LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Radio host Art Bell, famed for his lengthy discussions on creepy conspiracy theories, will announce his retirement on air in
the wee hours of Thursday, his syndicator Premiere Radio Networks Inc. said Wednesday.
Plagued with ongoing back problems, Bell, 57, will name guest host George Noory, 52, as his successor during his overnight radio show, "Coast to
The popular show, which has developed a cult following and is touted as the most listened to overnight radio program in the country, features Bell
offering insights on anything from UFO sightings to FBI conspiracy theories and crop circles.
The program was created by Bell in 1993 and currently airs on 525 stations nationwide live from 1-6 a.m. ET, according to Premiere, a subsidiary of
Clear Channel Communications Inc., the nation's largest radio broadcaster.
This is not the first time Bell -- who plans to serve as an occasional guest host -- has left the air.
He returned to the air in February 2001 following a lengthy absence after being falsely accused of child molestation.
Bell announced he would depart to tend to his son, who had been molested, according to reports, but the host found himself in the middle of a
firestorm when another radio announcer incorrectly suggested on air that Bell himself had been charged with the crime.
Bell's teen-age son had been abducted and molested by one of his high school teachers and Bell had refused to discuss the sensitive issue on the air,
according to reports.
The teacher was later convicted and sentenced to prison, according to reports.
"Coast to Coast AM" will continue its current broadcast schedule, which features Bell for three nights, Noory for three nights and host Barbara
Simpson for one night until Dec. 31, 2002.
As of January 1, Noory will host the show five nights a week, with Simpson hosting on weekends.
Since 1997, Noory has been the host of a late-night program in St. Louis, which is similar to "Coast to Coast AM."
Known as "the Nighthawk," listeners have regularly tuned in to hear Noory discuss unexplained phenomena, Premiere said.
He will be missed !