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Arthur William Bell III
June 17, 1945
|Died||April 13, 2018 (aged 72)|
|Cause of death||Accidental drug overdose|
|Home town||Pahrump, Nevada|
|Spouse(s)||Sachiko Toguchi Bell Pontius (1965–1968; divorced)|
Vickie L. Baker Bell (1981–1991; divorced)
Ramona Lee Hayes Bell (1991–2006; her death)
Airyn Ruiz Bell (2006–2018; his death)
Arthur William Bell III (June 17, 1945 – April 13, 2018) was an American broadcaster, author and conspiracy theorist. He was the founder and the original host of the paranormal-themed radio program Coast to Coast AM, which is syndicated on hundreds of radio stations in the United States and Canada. He also created and hosted its companion show Dreamland. Coast to Coast still airs nightly.
In 2003, Bell semi-retired from Coast to Coast AM. During the following four years, he hosted the show for many weekends on Premiere Networks. He announced his retirement from weekend hosting on July 1, 2007, but occasionally served as a guest host through to 2010. Classic episodes of Coast to Coast AM can be heard in some radio markets on Saturday nights under the name Somewhere in Time hosted by Art Bell. He started a new nightly show, Art Bell's Dark Matter, on Sirius XM Radio, that began on September 16, 2013. It ended six weeks later, on November 4, 2013.
On July 20, 2015, he returned to radio with a new show Midnight in the Desert, which was available online via TuneIn as well as some terrestrial radio stations. He announced what would be his final retirement on December 11, 2015, citing security concerns at his home. He said that he and his family were subjected to repeated intrusions on his property in Pahrump, Nevada. The intrusions included gunshots, and he was in fear for his family's safety. He chose to leave the air and along with it, public life because he believed that the intruder or intruders wanted him off the air.
Bell was the founder and original owner of Pahrump-based radio station KNYE 95.1 FM. His broadcast studio and transmitter were located near his home in Pahrump, where he also hosted Coast to Coast AM. However, from June to December 2006, he lived in the Philippines. In March 2009, he returned to the Philippines with his family after he experienced significant difficulties in obtaining a U.S. visa for his wife, Airyn.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Broadcasting career
- 3 Amateur radio
- 4 Honors
- 5 Marriages
- 6 Retirements and comebacks
- 7 Events of 2006
- 8 Events of 2008
- 9 Events of 2009
- 10 Events of 2010–15
- 11 Death
- 12 Books
- 13 Other work
- 14 Notes
- 15 References
- 16 Further reading
- 17 External links
Bell was always interested in radio; at the age of 13, he became a licensed amateur radio operator. Bell held an Amateur Extra Class license, which is in the top U.S. Federal Communications Commission license class. His call sign was 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 make a point of playing anti-war music (like "Eve of Destruction" and "Fortunate Son") that was not aired on the American Forces Network.
After leaving military service, he remained in Asia, where he lived on the Japanese island of Okinawa. He worked as a disc jockey for KSBK, which was the only non-military English-language station in Japan. While there, he set a Guinness World Record by staying on the air for 116 hours and 15 minutes. The money raised there allowed Bell to charter a Douglas 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. He dropped out and returned to radio as a board operator and chief engineer, and had the opportunity to be on the air a few times. For several years, he worked behind and in front of the microphone. After a period of working in cable television, in 1986 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.
Bell was a rock music disc jockey before he moved into talk radio. His original 1978 late-night Las Vegas program on KDWN was a political call-in show under the name West Coast AM. In 1988, Bell and Alan Corberth renamed the show Coast to Coast AM and moved its broadcast from the Plaza Hotel in Las Vegas to Bell's home in Pahrump.
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. The show's focus again shifted significantly after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. Many in the media did not want to be blamed for inciting anti-government or militia actions like the bombing. Subsequently, Bell discussed off-beat topics such as the paranormal, the occult, UFOs, protoscience and pseudoscience. During his tenure at KDWN Bell met and married his third wife, Ramona, who later handled production and management duties for the program.
An article in the February 23, 1997 edition of The Washington Post said that Bell was currently America's highest-rated late-night radio talk show host, broadcast on 328 stations. According to The Oregonian in its June 22, 1997 edition, Coast to Coast AM with Art Bell was on 460 stations. At its initial peak in popularity, Coast to Coast AM was syndicated on more than 500 radio stations and claimed 15 million listeners nightly. Bell's studios were located in his home in the town of Pahrump, located in Nye County, Nevada; hence, the voice-over catchphrase, "from the Kingdom of Nye".
Fans regarded Bell as a master showman, noting that he called his show "absolute entertainment" and expressly said he did not necessarily accept every guest or caller's claims, but only offered a forum where they would not be openly ridiculed. Bell was one of only a few talk show hosts who did not screen incoming calls, but this changed 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. The explanation given was that for him to use un-screened open phone lines while in the Philippines would require listeners to call there directly at enormous cost to them. Art admitted that he should have chosen New Zealand instead of the Philippines as an alternative to the USA. He said, "It was a bad choice, and I'll regret it, one day, in the near future." He subsequently stopped screening calls upon his return 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. This earned him praise from those who declare that 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 were all regular guests. Some of Bell's regular guests continue to appear on Coast to Coast AM now hosted by George Noory.
Bell's own interests, however, extended beyond the paranormal. He interviewed singers Crystal Gayle, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Eric Burdon and Gordon Lightfoot, comedian George Carlin, writer Dean Koontz, hard science fiction writer Greg Bear, X-Files writer/creator Chris Carter, TV talk host Regis Philbin, Star Trek actor Leonard Nimoy, actor Dan Aykroyd, former Luftwaffe pilot Bruno Stolle, actress Jane Seymour, actress Ellen Muth, actor and TV host Robert Stack, human rights lawyer John Loftus, legendary disc jockey Casey Kasem, UFC commentator Joe Rogan 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. Some 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: "Whether Hale-Bopp has a 'companion' or not is irrelevant from our perspective." Susan Wright reported, however, that Bell was also "one of the first to publicize expert opinions refuting the 'alien' companion" said to have been shadowing Hale-Bopp, such as that published in 1998 from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory suggesting that "the satellite's main diameter is ~30 km," and accordingly natural rather than artificial.
Callers and guests
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- On August 15, 1996, Bell interviewed William Luther Pierce, author of The Turner Diaries, in which Pierce—writing under the pseudonym "Andrew Macdonald"—depicted a race war leading to the extermination of Jews, non-whites and gay people. Pierce denounced interracial marriage, calling white people who married non-whites "traitors to the white race"—apparently unaware that Bell himself was in an interracial marriage, as his then-wife, Ramona Bell, was an Asian-American of Filipino descent (after Ramona's death, his subsequent wife Airyn would also be Filipino).
- One of Bell's Coast to Coast interviews occurred in 1997 with Mel Waters who discussed what is known as "Mel's Hole" in rural Washington State. The opening is said to be a fantastically deep vertical shaft which possesses bizarre properties. No such hole has ever been physically located by anyone attempting to verify this story.
- A caller in 2000 named "Daniel Murray" claimed he was a Majestic Agent from Downey, California.
Bell became a licensed amateur radio operator at the age of 13. His first call sign was KN3JOX, first listed in the Winter 1959 edition of the Radio Amateur Callbook. He soon upgraded to K3JOX, and he later held W2CKS, first listed in the Spring 1967 Callbook. Bell held an Amateur Extra Class license, which is the highest U.S. Federal Communications Commission amateur license class. His call sign was W6OBB.
Bell passed the Philippines amateur radio exams and became a Philippine Class A amateur radio operator with the call sign of 4F1AB. While in the Philippines, Bell was active on 40-10 Meters, as well as 144.600 MHz simplex in Manila.
In 1998, Bell was named as recipient of the Snuffed Candle Award by the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry's Council for Media Integrity. Bell was recognized by the Council for "perpetuating conspiracy myths... and mystery mongering". When Bell learned of the award he replied "A mind should not be so open that the brains fall out, however it should not be so closed that whatever gray matter which does reside may not be reached. On behalf of those with the smallest remaining open aperture, I accept with honor."
In August 2006 Art was inducted into the Nevada Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame. He did not attend the presentation.
- Airyn Ruiz, April 11, 2006 – April 13, 2018 (his death). Children: Asia Rayne Bell and Alexander William Bell.
- Ramona Lee Hayes, August 4, 1991 – January 5, 2006 (her death) † (see below)
- Vickie L. Baker, married March 1, 1981, divorced, July 3, 1991. Children: Arthur William Bell IV
- Sachiko Toguchi Bell Pontius, married 1965, divorced 1968. Children: Vincent Pontius, Lisa Pontius Minei.
Retirements and comebacks
Bell retired and returned to Coast to Coast AM several times.
On October 13, 1998, Bell announced his first retirement, which was highly unexpected by his listeners. He spoke of "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." Hilly Rose filled in after Bell's departure. Bell returned on October 28, 1998, asserting that the brief departure was brought on by threats made against his family. On May 29, 1999, 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. The facts of the matter became public knowledge in 2000, when the media revealed that an actual criminal indictment was filed against a person who had assaulted a member of Bell's family. Because of the nature of the crime, Bell had wanted to keep the matter private. Ted Gunderson, the former head of the Los Angeles FBI and the hosts at WWCR shortwave radio had accused Bell of the crime. Bell responded by taking legal action against Gunderson, as well as the hosts and stations. The action was resolved in a settlement in 2000.
On April 1, 2000, Bell again announced his retirement. He said that the event would occur on April 26, 2000, but 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, taking over on April 27, to an estimated audience of 22 million listeners. The media later explained that Bell had left to deal with the aftermath of the kidnap and sexual assault of 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. Bell returned to Coast to Coast AM in February 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. Bell retained some authority over the program as its creator and felt his return was necessary.
On October 23, 2002, Bell announced that he would retire due to recurring back pain, which was the result of a fall from a telephone pole during his youth. Bell was replaced by George Noory as weekday host of Coast to Coast AM on January 1, 2003. Those close to the matter also said that Barbara Simpson would host weekends and that Bell planned to be an occasional guest host for Noory. Bell returned in September 2003 as a weekend host, replacing Barbara Simpson and Ian Punnett as host of the Saturday and Sunday evening broadcasts. In June 2005, he scaled this schedule back, calling it a "semiretirement," and hosted 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.
On July 1, 2007, Bell announced his retirement, stating that he wished to spend more time with his new wife and daughter. He made it explicitly clear that, unlike the circumstances surrounding previous retirements, this decision was an entirely positive and joyful one and that he would not disappear completely, announcing an intention to occasionally substitute for other hosts and host "special" shows.
On December 11, 2015, Bell posted what would be his final retirement message via his Facebook page. He cited safety concerns for his family by saying "if one of them were harmed because of what I love doing my life would be over." Throughout the fall, Bell reported several incidents where an unknown number of armed trespassers came onto his property, sometimes firing gunshots. These events have been said to occur during or around the time of his broadcasting. This announcement came a mere five months after the start of his most recent show, Midnight in the Desert.
Events of 2006
Bell's life took some dramatic twists in the beginning of 2006:
Death of Ramona Bell
On January 5, 2006, Ramona Bell, his wife of 15 years, died unexpectedly at the age of 47 of what appeared to be an acute asthma attack in Laughlin, Nevada, where the couple had been taking a short vacation.
During the January 22 broadcast of Coast to Coast AM, Bell described in great detail the events surrounding his wife's death. For weeks thereafter, callers to the station would speak to George Noory and express their sadness and sympathy for Bell; Noory had taken Bell's place on weekdays beginning in 2002.
Change in schedule
On January 21, 2006, 16 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 (9:00 pm – 1:00 am ET). Punnett's show was titled Coast to Coast Live with Ian Punnett.
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.
Return to "the High Desert and the Great American Southwest"
Bell opened his December 28, 2006 program by disclosing that he had just relocated back to Pahrump, Nevada, with Ruiz, who had obtained the necessary paperwork for immigrating to the United States.
Events of 2008
On September 8, 2008, Noory stated that he would be hosting the annual Ghost to Ghost AM Halloween call-in show rather than Bell, who normally returns to the Coast to Coast to host it (along with the New Year's prediction shows). On September 19, Noory explained that Bell would be unavailable because he was on a cruise during that time this year.
Events of 2009
Bell returned to Coast to Coast AM on February 20, 2009, for a discussion on the global financial crisis with Wall St. insider Michael J. Panzner. Bell and Panzner agreed the United States was headed for an economic depression.
Bell was scheduled to return to Coast to Coast AM on April 24, 2009, to host an evening of open lines, but because of engineering problems in Manila, Bell was rescheduled to a later date.
On May 17, 2009, Bell returned to host Coast to Coast AM live from Manila. His guest was professor Peter Ward. Topics of discussion were mass extinctions, Earth's "self-destructive" phenomena, and life beyond planet Earth. While on the air, Bell answered an email question from a listener who asked why he was in the Philippines again and how long he'd be there. Bell replied that he'd address it on "Friday" and hinted that his move might be permanent.
As of May 20, 2009, the Coast to Coast website listed that Bell would be filling in for George Noory on Friday, May 22, 2009, to interview Bob Koontz. However, Bell did not do that show. The Coast to Coast website, again, cited technical difficulties in Manila and that his interview would be postponed. Bell interviewed Koontz on Saturday, June 6, 2009.
Friday June 26, 2009, Bell hosted Coast to Coast AM from Manila with guest Dean Radin. He also commented on the death of Michael Jackson and how he had lived in Pahrump, Nevada, not too far away from where Bell lived.
Friday November 20, 2009, Bell hosted Coast to Coast AM from Manila with guest Starfire Tor, psi researcher and experiencer who discussed time shifts and time slips, and other strange occurrences of time. During the first 90 minutes, they were joined by Whitley Strieber, who shared his take on Tor's research.
On Wednesday, December 30, and Thursday, December 31, 2009, Bell once again hosted his annual New Year's predictions special of Coast to Coast, noting that a number of the predictions this year were of an unusual and interesting nature and not mere repeats of many that had come before, though he also took several callers to task for seemingly veiling their obvious political agendas or wishes in the form of predictions, rather than offering up something from their "psychic center," which is what he repeatedly asks for during the prediction show. He also suggested that maybe Coast to Coast AM should institute some sort of prize or acknowledgment for listeners whose predictions are particularly accurate or astute.
In late 2008, Bell and his wife filed an I-751 petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services as part of her marriage-based green card process. In early 2009 the USCIS responded that they would need additional evidence to prove that Bell's marriage to a Philippines national and subsequent green card application was in good faith. Bell responded with evidence including their marriage license, their daughter's birth certificate, Bell's last will and testament, bank records, family photos, and Social Security forms. Bell sent the package to the USCIS by return receipt mail, and he subsequently received the return receipt stamped "USCIS RECEIVED JAN-15-09."
On March 10, 2009, Bell and his wife and daughter left Nevada for Manila to deal with some family business including the disposition of a condo they owned. Shortly thereafter, the USCIS denied the application on the grounds that the documentary evidence was never received, and further stipulated that Airyn Bell is not permitted to re-enter the United States, which is why Bell remained in the Philippines. Moreover, since the Bells were out of the country when the application was denied, they were required to start the process all over again.
On his June 6 broadcast, Bell explained the situation and asked his listeners to send emails on his behalf to the White House.
Events of 2010–15
Bell hosted 10 episodes in 2010, 5 short of his publicly announced, contractually specified quota of 15 shows per year. His last hosting gig was his annual Ghost to Ghost show on Halloween night (this was the first show ever wherein Bell used call screeners). At the end of that broadcast, Bell said "When they next call my name we'll come back and we'll do this one more time."
As of December 2010, Bell was no longer listed as a host on the Coast to Coast website; his shows were no longer searchable under his name; and the only references to Bell on the site were of an historical/archival nature. However, the weekly Somewhere in Time with Art Bell broadcasts of classic Bell-hosted episodes (which have aired before the live show on Saturday nights since 2006) were not discontinued.
On December 21, 2010, the "HamCam" on Bell's ham radio website featured an image with the following cryptic wording: "The Wind No Longer Blows, in the End it was Without Direction. Long Live the Hot Air. 30" "-30-" is journalistic shorthand for "end of story."
It was announced in late December 2010 that Ian Punnett would host Bell's annual two-part New Year's Eve prediction shows. Initially, Noory had said that Bell was unable to host them because he would be traveling, but on December 24, 2010, Noory said: "We had asked Art to do his predictions show; he's going to spend time with his family. He's winding down, folks, he's winding down...I don't anticipate he'll do any more shows." On the first of the two nights (December 30, 2010), Punnett made a brief, oblique reference to his having the honor of "picking up [Bell's] fallen mantle." On the January 1, 2011, show, Punnett stated he was "looking forward to doing the follow-up a year from now."
In email interactions with fans who have written in to inquire about Bell's absence, Coast personnel confirmed that Bell had retired. According to Coast webmaster Lex Lonehood: "Art Bell decided he no longer wished to do live C2C shows, and asked that his name be removed from the host listings accordingly. Classics and Somewhere in Time shows will continue as is." Coast producer Lisa Lyon told another fan that Bell "has chosen to retire," but that "Art Bell will always be associated with our show, and he is welcome back to the mic whenever he feels the need."
Despite the above remarks from Punnett, Noory, Lyon, Lonehood and Bell, as of January 6, 2011, an official public statement formally confirming Bell's departure from Coast to Coast AM has yet to be made via press release, website announcement or on-air, by any party with the authority to do so—the show's producers, Premier Radio Networks, Clear Channel Communications, or Bell himself. This lack of information has led to rampant speculation among Bell's fanbase as to the motivations and circumstances behind Bell's sudden absence; whether he had given his last live broadcast; and what—if anything—he might decide to do next.
During a chat on February 8, 2011, events became even more confusing for Bell's fans as George Noory, during a public chat responding to a question regarding Bell, stated that Bell isn't responding to his emails. The questioner, "Coalspeaker," asked "Have you spoken to Art Bell lately? And if so is he and his family doing well?" Noory responded by saying, "No I haven't. Art has decided to retire for good this time. I assume all is well for him and his family. He has gone through many ups and downs. I sent him a very lengthy email a few months ago, and he never responded. Though he normally would." There was no further explanation beyond that point on why Bell did not respond to Mr. Noory's email, although it only led Bell's fanbase to speculate further.
In March 2011 a Facebook profile appeared claiming to be the legitimate page of "Arthur W. Bell III," who posted hints that there would be a "big announcement" at the end of April 2011. After much speculation and debate among fans and friends on that page and various Bell forums, and finally after direct intervention from a verified Bell account, the "Arthur W. Bell III" page was proven to be a hoax, with no "big announcement" imminent.
On July 20, 2011, Bell announced via his Facebook page that he had relocated with his family to Pahrump, Nevada. Subsequent posts indicate Bell and his family initially focusing on resettling his house and making it "fit for human habitation" again, giving no indication about his radio plans, if any (beyond maintaining his HAM activity). However, on July 30, Bell posted the following: "There is so much to do and only so many hours in the day. There are things going on in the background that I will talk about at the proper time. The move was a big one and we need time to adjust."
On August 19, 2011, Bell announced via Facebook "Phrase for the day...Stay tuned!", followed on August 31 by the message "Sorry for so few posts but we are working on this house every day like dogs, much more soon." Some Bell fans voiced speculation that the phrase "stay tuned" may have been meant to indicate Bell's return to broadcasting in some form, but 2011 ended with no such announcement forthcoming, though shortly before Christmas he did report that a malfunctioning fire extinguisher in his radio room caused tens of thousands of dollars' worth of damage to his equipment and house.
On February 2, 2012, Art Bell joined an Art Bell Fan Forum named BellGab with the username "Art Bell". Art Bell fans can view the posts where Art Bell interacted with his fans up until the Spring of 2016.
On August 20, 2012, Bell spoke of his grievances on with Premiere Radio stations, claiming that he would soon tell the full story of the truth of his retirement. "I am just about ready to tell the real story of my so-called 'Retirements'. I have asked Premiere to stop the Saturday broadcasts and thus far they have not done so, as is their legal right. Free speech remains my right. I will soon exercise it."
On November 1, 2012, Bell updated his Facebook status with the following: "I wish my name was no longer associated with what Coast has become!"
Return to radio in 2013
In January 2013, Bell announced on Facebook, "I am now in negotiation for a new Radio show, stay tuned. No promises but the wind may be about to change direction!"
"I guess it is time to end any further speculation that I will return to the air any time soon. I have given (2) very solid offers a lot of thought and have turned them down. My reasons are many, though I am profoundly sad at the current state of the show, both offers would have been direct competition with Coast and anger is the wrong reason to proceed. Also I really do not want to destroy what I built despite its current state. Asia will be in first grade in the Fall and getting up very early, I would be up late and sleeping late, I would not see much of her or Airyn. Life is short and I want to spend what I have left with my Family. I hope my friends understand..."
In June 2013, Bell announced on his Facebook page that his official website, artbell.com, would be relaunching. On July 10, 2013, a red, white, and blue textual representation of a smiley face was displayed on the website. The site's favicon is a picture of a grey alien. On July 11, 2013, the smiley face was replaced with a red, white, and blue Morse code script that translated to "Wanna take a ride?".
On July 29, 2013, Bell officially announced a return to the airwaves with a launch date of September 16, 2013. His new show Art Bell's Dark Matter was broadcast on SiriusXM satellite radio's Indie Talk channel (channel #104), Monday through Thursday from 7 PM to 11 PM PT with repeats during the remainder of the night and "best of" shows airing on Fridays. His official website was updated on that date to include the announcement.
On November 7, 2013, Bell announced and began testing for potential Internet streaming sources.
Online radio network
In November 2013, Bell launched his 24/7 online radio network run by Keith Rowland, which streamed live from his website, Dark Matter Radio.
Midnight in the Desert radio show
On July 20, 2015, Bell returned with his new show Midnight in the Desert. The show aired on the internet Dark Matter Digital network and on 45 stations (20 of which signed on before the show started) from 9 PM to midnight PT. He also started transmitting on shortwave radio on WTWW at 5.085 MHz as well.
On December 11, 2015, Bell announced that he had permanently stepped down as host of Midnight in the Desert due to concerns about his family's safety. Bell had reported multiple instances of someone shooting firearms at and near his property in the fall of 2015. The show Midnight in the Desert continued with new host Heather Wade, and shortly after Art's death Dave Schrader became the host. Bell made the occasional guest host appearance.
Bell had suffered from health problems in the previous years. He posted on his website in July 2016 that he was hospitalized for pneumonia and revealed at the time that he suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
On Wednesday, August 1, 2018, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported the Clark County coroner's office findings. The coroner's office stated that Bell died of an accidental overdose from a cocktail of prescription drugs. The coroner's office determined he had four prescription medications in his system: the opioids oxycodone or Roxicet and hydrocodone or Vicodan, diazepam or Valium, and carisoprodol or Soma, a muscle-relaxant. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and hypertension also contributed to his death.
George Noory, current host of Coast To Coast AM, announced Bell's death and while struggling to keep his composure stated, "Art and I were not that close. We had our differences, but he was one of those instrumental in me being where I am right now."
Bell wrote, or co-wrote, several books, including The Quickening: Today's Trends, Tomorrow's World; The Art of Talk (an autobiography); The Source: Journey Through the Unexplained; The Edge: Man's Mysterious Past & Incredible Future; and The Coming Global Superstorm (co-authored with Whitley Streiber), which became the basis for the popular movie, The Day After Tomorrow.
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.
In 1999, Bell appeared as himself on the 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, January 22, 1999.) In 1999 Bell was interviewed on Larry King Live. (This was broadcast on March 5, 1999. The Washington Post, March 5, 1999.)
Progressive rock band Tool's 2001 album, Lateralus, featured a track entitled "Faaip de Oiad" (Enochian for "The Voice of God"), which includes a clip of the "distraught and terrified" Area 51 employee call from September 11, 1997.
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 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.
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. The game plot centers around a massive space ship and alien abductions. Bell receives a number of calls about people who have seen smaller craft as they abduct people.
In 2007, Bell appeared as himself in the movie I Know Who Killed Me.
Bell appeared alongside Mark Arnold in the 2016 film titled Abduct, directed by Ilyas Kaduji and produced by Mafalda Sa. Bell plays himself as he and a group of friends try to help protect a young woman from an alien threat.
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I am sorry to have to announce this but I will not be on Tonight or any other night, yes I am going to hang it up. Whoever this crazy person is, they are not stopping and it has come to the point that we as a Family do not feel it is worth the risk. While I think the person or persons are after me, my Wife and now my Daughter are really scared, the other night after the latest incident my Daughter was off in the corner of her bed scared to death as the Police cars came screaming up. I will not put my Family through this. As you all know I dearly love what I do but not at the expense of never-ending Terrorism. I want to thank those of you who have shown so much support and it has been my joy, short as it has been to have cracked that Mic open for a last time. This was a Family decision. The girls stuck with me and still would but if one of them were harmed because of what I love doing my life would be over. Art
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