Sgt. Wayne Bell spent 54 years with KPD

Sandra ClarkNorth Knoxville, Obits

A town like Knoxville has many characters. One of ours was Sgt. Wayne Bell, who died on August 15, 2023, at age 89. Drivers of a certain age remember listening for the whirl of helicopter blades that set up Bell’s “Eye in the Sky” traffic reports. He coined the name “Malfunction Junction” for the confluence of every interstate on earth in the middle of downtown Knoxville and used the term repeatedly until somebody wrote a song and somebody else fixed it.

There was a time when Sgt. Wayne Bell was the best known media personality in town.

What I didn’t know until reading his obituary is that he was an officer in the Knoxville Police Department for nearly 54 years and was the longest-serving officer in the state of Tennessee upon his retirement. He worked under five chiefs of police and ended his career as a court officer for city judge John Rosson.

On the radio, Sgt. Bell brought north, south, east and west commuters into one community of the delayed, usually at Malfunction Junction. It gave us identity, and everybody liked the pleasant announcer. Now TDOT operates cameras and a wall of computer screens showing traffic flow down to the individual car. Messages are flashed onto interstate reader boards that tell you how many minutes to West Hills. R.I.P. Sgt. Bell.

His family will receive friends Sunday, August 20, from 1-4 p.m. at Berry Lynnhurst Funeral Home. Masonic service provided by Burlington Masonic Lodge will begin at 4 p.m. with the funeral service immediately following. Burial will be on Monday at 11 a.m. in Lynnhurst Cemetery.

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