Legendary radio host Art Bell sued conservative commentator Michael Savage in federal court this week over remarks said during a recent broadcast of his syndicated talk show, “Savage Nation.”
The longtime host of the paranormal-themed “Coast to Coast AM” program sued Mr. Savage for defamation and invasion of privacy on Wednesday over comments said during a Sept. 25 episode of “Savage Nation” that he believes were made in reference to him and his wife.
“I generally avoid gun questions. I know this from the first day in radio. I learned you never do certain topics where you can destroy your show,” Mr. Savage said during the broadcast, according to a transcript contained in the 16-page complained filed by Mr. Bell’s attorneys in San Francisco federal court this week.
“You say UFOs, you wind up in the Philippines with a 10-year-old hooker and you are off the radio after a number of years. You can’t do UFOs,” Mr. Savage continued. “That’s an in joke, by the way, for people who understand the business. There are other topics you can’t do.”
Mr. Bell, 71, predominately discussed UFOs during the decades he spent hosting “Coast to Coast AM.” In 2006 he married a much younger Philippines national, Airyn Ruiz Bell, and announced his retirement the following year.
“Although Savage did not specifically identify Mr. Bell by name, Savage stated that ‘people who understand the [radio] business’ would understand to whom he was referring,” the lawsuit reads. “Indeed, a listener of the Program would understand that Mr. Bell was the foremost radio personality that spoke about UFOs on the air and that Mr. Bell is not currently on the air.”
“Ms. Bell has never been a prostitute and was 22 years old when the Bells married,” it continues. “Also, Mr. Bell was not ‘off the radio’ because he discussed UFOs or married Ms. Bell. These facts were publicly known and closely followed by many in the radio broadcasting industry and general public.”
Mr. Savage was asked to issue a retraction after the episode aired but never did, the lawsuit alleges. Now according to Mr. Bell’s attorneys, Mr. Savage and the networks that broadcast his show — Westwood One and Cumulus Broadcasting — should now be held liable for his “defamatory and slanderous statement.”
“Cumulus and Westwood One failed to exercise due care and adhere to standard radio broadcast industry practice by not utilizing the delay function to prevent broadcast of the statement,” the complaint says.
More than 5 million listeners tune in to “Savage Nation,” making it one of the top five most popular programs on terrestrial radio, according to the lawsuit. Westwood One did not immediately respond to requests for comment when contacted by Courthouse News, the website reported Friday.