Art Bell was one of my dearest and oldest friends. We had not spoken together for about a month before he died, but the friendship remained strong. I can recall how we first met. Through my publicist, he sent me a tape of his late night show, which was then in the process of breaking out into a national phenomenon. He had heard me on Larry King’s old late night radio show on the Mutual Network.

I don’t remember what subject was covered on the tape, but Anne and I both loved the ambience of the show, its sense of mystery and excitement, and Art’s voice. I agreed to be a guest, which was the beginning of a long association with the show and a deep friendship between me, Art, his first wife Ramona and my wife Anne.

The show was breaking new ground in a fundamental way. In those days before the internet, all public forae were carefully curated so that anything said on them would either conform to generally agreed notions of reality or be ridiculed. I’d ended up becoming a laughingstock for claiming that I’d had a close encounter of the third kind, and was routinely exposed in the media as a fool, essentially for having told the truth as I saw it. But Art had a different approach. He was more a listener than a talker by nature, and he had a very open mind. It wasn’t that he would believe anything, but rather that he wouldn’t disbelieve things simply because they violated consensus reality.

So I found a home on Coast-to-Coast AM–along with hundreds of others considered by the broader community to fall outside the consensus. This made for a wild–and wildly entertaining–radio program. But it was also a pioneering format. Instead of demanding that any and all claims stick to accepted norms, Art’s show was saying, ‘let’s not believe or disbelieve, but rather let’s keep an open mind.’

His listeners understood this. They understood that the show was not there to propagandize them into believing every wild claim that was made on it, but rather to allow them to entertain ideas that were generally rejected, scorned, derided and condemned. Not to believe them, but to explore them in the same way that Art did.

I found his skillful neutrality bracing and exciting and loved being on the show. I could at last tell my story  as I had lived it in all its ambiguity and with all its contradictions. The listeners weren’t for the most part believing or disbelieving my claims, but they were hearing and responding to my sincerity and that was enormously reassuring to a man who was otherwise being laughed at by millions.

A personal friendship developed as well. Anne and I would drive up to Parumph and spend weekends with Art and Ramona. Sometimes Art and I would do the show together in his studio. Mostly, though, the four of us talked and talked about life and just enjoyed one another. They took us to the spot where they’d seen a silver triangle heading toward Area 51, and we explored the mountains west of town together. It was, in short, a comfortable friendship and a very pleasant one.

At about that same time, Anne and I had run into financial trouble. We lost our home in upstate New York and ended up living in Texas with literally almost no money and a son in an expensive school. We sometimes had to choose between buying food and paying tuition. It was that stark.

Art was a generous man, and he suggested that I make a video of one of my meditations to sell on his show. I did this, and he sold it every night for weeks, asking for nothing in return except the satisfaction of knowing that he had helped his friend. Then, in 1998, I had the encounter with the Master of the Key, which set me on a journey of search through the scientific literature to see if any of the claims I remembered him making had any support.

To my surprise, I found that the collapse of the Gulf Stream that he predicted and the great storms that would accompany it were suggested in the climate record from the end of the last ice age. Art was fascinated and we ended up writing "Superstorm" together. When it came out, we were openly scorned by Matt Lauer on the Today show, and when Roland Emmerich’s film based on it, "The Day After Tomorrow" appeared, the criticism became strident. Both left and right agreed: we were way off base. Our claims were nonsense.

I am very glad that Art lived to see "Ice Melt, Sea Rise and Superstorms" by leading climate expert James Hansen and 18 distinguished colleagues. Although they could never mention our work, their paper does support the idea that superstorms have happened in the past and describes the circumstances under which they could happen again. We both felt vindicated, and I was once again left wondering who in the world the Master of the Key was.

Art Bell was a pioneer of the open mind. He was a fine man with a generous heart and a great capacity for friendship. When Ramona died, he called me from their RV in tears. He’d waked up and found her. He was contemplating suicide. Anne and I rushed to Parumph and spent some time with him. We ended up missing Mona’s funeral but spent a good deal of time with him trying to convince him not to follow her. Then, just a short time later, he told us that he’d met a new woman–a lovely young Filipina–on the internet! We cautioned him that he might be moving too quickly, but Art was a man who knew people and who knew his own heart, and his marriage to Erin has produced two children, a beautiful young girl and now also a baby boy.

There was a lot of love in that family and now there must be a lot of grief. But as my wife Anne has said, "grief is another form of love."

When she died, I called Art in tears just as he had called me in tears when Mona passed. Just as he had been, I was contemplating suicide. And just as I had, he told me, "Whit, you don’t want to go where you’re not wanted. Live your life. Annie won’t leave you behind."

But they do leave us behind, those of us who must continue on this path after the stars of our lives have gone. Airyn and the kids must travel this path that he traveled after Monda died, and that I am traveling now. Sometimes I think of people as being like little drops of dew sparkling in the morning sun and so soon gone, risen into the light.

Art was a good man and a dear friend. He joins Mona and Anne in the land of light. Fare you well, Brother!

40 Comments

  1. “He was more a listener than
    “He was more a listener than a talker by nature, and he had a very open mind. It wasn’t that he would believe anything, but rather that he wouldn’t disbelieve things simply because they violated consensus reality.”

    This is a quality that the world is suffering a serious deficit of, and Art’s passing leaves us that much poorer in that regard. Happy trails, Art…

    1. I have been missing Art Bell
      I have been missing Art Bell ever since he left C to C. Many years ago I heard his voice in the middle of the night, talking about things I could not discuss with anyone, things that happened to me, things that I saw. And then along came Whitley and he too was open to these subjects. Discouraged by George Noory’s climate denier friends, I switched over to Whitley, knowing he would post the changes we knew were coming. I bought Art Bell and Whitley’s book and was so surprised at the denials I was hearing. I was so concerned when Art was trying to get his new family back into the US. Living in the Phillipines is so dangerous. I often wonder at the ignorance of those who deny climate change, who deny the visitors are here, who deny science even. Maybe they are afraid. I’m not. But I am cautious. Stay safe, Whitley and hang in there everyone. There is truly a higher order of Life that is really concerned about us. Rember, Love, Light and Laughter and never give up…the ship!

  2. “He was more a listener than
    “He was more a listener than a talker by nature, and he had a very open mind. It wasn’t that he would believe anything, but rather that he wouldn’t disbelieve things simply because they violated consensus reality.”

    This is a quality that the world is suffering a serious deficit of, and Art’s passing leaves us that much poorer in that regard. Happy trails, Art…

    1. I have been missing Art Bell
      I have been missing Art Bell ever since he left C to C. Many years ago I heard his voice in the middle of the night, talking about things I could not discuss with anyone, things that happened to me, things that I saw. And then along came Whitley and he too was open to these subjects. Discouraged by George Noory’s climate denier friends, I switched over to Whitley, knowing he would post the changes we knew were coming. I bought Art Bell and Whitley’s book and was so surprised at the denials I was hearing. I was so concerned when Art was trying to get his new family back into the US. Living in the Phillipines is so dangerous. I often wonder at the ignorance of those who deny climate change, who deny the visitors are here, who deny science even. Maybe they are afraid. I’m not. But I am cautious. Stay safe, Whitley and hang in there everyone. There is truly a higher order of Life that is really concerned about us. Rember, Love, Light and Laughter and never give up…the ship!

  3. His quality of having an open
    His quality of having an open mind to ideas that most would consider a fringe of reality is a valuable trait to have. What a true joy it must have been to know him personally.

  4. His quality of having an open
    His quality of having an open mind to ideas that most would consider a fringe of reality is a valuable trait to have. What a true joy it must have been to know him personally.

  5. We live in a world that is
    We live in a world that is changing rapidly and people, with their beliefs and opinions, are increasingly taking their sides and furiously defending them. Derision, vitriol and rejection are now the norm. We are losing the voices of open-mindedness, those who are tolerant to allow any idea to be at least heard.

  6. We live in a world that is
    We live in a world that is changing rapidly and people, with their beliefs and opinions, are increasingly taking their sides and furiously defending them. Derision, vitriol and rejection are now the norm. We are losing the voices of open-mindedness, those who are tolerant to allow any idea to be at least heard.

  7. So shocked and saddened to
    So shocked and saddened to hear of Art’s passing. I remember Whitley appearing on his show many times.

  8. So shocked and saddened to
    So shocked and saddened to hear of Art’s passing. I remember Whitley appearing on his show many times.

  9. “He was more a listener than
    “He was more a listener than a talker by nature, and he had a very open mind. It wasn’t that he would believe anything, but rather that he wouldn’t disbelieve things simply because they violated consensus reality.”

    A trait Art & Anne shared? Ah, Whitley.my heart goes out to you.

  10. “He was more a listener than
    “He was more a listener than a talker by nature, and he had a very open mind. It wasn’t that he would believe anything, but rather that he wouldn’t disbelieve things simply because they violated consensus reality.”

    A trait Art & Anne shared? Ah, Whitley.my heart goes out to you.

  11. I discovered Art just a few
    I discovered Art just a few years back. Losing my career due to illness, I took a serious interest into the UFO phenomenon and began reading and listening to everything I could find. Art blew me away! Who could resist that voice?! Magic! Magic on air. I would wait to replay old shows late at night and drift off with reassurances of the greater universe!
    I’m grateful you were good friends with him Whitley so that we may hear about him from someone who really loved and cared about him. Roswells our pioneering friend…

  12. I discovered Art just a few
    I discovered Art just a few years back. Losing my career due to illness, I took a serious interest into the UFO phenomenon and began reading and listening to everything I could find. Art blew me away! Who could resist that voice?! Magic! Magic on air. I would wait to replay old shows late at night and drift off with reassurances of the greater universe!
    I’m grateful you were good friends with him Whitley so that we may hear about him from someone who really loved and cared about him. Roswells our pioneering friend…

  13. Thank you Whitley for this. I
    Thank you Whitley for this. I am a looooong time listener to coast. Art was the best on there. I wonder what he can see now!

  14. Thank you Whitley for this. I
    Thank you Whitley for this. I am a looooong time listener to coast. Art was the best on there. I wonder what he can see now!

  15. “I think of people as being
    “I think of people as being like little drops of dew sparkling in the morning sun and so soon gone, risen into the morning.”

    What a wonderfully rendered comparison to us within (and without–if that indeed is possible) the firmament, both delightful and bittersweet.

    The great man will be missed. My condolences to his family, most especially his children.

  16. “I think of people as being
    “I think of people as being like little drops of dew sparkling in the morning sun and so soon gone, risen into the morning.”

    What a wonderfully rendered comparison to us within (and without–if that indeed is possible) the firmament, both delightful and bittersweet.

    The great man will be missed. My condolences to his family, most especially his children.

  17. My heart felt condolences to
    My heart felt condolences to Art Bell’s family and friends. He was a beautiful gift to possibilities.

  18. My heart felt condolences to
    My heart felt condolences to Art Bell’s family and friends. He was a beautiful gift to possibilities.

  19. Very touching tribute. Thank
    Very touching tribute. Thank you Whitley.
    ………………………………………………………………….
    P.S. Art’s wife’s name is spelled Airyn rather than Erin.

  20. Very touching tribute. Thank
    Very touching tribute. Thank you Whitley.
    ………………………………………………………………….
    P.S. Art’s wife’s name is spelled Airyn rather than Erin.

  21. Art Bell started it all. Who
    Art Bell started it all. Who could forget Art’s parts or Mel’s hole? Or, how about introducing our community to the likes of Linda Howe ,Whitley, or Jim Marrs? He monumentally affected me and it was love at first listen. I will always marvel at the power of his voice, not in any preachy authoritative way, but in it’s bold enthusiasm for infecting mystery to a captive listening audience. His interviews were almost never short. He spent time with his guests, allowing us the opportunity to get to know them,too. The interviews were more thought-provoking, and it would often leave me with a burning desire to learn more. His way made the listening audience feel like they knew him, too. Often, his open lines, where the audience would talk to Art about random subjects, became just as entertaining as the evening’s guest. The listening audience and Art has a special relationship: We trusted him to ask the right questions, so we could make up our own minds.So, when Whitley took over for Art, I knew I would continue to listen because Whitley was Art”s choice. Art is the reason I originally came to Unknown country. But, Whitley is the reason I stayed.
    All my sympathy to Art’s family. I hope knowing how much he was loved and appreciated by so many, will some how comfort them during this very rough time.

  22. Art Bell started it all. Who
    Art Bell started it all. Who could forget Art’s parts or Mel’s hole? Or, how about introducing our community to the likes of Linda Howe ,Whitley, or Jim Marrs? He monumentally affected me and it was love at first listen. I will always marvel at the power of his voice, not in any preachy authoritative way, but in it’s bold enthusiasm for infecting mystery to a captive listening audience. His interviews were almost never short. He spent time with his guests, allowing us the opportunity to get to know them,too. The interviews were more thought-provoking, and it would often leave me with a burning desire to learn more. His way made the listening audience feel like they knew him, too. Often, his open lines, where the audience would talk to Art about random subjects, became just as entertaining as the evening’s guest. The listening audience and Art has a special relationship: We trusted him to ask the right questions, so we could make up our own minds.So, when Whitley took over for Art, I knew I would continue to listen because Whitley was Art”s choice. Art is the reason I originally came to Unknown country. But, Whitley is the reason I stayed.
    All my sympathy to Art’s family. I hope knowing how much he was loved and appreciated by so many, will some how comfort them during this very rough time.

  23. Art Bell saved my life.
    Art Bell saved my life.

  24. Art Bell saved my life.
    Art Bell saved my life.

  25. Art, it seems as though
    Art, it seems as though you’re finally ‘taking that ride’. Thanks for being such a great companion all those nights through all those years. Good night.

  26. Art, it seems as though
    Art, it seems as though you’re finally ‘taking that ride’. Thanks for being such a great companion all those nights through all those years. Good night.

  27. Art Bell was a great radio
    Art Bell was a great radio host. He and others, such as Michael Toms with New Dimensions and Laura Lee were favorite listening experiences for me in the 80’s and 90’s. Art introduced me to Linda Moulton Howe too. I also enjoyed his unscreened open lines. Has anybody verified or debunked his Area 51 caller?

    https://youtu.be/ee3bld4lTG0

    Radio has devolved into politics, religion and sports, while the worthwhile content has to be actively searched online.

    I also appreciated Art’s smaller innovations, such as getting the commercials out of the way at the beginning of the half hour.

    His ability to listen, keep an open mind and draw stories out was quite a talent.

    On the down side, I have lost friends who have not kept open minds and made decisions one way or the other. Some lost themselves to paranoia in believing whatever they heard on Coast to Coast. I know that it wasn’t Art’s fault, so maybe i should not bring it up here. Seems as good a time as any though.

  28. Art Bell was a great radio
    Art Bell was a great radio host. He and others, such as Michael Toms with New Dimensions and Laura Lee were favorite listening experiences for me in the 80’s and 90’s. Art introduced me to Linda Moulton Howe too. I also enjoyed his unscreened open lines. Has anybody verified or debunked his Area 51 caller?

    https://youtu.be/ee3bld4lTG0

    Radio has devolved into politics, religion and sports, while the worthwhile content has to be actively searched online.

    I also appreciated Art’s smaller innovations, such as getting the commercials out of the way at the beginning of the half hour.

    His ability to listen, keep an open mind and draw stories out was quite a talent.

    On the down side, I have lost friends who have not kept open minds and made decisions one way or the other. Some lost themselves to paranoia in believing whatever they heard on Coast to Coast. I know that it wasn’t Art’s fault, so maybe i should not bring it up here. Seems as good a time as any though.

  29. Quite a nice tribute to a
    Quite a nice tribute to a pioneer.

  30. Quite a nice tribute to a
    Quite a nice tribute to a pioneer.

  31. I will truly miss Art’s
    I will truly miss Art’s amazing voice and interview skills. No other like him. My thoughts and prayers go out to all his family and friends, especially you Whitley.

    Here’s an old song I’ve always liked, that seems about right:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GtetWURpEp4

    The Truth is Out There …

  32. I will truly miss Art’s
    I will truly miss Art’s amazing voice and interview skills. No other like him. My thoughts and prayers go out to all his family and friends, especially you Whitley.

    Here’s an old song I’ve always liked, that seems about right:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GtetWURpEp4

    The Truth is Out There …

  33. God bless Art Bell.
    I was

    God bless Art Bell.

    I was privileged to have spoken with him a couple of times by phoning into Coast from my sleepy little English village.

    Art had a lovely way of putting you at ease while millions listened and nerves crackled away. All our warm thoughts emanate toward him and he’ll be looking back on a life filled with mystery and adventure.

    Godspeed Art Bell. See you on the flip-side Old friend.

    Nick.

  34. God bless Art Bell.
    I was

    God bless Art Bell.

    I was privileged to have spoken with him a couple of times by phoning into Coast from my sleepy little English village.

    Art had a lovely way of putting you at ease while millions listened and nerves crackled away. All our warm thoughts emanate toward him and he’ll be looking back on a life filled with mystery and adventure.

    Godspeed Art Bell. See you on the flip-side Old friend.

    Nick.

  35. Very well said Whit. I didn’t
    Very well said Whit. I didn’t know he was sick. Sounds like you had a special connection. I will never forget those late nights with his voice looking out the window for UFO’s. Godspeed, Art…

  36. Very well said Whit. I didn’t
    Very well said Whit. I didn’t know he was sick. Sounds like you had a special connection. I will never forget those late nights with his voice looking out the window for UFO’s. Godspeed, Art…

  37. Art Bell was a master of the
    Art Bell was a master of the world’s most enduring mass medium…radio. When he wasn’t hosting “Coast to Coast” he operated a ham radio station, picking up international responders late at night when the ionosphere was low. His rich bass voice, enhanced by his smoking habit, was in the tradition of Edward R. Murrow. His paranormal topics recalled classic radio programs like “The Shadow”. He understood that the listeners’ imaginations could conjure up images more powerful than any CGI special effects. His home studio in “the Kingdom of Nye” Nevada, so close to Area 51, added weight to his interviews with alien abductees and UFO researchers on the cutting edge, like Whitley Strieber and Linda Moulton Howe. I’m still haunted by his interviews about “Mel’s Hole” and visitors to “Freedom Ridge” before it was closed off. We’ll not hear his like again. Godspeed, Captain Midnight.

  38. Art Bell was a master of the
    Art Bell was a master of the world’s most enduring mass medium…radio. When he wasn’t hosting “Coast to Coast” he operated a ham radio station, picking up international responders late at night when the ionosphere was low. His rich bass voice, enhanced by his smoking habit, was in the tradition of Edward R. Murrow. His paranormal topics recalled classic radio programs like “The Shadow”. He understood that the listeners’ imaginations could conjure up images more powerful than any CGI special effects. His home studio in “the Kingdom of Nye” Nevada, so close to Area 51, added weight to his interviews with alien abductees and UFO researchers on the cutting edge, like Whitley Strieber and Linda Moulton Howe. I’m still haunted by his interviews about “Mel’s Hole” and visitors to “Freedom Ridge” before it was closed off. We’ll not hear his like again. Godspeed, Captain Midnight.

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