Art Bell: The man who changed late night

UFO

MYSTERY WIRE — Talk radio host Art Bell almost single-handedly transformed late night by giving serious treatment to UFOs, the paranormal, and assorted conspiracy theories, long before those became staples of cable TV and the internet.

Art Bell

Bell was the master of the macabre. He started small but became a global voice for things that go bump in the night when the radio program he founded, Coast to Coast AM, exploded into a worldwide phenomenon.

Coast to Coast AM quickly became popular, not only  with insomniacs and long haul truckers, but also with legions of loyal followers who were hungry for information about subjects shunned by other media.

At his peak, his show Coast to Coast AM had 12 million listeners per week and covered much more than UFOs and the paranormal.

In August 2013, he was planning a comeback, preparing for the launch of a new radio show.

He was no fan of on-camera interviews, but sat down to George Knapp to ponder how so-called fringe topics became more mainstream.

“I love that stuff. The world has changed, only in the sense that what I did back then is now times ten,” Art Bell said during one of his last public interviews. “These questions, deep questions like, life after death, is there any? UFOs? People from elsewhere, things from elsewhere. Ghosts. Those questions are still there and bigger now. As we get older, we wonder more about these things. I certainly do.”

Bell’s comeback didn’t last long. He retired again and passed away in April, 2018, at his home in Pahrump at the age of 72. Coroner investigators released Bell’s cause of death as multiple drug intoxication which included oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, and carisoprodol. His death was determined to be an accident.

But the legend of Art Bell lives on. The radio show he helped launch is carried on more than 600 radio stations and is now hosted by George Noory.

George Knapp has also interviewed Noory and asked him about how the show has changed over the years.

“It’s become a phenom, George.” Noory said about the Coast to Coast AM radio show.  “We’re on 620 radio stations in North America, which includes Canada, which is probably the highest affiliated show in the country. It’s huge. We’re podcasting. We’re on YouTube now. We’re on the internet. We stream with the Coast Insiders. It’s become a huge program. And the content has changed a little bit from the days when Art Bell was doing the show. Where he was primarily paranormal, I tweaked it a little bit into conspiracies and issues that are affecting us as humans. Alternative medicine. Do we get vaccines? Do we not? And the programs just continue to take off.”

In Bell’s home town of Pahrump, NV there is now a plaque in his honor.  The plaque is at Calvada Eye park adjacent to the Pahrump Town Office, off of East Calvada Boulevard.

Bell’s legacy also lives on with an alien statue named Carville. The statue was carved out of wood by Darren Hussey.

It’s a long story, but the name comes down to Hussey seeing the front page of the Weekly World News in line at a grocery store showing an image of radio host Rush Limbaugh meeting with an alien.

This led Hussey to name the solid mahogany, 5-foot-tall, 72-pound alien Carville. Hussey said it looked like one of Rush’s detractors, Democratic pundit James Carville. Hussy then delivered the statue to Limbaugh’s studio.

In March, 2001, Art Bell was being honored at the R&R Talk Radio Seminar, in Marina Del Rey, California. It was here Bell was presented with the alien statue.

Carville became a staple on Bell’s broadcasts for 10 years until 2011 when Bell began saying the alien statue was coming to life at night.

Bell ended up selling the statue to a collector, Joshua Warren, who now lives in Las Vegas and keeps it in his private collection.

As a matter of disclosure, George Knapp was a friend and colleague of Art Bell’s over the years and still fills as a twice-per-month weekend host of Coast to Coast.

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