If you know that Pahrump is a town in the middle of the desert in Nevada – in fact, if you even know that’s there’s a town named Pahrump – it’s probably due to its most famous resident … Art Bell, one of the pioneers of paranormal talk radio and the founder of Coast to Coast AM. While Pahrump has made no bones about being proud of its adopted son, it recently made it official by dedicating a plaque and a bench to Bell.
“The plaque is displayed on a pedestal near a park bench also in Bell’s memory. Both were paid for by a group known as “Friends and Fans of Art Bell,” along with a contribution approved by the Nye County Board of Commissioners, following an agenda item discussion last March.”
Fans of Art Bell will also know that he announced his broadcasts were coming from his home studio in “the kingdom of Nye,” a reference to the county where Pahrump is located. According to the Pahrump Valley Times, Nye, also proud of its famous promoter, kicked in $1,128.93 for the plaque and bench, while a group called “Friends and Fans of Art Bell” held a GoFundMe campaign to raise $1,546.07. The bronze plaque with a raised relief of Art is on a stand near the bench in the town’s famous Calvada Eye Park (the two roads circling it make the park look like an eye – an appropriate location).
Art Bell is well-deserving of such an honor. Bell was a member of the Nevada Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame and the National Radio Hall of Fame. At its peak, his show was carried by about 500 stations and claimed 15 million listeners – in the middle of the night … ratings unheard of until Bell brought paranormal subjects to the masses when he changed the format of Coast to Coast AM in the mid-1990s from political talk to paranormal. Art left the air a few times and changed shows and home stations before he passed away on April 13, 2018 at 72, but if the comments on the Nye County Facebook page where the monument was announced are any indication, there are still fans who can recall some of his most famous shows and callers word-for-word.
With all that he did and as many people as he touched, you might think Art deserves something more than a plaque and a park bench. And yet … it seems to be the perfect touch. One of Al’s gifts was to be reflective and contemplative with his guests, and there’s no better place to reflect and contemplate than on a park bench in the peaceful town of Pahrump in the kingdom of Nye. Sounds like the perfect tribute.
Who knows? Maybe one day Art will join you to look at the skies for whatever might be out there.