Ken Layne of Desert Oracle Podcast on The Desert, Living Legends, and Dressing Up As A Park Ranger
It was such a part of being out on the desert in the 1990’s, in particular, because often that was the only thing you could get on the radio. Long before MP3 players, iPhones, or satellite radios. Your options were cassettes or CDs on the seat next to you, and you reached for them in the dark hoping it’s the right one. And then there was what was on the radio, and what was on FM was few and far between in the desert. So you had to do AM, and on AM you had country stations, ideally like a truck driver’s country station with Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, and Patsy Cline. Or you had Art Bell, who was blasting out of Salt Lake City, Phoenix, and Albuquerque. These things would kind of bounce off the atmosphere at night and the range would be extended terrifically.
So it was very much a part of the atmosphere of exploring the desert. Whatever you were doing—driving to a national park, camping—you’d have this voice describing all this weird stuff while you’re out on a two lane looking out at the skies… And the show was live. And occasionally, like during the Phoenix Lights, that was all live on Art Bell. That whole event. Because he was on the air, up in Pahrump, Nevada, and calls started coming in from Henderson, Nevada. Just south of Las Vegas. Calls from all these people seeing these monstrous things in the sky over the highways. And then slowly, over the course of several hours, the sightings spread from southern Nevada to the Grand Canyon region. Then he started getting a ton of reports from Prescott and Glendale and Phoenix. The Phoenix Lights covered way more than Phoenix—the last sightings were in the far south of Sonora, Mexico. So this whole thing is playing out while people are out on the road, scanning the skies.