Coast To Coast: Art Bell (W6OBB) is dead at 72

(Source: Chicago Tribune)

Art Bell, a radio host best known for a paranormal-themed nightly show syndicated on hundreds of stations in the 1990s, died at his home in southern Nevada, authorities said Saturday.

Nye County Sheriff Sharon Wehrly announced in a Facebook video that Bell died Friday in Pahrump. He was 72. An autopsy will be conducted to determine cause of death, she said.

Bell hosted the popular radio talk show “Coast to Coast AM” before he left the airwaves in 2002. He broadcast the show from his radio station, KNYE, in Pahrump.

The program focused on Bell’s conspiracy theories and his fascination with the paranormal and unexplained phenomenon such as UFOs and crop circles. He served as his own producer, engineer and host, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Fans, including celebrities like William Shatner and singer Josh Groban, took to Twitter to praise Bell. Groban recalled staying up late to listen to the host’s “one of a kind” voice and how “his shows were so weird & spooky but somehow managed to hold off your skepticism.”

Former business partner Alan Corbeth said during Bell’s 2008 induction into the National Radio Hall of Fame that nobody was better than Bell at understanding “how to create theater of the mind…”[…]

Click here to read the full story at the Chicago Tribune.

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9 thoughts on “Coast To Coast: Art Bell (W6OBB) is dead at 72

  1. Brian P. Hill

    Brian “BLAZZE” Hill,
    Dear Mr. Bell,
    I ALWAYS wanted and aspired to be a political journalist. When I was 10 11 12 and had Kate Jackson from Charlie’s Angels poster on my wall it was shrouded and out actually burdened by the cover pages of Time Magazine and Newsweek and use paper cut-outs and magazine articles on hunger strike at h block talking about the IRA in Great Britain struggles and Idi Amin dada, president of Uganda, d one of the key players in rescue at entebbe the Israelites Rescue of their hostages taken to Ugandan Ugandan airport and the Israeli Commandos the C-130 and general Stars Ugandan combat uniforms facade pretending to be Ugandan leader Idi Amin or and his Commandos and taking over and lost to hostages but actually maybe just one but take out all the combatant hijackers. My walls covered with these things the political journalist with my absolute goal. My heroes where Peter Jennings I never missed a Nightline but Ted Koppel and I was immersed in global Interac in reactions in the fields of the political Global tensions naturally you know when the United States and Livia work having at it when President Reagan got tired of the Soviet Mig flown by Libyan Pilots shadowing and bumping into our jet fighters in overflying our task force forces and President Reagan ordering on some strafes and bombings on his hideouts course he left his kids there and he took off we end up killing one of his four-year-old daughters but you know that’s on him. I remember all the military bases in the entire nation had a new standard thought it was called look and touch in other words every guard at every gate of every military installation all over the world this requirement provided for the guards to actually physically touch the ID that was presented to them for authorization for this person to come onto the space that included every single person going through pass and ID and entry gates at every military installation across the globe. And so as it happened is it happened I ended up going to the plumbers and pipefitters Union in the Carpenters Union I ended up in the pile drivers Union 2396 and ended up retiring from that Union but I left home and I was 13 me and my girlfriend had our own place when I was 14 we had a studio apartment above the plaza twin cinema in Port Orchard Washington $450 a month and I went to Alternative High School the Mine Gallery from 6:30 A.M. TO 11:00 and then worked 12 to 5 down at The Snack Shack at the retsil veterans home. Well I had bills to pay. I have a rent for around fifty bucks no I had a 60 you know $70 phone bill every month plus at 14 years old I had to keep beer in my fridge and pot pies in my freezer and you know it was great but when I was in eighth grade I was brought into the counselor’s office and shown some SAT scores and I was told this is what colleges look for in you know your parents plan on you know you going to college and I didn’t live at home and I said I don’t know and you want to set up an appointment but I didn’t live at home I didn’t know how to tell him that. The point is is that had the ability I just have the means I had to get to work I had to get out of school and get to work and make some money order to get my life on the on the on the ball get my life rolling and it was a real drag waiting to get old enough to get employable. As a matter of fact when I was in elementary school in home Washington Evergreen Elementary School in lakebay Washington they yanked about 7 six or seven of us out of class and I didn’t mr. Greece and fifth grade class and took a shower to the library and said we’re going to start a newspaper and was selected you people to help start it be nice to me today at taking the the top SAT scores people out of class to start a new school newspaper interesting I never knew anything about this but I had to work iron it up like I said doing heavy construction and enjoyed it a lot I really really did and naturally broadcasting was in my future I ended up working at a radio station in Kitsap County I came up 1 slogans that everybody used which is really great it went like this you’re listening to Kitz am talk radio 1600 on your dial broadcasting live from your South Kitsap Mall. Hey when you shop shop local shop the South Kitsap Mall. And help with the unity, back in the community!! When I was 13 years old it was 19 79 1980 and I used to go to sleep with classic music because I want to play guitar real bad and I knew that all the formulations of any music derived from the building blocks of classical of the classic composers and one night of course you know the story one night looking through the dials clicking through the airwaves I found Art Bell Coast to Coast AM!! I thought that I had found gold in a pot at the end of the rainbow I thought I had uncovered a gem that nobody else knew about and you know what I did nobody else knew anything about it I couldn’t believe it and as we grew up and became busy you know we would leave for a while but we always came back and it was always there sometimes I had to struggle look around to find it sometimes I didn’t find it but you know I drank a lot and I wasn’t really patient enough when I had to sleep get to get my butt to sleep so I can get up go to work to look for it but I always found it every now and then and I’ve been listening to it for now for probably 12 15 years and what mr. Bell did and what coasttocoastam did what the coast to coast family did what the listeners the smartest people on the planet did for me was to fulfill my uninsured and on fulfilled dream of becoming a political journalist and broadcaster. And it’s not my God it’s not my end-all-be-all it’s not my religion but it was always my Ernest and deepest desire but to become a broadcast journalist political science Peter Jennings Mister Cobble and I’ll even throw Brit Hume in there these guys were my heroes Ronald Reagan is my hero George Bush Junior is my hero Donald Trump is my hero art Bell’s my hero George Noory is my hero and I call out to George Noory Andrews producer that it would be a fantastic fantastic really it move to pull a little bit of a p a stunt and with a fresh cake and fresh eyes and like a little child who hasn’t been desensitizing damaged by the world bring someone in and have maybe a little not contest but yeah maybe a little contest at both tournament or people who have unfulfilled dreams of being in Broadcasting and can handle themselves give him a shot at just a couple minutes or maybe handle couple phone calls and I think it be exciting I think you’d gain thousands if not millions of new listeners. Guaranteed. Keep doing what you’re doing and let me know how I can sending an application you know I did pile driving and welding and I built bridges suspension bridges and tunnels and fish pens and Ferry Landing and floating Bridges and ran million dollar jobs Iran General yard one in Seattle Washington off West Marginal Way and the dramas Waterway. I have credentials I just don’t have the time to go to broadcast school so it’d be nice to get involved in something that I could write broadcast pull up broadcast in my life thank you I love you Art Bell rest in peace love Brian P Hill

  2. Gary

    I grew up listening to sports talk radio with my dad. One night I decided to tune in on my own, and I stumbled onto Art Bell by mistake. I must have been about 13 or 14. For the rest of that summer, much to my mom’s annoyance, I was up until 4am listening to Coast to Coast. Once school started back up, I rigged up some analogue timers to record the first 45 minutes on one cassette, then the next 45 on another. Somewhere in there, Art convinced me to ask for birthday presents from C. Crane. Next thing I know, I’m getting QSL cards from Ecuador and thinking about summer internships with international broadcasters. Then I end up working for one. It’s not a stretch to say that he shaped my career. I got out of the listening habit somewhere during the string of retirements, but I always got excited for the comebacks. And I was thrilled when, during his last run, he was back at his best.
    I’m truly saddened that he’s gone.

  3. Lou

    I guess Art now knows if there are aliens, life after death, and who shot JFK. He was one of a kind and will be missed.

    I spent many nights as a teenager and young adult listening to Art. There was nothing that could come close to a nighttime drive out in the “sticks” with Art on the radio. A fluctuating AM signal, crazy conspiracy theories, and awesome bumper music = perfection.

    -Lou from West of the Rockies…….

  4. VR2HF / K7DAN

    I first met Art face-to-face when he moved to the Philippines after his marriage to Airyn. Before that there were countless evenings with him and others on 3840 KHz and other frequencies at night after his Coast to Coast radio show. And I had the opportunity to visit Art and the family in Pahrump a couple of times in recent years. During CES in in Las Vegas in 2017 I planned to visit again, but got super sick and ended up staying mostly in my hotel room for four days. Part of what got me through that was Art talking with me and giving some suggestions about my condition on 2 meters through a local remote base on simplex.

    On a personal level what amazed me about Art was how much he loved ham radio and his ham radio buddies. He really cared about us and allowed us to be part of his world. This very special and amazing man went out of his way to make US feel special and amazing. It was clear to me that he just wanted to be a regular guy on the ham bands having fun, playing with radios, antennas and all the rest the hobby has to offer.

    There will never, ever be another Art Bell. On a professional, personal, and hobby level he was one of a kind. So long, Art. We will indeed miss you…de K7DAN

  5. Dan Srebnick

    My favorite memory of Art goes back to a show he probably did about 20 years ago. I don’t remember the exact date, but he announced one night that if aliens were really trying to contact us we should agree upon a common radio frequency. He threw a frequency out on the air and said that people should listen in case the aliens call. So I listened.

    Sure enough, after some time listening to static, someone turned on a transmitter and started playing the sounds from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I don’t know if it was transmitted by Art himself, but what a prankster.

  6. DanH

    Sad news. I haven’t heard Art for a few years. The last time I heard him was during a live show on Midnight in the Desert on 5080 kHz. Reception was good in northern California after 10:30 or 11:00 p.m. or so. He ruled late night AM radio for a while, didn’t he? I spent quite a few late night hours during the ’90s at the garage workbench restoring wooden boat parts while listening to UFO yarns and other wacky nonsense on Art Bell. I don’t listen to amateur radio so I never heard him there.

  7. The Professor

    When I moved to New York City (and thought I was a hot shot, I guess) I came with a bunch of clips from newspaper and magazine stories I had written while living in Florida. I shopped ’em at every magazine in New York that I wanted to write for.

    An editor from the New York Times Magazine actually called me back. We had a great lunch and she wanted me to propose a story idea to their board. This was in 1997 when the syndication of Art Bell’s “Coast to Coast” program was at a crescendo, and he was about to debut on New York radio on WABC. So, as I was a big fan of Bell’s show and he was becoming a rising star he seemed like a great topic for a national profile.

    In 1995 I wrote a cover story for the alternative newsweekly in Tampa about a UFO conference being held there. And using the fledgling technology of the internet of the time I attempted to get up to speed on the latest interplanetary spaceship business.

    As a side note, before the web was available in everyone’s home, computer savvy types would share information and files by accessing computer bulletin board systems (or BBSs) by dialing their computers into isolated networks through phone modems and sharing files and information. And UFO conspiracy “information” was rampant on all these servers, and when the internet started to become popular this stuff was quickly absorbed by new websites. So there was quite a bit of text available online about UFOs and related topics when the world wide web became easy access. And while browsing this material, the Art Bell radio show was mentioned more than a few times.

    So when I found out Art Bell’s show was coming to the Tampa Bay area I was a little psyched, wanting to hear this oddball Nevada talk show host live. And upon finally tuning it, I was hooked right away. His show was compelling, ridiculous and good-natured all at the same time. Great late night radio fodder.

    Upon moving to New York I kept up with Bell’s show by the primitive audio streaming of the 1990s, listening to his show from KEEL in Shreveport and other online radio stations of the day. Then I heard he was coming to New York terrestrial radio, and I was happy to not have to access lo-fi realaudio streams just to hear him.

    So, more than most New Yorkers I was very familiar with Art Bell and his compelling broadcasting style, and twenty years ago having a conspiratorial broadcaster begin to dominate overnight radio seemed like a real story. And maybe it was…

    I don’t remember exactly how I did it, but I somehow got a message to Art Bell that I wanted to do a profile of him for the New York Times. And a few days later he actually called me up. And he actually woke me up, and half asleep I suddenly found myself talking to Art Bell. Kind of poetic in a way.

    I don’t know about you, but I’ve had to man up for business phone calls quite quickly from a dream state a few times, and my call from Art Bell went well. He was game to be interviewed or even observed for a New York Times story. And I can’t tell you odd it felt to pose questions to somebody I’d heard interview any number of oddballs on the radio for years. But he was great, easy to talk to and he seemed to be open to more than superficial questions.

    This was all very exciting, and I immediately submitted my story idea to the Times, as well as the fact that he had agreed to be interviewed. But long story short, they said no. The New York Times Magazine has as editorial board, and for all those established old codgers I was just an unknown writer wanting to write about a crackpot radio host. And then all the sudden I was getting kicked out of a less than legal Manhattan sublet and I got busy doing other things to make a fast buck. And my clips got old and the internet happened and… here I am.

    Nonetheless, Art Bell was a great broadcaster. He was able to present off the wall guests with offbeat stories and weird ideas while somehow mainlining his own credibility, and providing an interesting radio show in the process.

    And he was a weird dude- retiring from radio four or five times, and later begrudging George Noory and his version of “Coast to Coast” after he sold the show to Clear Channel. But in retrospect he was a super talented talk show host who obviously loved hosting the totally unique radio show he created. And however you felt about his guests or his topics he made it fun to listen to what he was doing. His grasp of talk radio dynamics was brilliant.

    And although George Noory or all of the other “Coast to Coast” hosts I’ve heard since Art Bell backed away from the microphone aren’t bad, nobody really captures that same magic. He knew how to milk callers for both raw information and raw entertainment. And his comic timing and innate curiosity was spot on.

    Ever since he went off the air, I’ve missed him. And I miss him on the radio now. Even more.

    Oh, one other note to add. I ran into that New York Times Magazine editor a few years later at some Lower East Side restaurant. And by then she had heard plenty about Art Bell and said that my proposal to profile him would have been a great idea, but that she was only one member of their editorial board back then and couldn’t approve it without their support. And she didn’t work for the Times any longer anyway.

    Anyway, that’s my Art Bell story. He was one of my favorite radio weirdos. A flawed giant.


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