Longtime KABC-AM (790) talk-show host Ira Fistell has been dropped from his nightly 11 p.m.-4 a.m. show and replaced by Art Bell, who had a midnight to 5 a.m. slot on sister station KMPC-AM (710).
A KABC spokesman said Thursday that the firing was unrelated to Fistell's legal problems. Fistell is charged with leaving the scene of a two-car collision last February that left a 15-year-old girl dead. His wife, Tonda, is accused of aiding and abetting her husband by telling police she had been driving when, in fact, she pulled up in a cab after the crash.
"We feel Art Bell is a great fit for KABC," said station spokesman Bill Lennert, "and he'll do a more effective job in holding on to the audience and advertisers" of former host Ray Briem. Briem retired from the night-owl program last December.
Bell's late-night slot on KMPC will be filled by repeats of Tom Leykis' afternoon drive-time show.
Fistell said Thursday that he was surprised by the move because he believed management had been pleased with his ratings. He learned of the decision when he reported for work Wednesday night.