Weird Radio Host Art Bell Returns

ByABC News
February 6, 2001, 7:06 AM

Feb. 6 -- The truth, apparently, is still out there.

Late-night radios king of the weird, Art Bell, took to the airwaves early Tuesday after he spent nearly a year in self-imposed exile to deal with personal and legal troubles.

Bell, who broadcasts from his home in the Nevada desert, tackled UFOs, conspiracies, cover-ups, chupacabras and more for some 15 years before his sudden retirement last year. Now, hes promising to stick around for years.

The negotiation was brutal and bloody! Bell said in a press release. The result... fewer commercials and back to five hours.

The commercials may be fewer, but they are still significant while no official number or comparison was immediately available, tuning in Monday night found between 20 and 25 minutes of ads in a single hour of the five-hour broadcast.

King of the Weird, King of the Airwaves

With an estimated 10 million listeners, Bells show was at the time of his retirement the most listened-to late-night radio program, and fourth overall behind Rush Limbaugh, Howard Stern, and Dr. Laura. But many stations, including those in key markets such as New York and Los Angeles, dropped Coast to Coast AM as ratings fell under replacement host Mike Siegel.

If the show had been sizzling along in great form, I wouldnt have even thought about it, Bell told radio trade magazine Talkers. But you know, this is a program that I built from the first brick, brick by brick. And to see it dismantled... was not something I was prepared to see.

Art Bell can be heard again nightly from 1-6 a.m. ET in more than 400 markets. Monday night, Bell could be seen on the shows live Web cam in his trademark oversized dark sunglasses as he took calls on UFOs and other topics.

Bells once-popular and newly reopened Web site was at times difficult to access during the broadcast, suggesting heavy use.