PAHRUMP, Nev. (AP) -- Art Bell, an overnight radio host with a following
among insomniacs, UFO enthusiasts and conspiracy theorists, quit on
Tuesday, citing what he described only as ``a threatening, terrible
event'' that happened to his family.
A law officer in this tiny southern Nevada town said there were no
criminal threats, but declined to elaborate.
``What you are listening to is my final broadcast,'' Bell told listeners
of ``Coast to Coast'' before signing off at about 3 a.m.
Bell, whose program was said to attract some 15 million listeners on more
than 400 stations nationwide, making it America country's most popular
overnight radio show, produced his broadcasts from his Pahrump home. His
telephone was disconnected Tuesday and he couldn't be reached.
Sheriff's Lt. Bill Becht said officers were sent to Bell's home upon
learning of the broadcast. They found him there, with no evidence of foul
``He's not, nor is his family, in immediate danger,'' said Nye County
Sheriff Wade Lieseke, who described himself as a close personal friend of
Bell. ``They have not been threatened.
``It's being taken out of context,'' Lieseke said of the issue, which he
refused to explain. ``I'm sure it will come out when Art Bell wishes to
During his final show, Bell, 51, said, ``A threatening, terrible event
occurred to my family, which I could not tell you about. Because of that
event and a succession of other events, what you're listening to right now
is my final broadcast.''
Jacor Communications Inc., the Covington, Ky.-based radio giant that
distributes Bell's show, referred calls to its Los Angeles syndication
arm, Premiere Radio Network.
``We will be playing `best-of' shows until further notice until we find
out what's going on,'' Premiere spokeswoman Mir Hendrickson said.
Jacor also distributes shows by such personalities as Rush Limbaugh and
Dr. Laura Schlessinger. Last week, San Antonio-based Clear Channel
Communications announced it was taking over Jacor in a $3.4 billion deal.
Typical call-in contributors to Bell's show included people who claimed to
be kidnapped by space aliens, had a theory on cattle mutilations or
thought the CIA was following them. The show's slogan was ``The truth is
in the night.''
Stunned listeners left messages on Bell's Web site.
``I can only ponder the MANY scenarios and possibilities. I hope that it
is revealed very soon. Doesn't this make one think, `How safe and free are
we?''' wrote one fan, who identified herself as Johnda Webb.
Bell gained widespread attention in November 1996 when an amateur
astronomer told him he had a photo showing a mysterious ``Saturnlike
object'' trailing the Hale-Bopp comet. Astronomers later said the object
was actually a star whose image was distorted by the astronomer's
Rumors continued for weeks, fostered by debate on the Internet and
publicity on Bell's program.
Then, in March 1997, 39 people in the Heaven's Gate cult committed suicide
about the time the comet was closest to Earth. They left a message saying
that the comet heralded the arrival of a spacecraft that would ``take us
home'' to a higher plane of existence.
Bell said he was saddened by the suicides but never heard of the cult and
bore no responsibility for the deaths.