Award-winning Hollywood producer and ARRL benefactor Dave Bell, W6AQ, of Encinitas, California, died on May 13. He was 84 and had been a radio amateur for 65 years. Bell had been suffering from cancer and was in hospice care. An ARRL Life Member and a former chair of the ARRL Public Relations Committee, Bell directed Amateur Radio Today and produced several other ham radio-related promotional videos and films, starting with The Ham’s Wide World, a TV documentary filmed in black and white.
“If I have a claim to fame in Amateur Radio, it’s probably that I produced the first television documentary about ham radio that got worldwide distribution, and then I made several others before I ‘retired’ from the ham radio film/video hobby-within-a-hobby and got busy making a living producing TV movies, specials, and documentaries for all of the networks including HBO and Showtime, and made a couple of theatrical feature films — Nadia and The Long Walk Home,” Bell recounted on his QRZ.com profile. He started TV’s Unsolved Mysteries, and he received an Emmy Award in 1985 for Outstanding Drama/Comedy Special, Do You Remember Love. Bell chronicled his filmmaking and his Amateur Radio and professional lives in a memoir, World’s Best Hobby.
Last year, Bell and his wife Sam, W6QLT (she’s a quilter), donated a signed Andy Warhol print to the ARRL. The artwork — “Myths: Superman 1981” —sold at auction last fall for $150,000. The proceeds are being used to create “The Dave Bell, W6AQ, Endowment Fund” to benefit the League.
Bell also produced The World of Amateur Radio, This is Ham Radio, and Moving Up to Amateur Radio. He directed the Amateur Radio Today video in 2002. The short presentation about emergency preparedness was narrated by former CBS Evening News anchor Walter Cronkite, KB2GSD (SK), written by Alan Kaul, W6RCL, and produced by Bill Pasternak, WA6ITF (SK) and Bill Baker, W1BKR. Bell and Pasternak also created The DIY Magic of Amateur Radio in 2011, and he co-produced The ARRL Goes to Washington, also voiced by Cronkite. Working on his own, Bell filmed videos for the World Radiosport Team Championship (WRTC) events in 2000 in Slovenia (The Ham Radio Olympics) and in 2002 in Finland.
A DXer, casual contester, and a past president of the Southern California DX Club, Bell was a frequent speaker at Amateur Radio gatherings. He was named the 1984 Ham of the Year at Dayton Hamvention®, and, in 2003, the ARRL presented Bell with its first Lifetime Achievement Award for his work on films and videos about Amateur Radio. In 2011 he was named to the CQ Amateur Radio Hall of Fame.
Heil Sound Ltd’s Bob Heil, K9IED, called Bell “one of the great ones.” Heil said Bell’s “great smile and laughter” and his “generosity to the hobby” would be missed, “but most of all, we will miss his spirit.” — Thanks to The Daily DX for some information