Was Art Bell’s SiriusXM deal a conspiracy to keep him off the air?
The story begins many years ago, when Art Bell started a late night talk show called Coast to Coast AM. The show aired for years with Art as it’s host and it became one of, if not the most popular radio show in the country. Art eventually called it quits when he decided that he didn’t like the way Premiere was handling the show. He had quit twice before (once when his son was molested, and again when his wife died), but his love for radio always drew him back.
Premier put George Noory on as his replacement, and the show constantly went downhill from there. Noory is a terrible host. If you have listened to Coast to Coast AM in the last couple of years, then you are probably familiar with the type of asshattery that only Noory can put forth. He barely listens to the guests (he can even be found posting on the forums at bellgab.com when he is supposed to be interviewing people), and will but in with some of the dumbest questions. For instance, once, he asked his guest “Do you think asteroids have a brain and know which side of the planet to crash into?” Another time, when it was discovered that Noory doesn’t know what a gargoyle is, asked, “I’ve noticed that angels have names, why is that?” At least the first question came about in a conversation about asteroids, this one just came out of left field. A search on YouTube will turn up a ton of hilarious Noory quotes.
Fast forward, and Art begins talks with SiriusXM. He makes a deal with them that, while it didn’t pay him much monetarily, would give him full creative control of the show. He was given the 10PM time slot, and told that he could run the show for however long he wanted, and it would repeat until 6AM.
Noory wasn’t really happy that Art was returning to the radio. About a week before Art Bell started his new show, he did something unthinkable, John David Oates was brought on as a guest. Oates was originally a guest years ago for Art Bell. Oates took offense to actually being interviewed and having questions asked about what he did, so naturally he started making Bell’s life hell. There were faked racist posts and letters sent out with Art’s name on them. He teamed up with Robert Stephens to claim that it was actually Art that molested his son and that he had prior arrests for child porn. Art finally took them to court and won. Art took his victory and gave Oates a lifetime ban from being a guest on Coast to Coast AM. This was a direct slap in Art’s face. Again, it’s not like he was banned because they just didn’t like each other, Oates was actually going on other radio and TV shows, and telling people who Art molested his son. Oates is a dickbag of the highest order, and Noory even more so for putting him back on the air.
Once the show started, Noory began to copy the bumper music that Art would play. Then he started using the same catchphrases that Art was using on his show. Eventually, Noory even started poaching Art’s guests, and inviting them to be on Coast once he saw them announced for Dark Matter. He would even go so far as to threaten guests that declined or stated that they were going on Art’s show. Art Bell fans would soon have reason to cheer though, as it was discovered that the station Noory was broadcasting on with SiriusXM was ending, leaving Coast to Coast AM and Noory no place to go.
During this time, Art was also dealing with technical problems with Satellite radio. Most of Art’s listeners were people listening at home using the online streams, which, unfortunately, stopped playing every 90 minutes. There were all kinds of problems with their mobile app that would cause it to stop streaming or lose the connection all too often. Plus, SiriusXM only offers radio to those in the US and Canada. (Art states he was told it would broadcast worldwide when he signed the deal)
Coast to Coast AM and Dark Matter are shows only made possible by their audience. If nobody calls in, then there isn’t a show. Right away, SiriusXM cut his audience down by limiting it to his North American audience. He was further limited by the technical difficulties that prevented people from listening to his show in real-time. Many listeners were looking for pirated streams that they could use instead of SiriusXM’s buggy site. Art requested that they let him stream his show on ArtBell.com as it airs live, and that SiriusXM would maintain the rights to any rebroadcasts and archives. He didn’t ask for any money to do this, and even offered to forgo his salary and just collect money from advertising. Finally, Art decided that enough was enough, and that the show wasn’t going to work out as it is, and he quit. Plus, Art acknowledged that people were pirating the show due to either country restrictions or issues with SiriusXM’s web player, and that by giving everybody an officially sanctioned place to listen to the show would be a benefit unlike most pirated streams, he would include any and all commercials that SiriusXM aired, giving his advertisers a wider audience.
Now, here is where the truly shitty part comes in. Noory thinks he’s really clever, and he will do things like, change his avatar on the BellGab forums to a crown before something shitty happens to Art. You see, it turns out that Noory was in talks with SiriusXM to continue syndicating the show via satellite. They put Coast to Coast AM on the same channel as Dark Matter, and then told Art that he now had to limit his shows to three hours, and that he would essentially be the opening act to George Noory.
This bears repeating. SiriusXM told Art Bell that he would be the opener for a host that ripped off his act, stole his guests, and brought on a guest that he had to take to court to get to stop telling people who Art molested his son. Oh, and Noory said that he would happily have Oates on again.
This would be like George Carlin coming back from the dead, and signing on to a comedy tour, but then being told that he is opening for Carlos Mencia.
It should be noted, that while they wouldn’t let Art stream his show on his website, Coast to Coast AM, and several other shows, are available online and via AM/FM radio across the country.
It has been put forth that SiriusXM only gave Art a show so that they would have more leverage when it came to negotiating a contract with Premier for Coast to Coast AM. Likewise, Premier, who would like to see Art never broadcast again, is supposed to have a bit of stock in SiriusXM. Not trying to say that there definitely is a conspiracy, but as George Noory loves to say, there are no coincidences.
The cherry on top of the whole shit pile, is that right after Coast to Coast AM started airing on Art’s old channel, they started playing Art’s old Coast to Coast AM shows in the Dark Matter time slot. Art had been trying to get Premier to stop airing the shows for some time since he no longer wanted to be associated with what Coast to Coast AM had become, so of course they would use them as the intro to Noory’s terrible show.
Art is currently looking into his options. Unfortunately, he has another non-compete (2 years) with SiriusXM, which means that it’s going to take some legal wrangling to get him back on the air. People have taken to twitter and the SiriusXM Facebook page with a #freeArtBell campaign. Hopefully Art will find a way to get back on the air, because his shows are just phenomenal.