“Longtime radio host Art Bell died Friday at his Pahrump home, the Nye County Sheriff’s Office announced,” reports the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Bell was 72.
The story continues, “Bell’s paranormal-themed show, ‘Coast to Coast AM,’ was syndicated on about 500 North American stations in the 1990s before he left the nightly show in 2002. He broadcast the show from Pahrump’s KNYE 95.1 FM, a station he founded.”
Bell retired from the air and then came back to broadcast again on a number of occasions. The last time he retired from the air was in 2015.
One of the best-known catchphrases from Bell’s “Coast to Coast AM” was that he was broadcasting “from the Kingdom of Nye.” Bell, his guests and callers would often refer to Area 51, the famous top-secret military site that is also in Nevada.
It won’t be lost on fans of Bell that he died on Friday the 13th. “An autopsy has been scheduled to determine his exact cause of death,” according to a story on the website of Las Vegas TV station KVVU.
Notes Wikpedia about Bell, “Fans regarded Bell as a master showman, noting that he called his show ‘absolute entertainment’and expressly said he did not necessarily accept every guest or caller’s claims but only offered a forum where they would not be openly ridiculed. Bell was one of only a few talk show hosts who did not [usually] screen incoming calls.”
Bell’s Wikipedia entry also says, “His calm attitude, patient questions, and ability to tease substance from nebulous statements of callers and guests gave his show a relaxed yet serious atmosphere. This earned him praise from those who declare that the paranormal deserves a mature outlet of discussion in the media as well as the approval of those simply amused by the nightly parade of bizarre, typically fringe topics. Ed Danes, Richard C. Hoadland, Terence McKenna, Dannion Brinkley, David John Oates and Robert Bigelow were all regular guests….
“Bell’s own interests, however, extended beyond the paranormal. He interviewed singers Crystal Gayle, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Eric Burdon and Gordon Lightfoot, comedian George Carlin, writer Dewan Koontz, hard science fiction writer Greg Bear, ‘X-Files’ writer/creator Chris Carter, TV talk show host Regis Philbin, ‘Star Trek’ actor Leonard Nimoy, actor Dan Aykroyd, former Lutwaffe pilot Bruno Stolle, actress Jane Seymore, actress Ellen Muth, actor and TV host Robert Stack, human rights lawyer John Loftus, legendary disc jockey Casey Kasem, and frequent guests physicist Michio Kaku and SETI astronomers Seth Shostak and H. Paul Shuch.”
Bell was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2008.
Tom Leykis, himself a radio legend, tweeted this upon hearing of Bell’s death: “Art Bell, dead at 72, will be returning to the air Monday night from an undisclosed location. Call the Wild Card Line if you have questions.”
From 1999, here’s Bell being interviewed on CNN by Larry King:
Finally, here’s a classic broadcast of Bell’s “Coast to Coast AM” from 1994 that we found on YouTube. It runs about three hours–listen to as little of it or as much of it as you want. Bell’s guest is pilot [and son of Lear Jet founder William Lear] John Lear. Enjoy.