Wayne Bell, a sports anchor at WLEX-TV in the 1960s and '70s, died Thursday. He was 88.
Bell joined WLEX in 1958 about three years after Lexington's first TV station signed on. He did a variety of jobs, from selling advertisements to shutting off the transmitter at 1 a.m.
"I did news, weather, sports, swept the floors," Bell recalled in a 1988 interview with the Herald-Leader. "In those days, you had to do everything. It's a lot different today.
"When I did the sports, I would end the report by saying, 'Good night and be good sports ... fans.' A lot of people remember that."
Bell might be best remembered for hosting a weekly interview show with University of Kentucky men's basketball coach Adolph Rupp. Their relationship was cordial but Rupp had a secret way of letting Bell know when to change the on-air subject, said Robert Bell, Wayne's son.
"If dad was saying something that Rupp didn't approve of, Rupp would just kind of kick him underneath the chair to tell him, 'OK, you need to move on,'" Robert Bell said. "Dad would tell that story a lot."
Bell also hosted a children's show called Cousin Wayne and the Bunkhouse. Assuming the persona of Cousin Wayne, Bell wore a cowboy hat, twirled a lariat and appeared on a set arranged to resemble a western bunkhouse. Then he would introduce shoot'em-up westerns.
"You know, I still see people who call me 'Cuz,'" Bell recalled in the 1988 interview.
Bell left broadcast television in the late 1960s. He later was technical manager at Kentucky Educational Television, where he worked behind the scenes for years.
Born in Adams County, Ohio, in June 1926, Bell served in both the Army and Merchant Marines. After the service he went to work for WFTM radio in Maysville, where he met Elizabeth "Tibbie" Malone at a soda fountain. The couple married in 1951 in Maysville.
While at WFTM, Bell helped train Nick Clooney — the veteran broadcaster and father of actor George Clooney — in his first radio job.
When Nick Clooney's sister, singer and actress Rosemary Clooney, returned to Maysville in January 1953 for the premiere of her movie The Stars are Singing, Bell was the announcer for the event at the Russell Theatre. Bell recorded the star's comments and several songs she sang at the event. Nick Clooney couldn't be there because he was working in Delaware.
In 2006, Bell gave a CD of that Russell Theatre recording to Nick Clooney. In a column for The Cincinnati Post, Nick Clooney described the gift as "Scratchy. Hard to hear. Irreplaceable."
Bell was the father of Marcia Malone Bell, Miss Kentucky 1978, and grandfather of Broadway and music star Laura Bell Bundy.
"I think my dad would say that he was equally proud of all his grandchildren," Robert Bell said.
Other survivors include a daughter, Lorna Bundy Jones, and seven grandchildren.
Visitation will be 3 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at Kerr Brothers Funeral Home on Harrodsburg Road.
Funeral will be 11 a.m. Thursday at Mary Queen of the Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Lexington. Burial will be in Calvary Cemetery in Lexington.