On August 15, seminal UFO and strange news journalist Lee Speigel passed away.
Speigel's legacy in the world of UFO journalism is extraordinary.
UFOs became the focus of his career in 1975 when he produced a documentary record album (yes, you read that correctly) for CBS. This album, UFOs: The Credibility Factor, features scientists, public officials, and military personnel revealing personal UFO experiences and voicing support for official government acknowledgement of the phenomenon.
Speigel spent eight years producing, writing, and hosting UFO related programming for NBC Radio. During this time period, he is credited with playing a key role in bringing the 1947 Roswell Incident into pop culture. What happened in Roswell had essentially been forgotten. But thanks to the work of civilian investigators like nuclear physicist Stanton Friedman, Roswell was (re)introduced to the world in the late 1970s. Working with Friedman, Speigel became one of the first reporters to bring attention to this forgotten case and Friedman’s investigation.
Because of his work with Friedman, it was especially fitting when we had Speigel present Friedman with a Lifetime Achievement award at the International UFO Congress in 2013.
But Speigel outdid himself in 1978 when he became the only person in history to produce a major UFO presentation at the United Nations, which featured military personnel and scientists calling for the establishment of an international panel to study UFOs.
Speigel wrote about UFOs for several media outlets during his lengthy career, including the Huffington Post. He established himself as a leader in the UFO research field, and his contributions are many. His quest to better understand UFOs and his desire for UFOs and UFO research to be taken seriously fueled his long and impressive UFO journalism career.
He also had his own incredible UFO encounter. In 1975, at the request of J. Allen Hynek (astronomer and scientific advisor to the U.S. Air Force's official UFO studies), Speigel went to North Carolina to investigate a spate of UFO sightings observed by local law enforcement. While he was there, Speigel and multiple officers encountered what many describe as the first well-documented UFO incident in the U.S. involving a triangle or boomerang shaped UFO and multiple witnesses. My amazing friend Dale Hendrickson created an artistic representation of Speigel's UFO encounter, which can be seen on his website.
Speigel's unwavering commitment to unbiased reporting, thorough investigation, and presenting the facts made him a respected figure not only in the UFO community but also in the broader sphere of journalism.
I don't remember the first time I met Lee. It was probably during the first of many interviews Maureen Elsberry and I did with him on our web series Spacing Out! But Lee became a fast colleague, mentor, and friend.
It was an honor to award Lee our Researcher of the Year award at the 2012 International UFO Congress.
His most recent work in the world of the strange includes serving as co-producer and co-writer of James Fox's 2020 UFO documentary The Phenomenon.
Lee's contribution to the UFO field, and to the broader strange news landscape, is substantial. His love for the strange and his desire to explore these mysteries through the lens of journalism with the required curiosity, objectivity, and responsible skepticism are what made me fascinated by him. His quick wit, his humbleness, and his overwhelming kindness made me love him.
We'll miss you, Agent L.
Jason McClellan is an author, podcaster, TV personality, veteran UFO researcher & journalist, bourbon enthusiast, ska and punk devotee, vegan, and animal lover. You might have seen him on NatGeo, Syfy, History, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Discovery+, the CW, or at conferences and conventions talking about UFOs.