The Kingdom of Nye is quiet today. Art Bell has left, and there is but an eerie silence across the land. It was with shock and profound sadness that his passing was announced; of all possible days, on Friday the 13th. How like our king to choose such a date to leave.
Never before in the history of radio had there been anyone like Art Bell. It was his destiny to bring the paranormal, those off the beaten path, and out of this world topics to a curious, unsuspecting, and uninformed public. It was the public’s destiny to wake up and discover there was so much more in the universe and on planet Earth than previously known. When given the opportunity to hear, listeners could not get enough of what Art Bell had to bring them.
Art started on his path early in life. By age 13, he was an FCC licensed radio technician. As a young airman, he and his friend built a pirate radio station on Amarillo Air Force Base, where they played bootleg rock and roll. While stationed in Okinawa, Japan, he made the Guinness Book of Records for a 116 hour and 15 minute solo broadcast marathon. Bell raised enough money from his efforts that allowed him to charter a DC 8, and fly to Vietnam where he rescued 130 Vietnamese orphans who had been left in Saigon at the end of the war. The children were brought to the States and were adopted by American families.
There were years in the 1970s where Art Bell worked in front of and behind a microphone. He also worked in cable television, but by 1978, he had developed a late night call-in show in Las Vegas known as West Coast AM. This was just the beginning, and in 1988, he renamed the show Coast to Coast AM, and moved its broadcast location to his home in Pahrump, Nevada. In 1986 Bell had been offered a five-hour time slot in the middle of the night by 50,000 watt radio station KDWN, and by 1993, his show was syndicated to many other radio stations.
During these years, Bell moved away from his original and traditional political talk show toward more unusual topics. When he did, his audience numbers jumped as he discussed the paranormal, conspiracy theories, UFOs, and all things off the beaten path. There was a measurable public desire for these types of shows, and Art Bell filled it. During its peak in the 1990s, Bell’s show was broadcast on approximately 500 North American radio stations, with an estimated 10,000,000 listeners.
Even though the Kingdom of Nye is now silent, Art Bell has given the world a lasting legacy by opening up to everyone who will listen the means by which they can hear the truth. It is out there, and radio is where it will be found. Thank you Art Bell. You will be missed.