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air bell

Art Bell

Arthur W. "Art" Bell, III (born June 17, 1945) is an American broadcaster and author, known primarily as the founder and longtime host of the paranormal-themed radio program Coast to Coast AM. He also created and formerly hosted its companion show, Dreamland. Semi-retired from Coast to Coast AM since 2003, he hosted the show on many weekends for the next four years. He announced his retirement from weekend hosting on July 1, 2007, effective immediately, but now 'guest hosts' occasionally. He attributed the reason for this latest retirement to a desire to spend time with his wife and new daughter, born May 30, 2007. He added that unlike his previous "retirements," this one will stand, while leaving open the option to return. Classic Bell-hosted episodes of Coast to Coast can be heard in some markets on Saturday nights under the name, Somewhere in Time.

Bell owned a Pahrump, Nevada-based radio station, KNYE 95.1 FM. He broadcast from his home in Pahrump for his entire time as host of Coast to Coast AM except from June to December 2006, when he lived in the Philippines.

Biography

Early life

Bell was born to Arthur Bell, Jr., a United States Marine Corps Captain, and Jane Gumaer Bell, a Marine drill instructor. Arthur Bell, Jr. died in 2000. Art Bell III was always interested in radio and at the age of 13 became a licensed amateur radio operator; previously W2CKS, now W6OBB. Bell served in the U.S. Air Force as a medic during the Vietnam War and, in his free time, operated a pirate radio station at Amarillo Air Force Base. He would go out of his way to play anti-war music (like "Eve of Destruction" and "Fortunate Son") that was not being played on the American Forces Network.

After leaving military service he stayed in Asia, living on the Japanese island of Okinawa where he worked as a disc jockey for KSBK, the only non-military English-language station in Japan. While there, he set a Guinness record by staying on the air for 116 hours and 15 minutes. The money raised there allowed Bell to charter a DC-8, fly to Vietnam, and rescue 130 Vietnamese orphans stranded in Saigon at the war's end. They were eventually brought to the United States and adopted by American families.

Bell returned to the United States and studied engineering at the University of Maryland, College Park. He dropped out and returned to radio, this time as a board operator and chief engineer, and had a few opportunities to be on the air. For several years he worked behind and in front of the microphone. After a period of working in cable television, in 1989 the 50,000-watt KDWN in Las Vegas, Nevada offered Bell a five-hour time slot in the middle of the night. Syndication of his program to other radio stations began in 1993.

Broadcasting career

Bell's original Las Vegas program was a political call-in talk radio show, but he tired of the format, believing there were too many such programs, especially in the wake of Rush Limbaugh's huge success.

Bell abandoned conventional political talk in favor of topics such as gun control and conspiracy theories, leading to a significant bump in his overnight ratings. However the show's focus shifted significantly after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. Many in the media did not want to be blamed for inciting militia/anti-government actions like the bombing. Subsequently, Bell discussed off-beat topics like the paranormal, occult knowledge, UFOs, protoscience and pseudo-science. During his tenure at KDWN, Bell met and married his second wife, Ramona, who later handled production and management duties for the program.

According to "The Washington Post" in its February 23, 1997 paper: Art Bell is currently America's highest-rated late-night radio talk show, heard on 328 stations. According to "The Oregonian" in its June 22, 1997 paper: Coast To Coast AM with Art Bell is on 460 stations. At its initial peak in popularity, Coast To Coast AM was syndicated on over 500 radio stations, and it claimed 15 million listeners nightly. Bell broadcasts from his home in the town of Pahrump, located in Nye County, Nevada, hence, the catchphrase "from the Kingdom of Nye."

Critical reputation

Observers regard Bell as a master showman, noting that he calls his show "absolute entertainment and that he expressly says that he does not necessarily accept every guest or caller's claims but only offers a forum where they will not be openly ridiculed. Bell was one of only a few talk show hosts who do not screen calls. He began screening calls in 2006. On the October 31, 2006 edition of Coast to Coast AM, (renamed for the night to Ghost to Ghost AM), Bell was asked why he was now using call screeners and he explained that for him to use unscreened open lines from the Philippines would require listeners to call there directly at enormous cost to them. He subsequently returned to unscreened calls when he returned to the United States.

His calm attitude, patient questions, and ability to tease substance from nebulous statements of callers and guests gave his show a relaxed yet serious atmosphere earning him praise from those who declare the paranormal deserves a mature outlet of discussion in the media, as well as the approval of those simply amused by the nightly parade of bizarre, typically fringe topics. Ed Dames, Richard C. Hoagland, Terence McKenna, Dannion Brinkley, David John Oates and Robert Bigelow have all been regular guests. Some of Bell’s regular guests, particularly Hoagland, continue to be regular guests on Coast to Coast AM, now hosted by George Noory.

Bell's interests, however, extend beyond the paranormal. He has interviewed singers Crystal Gayle, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, comedian George Carlin, writer Dean Koontz, hard science fiction writer Greg Bear, TV talk host Regis Philbin, Star Trek actor Leonard Nimoy, actor Dan Aykroyd actress Jane Seymour, actress Ellen Muth, actor and tv host Robert Stack, human rights lawyer John Loftus, legendary disc jockey Casey Kasem and frequent guests physicist Michio Kaku and SETI astronomers Seth Shostak and H. Paul Shuch.

Beginning in late 1996, Bell was criticized for reporting rumors that comet Hale-Bopp was being trailed by a UFO. It was speculated that members of the Heaven's Gate group committed mass suicide based on rumors Bell aired, but others dismissed the idea, noting that the Heaven's Gate website stated that: "Whether Hale-Bopp has a "companion" or not is irrelevant from our perspective. Susan Wright notes, however, that Bell was also "one of the first to publicize expert opinions debunking the 'alien companion'" said to have been shadowing Hale-Bopp.

Featured callers

  • J.C. Webster the Third, or "J.C." – J.C. began calling in 1996, and has since been on the air over 50 times. He features himself to be a Revival Baptist preacher, and believes Art to be "the Devil's Mouthpiece." He has continued to call George Noory and guest hosts. Although some have expressed a disbelief that someone like J.C. could exist, Art Bell and George Noory have repeated their beliefs that J.C. is real, and is neither a "put on" nor a "plant.
  • One of Art Bell's Coast to Coast interviews occurred in 1997 with Mel Waters, who discussed what is known as "Mel's Hole" in rural Washington, which is said to be an infinitely deep hole featuring paranormal powers. No such hole has ever been found.
  • In the mid to late 1990s, a regular caller named "Fritz" would call in and give his view on various matters.
  • In the mid to late 1990s, another regular caller known only as "Charlie Liberal" used to call with his perspectives on current events.
  • In April 1996, Bell received a package of what would be known as "Art's Parts". These parts were allegedly pieces of debris from the 1947 Roswell UFO crash. Extensive analysis of the metals indicated they were made of an odd Bismuth material.
  • In 2000 and 2001, Bell spoke with John Titor, a self proclaimed time traveler from 2036 who made all kinds of fantastic predictions and discussed time travel.
  • In February 2005, Bell received a call from a person calling himself "Oscar" proclaiming to be "the Son of Satan." Oscar had since also called George Noory, but disappeared after a June, 2007 on-air confrontation with J.C.
  • One night in 1997, Art Bell received a fax from a woman named Jill who requested he clear a line for her boyfriend, whom she claimed was determined to fly a small plane into Area 51. He cleared the "Wild Card Line," took the man's call, which he broadcast on-air. Bell warned that the U.S. government would either try to force him down or shoot him down and warned, "You'd better turn around now." The caller described military jets arriving to intercept him, then taking fire from the ground before shouting "Oh baby, I think I'm going in!" and the line went dead. Bell traded follow-up faxes with the woman, but never heard again from the man. Bell allows that the call may have been a hoax, but many listeners at the time believed it was genuine. Some even believe that, rather than killing the man, the personnel actually had him work for them.
  • At about 11 p.m. PST, Thursday, September 11, 1997, he designated one phone line for Area 51 employees who wanted to discuss the secretive base. Several callers claimed to work at Area 51, but the bizarre highlight of the night came when a seemingly distraught and terrified man claimed to be a former Area 51 employee recently discharged for "medical" reasons. He cited malevolent extraterrestrials at Area 51 ("extra-dimensional beings" who are not "what they claim to be") and an impending disaster that the government knew would take out "major population centers." Midway through this call, Bell's program went off the air for about 30 minutes. After talking to network engineers, the official explanation was that the network satellite had "lost earth lock" or forgotten where the earth was. Network officials were baffled, and the cause remains a mystery.
    • This incident formed the basis of the song "Faaip de Oiad" by the rock band Tool, which features said interview (with Art Bell's part cut out), over frantic drumming and buzzing static.
    • Another song featuring this call was "They are not what they claim to be ..." by electronic artist The Boy Flood It was featured on the main page of Coast to Coast AM in the listers submission section. This version is more purely musical than Tool's but still has a dark edge to it.
    • Yet another song featuring the call was "It's Out There and It's Gonna Get You" by experimental Texas-quartet The Paper Chase on their 2006 album Now You Are One Of Us.
  • A caller in 2000 named "Daniel Murray" claimed he was a Majestic Agent from Downey, CA.
  • In March 2005 a man also called about disturbing events on Kwajalein and Johnston Atoll about a weapon that only targeted certain people and could leave others unhurt. He indicated he had been on both islands (that are US military only) and that these weapons had been tested in 1993. Art lost the call after another voice came on the line with a click saying "Shelton, terminate the call from A-6." Art tried to call the man back but was unsuccessful.
  • "Bugs" - Aging farmer who has repeatedly told of his account of shooting and burying two Bigfoot creatures back in the 1970s in the Texas Panhandle, initially thinking they were bears. Bugs has mailed a map of the location of this "burial" to Art Bell, to be released to the public upon Bugs' death. During his first appearance in 1996, Bugs said he had taken a dozen Polaroid photos of the creatures he would be willing to send to Art. None of the alleged photos have yet been made available.

Amateur radio

Bell is well known in the world of amateur radio, and holds an Amateur Extra Class License issued by the Federal Communications Commission. He is also well known by his call sign, W6OBB He and many of his ham friends could be heard nightly on the 80 meter amateur radio band at a frequency of 3840 kHz (before he moved to the Philippines). While there he could occasionally be heard on 3678 kHz via EchoLink. Art Bell has returned to the USA and can be heard on 3830 kHz. Art also runs an online amateur radio stream at Smeter.Net nightly starting from 7:00 PM Pacific time and runs until 3:00 AM in the morning. You can usually catch him on there around midnight.

Honors

In 1998, Bell was named as recipient of the less-than-prestigious Snuffed Candle Award. The Council for Media Integrity cited Bell "for encouraging credulity, presenting pseudoscience as genuine, and contributing to the public's lack of understanding of the methods of scientific inquiry."

In 2005, the City of Las Vegas renamed a portion of 11th Street in the downtown area "Art Bell Drive."

On March 10, 2007, Bell received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the trade publication Radio & Records in Los Angeles.

In July 2008, it was announced that Art Bell would be inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame.

Marriages

  • Sachiko Toguchi Bell Pontius, divorced. Children: Vincent Pontius, Lisa Pontius Minei.
  • Sukiyaki Sakamoto Kyo Bell, divorced. Children: Art "Scooter" Bell IV.
  • Ramona Bell, Aug.1991 – January 5, 2006 † (see below)
  • Airyn Ruiz, April 11, 2006 – present. Children: Asia Rayne Bell.

Retirements and comebacks

Bell has retired and returned to Coast to Coast AM several times.

Retirement: His first retirement, highly unexpected, was announced on October 13, 1998. Bell: I told you that there was an event, a threatening terrible event occurred to my family, which I could not tell you about. Because of that event, and a succession of other events, what you're listening to right now is my final broadcast on the air. Coast To Coast AM is broadcast on more than 400 stations and is the country's most listened to overnight radio show, heard by some 15 million listeners. (That from "The Seattle Times" 10-13-98.) Hilly Rose filled in after Bell's departure.

Return: He returned on October 28,1998, leading many to believe it was merely a publicity stunt. Bell asserted that the brief departure was brought on by threats made against his family. On May 29, 1999, Art Bell explained that this retirement was due to an allegation made by hosts of WWCR shortwave radio that Bell had paid to cover up a criminal indictment. (Announcement date from "The Washington Post" 5-29-99, where Bell's show was said to be on 460 stations.)

The actual facts of the matter became public knowledge with Art Bell's second retirement in 2000, when it was revealed that an actual criminal indictment was filed against a person who had assaulted a member of Bell's family. Due to the nature of the crime, Bell had wanted to keep the matter private. The hosts at WWCR shortwave radio had accused Bell of the crime. (Bell took legal action against the hosts and stations, which was settled in 2000.)

Retirement: On April 1, 2000, Bell once again announced to his audience his retirement, which would occur on April 26, 2000 (that from "The Washington Post" 4-1-00), but he offered no details other than expressing intentions to "resolve a family crisis." On April 11, 2000, Mike Siegel was introduced as the new host of Coast To Coast AM. On April 27, 2000, Siegel took over the program which at the this time had an estimated 22 million listeners. (That from "The Seattle Times" 4-12-00.) It was later explained he had left to deal with the aftermath of a sexual assault against his son. Brian Lepley, a substitute teacher, was convicted of sexual assault and attempted transmission of HIV and was sentenced to 10 to 25 years.

Return: On January 24, 2001, it was announced (in Vancouver, Washington's "The Columbian" newspaper), Art Bell would return to Coast To Coast AM on February 5, 2001. Bell noted that since his departure the show had lost a number of affiliates, commercial content had risen to an unbearable level, and Siegel had taken the program in a "different direction" of which Bell disapproved. He retained some authority over the program as its creator and thus felt his return was necessary.

Retirement: On October 23, 2002, Bell announced he would be retiring because recurring back pain (the result of a fall from a telephone pole during his youth) forced yet another departure, and Bell was permanently replaced by George Noory as weekday host of Coast to Coast AM on January 1, 2003. It was also said that Barbara Simpson would host weekends and that Bell planned to be an occasional guest host for Noory. (Most information from "The Seattle Times" 10-26-02.)

Return: Bell again on September 23, 2003, announced (in Vancouver, Washington's "The Columbian" newspaper) would return as a weekend host on September 27, 2003, having missed the microphone, this time replacing Barbara Simpson and Ian Punnett as host of the Saturday and Sunday evening broadcasts. In June 2005, he scaled this schedule back a bit (a "semiretirement"), deciding to host only the last two Sundays of every month. Bell went back to hosting every weekend show as his schedule permitted after his wife Ramona’s death a few months later.

Retirement: on July 1, 2007, Bell announced his retirement again, stating that he wished to spend more time with his wife and daughter. He made it explicitly clear that, unlike the circumstances surrounding previous retirements, this one was an entirely positive and joyful decision and that he would not disappear completely--he would occasionally substitute for other hosts and host "special" shows. According to George Noory, Bell is on board to do 15 shows per year. Art Bell confirmed this fact in a post on the Fantastic Forum fan site.

Events of 2006

Bell's life took some dramatic twists in the beginning of 2006:

Death of Ramona Bell

Ramona Bell, his wife of 15 years, died unexpectedly, at the age of 47, of what appeared to be an acute asthma attack on January 5, 2006 in Laughlin, Nevada, where the couple was taking a short vacation.

The events surrounding Ramona's death were described in great detail by Art Bell during the January 22 broadcast of Coast to Coast AM. For weeks thereafter, callers would express their sadness and sympathy for Art Bell to George Noory, who had taken Art Bell's place weekdays in 2002.

Change in schedule

On January 21, 2006, just days after the unexpected death of his wife Ramona, Bell announced he would host Coast to Coast AM every Saturday and Sunday evening, and that former weekend host Ian Punnett would work a new live prefeed program for the four hours preceding Bell's slot on Saturday nights (9:00pm - 1:00am ET). Punnett's show was titled Coast to Coast Live with Ian Punnett. When returning to the show the following day, Bell spent the first hour recounting the death of his wife.

Remarriage

By the end of January, Bell began hinting that he was making a significant life decision, but that he would keep it a secret for at least one year, asking listeners to remind him in 2007 to let them in on it. By March, he was saying that he would soon take a "huge risk" and "do something rash." On April 15, 2006, he ended the mystery and, to the mild surprise of listeners, revealed that, after several weeks of mourning, he had recently gone to the Philippines and married Airyn Ruiz, whose name is pronounced like the name "Irene," but Art likes to pronounce her name as "Arin." This is because during their Internet dating Art imprinted the spelling of her name with that pronunciation. Airyn Ruiz Bell is a recent college graduate. Ruiz — given Bell's private e-mail address by an amateur radio friend—had contacted Bell to offer condolences shortly after Ramona's death. After "dating" via Internet video conferencing for "hundreds of hours," the two married one week after Bell arrived in the Philippines to actually meet her in person . Bell also paid for his friend—who was courting Airyn's sister—to accompany him to the Philippines and marry her. The two couples wed in a double marriage ceremony on April 11, 2006.

On October 7, 2006, Bell announced on Coast to Coast that Ruiz was pregnant with the couple's first child. Art told listeners that the couple's child was indeed a girl as many listeners suspected. He noted that they had been hoping for a girl and had announced only a girl's name for their unborn child in hopes of receiving a girl.

Art and Airyn's baby girl, Asia Rayne Bell, was born on May 30, 2007.

Relocation to the Philippines

At the same time, Bell announced he would be leaving his longtime homestead in Nevada and relocating to the Philippines, near Makati, Metro Manila, intending to continue hosting Coast to Coast AM weekend editions via an ISDN connection. He departed the United States on April 29, 2006, stating an intention to remain abroad for at least a year, while maintaining ownership of his property in Nevada and of the radio station KNYE. Bell resumed hosting on June 18, 2006 but then encountered technical problems that kept him off air until July 23, 2006, when the ISDN line was finally installed.

In July 2001, the Philippine Daily Inquirer printed an email letter purportedly from Bell that made derogatory statements about Filipinos. This letter was subsequently demonstrated to be a hoax perpetrated upon Bell, who in fact had a publicly loving relationship with his Filipina wife and his previous wife Ramona, who was also Filipina, and who often spoke openly about his admiration for the Filipino people on his radio show. Subsequently, the Philippine Daily Inquirer printed a retraction and apologized for printing the statement upon their verification of the hoax. This slander against Bell's good name still periodically results in serious threats to him when this material surfaces from time to time.

In October 2006, Bell threatened Rogers Cadenhead with a lawsuit for some allegedly libelous comments posted on Cadenhead's blog, which Cadenhead has said he will defend himself against under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

Return to "the High Desert and the Great American Southwest"

Truly bringing his personal events of 2006 full circle, Bell opened his December 28 program by disclosing to his stunned listeners that he had just relocated back to Pahrump, Nevada, with Ruiz, who had obtained the necessary paperwork for immigrating to the United States. Bell had not disclosed on any previous show his plans to return to the High Desert. Despite feeling jet-lagged after a 15-hour flight from the Philippines via Vancouver, British Columbia, he did the full show. Bell was aloft returning to the States when an earthquake cut off undersea cables that would have prevented his broadcasts from the Philippines. Bell indicated on his December 30, 2006 show that among the reasons for his return were a recent recirculation of the infamous fake anti-Filipino email, and his homesickness for his elaborate stateside Amateur Radio station.

Events of 2007

On May 30, 2007, at 12:51 pm PDT, daughter Asia Rayne Bell was delivered by Caesarian section. Her birth weight was 8 pounds, 5 ounces. Her height was 19 inches.

On July 1, 2007 at 10:10 pm PDT, Art Bell announced his retirement from regular hosting effective that day, expressing a desire to spend more time with his family. Bell stated that he will only host occasionally on Coast to Coast.

Events of 2008

On June 12, 2008 Art Bell sold KNYE to Station Manager Karen Jackson for $600,000.

On May 23, 2008 Art Bell, while hosting Coast to Coast AM, stated that there would be a change in the artbell.com website in July 2008. Within a few weeks the website was no longer responding to requests.

On September 8, 2008 George Noory stated that he would be hosting Ghost to Ghost AM rather than Art Bell. On September 19, Noory explained that Bell would be unavailable due to being on a cruise during Halloween this year.

Books

Bell has written, or co-written, several books. They include The Quickening: Today's Trends, Tomorrow's World; The Art of Talk (an autobiography); The Source; The Edge: Man's Mysterious Past & Incredible Future; and The Coming Global Superstorm, which became the basis for the popular movie, The Day After Tomorrow.

Other work

In 1996 Bell appeared in an episode of the NBC science fiction series Dark Skies, as William S. Paley, head of CBS.

On September 30, 1998, NBC's Today Show aired a taped segment of reporter Fred Francis interviewing Bell. Francis questioned Bell about Hale-Bopp, Area-51, eccentric callers claiming to be "six-fingered alien hybrids" as well as the UFO sighting experienced by Bell and his wife Ramona. The segment also featured members of Bell's audience reacting to topics being discussed.

In 1999, Bell appeared as himself on the Chris Carter-created series Millennium. The episode, called "Collateral Damage," aired in the third season and dealt with a former U.S. soldier who claimed the government he fought for was indeed responsible for horrendous tests on soldiers and Iraqi civilians. (This episode was broadcast on January 22, 1999. The Washington Post, 1-22-99.)

In 1999, Bell was interviewed on Larry King Live. (This was broadcast on March 5, 1999. The Washington Post, 3-5-99.)

In 2005, Bell and then-wife Ramona were featured on the ABC news special: Peter Jennings Reporting: UFOs — Seeing Is Believing, which reported on the entire scope of the UFO experience, from the first famous sighting by Kenneth Arnold in 1947 to the present day. (This was broadcast on February 24, 2005. The Washington Post, 2-20-05.)

In 2005, snippets of Bell and callers to his show were featured on the song "Conspiracy Radio" on Sean Hogan's album "Catalina Sunrise": Bell is credited for "voice overs" on this track.

Bell is also a member of the U.S. Libertarian Party. Originally, Coast to Coast AM was a conservative political talk show, but in recent years Bell has expressed both conservative and liberal views on the air. On air, Bell has shown support for same-sex marriage, immigration reform, decriminalizing marijuana, and has advocated to stop global warming. Bell has also stated that he opposes abortion, believes the U.S. should finish the job in the war in Iraq, and supports a free market economy.

In 2006, Bell was featured in the video game "Prey" and played himself. He hosts, as in real life, Coast to Coast AM, and the player is able to listen to the broadcast at several terminals throughout the game. The broadcasts describe what is happening on Earth as the game unfolds.

In 2007, Bell appeared as himself in the movie I Know Who Killed Me.

See also

References

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External links

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