Radio host Art Bell, whose nationally syndicated paranormal, supernatural and conspiracy themed show Coast to Coast AM kept many awake at night – for good reasons and bad – died at his Pahrump, Nevada home on Friday the 13th. Bell was 72.
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During its peak in the 1990s, Bell’s show was broadcast on approximately 500 North American radio stations, airing from his isolated hometown of Pahrump on KNYE 95.1 FM, a station he founded.
According to the Coast to Coast AM website, Bell became an FCC-licensed radio technician at age 13 and once set a Guinness World Record for broadcasting solo for 116 straight hours while working as a DJ at KSBK in Okinawa, Japan.
Bell retired several times in his career, which included a short-lived show on SiriusXM satellite radio in 2013. His leaves always sparked rumors as to the “true cause” of his departures among the conspiracy minded.
Still, he could never stay away for long, as he told the Pahrump Valley Times in a 2013 interview. “It’s my life, and that’s all I have ever done,” he said. “I went through a lot of family problems, so that interrupted things, and I was overseas four years, and that certainly interrupted things. I went back into radio because I love it.”
That love was returned by his peers. Bell was inducted into the Nevada Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame in 2006 and the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2008.
Bell was born in Jacksonville, North Carolina, on June 17, 1945. He served in the the US Air Force as a medic during the Vietnam War.
No theory was too outlandish for the Coast To Coast AM show that Bell produced, running the gamut from UFOs to reports of strange creatures and stranger organizations. The all-night broadcast kept many a traveler company in the wee, small hours. Bell produced and ran the technical board for the show and had a strong bond with his listeners.
Part of his appeal was his nationwide reach. He joined the 50,000 watt clear channel KDWN in Las Vegas, reaching 13 western states. He later segued to Chancellor Broadcasting Company, and then transitioned to the Premiere Radio Networks.
Coast To Coast AM continued after Bell’s final retirement from it in 2010, with George Noory and George Knapp splitting hosting duties. Bell returned to radio in 2015 with a new show called Midnight in the Desert, available online and on a few stations. He announced what would be his final retirement on Dec. 11, 2015, citing unspecified security concerns at his home, a statement which fueled massive speculation among his followers.
Bell made several appearances in films and television, essentially playing himself. He was in the tv series Dark Skies (2007) and many documentaries, providing commentary on aliens, the Illuminati, and UFOs, among other topics.
There was no information immediately available on survivors or any memorial plans.