delara newsDelaware Amateur Radio Association, Delaware OH VOL 37 NUMBER 5
Craig MIller W8CR
The Bell Falls Silent
Friday the 13th it was. Many thought it was a prank when they heard the news. Unfortunately, it was true. Art Bell, W6OBB, a pioneer in radio broadcasting that specialized in the paranormal, conspiracy and just all-around kookiness, passed at the young age of 72. Years of a 4-pack-a-day habit finally took its toll.I discovered Art on the AM radio early one morning, I think it was back in 1997 while working late programming a welding robot for an engineering company. We were all tired at the shop and tuned around the broadcast radio looking for something to listen to. A deep, low voice filled the room, interviewing a someone over the phone discussing evidence that mysterious entities were controlling our Sun’s activity. Eh?I don’t think I had a full night’s sleep since then.Art hosted an over-night syndicated radio program called CoasttoCoast AM from his home broadcast studio in far-away Pahrump, Nevada, in the high desert. His show ran locally from 1:00 AM to 5:00 AM weekdays as well as a Sunday night program called Dreamland. All topics were, frankly, unbelievable – but maybe some were true. Space aliens, ghost stories, government conspiracies the list was long and wide. A pleasant change of pace from the music play lists or the droning on of politics elsewhere on the AM and FM bands. My parents even made it a habit to listen to him late at night.Art had a dry sense of humor and interviewing skills that have never been replaced since his several attempts at retirement over the past decade or so. After leaving his CoasttoCoast show some 14 years ago, he reappeared after a hiatus on XM Radio and then an Internet pod cast. One revolutionary aspect of his programs, that I feel he doesn’t get enough credit, was to link his broadcasts with a website. If a guest had a grainy photo of a UFO or a ghostly specter, one could go to artbell.com for a glimpse.I mentioned he broadcast from a studio in his home, he also had a fabulous amateur radio station. I recall he took delivery the very first FTDX9000 from Yaesu when they came out on the US market. He had telephone poles planted around his 5 acre property and strung up a huge wire loop antenna that put out a booming signal. He’d meet up with a group of buddies on 75 meters when he closed out his show at 5:00AM, Eastern time. If I was awake, sometimes I’d fire up the rig and listen in. He was just a regular ham that talked about regular stuff. Many of his classic shows are available over the web. Shows like “Mel’s Hole”, a guy flying his airplane into Area 51, another guy that built a time machine which he used on himself, Al Bielek and the Philadelphia Experiment. The list goes on and on.Art will be sorely missed, he had a good run. 73, Art.