Birthday: June 17, 1945
Age: 76 Years, 76 Year Old Males
Sun Sign: Gemini
Also Known As: Arthur William Bell, III
Born in: Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina
Famous as: Radio Personality
Spouse/Ex-: Airyn Ruiz Bell (2006–his death), Ramona Lee Hayes Bell (1991–2006; her death), Sachiko Toguchi Bell Pontius (1965–1968; divorced), Vickie L. Baker Bell (1981–1991; divorced)
father: Arthur William Bell, Jr.
mother: Jane Lee Gumaer Bell
children: Arthur William Bell, Asia Rayne Bell, Lisa Minei Bell, Vincent Pontius Bell
U.S. State: North Carolina
education: Harvard University
Who is Art Bell?
Art Bell was an American broadcaster and author who was known as “The King of Late Night Radio” and was best known for his radio talk show ‘Coast to Coast AM,’ which was aired in the US and Canada. He earned an amateur radio operator’s license at the age of 13 and soon qualified for an ‘Amateur Extra Class’ license, with the call sign ‘W6OBB.’ His license class is considered to be the top-most ‘US Federation Communications Commission’ amateur license. While serving as a medic in the ‘US Air Force’ during the Vietnam War, he operated a pirate radio station that aired anti-war music from ‘Amarillo Air Force Base.’ After returning to the US, he worked for ‘KIDD,’ where he started as a rock music DJ and moved on to conduct radio talk shows. He soon became famous for anchoring talks on topics such as gunrunning, the occult, UFOs, and conspiracy theories on his talk show ‘Dreamland.’ He founded the Pahrump-based radio station ‘KNYE 95.1 FM,’ from where he produced and aired ‘Coast to Coast AM,’ which became one of the most popular radio shows in the late 1980s and the early 1990s. He got married four times and went through some turbulent times, which affected his professional life. He posted his final retirement message, on ‘Facebook,’ in December 2015.
Childhood & Early Life
He was born Arthur William Bell III, on June 17, 1945, in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, US, to Arthur William Bell Sr. and Jane Lee Gumaer Bell.
As a child, he was intrigued by the radio. He earned an amateur radio operator’s license at the age of 13, with his first call sign, ‘KN3JOX.’ He upgraded to the call sign ‘K3JOX’ and later qualified for an ‘Amateur Extra Class’ license, which is considered to be the top-most ‘US Federation Communications Commission’ amateur license. His call sign was ‘W6OBB.’
He studied engineering at the ‘University of Maryland’ but dropped out to take up a job as a board operator. He often worked behind and in front of the microphone to gain experience. According to him, he had learnt much more than the university could teach him, by working at the radio studio.
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Art Bell served as a medic in the ‘US Air Force’ during the Vietnam War, where he and his buddy operated an illegal pirate radio station that aired anti-war music from ‘Amarillo Air Force Base.’ After the war, he moved to Japan, where he took up a job as a DJ for ‘KSBK,’ which was the only civil English broadcasting channel at that time.
He returned to the US and worked for ‘KIDD’ in Monterey, California, in the 1970s. He started as a rock music DJ and moved on to conduct radio talk shows. From routine political topics, he graduated to more controversial topics, such as gunrunning, the occult, UFOs, pseudoscience, conspiracy theories, and protoscience, with his talk show ‘Dreamland’.
He founded the Pahrump-based radio station ‘KNYE 95.1 FM,’ which had its broadcasting studio and transmitter close to his home in Nye County, Nevada. His show ‘Coast to Coast AM,’ which was produced in his studio, became one of the most popular radio shows in the late 1980s and the early 1990s. It was aired on more than 500 stations and had around 15 million listeners.
He gained credibility because he organized real-time question-and-answer sessions on his show. He mastered the technique of being a patient listener and then giving answers without any bias. The only time he screened questions was in October 2006, when he aired his show from the Philippines. His show was renamed ‘Ghost to Ghost AM’ on Halloween 2006.
He interviewed people from different walks of life: singers, writers, actors, DJs, and comedians. In his illustrious career, he interviewed renowned personalities such as Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Greg Bear, Chris Carter, Dan Aykroyd, Casey Kasem, and George Carlin. His shows were liked because they were relaxed, while covering serious and current topics.
In October 1998, Bell announced his sudden retirement from his show ‘Coast to Coast AM,’ due to a threat to his family. He was off air for about two weeks and returned when the matter was resolved. He went off air again, in April 2000, when his son was sexually assaulted by his teacher. He later returned to the show in February 2001 but did not want to talk about his personal life. The show was hosted by Mike Siegel in his absence.
In October 2002, he left the regular show and started hosting only weekend shows due to medical problems. In January 2003, Bell was replaced by George Noory as the weekday host of the show. Bell started a new night show called ‘Art Bell’s Dark Matter’ on ‘Sirius XM’s ‘Indie Talk Channel’ in September 2013. The show ran for six weeks. In July 2015, he started the show ‘Midnight in the Desert,’ which was available online via ‘Tuneln.’
His family was under constant threat from various parties that were adversely affected by his straightforward shows. This made Bell announce his final retirement from the studio in December 2015, stating that he needed to spend more time with his family.
His most popular talk show was ‘Coast to Coast AM’ that was broadcast from the early 1970s.
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His show ‘Midnight in the Desert’ was made available online via ‘Tuneln.’
He also made appearances on several TV shows, such as the series ‘Millennium.’
He co-authored several books, including the bestsellers ‘The Quickening: Today's Trends, Tomorrow's World’ and ‘The Edge: Man’s Mysterious Past & Incredible Future.’
Awards & Achievements
Art Bell was bestowed with the ‘Snuffed Candle Award’ by the ‘Committee for Sceptical Inquiry’s ‘Council for Media Integrity’ in 1998.
In August 2006, his name was inducted into the ‘Nevada Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame,’ and in 2008, he was inducted into the ‘National Radio Hall of Fame.’
In 2007, he was awarded a ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ by the trade publication ‘Radio & Records’ in Los Angeles.
Personal Life & Legacy
Bell married Sachiko Toguchi Pontius in 1965, and they had two children. The marriage ended in a divorce in 1968, due to personal differences. He then married Vickie L Baker in March 1981, and they had a son. However, the marriage again ended in a divorce, in July 1991.
He got married for the third time, to Ramona Lee Hayes, in August 1991. He lived with her till she died of acute asthma in January 2006, while they were on a vacation. The couple reportedly had never spent a single day apart from the time they were married, as she handled the production and management of his programs.
In April 2006, he surprised his fans by relocating to the Philippines and getting married to Airyn Ruiz, who was just 21 years old at that time. He subsequently returned to the US but faced difficulties in getting a passport for his wife, who was a Filipino citizen. They had two children and lived together in the US till his death.
He began suffering from health problems at the age of 70 and suffered a serious attack of pneumonia in 2016. He passed away on April 13, 2018, at his home in Pahrump, Nevada, at the age of 72.
He established a ‘Guinness World Record’ by being on air for 116 hours and 15 minutes continuously on a solo show on ‘KENI.’ He used the money raised from the event to relocate 130 Vietnamese orphans to the US, where they were adopted by American families.
In 1996, he faced criticism for reporting that ‘Comet Hale-Bopp’ was being trailed by a UFO. This rumor spread by him reportedly resulted in a mass suicide by the members of the ‘Heaven’s Gate’ cult.
Although he refrained from openly expressing any political views, he was a supporter of gun rights and same-sex marriage.
His all-time favorite song was ‘Some Velvet Morning’ by Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra, which he often played on his show.
He co-authored a number of books, such as ‘The Quickening: Today's Trends, Tomorrow's World’ and ‘The Edge: Man’s Mysterious Past & Incredible Future.’
While in the Philippines, he passed the ‘Philippine Class A’ amateur radio operators exam and was allotted the call sign ‘4F1AB.’