Death is no more than passing from one room into another— Helen Keller
Famed radio personality Art Bell passed away April 13, 2018 at the age of 72. He was best known as a pioneering voice for all things paranormal. He hosted a nightly syndicated radio talk show program aptly named Coast To Coast AM. The program aired on more than 500 stations throughout the United States reaching millions of people; it was also simultaneously broadcasted over the Internet to millions of more listeners worldwide.
I have been a fan of Art Bell for years. Each night I looked forward to hearing his voice and listening to his guests. His radio shows entertained and educated me since I discovered his program in 1995. Art Bell may be gone, but he will never be forgotten. Art will always live on in re-runs and on a plethora of websites.
Bell’s success was a phenomenon of its own. Instead of embracing the norms of the day, Bell bucked the trend of political talk in the 1990s for a topic that he would make his own: paranormal. In the early years of his Coast To Coast AM program Bell was often asked by callers what inspired him to do a nightly program dedicated to conspiracy theories and paranormal activities. He often mentioned during his broadcasts that he “was crushingly bored talking about politics for 30 hours a week” and that is what prompted him to do something different.
The fledgling format launched Bell’s career into the stratosphere, no pun intended. It earned him massive ratings for an overnight radio program and gave him an endearing audience; more importantly to Bell, his show connected with people in ways contemporary radio programs of the time couldn’t do. It also gave a voice and outlet to millions of overlooked people.
Art Bell did cast a wide shadow across radio, if not the entire entertainment industry. His influence prompted hundreds of paranormal shows on both radio and television. He was even mentioned in National Treasure a major feature film starring Nickolas Cage, when a character named Riley Poole, portrayed by Justin Bartha, exclaimed during a conversation, “get Art Bell on the phone now!”
Bell had several “retirements” from Coast to Coast AM between 2000 and 2007. He eventually turned over the reins of his juggernaut program to George Noory in 2003, although he did continue to work as a weekend host and do special programs on Halloween and New Year’s Eve. When personal tragedies and setbacks hit, Bell had a noticeable absence from the airwaves; however, these vicissitudes didn’t keep him down for long. Bell created and developed several projects including a short lived program for SiriusXM called Dark Matter and an internet radio show titled Midnight In The Desert in 2015. Bell officially retired Dec. 11, 2015 to spend more time with his family.
Bell spent his life exploring unearthly and bizarre events that defy explanation. Paranormal enthusiasts will certainly be talking about his passing on Friday the 13 for years to come. After all Friday the 13 is the most stigmatized day on the calendar, and its association with bad luck and the paranormal is undeniable. Although there is never a good time for a man like Art Bell to pass away, that freakish coincidence is somewhat comforting. It’s like he is giving fodder to the industry he helped build into a mainstream franchise.
It goes without saying that Art Bell will be missed by legions of fans, friends and colleagues, but his beloved family will be devastated forever. I wish to extend my condolences and deepest sympathies to his wife and children.
Thank you for sharing him with us over the years.