Former nationwide overnight radio host Art Bell dies

By Allen Cone  |  Updated April 15, 2018 at 7:27 PM
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April 15 (UPI) -- Art Bell, a nationwide overnight radio host best known for paranormal-themed shows, died on Friday the 13th. He was 72.

The Coast to Coast AM show he founded was syndicated nationwide on about 500 stations across the United States and Canada from 1993 until 2002, according to the station website. Bell returned to occasionally host Coast to Coast AM programs on weekends and later launched his own Sirius XM radio program in 2012 and then for five monthis in 2015 broadcast a show Midnight in the Desert online via TuneIn and some terrestrial radio stations until he stopped because he and his family was being hassled by a "crazy person," according to a Facebook post.

But his old shows live on under the name Somewhere in Time. They can be heard on Saturday nights on stations carrying the Premiere Networks broadcasts.

Bell hosted his shows from his home in Pahrump, Nev., about 64 miles west of Las Vegas. He would open his broadcasts with the phrase: "From the kingdom of Nye."

Nye County Sheriff Sharon Wehrly announced Bell's death at home in a video post on Facebook late Friday.

His cause of death has not yet been determined and an autopsy is scheduled for later this week, according to the Nye County Sheriff's Office.

In 2016, Bell described his five-day ordeal at a hospital in Henderson, Nev., for pneumonia and symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, writing "I am not in good shape, so weak I cannot dress myself."

Bell, who became a licensed amateur radio operator at 13, got his start in radio working as a disc jockey for an English-language station in Japan after serving as an Air Force medic in Vietnam. He set a Guinness World Record for broadcasting 116 hours straight.

In the mid-1980s, he worked at the 50,000-watt KDWN-AM in Las Vegas, where he hosted a mainly political talk show overnight.

He transferred it to conspiracy theories and paranormal topics after considerable interest from listeners. His shows dealt with UFOs, alien abductions, crop circles, ghosts and Area 51 in Nevada.

Bell was known for taking calls from different lines: From East of the Rockies, West of the Rockies and first-time listeners. He answered the calls without a screener and served as the engineer. He hosted an annual Ghost to Ghost AM Halloween specials and took viewer predictions on New Year's Eve.

"As he begins his journey on the 'other side,' we take solace in the hope that he is now finding out all of the answers to the mysteries he pursued for so many nights with all of us," Coast to Coast said in a statement Saturday.

The current host, George Noory, who took over for Bell, announced his death during his show late Friday. The show is broadcast from 10 p.m.-2 a.m. Pacific time.

On Twitter, Noory posted: "Art was a legend -- a radio icon who went against the grain and developed an amazing show called Coast to Coast AM. His impact on my life is beyond words. He will be missed, but I know he is now on another journey."

Bell was inducted into the Nevada Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame in 2006 and into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2008.

Survivors include his wife, Airyn, a women from the Philippines he married in 2006, and his children Asia, Alex and Art Bell IV. At one time he lived in the Philippines with his wife where he broadcast the weekend shows from there.

His third wife, Ramona, died of an asthma attack in 2006.

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