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Artbell

Arthur Bell III (c. 2000 publicity photo)

Arthur "Art" W. Bell, III (b. June 17, 1945) is an American broadcaster and author, known primarily as the founder and a longtime host of the paranormal-themed radio program Coast to Coast AM. He also created and at one time hosted its companion show, Dreamland.

Semi-retired from Coast to Coast AM, he returned from his hiatus from hosting the weekend broadcasts but then took another leave while technical problems are worked out. Bell also owns oldies station: KNYE 95.1 FM ("The Kingdom of Nye ... Things That Go Pahrump In The Night") in Pahrump, Nevada.

As of October 2006, Bell is the regular weekend host on Coast to Coast AM, broadcasting from Metro Manila in the Philippines.

Early yearsEdit

Bell was born to Arthur Bell, Jr II, a United States Marine Corps Captain, and Jane Bell, a Marine drill instructor. After leaving military service he stayed in the Far East, residing 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 in Anchorage, Alaska at radio station KENI he set a Guinness record for staying on the air for 116 hours 15 minutes. He also set the world record for seesawing while broadcasting for 57 hours. 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 all 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 went back to radio, this time as a board operator and chief engineer. Being around the stations he got a few opportunities to be on the air. For several years he worked back and forth 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.

Broadcasting careerEdit

Bell's original program in Las Vegas 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 massive success.

Thus, Bell abandoned conventional political talk and began highlighting topics such as gun control and conspiracy theories. This led to a significant success in his overnight ratings. However the main focus of his show shifted significantly after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. Many in the media did not want to be blamed for inciting the militia/anti-government actions like the bombing. Afterwards, Bell discussed offbeat topics like the paranormal, occult knowledge, Unidentified Flying Objects, protoscience, and pseudo-science. If one were to read a transcript of Bell's early 1990s shows (and not hear the voice), they might not recognize it as the same show with which he later found widespread success. Gone is the militia talk, replaced with UFOs and ghosts.

At his peak popularity, Coast To Coast AM was syndicated on over 500 radio stations, and it claimed 15 million listeners nightly. In its current form, the show receives upwards of 30 million listeners when Bell is actually hosting the show. Bell formerly broadcast from his home in the town of Pahrump, located in Nye County, Nevada, hence, the catchphrase "from the Kingdom of Nye". Art Bell was also featured in the video game Prey by Human Head Studios.

Critical reputationEdit

Some critics see Bell as a charlatan, and some guests have been criticized as cranks or quacks; Coast-to-Coast is subject to frequent ridicule and criticism on the usenet group alt.fan.art-bell, in the AOL chatroom "Beyond Belief", and on some blogs. Radio host Phil Hendrie occasionally lampoons Bell (using the bumper Dancing Queen by the pop group ABBA), his guests ("General Johnson Jameson" is a combination of Coast regulars Ed Dames and Richard C. Hoagland), and the unusual products offered by advertisers.

Others regard Bell as simply a master showman, noting that he calls his show "absolute entertainment" [1] and further noting his statements 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 is one of only a few talk show hosts who do not screen calls. His calm attitude, patient questions, and ability to tease substance from the sometimes nebulous statements of callers and guests gave his show a relaxed and serious atmosphere earning him much praise from those who contend the paranormal deserves a mature outlet of discussion in the media, as well as others who are simply amused by the nightly parade of the bizarre. Ed Dames, Richard C. Hoagland, Terence McKenna, Dannion Brinkley, David John Oates and Robert Bigelow are all regular guests who typically discuss fringe topics.

Bell's interests, however, extend beyond the paranormal. Sometimes his topics venture into more 'normal' areas, such as interviewing 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, actress Jane Seymour and frequent guests physicist Michio Kaku and SETI astronomer Seth Shostak.

Beginning in late 1996, Bell was criticized for reporting rumors that Comet Hale–Bopp was being closely followed by a UFO. It was speculated that members of the Heaven's Gate group committed mass suicide based on rumors Bell aired, but others discounted this, noting that the Heaven's Gate websitestated that: "Whether Hale-Bopp has a 'companion' or not is irrelevant from our perspective."[1] Susan Wright notes, however, that Bell was also "one of the first to publicise expert opinions debunking the 'alien companion'" said to have been shadowing Hale-Bopp (Wright, 187).

Annual featuresEdit

There are three annual features on Bell's program: On April Fool's Day, Art always winds up having at least one gag story that's presented in such a way that the listeners are left guessing as to whether or not their legs are really being pulled hard, such as the time when Bell took a cellphone call from a pilot who was claiming to be flying his Cessna airplane over Area 51 and wound up getting shot down while still on the line. On Halloween, his show is renamed "Ghost to Ghost A.M.", and is devoted to callers relating their allegedly real-life encounters with ghosts. Every New Year's Eve, Bell invites callers to make a prediction for the coming year; the predictions are then reviewed at the close of the next year and given a verbal "Ding" if they are deemed to have been correct, or a "Bonk" if the prediction did not come true

Featured callersEdit

  • One of the most notorious interviews Bell has had on Coast to Coast AM was with Mel Waters. Mel Waters talked about 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 been found.
  • In April 2005, Bell received a call from a person or entity calling itself "Oscar" or "Swede", who is allegedly "the Son of Satan." Bell reacted toward Oscar in a similar manner as he has reacted toward JC.
  • At about 1AM EST, Friday, September 12, 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 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.
    • This incident formed the basis of the song "Faaip de Oiad" by the progressive-metal band Tool, which features said interview (with Art Bell's part cut out), over frantic drumming and buzzing static.
  • In March 2005 a man also called about disturbing events on Kwajelein and Johnson Atol 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.

Amateur radioEdit

Bell is well known in the world of amateur radio, and holds an Advanced Class License issued by the Federal Communications Commission. He is also well known by his callsign, 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). Now he can occasionally be heard on 3765 KHz via EchoLink.

The FCC revised their licensing scheme and began to de-emphasize required knowledge of Morse Code. Though the FCC no longer issues the "Advanced Class" licenses, Bell has not upgraded to the "Extra Class" license because the Advanced Class license demonstrated a proficiency in 13 WPM morse telegraphy, and 20 WPM for Extra which no longer is required by the new Extra Class license.

HonorsEdit

In 2006, Bell was featured in 3D Realm's Next-Gen Shooter "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 detail what is happening on Earth during the time of the game.

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

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."

Marriages Edit

Airyn Ruiz Bell

Airyn Ruiz Bell

Retirements and comebacksEdit

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

Retirement: His first retirement, highly unexpected, was announced on October 13, 1998.

Return: He returned two weeks later, 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.

Retirement: In April 2000, Bell again retired, but offered no details other than stating he intended to "resolve a family crisis." Mike Siegel was left in charge of the program. It was later explained he had left to deal with the aftermath of a sexual assault against his son.

Return: Nearly a year later, in February 2001, Bell again returned. He noted that since his departure the show had lost a number of affiliates, commercial content had risen to an unbearable level, and that Siegel had taken the program in a "different direction," one which Bell disapproved of. He retained some authority over the program as its creator, and thus felt his return was necessary.

Retirement: In late 2002, 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.

Return: Bell again returned in September 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 'semi-retirement'), deciding to host only the last two Sundays of every month.

Events of 2006 Edit

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

Death of Ramona Bell Edit

Ramona Bell, his wife of fifteen years, died unexpectedly of what appeared to be an acute asthma attack on January 5, 2006 in Laughlin, Nevada, where the couple was taking a short vacation. Despite having asthma Ramona smoked cigarettes. She was 47 years old. The events surrounding her 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 [2].

Change in scheduleEdit

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, announcing at the same time that former weekend host Ian Punnett would work a new live prefeed program for the four hours preceding Bell's slot on Saturday nights (21:00 - 01:00 ET). Punnett's new show is titled Coast to Coast Live with Ian Punnett. The next day when Bell returned to the show, he spent the first hour reliving the death of his wife.

RemarriageEdit

Art & Airyn Ruiz Bell wedding

Art & Airyn Ruiz Bell wedding

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 be taking 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, a recent college graduate. Ruiz -- given Bell's private e-mail address by a ham 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 -- exactly 13 weeks after his wife's death. Bell also paid for his friend -- who was courting Airyn's sister Kairyn -- to accompany him to the Philippines and marry her. The two couples wed in a double marriage ceremony on April 8, 2006.

On October 7, 2006, Bell announced on Coast to Coast that Ruiz is pregnant with the couple's first child. If their child is born a girl, her name will be Asia; they have yet to choose a name if the child should turn out to be a boy.

Relocation to the PhilippinesEdit

Art & Airyn Ruiz Bell

Art & Airyn Ruiz Bell

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.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer printed a letter found on a web page purportedly from Bell that made derogatory statements about Filipinos. This letter was subsequently demonstrated to be a hateful hoax perpetrated upon Bell, who in fact had a publicly loving relationship with his Filipina wife, 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 fraudulent act upon Bell still periodically results in serious threats to Bell when this scurrilous material surfaces from time to time. [3]

BooksEdit

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.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. Genoni Jr., Thomas C.. "Peddling the Paranormal: Late-Night Radio's Art Bell". Retrieved 2006-08-29.
  • Wright, Susan: UFO Headquarters : Investigations On Current Extraterrestrial Activity In Area 51 St. Martin's Press, 1999 ISBN 0-312-97181-8

Bell is featured in the videogame Prey where segments from his radio show Coast to Coast are played. The player can listen to Bell taking calls relating to the storyline, sometimes giving a hint of things to come.

External linksEdit

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