Lost Art

Art Bell died on Friday the 13th. In a way, fitting.

As one person put it on Twitter, of course, Art Bell would pass away on Friday the 13th. But it did happen, with a mournful George Noory breaking the news on Coast to Coast AM late on Friday evening on the very show Mr. Bell used to host.

I’ve never met or spoken to Art, but his impact on radio in the era I worked in the business was profound. I’m pretty sure that Art was briefly on North America One, a satellite sister entity of the Sun Radio Network, in either the late summer or early fall of 1991 – though my recollection of that is a bit fuzzy here in 2018.  When I worked for Valentine Communications producing Radio Free America in 1995 out of WBDN in the Feather Sound area of Clearwater, Art’s show was on the station, airing at 1:00 in the morning through to 6:00. I’d often run errands when my radio shift ended at midnight, and I’d catch the starts of Art’s shows driving around in my car.

WFLA, the big talk station in the Tampa Bay area, eventually picked his shows up locally. I heard him again in 1996 on a Greyhound bus heading out to stay in Las Vegas for a few weeks, then got hooked hearing him out in Sin City listening to his shows on 720 KDWN. I’m living in Florida again in 1998, driving up with my mother to North Carolina one overnight with Mom getting spooked out listening to the “Sounds Of Hell” recording Art frequently played in that era. Memo to future self: don’t scare your mother when you’re driving a car.

In the last two decades or so, he was on and off the air numerous times. He’d sign a new deal with someone, then find the deal wasn’t up to snuff and leave just as quickly as he returned. As many of us in the profession, my guess was he wasn’t too fond of the consolidation the radio business has gone through since the FCC laws changed in 1996, trying satellite radio, then online radio with what became his last sortie in the business.

My sincerest condolences to Art’s family on their loss this past day.



Going Greyhound

I mentioned a few months ago that in 1996 I made a cross-country trip on a Greyhound bus from Marietta, Georgia to Las Vegas.  Noting how June 1st fell on a Saturday that year and this, I found myself remembering that trip over the weekend.

Greyhound is not a glamorous way to travel the country, but if you don’t mess with people on the bus, people won’t mess with you.  It’s a simple, easy rule to live by as you venture across the USA.

The route followed I-75 and I-24 up to Chattanooga, Nashville, and St. Louis.  It then went west across I-70 through Kansas City, Denver, and central Utah before sweeping down I-15 through Las Vegas.  The toughest part about the trip was sleeping, as I stayed awake for the first 20 hours of the trip before I got some sleep on Saturday morning rolling through eastern Kansas.  I had a radio with several spare batteries so I could listen to various radio stations.  Talk radio, ball games and music in the daytime, and Art Bell at night got me through the boredom.  WSM in Nashville.  KMOX in St. Louis.  KOA in Denver.  720 KDWN in Las Vegas.

Denver was the most suspenseful time of the trip, if you could call it that, as the bus that took me from Denver to points west was a couple of hours late.  Slept like a baby through the mountains of Colorado.  Although I woke up at one point smack dab in the middle of the Eisenhower Tunnel and wondered how I got there.

Would I do it again?  Absolutely I would.  Did the trip twice more in 2000, but haven’t had the chance to do it since.  Doing that trip once more would make for some pretty good blog entries, no?