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Aliens With Gass Goes Where No Phoenix Radio Shows Have Gone Before

Aliens With Gass hosts Kevin Gassman and Heidi Gadd
Aliens With Gass hosts Kevin Gassman and Heidi Gadd Electric Eye Photography

Heidi Gadd once got into a car accident while chasing a UFO.

“It was a daytime sighting — I saw this orb that was zipping around. I followed it, and accidentally hit a guy backing up on a side street. I bumped him, and I hopped out, saying, ‘Oh my God, I’m so sorry! I was watching this UFO,’ and he looked up at it and said, ‘You know what, never mind.’”

She grins as she finishes her story: “So I decided that from now on if I get into another car accident, I’ll just point up at the sky and say, ‘Oh, I saw something.’”

Gadd is the co-host of Aliens With Gass, Phoenix’s number-one (and only) radio program devoted to all things extraterrestrial and rock ’n’ roll. The weekly radio program offers a platform for her and her co-host, longtime radio personality Kevin Gassman, to talk about their shared passion for aliens and UFO phenomena. It also offers an outlet for listeners who’ve had their own close encounters to hear that they aren’t alone.

“I think a lot of people don’t want to admit they have an interest in this,” Gassman explains. “But when we tell them we do an alien show, nine times out of 10, someone will come up to me afterward and say that they saw something.”

Both of the hosts have had personal experiences dealing with the unknown: Gadd, who grew up out in the desert, has seen scores of UFOs; Gassman recalls seeing one in his youth.

“When I was 19, I saw something in the sky — it was three black triangles in a triangle formation, way high up in the sky. It left an indelible mark in my brain,” he says.

When Gassman speaks, you can hear all 20 of the years he’s spent on the radio. His voice is perfectly tuned for broadcasting, sounding wry and articulate. It’s a voice that anyone who’s tuned into 93.9 KWSS for the last decade would instantly recognize. It was while doing his long-running Driving With Gass program on KWSS that the idea of doing a rock ’n’ aliens radio show first materialized.

click to enlarge Guest speakers on the show include people Fox Mulder would deem a "true believer." - ALIENS WITH GASS
Guest speakers on the show include people Fox Mulder would deem a "true believer."
Aliens With Gass

“I met Heidi a few years back. She contacted me out of the blue, and introduced me to Ken Koshio, who’s a Japanese drummer and performer,” Gassman says.

“Ken and I were doing a show together, and we needed to do something on the radio to promote it,” Gadd adds. It was during that radio segment where the two discovered their on-air chemistry and mutual interest in aliens. “I was watching a lot of Ancient Aliens at the time,” Gassman says with a laugh.

Gassman and Gadd started doing a weekly segment on aliens on Driving With Gass on Thursdays, closing out his afternoon show with an hour devoted to all things otherworldly.

The show stopped in March 2016, but a good radio bit is a lot like a chestburster exploding out of the ribcage of a space colonist — you just can’t keep it down. The duo returned to the airwaves in August on 99.1 FM in the East Valley, and it was then that they started to do Aliens With Gass consistently. It was also when they started making music a bigger part of the program.

“One of the things that started it was a song by a local band called the Wiley One, ‘UFO Man,’” Gassman explains. “It started me down this rabbit hole of music.”

Gassman dug back through the history of pop music to find songs about aliens, discovering some surprises along the way. “We found this Ella Fitzgerald record that has a song on it called ‘Two Little Men In A Flying Saucer.’ It’s from 1951, four years after Roswell.”

The history of pop music is intertwined with aliens, in more ways than one. Iconic bands like the Rolling Stones, the Byrds, and the Kinks have all crafted odes to aliens. It would be impossible to conceive of Bowie or T-Rex without them. The spooky theremin sounds that added a sci-fi touch to countless novelty records, Joe Meek’s outer space productions, Danzig howling about astro-zombies and teenagers from Mars, the Pixies singing about abductions and motorways to Roswell, Kool Keith’s alter egos, Sun Ra, P-Funk on their mothership, Blink-182’s Tom DeLonge leaving his band to chase after aliens and co-author books with conspiracy theorists — space is a place in which pop culture feels right at home.

Each episode of Aliens With Gass is laced with music to help lighten the mood. “People come on to talk about their experiences with aliens, and sometimes it can get really heavy,” Gadd says.

Their show alternates between talking about news bits and interesting pieces of UFO lore with interviewing local personalities, musicians, and well-known figures in the UFO community like Travis Walton (whose extraterrestrial experience inspired the film Fire in the Sky) and NASA whistleblower Ken Johnston (who claimed that Apollo 17 received an ominous alien message while leaving the moon: “Don’t come back — you’re not ready yet”).

It may seem odd at first that a state as conservative as Arizona could produce a show like Aliens With Gass, but the Valley of the Sun has been a haven for high weirdness. While the Phoenix Lights incident in 1997 and Walton’s abduction near Snowflake in 1975 are the most famous examples of the paranormal in Arizona, our state’s history is full of UFO sightings and cryptozoological stories.

This strange history isn’t lost on Gassman and Gadd, who make a point to talk about local lore and events on their shows. Even if something seems outlandish or too bizarre to be believed, they’re willing to hear it out. Gassman gleefully shares a story he’s heard recently about an observatory near Tucson. “It’s owned by the Vatican. It’s near Tucson off Grand Mountain. The reason why they have it, allegedly, is that they’re looking for an alien savior.”

Stories like these bring up the obvious question: How much of this do Gassman and Gadd believe? “I want to believe it’s real,” Gassman says. “There’s got to be something better than where we’re at right now.”
While both hosts believe in the existence of aliens and their coming to Earth, they remain refreshingly skeptical and open-minded about their favorite subject.

“We’ll call out BS when we hear it,” Gassman says.

Gadd chimes in: “There are so many people out there who put out fake stuff on purpose, so we have to be very mindful of that.”

One of the things they address on their show, which makes it a compelling listen, is they talk about the tension that that desire can bring: the risk that wanting something to be true can warp our perception of reality.

“Remember the demon that was spotted in Phoenix? Why did they think it was a demon? Because people want it to be a demon. They want to see it, they want to believe in something other than this planet, something otherworldly,” Gadd muses.

“But then you have to wonder why demons don’t appear on pieces of toast? That’s the Virgin Mary’s territory: trees and toast,” Gassman interjects.

Both radio hosts are optimistic that the truth about aliens will eventually be revealed, and that the news that we’re not alone in the universe could spark a desperately needed renaissance for our species.

“When aliens show up, it’s going to transcend everything that’s happened on this planet,” Gassman says. “Regardless of your gender, your race — it’s going to change the dynamic of how we live. It’s a serious thing; we have to be aware of it.”

Gadd nods in agreement, ending the conversation on a hopeful note.

“I think it would stop wars — that’s the hippie in me talking. I think people would learn to love each other, and realize that we’re all just a speck of stardust, man.”

Aliens With Gass can be heard on Sunday nights at 10 p.m. on 99.1 FM and KWSS 93.9. The show will also be starting up on www.voiceamerica.com at 3 p.m. on Saturdays. Past episodes can be heard at soundcloud.com/alienswithgass (or on iTunes and Stitcher).

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Ashley Naftule