A defamation lawsuit filed by former “Coast to Coast” personality Art Bell and his wife Airyn against conservative talk radio host Michael Savage, Savage’s syndicator Westwood One and parent Cumulus Media has been settled out of court. It draws a rather sedate end to a case that has been known for wild, salacious claims.
In the original Nov. 30 filing in United States District Court for the Northern District of California—where Savage is based—the Bells accused Savage of false statements about their marriage amid a saucy soliloquy. On Feb. 27, the settlement was announced along with the statement that the parties “are currently in the process of memorializing the terms of the agreement and should be in a position to dismiss this matter with prejudice within 30 days.” It is considered resolved as the parties finalize terms.
As Inside Radio reported Dec. 2, Savage was accused of saying: “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...That’s an in-joke, by the way, for people who understand the business.” The broadcast aired on Cumulus’ KSFO San Francisco, and was distributed for syndication by Westwood One.
Stating that he is “widely regarded as a founder of UFO-themed radio programming” and that Bell married his wife Airyn Ruiz Bell in the Philippines, the suit claims that even without being named, it is obvious who Savage was directing his comments to.
“Savage demonstrated a reckless and utter disregard for the truth. Ms. Bell has never been a prostitute and was 22 years old when the Bells married,” the suit declared. Bell says he demanded that Savage retract the statements—but he did not.
Because of the alleged “defamatory and slanderous” statements and “severe emotional distress,” Bell originally asked for damages, legal costs and a trial by jury. Meanwhile, Westwood One and Cumulus “are vicariously liable for Savage’s conduct as the owner, broadcaster and distributor of the program that employs Savage,” the suit alleged.