely despised George, and I didn't envy his predicament.

But Noory's grown on me – and the rest of the tagalong fan gang – in a short time, and though I still find myself cringing from time to time, I can't help but like him with a strangely personal affection. Art's the kind of guy who, if you met him, you'd shake his hand with a "how-de-do?" With George, you'd dispense with the formality and give him a big friendly hug. And he'd be the first to admit he's standing on the shoulders of a giant. Mind you, not a literal giant like the ancient Annunakim of Zecharia Sitchin's The 12th Planet, but a figurative giant of radio.

And Noory's a gentleman to a fault, immaculately respectful to everyone who crosses his airwaves. Interestingly, once or twice I've caught a wicked sense of humor behind his mask of hostly beneficence, and wish he'd show a little more of that instead of his sweet-natured but lukewarm Leno-esque "something for everyone" humor.

But the audience doesnęt seem to mind. With Noory's capable hands at the controls, C2CAM's ratings have increased in nearly every major city that carries the show, and online subscriptions are up 25%.

Yapping skills aside, both hosts take a distant back seat to the guests. These cover the full spectrum from sane, rational, productive members of society to freaky-deaky tinfoil-wearing mutants who speak fluent Druidic and plot ley lines in search of energy-portals to Dimension Omega.

Take Al Bielik, a frequent C2C guest. I got hold of an episode from 1994 in which Bielik fervently details his improbable life story. Claiming to be the central character in the Philadelphia Experiment (the Navy's much-contested attempt to create a cloaking device using giant magnets), Bielik witnessed first-hand the accidental teleportation of the USS Eldridge and the horrific aftermath in which several sailors were left half-imbedded in the ship's hull, while others kept blinking in and out of visibility for the rest of their lives, tragically too unpredictable to allow the requisite ladies' locker-room visits.

Bielik goes on to explain how, jumping ship to escape the dangerous magnetic pulses, he fell not into the ocean circa 1943, but into a lab circa 1983, where he was greeted by expectant scientists. He was then transported back in time into another person's body, lived parallel but separate lives for 20 years, and at some point merged with his other self and now has dual sets of memories.

All to satisfy the shadow government's need for either a spy, a patsy or both to help cover up what was really going on, the invasion of Earth by hostile aliens with the full cooperation of the world's elite.

Another guest from the far side of Middle Earth is Nancy Lieder of ZetaTalk. Nancy was one of the big promoters of Planet X, and has claimed for years to be channeling the alien Zetas, denizens of what we call Planet X (actually a giant spaceship from the Zeta Reticuli star system).

ZetaTalk

If Bielik is crazy, Lieder is just plain wacko. I'd love to try to describe what it's like when she "enters ZetaTalk," but it truly has to be heard to be believed, totally incoherently out there in the most hysterical and satisfying way.

Lately, Lieder's taken her lumps for profiting from Planet X hysteria with books and tapes. Since the May 2003 non-event, she and other PX-ers (including arch-enemy Mark Hazelwood, son of singer Lee Hazelwood) have taken to the hills and are regrouping with revised dates for the return of PX.

Granted, Bielik and Lieder are by far C2C's wackier guests, but they are a statistically fair sampling of the material presented on the show. Having read the ramblings of several diagnosed schizophrenics, I get the feeling some of Art's guests would be better served with massive doses of anti-psychotics than an audience of millions. It only encourages them.

And the deeper you delve into the worm-hole of C2C, the more it all begins to look like Uroboros, the snake that eats its own tail.

Uroboros!

Start, for instance, with the Kennedy Assassination. Why was he murdered? Because he knew about the living Roswell alien and wanted to expose the shadow pro-alien government. Now, some of the aliens are good and some are bad, and they've been watching us for eons – in fact, they're our biological parents who arrived during the first pass of Planet X (aka Nibiru) hundreds of thousands of years ago. The Zetans lived for centuries on Mars (building countless Martian pyramids and the Face at Cydonia), then genetically mutated us from apes to create a race of slaves dedicated to mining gold (which explains all the death-by-gold-paint murders throughout history).

These are the same aliens who appear in the Bible as angels and giants, and Sumerian tablets as Nephilim, and in mythology as Gods and elves and fairies). The selfsame aliens who ruled Atlantis, which was the capital of the 10,000 year-old global technological civilization proposed by Graham Hancock. What happened to the civilization? Why, it now exists inside the hollow earth, which you can only get to via either the Denver Airport underground passages, or the secret icebound Nazi base in Antarctica, which is guarded by reptilians. But get there you should, and soon, because the powers that be aren't telling you about the impending Pole Shift/Earth Changes which can be stopped if we all connect with Gaia and let the incredible hybrid Star Children do their miraculous work on Earth and effect a New Age of Aquarius, as predicted by the astronomical orientation of the Sphinx and curious markings within the pyramids themselves, and specified in the trance writings of Nostradamus and Edgar Cayce.

Phew!

You are here

Just when your third eye starts rolling in exasperation, C2C trots out the sane folk for a rational discussion of what we consider to be the real world. Recent shows offered respected theoretical physicist Michiu Kaku; a solar power guru who explained how easy (though expensive) it is to get off the power grid; a scientist who studies space weather and its effect on communications; and the inventor of the Sky Car, a vehicle that does exist and could be in your Moon Garage in just a few years if only Space Detroit would allow it.

Fly, Sky Car, Fly!

Noory seems to like the open lines more than Art did; many nights have at least an hour of random callers, and most Fridays are open line shows. These are some of the best, funniest, most infuriating programs. You really get to know America in all its schizoid, Madonna-in-a-cucumber worshipping glory.

Happily, despite Art's lumbar trouble, he continues to host the legendary annual Halloween "Ghost-to-Ghost" call-in special, during which American shares its ghostly encounters. I've learned from these shows that long-haul truckers and middle-aged single-mom "seekers" have more paranormal experiences per capita than all other groups combined.

One of my favorite call-ins was a woman who, in confused hysterics, described a visitor to her gas station who not only was clearly a time-traveler, but also levitated right in front of her, all captured on security cameras. Totally freaked me out. Art dutifully requested the tape, which of course never surfaced.

Other videos and images do make it onto the official C2CAM website, and while some are humdrum (look guys, not every splotch on a photograph is a poltergeist), others, like those from the Ghost Research Society, are truly unnerving.

Bustin' makes us feel good

Pretty much all of it, from remote viewer Ed Dames to extreme conspiracy theorist David Icke, is completely, utterly, jaw-droppingly fascinating. The best part is, there's absolutely no quality control – Lemuria researchers stand cheek to beak with hard-science materials engineers. It's like a nightly reality cage match, and there's no telling which dimension will win.

Everyone who comes on C2C is utterly convinced that their story is the absolute, Krom's-Honest truth. Much of the fun of listening is letting yourself get wrapped up in their tales. It's not at all difficult to imagine (or at least yearn for) a world of secret societies building massive underground bases for the benefit of the Bilderbergs and Illuminati, especially if you happen to be listening at 3AM when these things start to sound very reasonable.

For my part, I think it's all true, which is why I love the show so much. Yeah, that's a radical position, but it's a lot more sensible than it sounds on the surface.

Maybe on a cold-hard-facts level, alien sex crimes sound like the sad, suppressed vestiges of childhood abuse, but to the victim, those aliens were absolutely real, and if that's the way their mind processes reality, who am I to argue?

And what if they're actually telling the truth? Which reality is right, yours or mine? Even the conjunction of multiple realities is interesting. For instance, we all agree that green is green, but do we all see green the same way? Brian Greene, physicist and author, would probably say no, and what's more, there's plenty left yet for science to figger out. 50 years ago, cyborgs were just a thing of science fiction; today, cyborgs are America's fastest growing minority.

Ultimately, I'm of the school of "your reality is your reality," meaning I'll accept any version of events if that's how someone perceived it. Ask the deceased followers of Jim Jones or Heaven's Gate or David Koresh, did the world end that day? You bet your ass it did, for them at least.

Nice kicks!

Better yet, I'm totally willing to go with that reality if it's presented consistently. Hoagland is nothing if not uniformly consistent, and so I am totally on his side, I want to see his reality proven to the world, if only so he can finally take a long, deep breath and stop talking for a few minutes.

By contrast, some guests just seem to make shit up as they go, so I enjoy seeing them stumble and stutter when thrown a serious question.

Maybe it all sounds like dorm-room drug philosophizing, but I can honestly say I've learned a hella lot listening to C2CAM, from physics to meta-physics (and these days the difference is in the jargon used, not the content). My world has been blasted open again and again by Coast, often from something as simple as an explanation of how ESP is a function of our own misperception of the flow of time.

Case in point: for years, UFO buffs have claimed that one of the most consistent sightings in America were of giant football-stadium-sized triangular ships that drifted past no more than 100 feet off the ground, usually in close proximity to military bases. These reports have been a staple of C2C shows, but ignored by mainstream media.

Recently, reputable sources like Space.com reported that the government is close to revealing a fleet of silent triangle-shaped dirigibles that have been floating around the world at high altitudes on top-secret missions since the mid 1980s.

Yeah, spy blimps are a lot more mundane than UFOs, but theyę'e still pretty fricking cool. And it gives these researchers some credence that they're not all just chasing down the after-effects of their own brain malfunctions. Besides which, UFO freaks can now insist that our military is building planes with alien tech. It's a win-win situation.

This space for rent

There's no doubt in my neural net that C2CAM has had much to do with the democratization of so-called "fringe science" and the general public desire to seek out those darker corners of our universe that the mainstream unwisely dismisses as pure hokum.

Think I'm overstating the case? Chew on this: C2CAM is the highest-rated, most-syndicated late-night talk show, carried by roughly 475 stations in the US and Canada (it ranks fifth among all syndicated national radio talk shows).

The live AM broadcast alone reaches more than four million Arbitron-verified listeners nightly. Add XM Digital Radio, paid web subscribers, free streaming webcasts, and surreptitious downloaders like myself, and one could reasonably argue it snares a five million-plus audience. (Other estimates range from seven up to 14 million listeners, but that sounds a bit high, unless they're counting aliens).

With roughly 293 million US citizens, these stats amount to a listenership of anywhere from 1.4-4.8% of our population, and that still doesn't account for Grays, Reptilians and Shadow People.

Put into perspective, at minimum there are more nightly C2CAM listeners than Jews living in the US (2.8 million), and at most Mr. Noory tickles more ears than the total population of the largest city in the world, Bombay (12.4 million).

Now try to convince me this silly little radio show filled with kooks and conundrums isn't hugely influential (for better and worse).

The amazing George Noory

C2C is one of the most interesting, expansive, wide-ranging programs I've ever encountered. Nothing else comes even close to matching its scope or dramatic impact. It's a nightly crash course on what's really going on in America – the true subconscious of our times, what we're actually interested in.

So although your water cooler talk may confine itself to "Friends" and "The Gilmore Girls," C2C reminds us that behind every "Dilbert"-quoting admin assistant is someone who believes in Nostradamus, saw a ghost, had a Near-Death Experience, or seriously wonders who they were in a past life and what lessons they have to learn this time around.

It's right under the surface, everyone's thinking about this stuff all the time, and Coast to Coast AM is there to remind us that the real world isn't so real at all, way more is going on than we know about, and on so many levels we truly are not alone.

Either that, or I am seriously loco in the cabeza.

Given the unique nature of this show and my own probable mental disintegration, I have to depart from the usual Loud Bassoon rating scale and award Coast to Coast AM what it truly deserves: Three Demon Asteroths.

Demon Asteroth Demon Asteroth Demon Asteroth

Review by Crimedog