With his popular syndicated live podcast Fade to Black, L.A.'s Jimmy Church has become a leading media personality in the field of ufology — the study of phenomena related to unidentified flying objects. The talk show host also discusses paranormal and conspiracy theories, demonic possessions, extraterrestrials, lost civilizations, government cover-ups and time travel.
He covers similar ground as co-star on the History Channel show Hangar 1: The UFO Files, and as guest host on weekend editions of Coast to Coast AM with George Noory (heard locally 10 p.m.-5 a.m. on KFI AM 640). The radio show, made famous by the late Art Bell, is one of the most listened to late-night talk radio shows in the world.
Church will be speaking and presenting at the 7th annual UFO conference, Contact in the Desert, May 31 to June 3 in Indian Wells, California. In anticipation for this event, Church spoke with the L.A. Weekly about the UFO community, his history in music and talk radio and other the topics he covers on TV and radio, some which he admits actually frighten him.
L.A. Weekly: How did you end up guest hosting the super-popular Coast to Coast AM on weekends?
Jimmy Church: Back when I first started radio years ago, I was filling in for Art Bell on his network. As it turns out, George Noory was listening to the show; he was a fan. He called in and we ended up chatting. Then, when we met in person he offered me the position to fill in on Coast to Coast AM on the weekends. It really was that simple.
Tell us about your background in the music industry?
I got to the Sunset Strip in L.A. in 1984 when it was starting to peek. I came out from Indiana chasing those rock & roll dreams like everyone else. I was a guitar player and things were going good, but I started learning recording and techniques to be a studio engineer. I ended up producing so many bands and great talent. My studio was on Sunset. We ran bands through there weekly. It’s been 35 years and I probably have forgotten more than I can remember about those days. The music business was great until the internet came and took things over. I reached a point where I had to sink or swim. I always had a love for talk radio and in 2005, I went back to school for broadcast journalism. I learned the art of television/radio production, newscasting, writing and more. From there I started my career in radio.
Of all the topics you cover on Coast to Coast AM and Fade to Black, are there any that truly terrify you?
Like everyone else, I have certain fears. But the stuff that frightens me the most is the thought of going into a haunted house, haunted prison or haunted castle and spending the night there. That idea frightens me; it seems like it would be asking for trouble. I get people that do that and are into the adrenaline and mystery. For me, it’s just one of those things I chose to leave alone. I’m not gonna go into a haunted prison or psychiatric asylum. It’s just playing the safe card. That stuff really frightens me.
Tell us about your involvement with this year’s mega UFO conference Contact in the Desert in Indian Wells.
I have seen this event grow to where it is today, the largest UFO conference in the entire world. When you have thousands of people all getting together in the same place with the same mindset, it’s one of the most educational and fun experiences I can imagine having. We will be broadcasting live with our radio show on Friday night, which is always a great time, I love meeting listeners. Also, this year I will be hosting the awards dinner on Saturday. This is my first year as the host, and that will be fun. I'm also hosting the closing night panel on Sunday. I have the honor and privilege to be there all three days, and it’s a tremendous opportunity.
Do you think certain topics like the paranormal, ufology and conspiracy theories can unify people with differing political views?
This community of UFOs and other fringe topics is like a rainbow coalition. Everyone is welcome here, we respect everybody’s experiences and the reason why they are here. The political and religious aspects, we check that stuff at the front door. We listen to everybody and everyone is allowed to present their ideas and experiences. To that end, things can get divided just like the rest of the world. Not everyone is going to agree with each other. But we understand that our differences are what make us great. You can walk up to me at the conference or call into my radio show, and I will listen to what you have to say. I myself have had strange experiences in my life. No one will laugh or judge you because they have had similar experiences.
What else do you have going on?
I also have two or three more television projects in the works at the moment, in pre-production. All of this is Hollywood and going on constantly, but will be announced in the future. I am constantly working on something, the TV shows, speaking at events, doing the radio shows … it never stops.
I will also be part of this year’s Soultech 2.0 conference, which is a gathering all about knowledge. The subjects include science, humanism, sacred geometry and heremetics, this year it will be the July 4 weekend in Loveland, Colorado. We have an exciting roster of speakers this year. People can check it out online.