Curfew of the Body, Soul and Mind:
The Strange Story of Bill Cooper

Bill Cooper
By Philip D. Ropp
April, 2002

    Christian short wave in the United States has always marched to a different drummer, with a distinctive flavor and character not heard anywhere else. Uncensored, noncommercial, and with an identity shaped by it's own easy and open accessibility, the American interpretation of the medium became a forum that crossed racial, ethnic, denominational and political barriers to present the wide diversity of thought and expression that is believing Christianity in this country.  And, like Cajun cooking, it became a uniquely American medium, unusually spicy, and with some of its contents hard to swallow.

    In the post Reagan era, Christian short wave broadcasters in the United States have provided access to the airwaves for a number of American right-wing political individuals and groups that have used the medium to coalesce themselves into what is today known as the "American Patriot" movement.  At its peak in the mid to late 1990's, Christian patriot radio, propelled by the draconian law enforcement methods employed by the Clinton Justice Department in the Randy Weaver matter at Ruby Ridge, Idaho and against the Branch Davidians at Waco, Texas, had emerged as the quasi-official voice of the burgeoning national militia movement. In turn, patriot programming was now occupying significant amounts of airtime on major broadcasters, especially WWCR, functioning as a subculture within Christian radio, just as the larger movement itself did within the nation as a whole.

    Patriot broadcasting, like the patriot movement, has been transformed by the events of recent years: financially by the nonevent of Y2K, and philosophically by the election of George W. Bush as president and the subsequent events of September 11 and the war against terrorism.  This transformation has effectively served to narrow the bandwidth of the patriot radio spectrum, as programmers have moved away from the radical right in order to mine gold in the pockets of a broader audience. Many of these new listeners are unaware of the genesis of the current medium, and, therefore, have no idea that the "Christian talk radio" format that they hear today is a far cry from the call for an outright armed "grass roots" revolution that characterized patriot programming just a few short years ago.

    In November of 2001, the final emasculation of patriot radio took place when William Cooper, usually referred to simply as a "talk show host," was shot to death in a confrontation with sheriff's deputies outside his home near Eagar, Arizona.

    Cooper was far more than just a talk show host.  At the peak of his influence in the early and mid 1990's, he was leading the way in uniting the various local and regional militia organizations in the United States into a nationwide, underground army.  Cooper often boasted that Bill Clinton had referred to him as the "most dangerous man in America."  On a larger scale, it was Cooper that defined the theology and mythology of the patriot movement as a whole, as even his enemies came to accept his worldview as their reality.  To understand the current remnant of this patriot radio medium, it is, therefore, germane to our purpose to understand William Cooper; for it is he that provided so much of the primordial ooze that the present medium evolved from.

   Milton William "Bill" Cooper, a veteran of the Air Force and Navy, where he served in the Office of Naval Intelligence, first gained notoriety in the late 1980's as a lecturer in the rarefied field of UFO research.  In a series of sensational and dramatic presentations, Cooper, claiming an over riding sense of patriotic duty and top secret government sources, revealed the existence of an unthinkable conspiracy:  Malevolent space aliens had compromised the government and military establishment of the United States and were conducting a wide range of secret experiments on American citizens.  Like a modern day Paul Revere, Cooper was announcing an invasion in progress by a force far more sinister and dangerous than the Redcoats: bulbous headed intruders from outer space that had cleverly gained power in secret.

    In fact, Bill Cooper was merely one of many individuals making the endless circuit of UFO conventions and meetings espousing this same revelation of "the horrible truth." Along with Cooper, Bill Moore, Linda Moulton Howe, Stanton Friedman, John Lear and others were making similar assertions, all based on supposedly top secret information being leaked through a variety of anonymous sources within the various United States intelligence agencies, most notably the NSA and the CIA. A neatly woven mythology emerged in which the Roswell crash, cattle mutilations, abductions and the other various aspects of the UFO phenomenon were blended into a "suppressed reality" view of history. Truman ordered the secrecy.  Ike saw alien bodies at Edwards Air Force Base.  JFK's assassination was due to his intention to reveal the presence of the alien menace. UFOs landed at US air bases during the Johnson administration. Nixon showed alien bodies at McDill Air Force Base to his pal, Jackie Gleason.  Jimmy Carter's presidency was destroyed because he had reported his own UFO siting and was sympathetic to the cause of revelation. Reagan ordered "Star Wars" built as an alien defense system. This interpretation of the UFO phenomenon soon came to dominate the field of UFO investigation, making its proponents major celebrities among the UFO faithful, who sensed that the long anticipated truth was finally emerging from the cloak of government imposed secrecy. This worldview would soon find its way into the common culture as the premise of The X Files and take on a surreal, comic book quality. However, through the mid and late 1980's, as more "revelations" emerged, so did a rapidly growing subculture that believed whole heartedly that the United States had been sold out to the now familiar "grays" in the ultimate government conspiracy.

     By 1988, Bill Cooper and John Lear were arguably the most influential of the UFO "investigators" in the United States. The information that Cooper had seen and heard as an Intelligence Officer in the Navy dovetailed neatly with Lear's own eyewitness accounts and information from his sources within the intelligence community.  In turn, other major figures respected in the UFO community were given information from supposedly reputable government sources that corroborated the information given to the others, yet contained its own unique aspects. The overall effect was a puzzle of interlocking pieces that, when assembled as a whole, produced a remarkable and, at least on the surface, plausible explanation of the UFO phenomenon. Cooper and Lear carried the most weight within this elite circle of researchers because both claimed direct access to US intelligence sources. Bill Moore, on the other hand, claimed his information came from a mysterious group of government agents that would only identify themselves with bird names, such as "Falcon" and "Condor."  He referred to this collection of informants as the "Aviary."  Linda Moulton Howe's informant was a mysterious Colonel Doty, who was suspected of being identical with Moore's "Condor."  Cooper and Lear were generally regarded as one step closer to the phenomenon than the others and, in fact, it was widely rumored at the time that Lear was, in actuality, "Falcon."

     Whether "Falcon" or not, John Lear, son of Lear Jet founder William Lear, was the most accomplished aircraft pilot of his generation.  As such, Lear was tapped to fly some of the CIA's most sensitive missions.  According to legend, he was the pilot that flew George Bush to Paris for the notorious "October Surprise" meetings in 1980.  Most notably, Lear piloted arms and money during the clandestine operations that would eventually come to be known as "Iran Contra."  As the Iran Contra scandal began to unfold, John Lear was busy destroying any credibility he might have as a witness by disclosing "the truth about the UFO cover-up" in a series of sensational interviews that secured Art Bell's position as the legendary master of weird late night radio on the west coast, and paved the way to his later nationwide success. To cement his reputation as a lunatic, Lear also launched this information through numerous sources into the UFO community. When Iran Contra blew over, John Lear, understandably enough, disappeared from public view.

     Cooper was incensed at the realization that Lear was a fraud.  Somewhere in this process, he also gained the insight that the "beyond  top secret" information that he and the others had presented as fact was, in reality, an organized stream of disinformation dispensed through a coordinated effort by the United States intelligence community.  Cooper perceived that even the UFO's that he had witnessed personally during his Navy days were events staged to create in his mind the reality of the so called "extraterrestrial hypothesis."  Convinced that he had been "set-up" and shamelessly used by the government, Cooper plunged into research bent on unmasking those behind the space invasion hoax and emerged with the "real truth" behind the alien conspiracy: the Illuminati-Luciferian Freemasonry conspiracy.

    There is only one topic that is off limits at the various UFO meetings and conventions that take place continually around the United States: that the phenomenon might in anyway be fraudulent.  Bill Cooper needed a new venue in which to present his more recent findings, and short wave radio fit the bill perfectly. By the early 1990's, William Cooper had reinvented himself in a book entitled Behold a Pale Horse, and his program The Hour of the Time flourished in the midnight to one eastern time slot on WWCR.

    The Hour of the Time was dark and brooding, the tone set by Cooper's black moods and characteristic deadly serious approach. The program's opening "theme" was a cacophony of air raid sirens, viscous dogs, women's screams, and jack-booted storm troopers goose stepping down cobblestone streets. In a voice-over slowed to a low, guttural rumble, Cooper intones: "Lights out, it is the hour of the time. Lights out for the curfew of your body, soul, and mind."  With the mood thus set, William Cooper used this forum to spin the convoluted web of his new reality.

    Conspiracy theories and conspiracy theorists have been around as long as there have been conspiracies -- or rumors of conspiracies, take your choice.  Two books that form the core scripture of the American patriot movement are None Dare Call it Treason by John Stormer and None Dare Call It Conspiracy by Gary Allen.  Stormer's work, from 1964, documented a silent takeover of the government of the United States by international socialists. Allen's 1971 book explained this process as an ongoing conspiracy of the western world's rich elite, the Rockefellers, Morgans, Rothschilds,, for the purpose of establishing a global socialistic government.

    If Stormer and Allen provided thumbnail sketches of this alternate reality, then the scope and volume of Cooper's contribution must be viewed as a panoramic, full color portrait.  In the world of the Christian patriot conspiracy theorists, it is the Order of the Illuminati, ostensibly a Bavarian secret society founded in 1776 by a Jesuit named Adam Weishaupt, that emerges as the mother and master of all modern conspiracies, silently enslaving the world in the guise of a utopian new world order.  Behind the scenes, hidden within the upper degrees of the various rites of freemasonry, the Illuminati manipulate world leaders and politicians like marionettes on the stage of world affairs, consciously orchestrating historical events in a crescendo towards an unthinkable Armageddon and the finale of a dark "New Age" beyond.

    Most of those that write about the origin of this masonic conspiracy for world domination end their search at Adam Weishaupt; for Bill Cooper, this was only the beginning.  Cooper, in turn, traced "Illuminisim" through the 16th century Islamic "Cult of the Assassins" and into Moslem masonic organizations all the way back to the time of Mohammed.  He traced it through Jewish occultism, Christian heresies and pagan legends into the mystery schools of the Greco-Roman period, then back through ancient Egypt and the near east to the dawn of human history.  Cooper identified this age old conspiracy for world domination as the "Mystery Babylon" of the book of Revelation, and presented his case to rapt Hour of the Time listeners in an amazing 18 hour series of broadcasts that first aired in 1993.

    Prior to the destruction of the World Trade Center, the most notorious act of terrorism on American soil was the destruction of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995. This event would prove to be a watershed for the patriot movement and Bill Cooper, as Terry Nichols and Timothy McVeigh, a Cooper disciple, introduced the American public to a "terrorist" militia that was far more dangerous than the contemporaneous press image of a bunch of harmless idiots playing "army" in the woods. Suddenly, the American public was confronted with "militant right-wing extremists," which, according to the press handouts coming from the White House, represented everything that was wrong with America and were to be taken deadly serious.  Hillary Clinton would, in a memorable television interview, stretch this to its most absurd limits by declaring that the Monica Lewinsky scandal was actually the result of a "vast right-wing conspiracy."

    At this time, Bill Cooper was at the apex of his influence, with his nightly Hour of the Time radio audience at its peak and his newsletter, Veritas, gaining circulation outside the ranks of the militias and other devout Cooper loyalists.  In the days that followed the Oklahoma City tragedy, Cooper rose to the occasion, presenting a concise analysis of the damage to the building, interviews with experts and eye witnesses, and seismological reports that made a very compelling case for a scenario far different than that painted by government investigators. Cooper showed that supplemental, high explosive charges placed at or in the supporting columns of the Murrah Building would have been necessary to create the extensive damage inflicted on the structure; far more damage than could be inflicted by a Ryder truck full of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil (a low explosive).  Beyond McVeigh and Nichols lay conspiracy...

    Cooper was now convinced that the FBI had infiltrated the militias and that the incident in Oklahoma City had been perpetrated by the government of the United States for the purpose of turning public opinion against "true Americans:" the patriot community. The underlying purpose behind Oklahoma City, like Waco, Ruby Ridge, and a string of lesser incidents, was to create public opinion that would first demand the confiscation of firearms from law abiding citizens, then the establishment of a totalitarian police state, and, finally, the surrendering of the sovereignty of the United States to the global socialism of the "New World Order" and the United Nations.  While Waco and Ruby Ridge were bungled into public relations disasters by Janet Reno and the Justice Department, Oklahoma City had succeeded. The patriot/militia movement had taken a torpedo below the waterline, and Bill Cooper knew it.

    Whether the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building was as Cooper envisioned it or not, the result was devastating to the militias.  Across the heartland of America, communities protested the activities of the militia groups in their local areas.  While McVeigh himself had only been peripherally associated with the Michigan Militia, and mostly as a friend of Terry Nichols, it was widely held throughout the Patriot Community that McVeigh was, indeed, an FBI "plant."  And so militia members began looking at each other with suspicion. Membership dwindled and many groups disbanded.  Norm Olsen, commander of the Northern Michigan Militia and one of the most respected militia leaders in the country, was forced to resign as pastor of a small, congregational church because church members were afraid that their chapel would end up surrounded by the FBI and the BATF. Cooper denounced him on the air as a coward.  "Let them walk out on you, Norm," chided Cooper, "Don't just quit."  But Norm did just quit, resigning his commission in the Northern Michigan Militia as well.

    With the revolution thus slipping away, a situation arose that Bill Cooper seized as an opportunity to both revitalize the patriot movement and expand his already considerable influence within what was left of it.  Occupying the 10 p.m. to 12 a.m. time slot as the flagship of WWCR's week night schedule was Tom Valentine's Radio Free America.  When Valentine decided to leave the air, Cooper told WWCR that he wanted to move into the Radio Free America time slot, which, in the world of short wave, is prime time. WWCR balked. Hour of the Time was easily their most controversial program and the now frustrated Cooper was often a nasty host given to berating callers and launching off on nearly incomprehensible tirades at the slightest provocation. WWCR's refusal prompted Cooper into an ongoing tantrum that turned Hour of the Time into a nightly rant against everyone and everything, but especially the management at WWCR. Overcome by the futility of it all, Cooper left the air.

    In the late 1990's, while Bill Cooper brooded in his self imposed exile from radio, Alan Wiener was building a new short wave station in Monticello, Maine. Wiener started in radio as a "pirate" short wave broadcaster, and is generally regarded as one of the best technicians in the business. A few years earlier, Alan Wiener had been hired by the notorious "Brother"  R. G. Stair to outfit "the good ship Fury" with four short wave transmitters and so enable Stair to take to the seas and broadcast his Overcomer Ministry to the four corners of the earth far away from the prying eyes on land.  With no licenses in place, and the Fury sitting at dock in US waters, Wiener powered up one of the transmitters, made a quick test broadcast, and promptly experienced the pirate broadcaster's worst fear: an FCC raid. The transmitters were confiscated, leaving Brother Stair with an empty, rusting old ship and destroying his dream of broadcasting from the high seas.

    Brother Stair made a point of telling his worldwide audience that he'd graciously let Alan Wiener off the hook. This wasn't exactly true. When Wiener went on the air with WBCQ, R.G. Stair was right there to snatch up all the airtime Wiener had for sale, and given Stair's penchant for manipulation, it can be safely assumed that he bought this time at bargain basement prices.

    Alan Wiener was desperate to sign any programming that wasn't R.G. Stair.  WBCQ was conceived as an independent short wave station, not a religious station, and while it was always part of Wiener's plan to run some Christian programming, he had no intention of running it at 90% of his programming day and certainly no intention of having R.G. Stair comprise 100% of that 90%. Practical considerations aside, Wiener also made it no secret that he hated Brother Stair. What was needed was a veteran talk show host with an established following and no broadcast commitments to build the prime time evening schedule around.  While Bill Cooper had made it clear that he didn't need anyone,  Alan Wiener surely did need Bill Cooper.  Wiener offered Cooper the coveted 10 to 12 weeknight time slot, incredibly cheap rates, and the chance to return to the air as the keystone program and center of attention on a brand new station.  In short, a fresh start.

    Cooper, embittered and still smarting, wanted no part of returning to the airwaves. In the absence of radio, he had turned his energies to the burgeoning Internet, posting Veritas online and offering tapes of "Mystery Babylon" and other classics from his vast library of Hour of the Time broadcasts. Still much in demand as a lecturer, he was getting by. Without the distraction of preparing and presenting a nightly radio program, not to mention the stress and strain of those last difficult days at WWCR, Bill Cooper could devote more time to his wife, Annie, and their daughters, Dorothy ("Pooh,") and Allyson, whom he did cherish. This was as close to being happy as Cooper ever got, and he did not relish the thought of giving it up. But he did. With a resignation to destiny and, through the persistence of Wiener, Cooper agreed to reprise Hour of the Time on WBCQ Monday through Thursday nights in the 10 to 11 time slot.  Amidst all the fanfare Alan Wiener could muster and to the delight of the Cooper faithful, Hour of the Time returned to the air in 1998.

    However, the new version of the program soon revealed a deeply disturbed and very troubled William Cooper.  Some nights Cooper would ramble and rant.  Some nights he would verbally blast caller after caller, until finally launching into tirade:  "You're not people!" Cooper would angrily proclaim, "You're sheep being lead to the slaughter. You're nothing but 'sheeple,' stupid, ignorant 'sheeple' and you deserve what you get!" Some nights he wouldn't show at all, offering an old Hour of the Time rebroadcast from the archives.

    In the aftermath of the Oklahoma City incident, Bill Cooper claimed that the Clinton Administration had ordered all federal agencies to investigate, persecute and prosecute him in order to "shut him up."  Cooper responded by going on the attack. Bringing suit against the IRS, ostensibly to force the agency to produce proof of jurisdiction and authority, he stopped paying taxes, and the IRS secured indictments against Bill and Annie Cooper.  In March of 1999, Cooper sent his family outside of the United States and, essentially, barricaded himself in his mountain top home outside of Eagar with a stuffed food locker, a couple of chickens, a most impressive arsenal,  and an attack dog aptly named "Crusher."

    The FBI surrounded Cooper's compound, as Bill told the world about it on Hour of the Time.  The stage was finally set for the showdown Cooper wanted.  "I won't leave here alive, and I'll take as many of them with me as I can!" Cooper enthusiastically told his audience.

    As the Clinton Administration was winding down, and there was much talk of a Clinton "legacy," the last thing the president wanted or needed with an election looming was another Ruby Ridge, this time broadcast live on the air as it was happening.  The FBI stood down and Bill Cooper was allowed to become the problem of a new administration.

    From this point on, alone and secluded, Bill Cooper made his final descent into madness.  It had become painfully obvious to him that if he could not induce the nation to rise up and throw off the chains of the hated Illuminati as a zealot, then his alternative was do to so as a messiah.  Cooper proceeded to alienate everyone except his most loyal disciples, who would carry on the work in his absence.

    Hour of the Time became a window into the final unraveling of William Cooper's mind, as he rambled in and out of coherency between an ever decreasing number of callers. At the end, Cooper's detractors would call and taunt him on the air, like children seeking revenge on a mean old dog that had grown too feeble to defend itself. A few nights before his death, after a string of such calls, Cooper told his audience they could go to hell.  "I'm not taking this bullshit anymore!" he announced at 40 minutes into the program, "I don't know what they're going to do back at WBCQ, but I'm out of here!"  With a click, the satellite feed ended and after a minute of dead air WBCQ filled out the hour with the repeat of a classic Hour of the Time, creating a strange juxtaposition to the tormented Cooper heard in the minutes before.

     When his decline was noted by the editor of the local newspaper, Cooper came off his hinges. Showing up at the man's home, Bill Cooper waved a pistol in his face and threatened to kill him.  Understandably, a complaint was sworn out, and the showdown Cooper had demanded was at hand:  On November 6, 2001, 17 sheriff's deputies, disguised as kids out to party, piled into pick up trucks and drove up to William Cooper's property, where they proceeded to play loud music.  Cooper went out to investigate in his Ford Explorer, taking the bait.  Getting out of the truck, he left his pistol lay on the seat, obviously believing that he was simply running off a group of young revelers, as he had done in the past.  Once close enough to recognize the local law enforcement officers, Cooper bolted to the Explorer and tore back to the house, where an AK-47 stood loaded and ready in an umbrella stand next to the door.  The deputies caught up to Cooper in his front yard.  He raised his pistol and was fired upon enmasse, managing to take out one policeman with two rounds to the head while in the process of being shot to death.

     Since his death, the Cooper disciples soldier on, maintaining and updating his website,, and trying desperately to continue Hour of the Time on radio, though it should be obvious to all that Bill Cooper was Hour of the Time, which is why the current version struggles to gain the support it needs to stay on WBCQ, while Alex Jones, who dispenses the same basic brand of Illuminati-Freemasonry-Conspiracy information, ostensibly from "secret sources," thrives in the same time slot. The truth of the matter is that Bill Cooper's time has come and gone, and the patriot radio medium had moved on without him long before his death.  There's just too much catching up to do, and the current program lacks the style and presentation necessary to compete with slicker shows.  Ironically enough, it was Bill Cooper, who could do riveting radio, that raised the bar on style and presentation to begin with.

     Bill Cooper will always remain an enigma, much like the UFO phenomonon and the Illuminati conspiracy that he gave his life to reveal to a public that, for the most part, merely sought to be entertained. And while "entertaining" is a concept that Cooper would have found anathema, it does, nonetheless, describe him best. In yet another classic example in which life imitates art, he was the true "mad prophet of the airways:" the man gone mad and consumed by the madness that surrounds us all every day by taking the next step and taking it seriously.  This is the point at which the more rational among us know enough to back off, pour another cup of coffee, and listen rather than act; to merely be entertained by it all. Bill Cooper ripped the mask from the alien intruders and found the Illuminati underneath. He pulled the mask from the face of the Illuminati and it revealed a mirror. Rather than turn away, Cooper gazed into this mirror and, to his horror, saw  himself, the rest of humanity, and even Old Nick tuned in to the radio every night:   And all but Mr. Cooper merely entertained.  And so the man went mad.  And so he showed us all the folly of our disbelief by ending his days in a pool of blood on a mountainside near Eagar, Arizona. And so we tuned in to someone else and popped some corn.

     And so the next time you're listening to a talk show on the short wave and you're wondering, "Where in the world did this guy get this stuff?"  Well, now you know.