If you find yourself stuck in the car on a long drive and need something to listen to that captures your attention, or you're at home with a list of chores and want to listen to something interesting while doing them, check out Art Bell's new radio show Dark Matter on SiriusXM. It's on SiriusXM Indie channel 104 weeknights 10 p.m. ET to 2 a.m. ET, with a repeat right afterwards.
This last week marked Art's return to the airwaves on Sept. 16. He is from a generation of great radio broadcasters we don't see anymore. The radio legend, who launched the popular radio show "Coast to Coast," left the airwaves a few years ago, to the dismay of millions of his loyal listeners. While his fans may know his style well, for some of us who never heard him before, or if you're looking for a new entertaining, yet meaningful show to try on SiriusXM, Dark Matter is a breath of fresh air, with a comfy old-school vibe.
Some of the guests are very controversial. I listened to them first without looking them up, which made for a better experience -- to judge them based on what they said on the show.
But even if we may not agree with the guests, and chances are we won't, their passion is apparent, especially on Wednesday's show.
At the start of the show Art described a haze that day they don't usually see in the high desert of Nevada, from his Pahrump home, and wonders if it might be "Fukushima dust." He then mentions his guest named Dr. Jonathan Reed. In the teaser before Reed comes on the radio, Art says to the audience, "In a moment you're going to be taking quite a journey, we're going to be talking to a guy named Dr. Jonathan Reed. And boy, this guy has a story to tell that's going to curl your hair." He was right.
While I didn't get into the first show on Monday during its initial airing, the show with Reed on Wednesday got me hooked. So much that I've been evangelizing the show to friends ever since. I listened to the entire show with rapt attention. Twice. It's apparently a well known story I never heard of called "Alien in the Freezer." I am glad I listened to the entire interview before looking him up and finding out how controversial he is. Either way, it's good radio. It's appealing even to those of us not interested in UFOs or space.
At first I laughed at the ridiculousness of what sounds impossible to be true, from Reed's experience in a forest in the Pacific Northwest. For those of us who've either been to this part of the country or lived there, it was hard to believe some alien being might come to this green and leafy relatively populated area, as opposed to some vast New Mexico desert. I found myself sucked in to the entire four hours of Reed's story, unable to turn the radio off because it was so riveting. There was video, photo, and audio proof presented. And then he shared that in recent years he's spoken to heads of state and others about his story, and to Art's surprise, that he was recently invited and spent a few days at the Vatican, and met the Pope (the actual Pope Francis). He said the Pope said, "Jonathan, you are a messenger for all of us."
Reed said he met the last Pope Benedict while both were at a Mexico hospital and that Pope Benedict asked him, "How can we help them (meaning any alien life in outer space)?" It was also discussed this week on Art's show, during the Richard C. Hoagland interview on Thursday, that the Vatican has an observatory and they are keenly interested in possible life out in space. They mentioned the Vatican's chief astronomer said a few years ago in a newspaper article that "Aliens Are Our Brothers."
If you're ever longing for the simpler days of just a couple of years or decades ago, before this era of addictively looking down at some inane comment a faux "friend" says, this show brings you to that quieter space, back when we could just sit and listen and think, without outside chatter or interruptions.
In this social media era, when people can easily swayed by a mindless mob mentality, this show's differing views and topics are unlike what we find on airwaves these days. And yet there are some deep discussions and ideas exchanged about life, the universe and everything.
There's some good story-telling happening here. And the show's voices and timing, can be just the tonic for our fast paced life. It is long form discussion, with very few commercial interruptions and it's soothing, even if the subject matter might be out of the norm of what we discuss in our everyday lives. The show's four hours speeds by and soon you've driven to your destination, or done with house chores and looking for more to do to be able to continue listening.
If you appreciate music before the 1990s, you'll like the bumper music, while the announcer says, "Wanna Take a Ride?..." The show does another great job of altering mood with music, to a calmer place mentally. It's music from the likes of Louis Armstrong, Dire Straits, Doobie Brothers, Eurythmics, or songs one might learn about for the first time like "White Bird" by a psychedelic band called "It's a Beautiful Day." Talk about time travel. These bumpers take you on a lovely musical time warp. For those who were there in the '70s or '80s when these songs were on Top 40, it's like you're back there, if only for a moment, with this show. The show closes with a beautiful, reflective, almost haunting song "Midnight in the Desert" that Crystal Gayle wrote for Art a few years ago. Just the right note to end such a show.
On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, the show repeats episodes twice again at those times. For example Friday night it began with the first show of the week. For the inaugural show on Monday, Art brought on renown theoretical physicist Dr. Michio Kaku, who Art said was the new Carl Sagan. Indeed. The show's title "Dark Matter" is named after the phrase Kaku has frequently talked about, as well as the topic of parallel universes. This is why we love theoretical physicists! The second show on Friday for example, was the repeat of the Wednesday show with Reed.
The show itself at times feels like a class, but one of those cool electives we get to choose in high school or college. When Art posts guests' photos on his website as they talk about photos during the show, it's like a national science lecture on all things outer space, but a fun class on space. He did that with Reed and Hoagland, who was also controversial.
One of the sidebars that was talked about that I had never heard before was that Art said he interviewed Dr. Edgar Mitchell, the sixth man to walk the Moon, and asked him to close his eyes and describe everything he could remember about being on the Moon. And he couldn't. In one's biggest moment in life, he couldn't recall what it felt like, to Art's surprise. It was discussed on the show that none of the men who went to the moon recall how it felt.
It's all very entertaining. And it's genteel and respectful. We need more of all that these days, beyond the demeaning "reality" shows on TV. This show's real topics take you out of this world, out of your life and problems for four hours. And you might even learn a thing or two. Or learn to become a skeptic of what they discuss. Either way, it's interesting food for thought.
I wanted to call in and ask a few questions I wanted Art to ask, but I suspect he'll have Reed and others back again. I've heard Art's name before and may have once or twice heard his old terrestrial radio shows years back, but if I did, it didn't have the effect this show has had. This show fits on satellite radio, or as Art likes to say on the show "extraterrestrial radio."
If you are a new listener, his loyal fans, who've been missing his live voice on the air, will call in and say terms ham operators say to greet one another, since he's a ham radio guy. He also asked fans to say "Roswells" when greeting him, instead of a long "We're so glad you're back on the air!" Callers obliged and salute him with that word. They sounded genuinely glad he was back, and they all seemed as into these topics as Art is. It was refreshing to discover a big community of listeners out there, on this ride with Art, who are interested in unusual topics, and who are not seemingly caught up in the latest vapid trends in pop culture. There is also a beta test of "The Wormhole" on his website, so listeners can message questions to Art during the live show.
If you have the SiriusXM app, you can get his show On Demand and listen to episodes whenever you want. If you want to start with one show, try the Dr. Jonathan Reed show. What he says in the last segment was also super touching and not at all about aliens and something out there, but in fact about us and our humanity.
Listen to this radio program with an open mind before looking things up (another given now in this era that wasn't around when Art first launched "Coast to Coast"). It was nice back then to have the opportunity to suspend disbelief, and the only connection was the voices from the radio in a quiet moment. Even if you don't look up the guests and see all the controversy that surrounds some of these guests, you get the idea by the way Art braces the guest that some listener questions might be rough, and he also tells his callers to "be polite."
And sure, maybe there is just a grain of truth in some of their odd theories, so take it with a grain. You might disagree with the guests, but you can't deny their passion for what they do or what they believe in. I think we all would like to have a little more passion within our lives.
My only technical request to the show is I wished there was better audio quality for call-in guests. As for future show guests -- please invite Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson on soon! Anytime he's on TV, he's another academic who always makes science and astronomy fun. Can you please have Reed back for a couple more hours of audience questions, since Art did not ask him how he would refute skeptics who question his validity and academic past written about online, and why did he feel the need to bring the object back with him in his Jeep in the first place?
Reed said he welcomed questions, but unfortunately no skeptical questions came through that night for him to answer, and that would have been a nice balance. He also seemed to have much more to say, especially about his travels to other countries and his life since the alien in the fridge.
From a non-science fiction and UFO person, you've made a new fan here. There were some interesting things from this first week of shows to contemplate and I even learned what the theory of relativity is, finally, thanks to Professor Kaku. Now if Art's show can just take us back in time for real, to, say, just a few years or decades ago...