|By Clyde Lewis
Ground Zero has held together eight years now. Ground Zero started as a show that tried to expose fraudulent claims of the paranormal. I talked about comic books and Star Wars, Trekkers, and role playing games. I was playful and funny. I had on fake psychics to trick people. I offered $10 million dollars for proof of UFOís. I would hold contests to see who could create the best fake pictures. Then there were some very strange occurrences that convinced me that maybe I should be a little bit more open to destiny.
At 11 AM mountain time on a cold April 1st, 1995 I walked into the studios of KCNR AM 1320 with the idea that I was going to be some talk radio star. For the longest time I had been told to shut up while working on Morning Rock Radio as a news sidekick, and also a host. I was told by too many program directors to just play the music and shut up. I was told that all the listener wanted was music.
In Rock radio you were told to be brief. "Donít try to be too funny", they told me. "Just get out your news and traffic, double time sell, and give the weather."
I liked to talk. I wanted to create; I wanted to control my own show.
Having a full three hours to just talk to yourself seemed like an eternity at first. What If I get no calls? What if I sound stupid? People are going to think that I sound crazy.
People are going to think that I am a fool.
At the time I was working two news jobs for a national company that beamed news to regional radio stations and I freelanced a couple of regional reports for CNN Radio. We answered to CNN and I would have all of the contacts of a full CNN reporter. I filed several national stories including a story for a New Zealand affiliate.
It was a living.
But I wanted to tell more. I wanted to do more than just rip and read off of a computer spitting out news on a daily basis.
I wanted to try my hand at being an investigator in stories that werenít covered by major media. I wanted to be my own boss. Make my own rules. Maybe even make up my own stories, and tell them with all of the conviction in the world.
The result was KULT radio. A show that at first was going top be a total rip off of the Hour of Slack. I figured that Utah was Ready for J.R. Bob Dobbs and I would give them the ride of their lives. I thought that I could parody the X-files, David Koresh, and Jim Jones all in one show. I was also in the midst of creating a script for a movie dealing with a Country Jock that somehow loses his mind after losing his national talk show.
It begins with "Duke the Puke" a big mouthed talk show host who winds up offending a station manager, gets fired, and works at some lame formatted country station. When he falls asleep on the air the radio station goes silent. He hears a voice in his headphones and wakes up.
He asks the question.
"Did anyone hear the Voices?"
No one answers him, and he is left to hunt down and find someone who will hear his story. After he speaks with a few people he realizes that when the radio stations play music alien messages are broadcast on an ultra light frequency.
He heard the voices but no one else does.
His mission is to tell radio stations and television stations all around the world to stop broadcasting for one minute to open a channel for the aliens to send out their message.
This of course is an impossible request so he gets a hold of a "dirty bomb" brings it with him to work and threatens to wipe out the city.
The World then pays attention.
For 60 seconds there is silence.
For 60 seconds the world has time to think.
For 60 seconds there is no programming, no commercials, and no news of the war.
For 60 seconds there are no goofy morning shows, no traffic reports, and no rock and roll or country music.
Just a clear channel of silence so that the message from the aliens can be heard.
For 60 seconds the world can hear its heartbeat. For 60 seconds the world can hear the earth move.
For 60 seconds we all communicate again.
We ask questions, we reaffirm our love, we read to our kids, we pray.
We talk about our lives, our fears, and our futures.
The whole idea stopping the world for 60 seconds was based on a poem that I learned in Mr. Josephsonís seventh grade social studies.
"I have only just a minute, only sixty seconds in it. Forced upon me, can't refuse it. Didn't seek it, didn't choose it, but it's up to me to use it. I must suffer if I lose it, give account if I abuse it. Just a tiny little minute, but an eternity is in it".
I was told when I was young that each minute is important in the time line because it canít be replaced. Your decisions affect the very movement of the planet. Once a day has past, you canít go back. It canít be relived. The next day comes and we must make the best of it especially in uncertain times as these. Once the hour is gone, it is over and done with, once the morning breaks, and the afternoon ebbs the evening and the night brings us to our beds it is always important to ask yourself if you did something productive in that day.
What saddens me the most is that we have no guarantee how much time we have on this earth.
I take for granted that I have plenty of time, I think a lot of people do. Lately I have been realizing more and more that I have less time ahead of me than behind me. I sometimes wonder if all of my best years have passed me by.
It is obvious that generally we are used to happy endings, and successes. We all think we are invincible. We are told in every story that the good guys win. We have been programmed to think that whatever happens in the world that we are the good guys.
Yet we never take 60 seconds to tune out all of the distractions and do some self-reflection on just whose side we are on.
We never take 60 minutes to decide if all of the destruction and death in the world is worth it.
We are all programmed into thinking that we have freedom.
We are programmed into thinking we have choice.
We are all programmed into consuming that hamburger, drinking that beer, buying that car, refinancing the house, it only takes 60 seconds for the programming to hit itís mark.
It only takes an hour to watch the bad guy get his door kicked in, watching people humiliate themselves for cash rewards.
After the daily mental hopscotch takes place, the very attractive woman, and man, tell us that we are being watched and marked for death and that our chances of dying today are color coded like a smog alert. But stay tuned we have infomercials on how to lose weight without exercise.
This ends another broadcast day.
The amount of time people spend watching television is embarrassing if not overwhelming. On average, most people devote three hours a day to sitting in front of the television.
If you live to be 75 and you devote at least three hours a day to television you will be there 9 years of your life.
That is nine years of your life that you will never get back.
There is a trap being set without savory bait.
Think of it, a fish will bite at a worm on a hook, and a mouse will nibble at the cheese on a mousetrap. They die in the end and we think that they are stupid animals and they do not know any better.
Are they really that stupid?
Their only excuse for dying is that they attempted to get sustenance.
They reacted to their instinct to find food.
How were they to know that someone with the means to set the trap wanted them to come willingly and die?
The old saying about leading a horse to water is fast becoming a myth.
You can lead horses to water, you can make them drink, and you can even tell the horse that the water is poison and that he would be better off if he drinks it.
Is this paranoia? I donít think so. I think I am telling you that programming can lead people into various prisons. Various mental traps, various destructive behaviors.
But we are in denial about this and it is so sad to see how we are mutating.
The majority of Americans believe that they are for more superior to fall into a trap of being baited and prepared to go willingly to their deaths. I am told this all the time. I am told that we are far smarter than people who live in other countries.
I am told that our communication tools keep us informed and that for the most part the communication organizations and television networks are giving us accurate reports of what we Americans like or dislike.
News is no longer confined to reports or visual accounts. It has become entertainment. It has whistles and bells; quick cut aways and sound bites. It parades out the beauty queen runners up, and the pretty men with hair that bends to the sticky hold of a mousse or gel. It captures us by using hyperbole and visual eye candy in order to trap us into thinking that any of it is remotely real.
We are told that our television shows reflect what America really wants to know about. It allegedly reflects the humor, drama and heart of America.
I was watching one of those funny video shows. There are several in syndication. I was getting uncomfortable watching a man playing croquet and seeing a croquet ball pop up and hit him in the crotch. There was a laugh track that followed.
The next shot was a young boy playing baseball, his dad siting behind him waiting to catch the ball. The young boy swings hitting dad in the head. I then hear laughter from a laugh track. Dad is obviously in pain. But this will be a hit with the family as they gather around the tube.
This is what mainstream America thinks is funny.
Sometimes it can be cruel. Shannen Doherty is hosting a new show called Scare tactics where reality TV crosses the line and places people in elaborate pranks. One includes a man who walks into a room and then is met with men in Bio suits telling him he has entered a contaminated room and is going to die. Another shows a group of teenagers going to a rave. They see a flash of light and the radio goes haywire.
The car then stops and running in front of the car is a man in an alien suit. Doherty admits that she doesnít like jokes being played on her, but she likes playing these types of jokes on people.
Change the channel and you get Jerry Springer who shows just how bad America can get. It can be argued that his guests are a mutation of America. However I conclude that it is America without the mask. It is the America that we donít want to admit exists. Unfortunately it is the America that the outsiders see.
It is the America that for some reason has become manipulated into choosing greed over compassion, emotion over common sense, convenience over self-respect.
Can America take 60 seconds to turn off the television and think about why we are misunderstood?
Can they take 60 seconds for communicating instead of programming?
The great myth is that Americans believe that Television and radio are communication. It isnít communication.
It is one way programming.
The Television tells you, and you absorb it.
Many people donít even bother to question it.
No matter how engaging a television show is, or a movie, or even the war coverage, you are depending on those telling you the story to get it right. You arenít asking Ari Fleischer the tough questions. You arenít telling the cast of "Everybody loves Raymond" that nobody loves him. You arenít telling Bill O'Reilly that he should lighten up because itís hard to take a guy seriously when he used to work for a tabloid news show called "Inside Edition."
You are just sitting there and absorbing it all.
Does someone see ambush journalism as entertainment especially from a guy that was giving us scoops on what Nicole Brown Simpson was wearing the night her throat was cut? OíReilly claims to represent the common man while shouting down anyone who isnít a right wing conservative. His entertainment is "confrontainment" and it merely contributes to the one way thinking that people seldom question.
Lets demonize minorities and the working class by putting them in blur face on COPS. This show glamorizes a police state. It is a show where we marvel at men wearing black armored suits carrying shields. They are armed with big guns and batons. They have dogs that sniff and search and they have huge battering rams to take down a door at three in the morning. We never see rich and pretty Americans getting their doors kicked in. It is an excuse to vilify normal average Joes who happen to be caught in the act of being human.
Then comes the unfortunate creation of reality television where we watch human beings at their worst. We see ugly people yell at each other on a desert island. We watch people hungry for money eat an antelopeís penis and try not to puke it up, and we understand that when it comes right down to it, we are all shallow when it comes to relationships. We see that women are money hungry eccentrics, and men are after the blonde doe eyed airhead.
Are we incapable of understanding what is happening here?
The masters that run the world have convinced us that television is communication, and that it reflects reality. It sets the agenda for what is to be agreed upon as fact. It is the new tool used to form global intelligence.
It is an artificial construction of reality.
Even my website is a construction. It is constructed reality from my point of view. It is also a one way medium.
The intent of what I am writing right now is to synchronize your thoughts with thoughts that I had when I wrote it.
Think of it.
I am writing this essay on April 2nd of 2003.
You could be reading it a week after I wrote it, a month after I wrote it, a year, 10 years who knows? You can go back and read anything that I wrote from 1998 till now, and it may synchronize with everything happening in your reality right now.
Now, you are synchronizing your mind with thoughts that I had on April 2nd of 2003.
It could mean absolutely nothing to you, or it can be relevant. You may agree or disagree with me.
The thing is you canít respond to it.
It is a one way medium.
You can e-mail me with your disagreement or your agreement but I can choose to ignore it. I donít like to ignore viewpoints of people who choose to elaborate rather than dismiss.
That is why I chose to be a talk show host.
Talk radio is an interactive medium.
I got tired of sending out my information without hearing about how my information affects people.
It is not such a strange synchronicity that my show debuted on April fools day. I jumped in feet first wanting to expose some of the foolish beliefs of most people. As much as I sound like a firm believer in all of the bizarre stuff I talk about it is a known fact that my purpose at first was to expose and laugh at the gullible beliefs of anyone.
I have gone on the record as saying that beliefs are only what are fashionable for the moment. Beliefs change all the time. I do not align myself with militant extremists. I believe it is not a crime to be different. I also believe that we have the right to be left alone. I believe that it is silly to believe in God and then make fun of those who believe in aliens. I believe that aliens can be real. I also believe that aliens can be a product of cultural hysteria.
I have gone on the record saying that alien abductions affect only 1 per cent of the population and out of the one percent there are probably a couple that are prone to seizures or schizophrenia.
I like to align myself with Charles Fort when he says:
"I conceive of nothing, in religion, science, or philosophy, that is more than the proper thing to wear, for a while."
My first stunt was to offer $10 Million dollars for proof of a spacecraft from another world. We obtained an insurance policy that was legal, and it had so many rules and regulations that it would be impossible to get the money. Yet the money was really available just in case.
I even made stencils and painted a huge UFO landing site in the back lot at the radio station. The newspapers flocked to me; the television stations did live shots on the day everyone gathered to watch. I served coffee and bagels and winked and nudged everyone on the first day of Spring that a flying Saucer was going to land.
It was a circus and I was ready to clown around.
No UFOís landed that day.
But I got what I wanted.
Then a man came up to me and said,
"I have no Flying Saucer, but I have this."
He handed me a photo.
At first it looked like shrub in the middle of the desert. I said to him that it looked like a bush, maybe some sagebrush. He then showed me a blow up of the photo.
It looked like a story book alien.
Not a cartoon. But a strange frog like creature with big Black eyes crouched in a gully.
I asked where he got it.
He said that he was a prospector and he was looking in an old cabin in the middle of the West Desert of Utah. He claimed that he was seeing a lot of military activity in the area. He saw jet planes flying so low he could see the men inside. He claimed that he saw them snapping pictures. He was snapping pictures too.
We posted the pictures on my website.
Many people were saying that picture didnít show an alien.
I called the news and asked them to look at it. The photographic analyst had no idea what he was seeing. However he said that it wasnít an alien.
I thought about the silliness of it all.
He didnít know what it was but he knew that it wasnít an alien.
I was intrigued. He knew it wasnít an alien because?
I made it my quest. I was going to find the truth.
One day the receptionist had notified my Program director that someone form the government was here to see him. I was called up front, and then the program director showed up with me. I was told to go back to the control room and find an archive of a show in the computer and e-mail it to him. Both the program director and the strange man met in his office for a while and then came into the control room.
I was later asked to step out in the hall and speak with the man. He was wore a black coat. He was wearing horn-rimmed glasses; he had short curly hair, and thin mustache that hugged his lip. He was wearing these big black shoes and he looked like some film Noir 1950ís type.
He asked me if I could show him the negatives of the alien photo that I had talked about on my show. I told him that I didnít have them. He then asked if he could see the website where I had the photos.
I said sure but I asked who sent him and with what agency he was he was with.
He told me "Iím not at liberty to say."
After the photos appeared he chuckled and said, "Do you believe that this is an alien Mr. Lewis?"
I replied "I donít know, you tell me if this is an alien or not."
He looked up through his glasses and said "I am not in any capacity to say, but I can tell you that you should remove it from your Internet because you are making a fool out of yourself."
He walked out.
After he left I had asked the front desk what government agency he was from. The woman at the front desk, said "I donít know but he looked official."
I then asked if he showed a badge. She told me no. I was floored. I couldnít believe that she just let the guy in. She then said that he had an appointment with the program director.
I asked the program director what he wanted. He told me that the guy was there to investigate something that was said on the air. One of the talk show hosts had allegedly made a threat on the air to an elected official. He wanted to use a tape recorder to get a sample of what was said.
The meeting with me was spontaneous.
That next week I brought the prospector on the show and told him about my "Man in Black" meeting.
I was defiant.
I was talking about freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and how I was being censored and that perhaps this was one of those secret government cover-ups. I actually was beginning to think that this was some sort of prank that the other guys at the station were pulling on me.
That was until the morning my car blew up.
I was getting ready to go into work. It was four in the morning and it was cold outside. I got into my car. It was a cool little late model Hyundai. The car only had one more payment due on it and it would be mine. I had let the insurance lapse just a week before and I was going to renew it but I procrastinated.
I started the car.
I didnít let it warm up, I just decided to pull out of the carport. The car shut down. I pumped the accelerator and I tried starting it again.
I heard a dull puff and then a metallic scrape. I watched in slow motion as a ball of flame was coming right for me.
I somehow ducked out of the way as the glass of the windshield shattered when the heat of the fireball reached it.
I stood and watched the paint on the twisted hood melting, There was a ball of flame shooting up and lapping the wooden carport. I thought that I should move the car out into the open.
I opened the door of the car. I grabbed the steering wheel and it melted in my hand. I then braved the smoke, threw the car in neutral and pushed it out.
I ran to the door of my apartment and pounded on it yelling help. I woke up my wife and she called the fire department.
As the car was burning the horn eerily honked. It was like it was dying and that was its final scream.
The fire department showed up and put out the fire. They looked at the engine and said,
"Do you want to call the police?"
I didnít understand I just thought it was a simple car fire. I asked the fireman if it was necessary. He told me that the car was firebombed.
He explained that it was simple procedure of cutting the fuel injector tube allowing gasoline to be shot into the sparkplugs igniting a magnesium pack.
I was shocked.
I told the fireman that I had no insurance and that I didnít want to get in trouble with the police. He asked if I knew of anyone who would want to harm me. I told him no.
After the fire department left I thought could it have been something I said on the air?
I got a phone call from my wife and she told me that a man was at the apartment looking for me. She told me that he would be back in the afternoon and that I should be there.
I came home early and waited.
There was a knock at the door.
It was a man with a video camera. I thought it was a cameraman for a local TV station.
I opened the door.
The man was blonde and thin. He wore Jerry Garcia glasses and a black baseball cap. He was wearing black leather jacket, black T-shirt and black jeans. The odd thing was that he was wearing black and white Chuck Taylor high tops.
He had a low voice.
He told me he was with the Insurance Company.
I told him I didnít have any Insurance on the car.
He then told me that he was with the Apartment Insurance Company and wanted to see if there was any damage to the parking area. He said he wanted to video tape me.
I agreed to be taped.
I stood there and told him that it was a simple car fire and that I was screwed because I had one more payment on the car.
I then looked at the car. I saw the melted tires. The steering wheel, and the broken glass.
I stopped speaking and then it hit me.
The fireman said that it was intentional I then looked back at the guy with the camera and I said "After looking at the car, I am realizing just how lucky I am that I am still here."
The guy stopped taping and he ejected a cassette out of his camera. He then handed it to me.
I looked at him and I said,
"Isnít this for Insurance?"
He smiled and he said, "It is for insurance, this will insure that the next time someone tells you to do something you will do it. Watch this tape, realize how lucky you are to be alive and be careful. Next time you will listen and know better than to open your mouth."
It was later that Todd; the prospector had called me and told me to take the picture off of my site.
He had claimed that the government was harassing him and that he believed his phone was being tapped. I called the webmasters and told them to remove the picture. After a myriad of legal problems Todd the prospector disappeared.
He moved form his home in Northern Utah.
Things were quiet for a while and then another man showed up at the radio station riding a bicycle.
He was from Camp Williams, a military base some forty miles away from the radio station.
He was wearing civilian clothes. He showed me his credentials. He was legit.
He wanted to see the West Desert Alien photo.
I could not get access to the photo because the web firm whose server we used was told not to let me have access to it.
The picture I showed him was a printed black and white copy that I had in a manila folder.
He told me that it wasnít an alien.
He said that what I was seeing was a new camouflage suit that rendered a soldier virtually invisible. It was not typical camouflage. It was some new way of creating the illusion of invisibility.
After looking it over, I could see what he was talking about. I could see how it was a soldier with goggles wearing a suit that made him look like he blended in with the surroundings. I could see why it looked like a bush, or sagebrush.
It wasnít until February of 2003 that there was an article featured on CNN about such a suit created by the Japanese.
I was e-mailed by an old listener who remembered my story.
He told me that he used to think I was full of shit until the story came out about the suit.
Stranger still was the story that showed up after Todd disappeared. Popular Mechanics was claiming that Area 51 had moved to Utah. The story said that there was a facility near Green River and another near Dugway Proving Grounds.
This was the area where Todd the prospector snapped the photos. Since that time there has been numerous UFO sightings in that remote area, and sightings of mutant animals with large eyes.
Could it be that the "Alien" photographed was a mutated creature?
Or was it really an "alien?"
You see this whole story is compelling because of the interaction between the listener and me. I could have ignored the stories of the camouflage suit and I could have said that it was a cover up and that people were trying to lie to me. I could have dismissed the aliens story and overlooked the stories of the "new Area 51."
I learned a valuable lesson on that year.
I learned that my show could be a forum for all communication and all ideas.
Real communication begins when it is interactive.
If a fool like me spouts off a weird idea. It can be debated. I welcome the debate. Otherwise I am programming you with all kinds of silly ideas.
It is beneficial when I am not programming you.
My show works when you interact with me.
I welcome different point of view.
I donít welcome those who dismiss things without another viewpoint to consider.
I believe in the energy of exchange -- negative or positive is irrelevant. What is relevant is the spirit of why the communication is happening.
Wherever there is communication, I believe there is life. We are feeding off each otherís experience. We can communicate what we know and learn all about each otherís strange experiences.
Eight years ago I sat there in my office in the morning drinking coffee, and reading all kinds of strange stuff.
I decided that I would just go in the studio and play records backwards and make fun of the secret satanic backwards messages that my religious used to tell me to be afraid of.
At 4 PM on April 1st, 1995 I took a chance.
I started KULT radio. I started the show with a Negativland song. It was called "Christianity is stupid." I thought that song would get Mormons to call and defend their beliefs.
It just pissed people off.
The program directors at the time hated the name KULT radio, so I changed it.
I thought about other names and then the name came to me. "Ground Zero."
On April 8th I opened the microphone and said "I am Clyde Lewis and this is Ground Zero."
Days later the words Ground Zero were uttered in reference to the Oklahoma City Bombing.
People told me that it was serendipity that I named the show Ground Zero.
I pondered the synchronicity.
Many years later Timothy McVeigh the suspect in the bombing would come back to haunt me.
I had criticized Attorney General John Ashcroft for demanding the execution of McVeigh. I stated that if he were killed, it would send a signal to all of the terror cells in the country. I worried that there would be civil unrest and that another domestic terror attack could happen in the United States.
After I said this I was booted from my syndicator. Many target markets were saying that I was too radical and uncaring about the people who died there.
I thought Ground Zero was cancelled.
It was immediately picked up by KOTK in Portland.
Three months later the words Ground Zero were used to describe the events that happened on September 11th, 2001. There were a lot of people who claimed that I was capitalizing on deaths in New York.
I came up with the name for the radio show in 1995. It was such a cool name that someone even tried to sell my radio rights to some guy on NPR. Then another took the name to do some modern rock show.
They have all come and gone.
I am still here.
All because of the support of friends, and sponsors who believe in the art of communicating.
The rest is synchronicity.
I have been on the air producing Ground Zero for eight years doing what I do best.
Conducting business as usual in the apocalypse.
Thank you all for being a part of my little thrill ride to oblivion. When it is all over I hope we can all ride this roller coaster again.
Itís been a great Eight.
Copyright 1998-2007 Ground Zero Media, Clyde Lewis, and John Hart. All Rights Reserved.