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Newspaper Archive of
Pahrump Mirror
Pahrump, Nevada
Lyft
January 16, 1997     Pahrump Mirror
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January 16, 1997
 

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O "Beginning of my radio career" Continued from page 13 Bell' s life changed dramatically when, soon after gradu- ating from high school, he was sent to Lakland Air Force Base for basic training. His next stop was Greenland, Mis- sissippi where he began training to be a medic. Then on to Gunter Air Force Base in Alabama to be followed by an 18 month stay in Amarillo, Texas. In Amarillo, Bell and two friends, with an O.K. from the military, built a complete radio station. They played music, 24 hours a day for the entire base and although unplanned the signal traveled to Amarillo 30 miles away. The station was illegal, a condition the officers who gave it their blessing were unaware of, and it closed after a year. The year was a leap forward for Bell. His broadcast experience provided the bridge from amateur HAM operator to a road with many paths to explore as he continued to do what he loved and get better. Bell refers to this experience as the "beginning of my radio career." Listening to ad talking with people from all over the world had created a hunger to travel in the young man and was one reason he joined the Air Force. He was not disap- pointed. From Amarillo, Bell was transferred to Okinawa, Japan where he was enchanted by the people and their culture. He tried to assimilate as much of their culture as possible. He loved the Orient, but it wasn't all joy. The Vietnam War was filling the hospitals with casualties. The medic, although never on the front lines, was transferred to a hospital in the Phillippines and later to one in Da Nang, Vietnam where he helped care for the wounded. Bell spent a year working as technician for ITT in New Jersey after his four year stint with the Air Force. Then he returned to doing what he loved. He first had a job reading the news on a small religious radio station, moved to another small station, and then achieved a dream when he was hired by a radio station in Okinawa. During his six years with the Japanese radio station, Bell got a lot better at doing what he loved. He became a popular disc jockey, delivered the news, did some talk radio and performed some attention riveting promotional stunts. When he returned to the United States, Bell continued to hone his skills. He describes 20 years in rock music where he was a popular DJ, music director and news director. He had morning shows, afternoon shows and evening shows. He excelled in every direction he explored with radio. Bell led the gypsy life of professional radio working at a number of stations. He" worked mostly on the west coast, but also spent some time at stations in North Carolina, Florida and at KENI in Anchorage, Alaska where he moved from rock DJ to a free form morning radio show doing music and talk radio. Bell took a hiatus from radio and worked first for a cable company and then in the new field of satellite technol- ogy which brought him to Las Vegas. He returned to his lifetime love when the manager of KDWN heard about his extensive radio experience, came to him and asked him to work weekeni:ls as part of a two man talk show. Doing what he loved won out over the security and money offered by the cable company, and Bell returned to radio full time. There he became the host of "West Coast A.M." a radio talk show aired from 1 a.m. to 6 a.m. and broadcast over a 150 mile radius from Las Vegas. His show, aired for over ten years, always ranked first on the west coast. It was here, he began his formula for successful talk show that he still uses today, a live show with unscreened calls. Another major life change occurred at KDWN. Bell met Ramona, a news writer and talk show host. At KDWN Bell, honed his skills as he developed an entertaining, informative, interesting, emotional and al- ways varied show. His lis- teners could laugh, cry or be angry, but they could never be bored. Bell has continued the spontaneity and the open me- dium with "Coast to Coast A.M." Opening the show to the topics his audience wants to explore has made him unique. He says he thinks people are tired of talking only about politics, the for- mat of most other talk shows. Another man who loved radio, Alan Corbeth, of Chancellor Broadcasting in Medford, Oregon, was an Art Bell fan. He visited Bell at KDWN. The two worked to syndicate Bell's show. When they realized they needed financial control to reach their goal, the partners secured investors and took their show, COAST TO COAST A.M., nationwide. The show now has 310 affiliates in the United States and beyond including the U.S. Virgin Islands and Tahiti. Another big decision was to build their broadcast studio in Belt's home using a digital satellite uplink to send the show to the working offices in Medford. With the commute to Las Vegas no longer a necessity, Bell and Ramona were finally "at home" in Pahrump. Bell says working from home improves his performance. He has access to the world through all the electronic media includ- ing computers, Reuters Associated Press, CNN, electronic mail, the Internet and stacks of faxes. Life in the desert insulates him from outside influences and allows him to remain more focused. His audience is his outlet. Pahrump has become known world wide through Art Bell. People come to visit just because they heard about the town on his show. Some people have made the decision to move to the community after hearing about it on "Coast to Coast A.M." Bell sees a number of.factors influencing Pahrump's rapid growth. He says its a big valley and feels secure it will retain its small town atmosphere. The Bells say some people think Pahrump is the next Palm Springs, but they see it rapidly becoming more like Thousand Oaks. Most of all Pahrump is the place the Bells want to be, and where they are eager to return following annual travels abroad. What's next for Bell? He is writing his second book titled, THE QUICKENING. In approximately 300 pages, he explains the changes he talks about on his radio show. He plans to complete the book in February. It will be available in Pahrump and bookstores throughout the country. He will continue to support Ramona in her efforts to obtain the FCC license she applied for over a year ago. She wants to start a Pahrump FM station to broadcast local news, events, music and weather which is especially important to all the Las Vegas commuters who travel over Mountain Springs. "Coast to Coast A.M." will fill the 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. slot. Bell was recently featured on television in Fox's STRANGE UNIVERSE and played a bit part in NBC's DARK SKIES. Will he take his talent to television? "No," he says. He will continue to do what he loves and to strive to be the best talk show host in the world, on radio. 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