Local News

Wednesday, Dec 26 2012 06:25 PM

Head of local Clear Channel radio to retire

By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN

Jim Bell has spent 35 years working in the radio business.

But the last day of 2012 will also be the last day of his career in broadcast media.

"I am retiring on the 31st," the vice president and general manager of Clear Channel in Bakersfield confirmed Wednesday.

"Clear Channel has known about this since last year sometime," Bell said. "The company has been good to me and I wanted this (transition) to happen properly."

A replacement has not yet been named, he said.

The 66-year-old got his start in radio in 1977 as a sales person at KGBS, the first FM country station in Los Angeles. But Bell was headed for management roles.

Over the past several years he's worked as general manager in Billings, Mont.; Reno, Nev.; and Houston before coming to Bakersfield more than 10 years ago to head Clear Channel and its roster of stations that now includes 98.5 The Fox, KRAB and La Preciosa, the most widely listened to Spanish language station in the area.

Married for 37 years, Bell and his wife, Donna, have two grown sons and one grandson.

Retiring is a little bittersweet, he said, but mostly sweet.

"It's tough in the sense that the people I work with here are phenomenal.

"I'll miss them," he said, then laughing, he added, "I hope they'll miss me, too."

What's not tough, he said, is being able to go when the time is right.

"You realize," Bell said, pausing, "you come to a point when you just know -- it's time."

Retirement will allow him to devote plenty of time to his role as governor of Rotary Club's District 5240, which includes 74 clubs in the valley and on the Central Coast. His responsibilities begin in 2015 and continue through 2016.

Meanwhile, he said, Bakersfield will continue to be home.

"Both Donna and I have fallen in love with the people of Bakersfield and enjoy the many organizations that we have worked with over the years," he said.

Of course, there's another thing Bell is looking forward to: more time with his motorcycle, a BMW touring bike he hopes will carry him off on new adventures across the country.

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