Veteran radio personality Sandy Ward Bell, whose decade of experience working in a variety of radio formats was put on hiatus when her daughter  was born, is back. “Out of retirement,” she  writes in her blog talk radio bio, “to interview writers, musicians, and artists.”

Bell is also an author, and her novel In Zoey’s Head – which I had the privilege of reading and whose narrator I very quickly fell in love with – is available at as a paperback and Kindle book.

“Backstory with Sandy Ward Bell” is Bell’s break-out-of-retirement program,  and I’m fortunate enough to be her second interview since her return to one of her great passions. Having listened to her first “Backstory” interview (with author and book reviewer Holly Christine), I couldn’t be more excited. Even so, I wanted to learn more about her, and I wanted you to know why you should both listen to, and try to be on, her show.

How did you first get into radio?

When I was in 9th grade I was listening to TOTO’s Hold The Line. I decided then and there I was going to be a radio announcer. I picked Geneseo State college because it had 2 radio stations and I could start working my freshman year. Senior year – I was the first FEMALE general manager of the 2 thousand watt station WGSU. Because of internships and part-time work, when I graduated, I was a full-time DJ the day I got my diploma.

Who is your favorite radio personality?

That’s a tough question because there are so many. I really like a local guy. On afternoon drive-time – ‘Jeremy DANGER Frog’ on Froggy in Pittsburgh. He is funny, smart, and understands his audience, knowing exactly what to do to connect with them. I’m always amazed by radio personalities that present a talent that can’t be taught.

What made you decide to come out of retirement?

After being interviewed on a Blogtalk radio show, I was asked to assist another writer produce his show. After those experiences, the spark inside me was reignited. I loved being a radio personality. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed it. I decided that with my experience and passion with radio and interviewing, I could create a show that I could eventually turn into a business.

What plans do you have for “Backstory”?

I hope to produce and present an entertaining and informative program. Once I create an audience, I believe I can attract advertisers as well as new artists looking for a solid interview to use in their own marketing plan.

You recently released a book – In Zoey’s Head – about a woman whose experiences are, in her head, often accompanied by memories of songs or television programs, a kind of soundtrack to her life. I have to ask, based on your past and your love of radio, is Zoey based on you?

I’ve been asked that a lot. Yes, there is a lot of Zoey in me, or is it, I put a lot of me in Zoey. We aren’t exactly the same – just similar. I had Zoey say and do things I always wanted to do. That is what is so great about writing fiction.

[Personal note: usually I give myself more time to put together interviews, but I wanted this to post before Tuesday, when I’ll be on Bell’s radio show. If I had more time, I would ask, “What did you have the most fun having Zoey say that you would never say in real life?” If we’re lucky, she’ll stop by, read this, and answer in the comments section. – KT]

Tell me about In Zoey’s Head. It’s obvious readers are really enjoying it, because it’s been available a relatively short time and already it’s receiving 4- and 5-star reviews with readers calling it  “tasty” (which, frankly, confuses me and intrigues me at the same time), “fun,” and “compelling.”

In Zoey’s Head can literally get into your head. I had one reader make the comment – “the characters stayed with me even after I closed the book.” It is perfect for book discussion groups. There are several hot topics in the story that help create a heated debate. That is why I offer my services, free of charge, to join book clubs via Skype for readings or to join in on the discussion of my novel.

Are you working on another book in the midst of all this skyping and radio show hosting?

I’m working on my second novel – it is a modern version of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park. Plus, I write short stories to change things up now and again.

Which do you feel more intimately connected to – radio or writing?

I feel intimately connected to both radio and writing. They both make me extremely happy. I get a high from talking/interviewing people with passions and interesting stories. Then, I love to sit down and create an escape world full of intriguing characters. Fiction keeps me sane.

[Join Sandy Ward Bell and me on “Backstory” Tuesday, October 19,  at 7:30 PM Eastern Standard Time. We’re going to talk about many, many things. The program runs about 20 minutes, so it won’t be THAT many things. Probably just enough things.]

Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. Hi Kristen!
    To answer your question – it was great giving Zoey a chance to come back with a zinger on cue. I usually don’t think of the perfect thing to say until maybe 24 hours later. I’m looking forward to our talk tonight!
    Thank you,

  2. Great interview! The new show “Backstory” sounds wonderful. I’ve known Sandy for years, and this is such a great fit for her talents. She is full of energy and life, and loves to learn about other people. She always has great questions and elicits thought-provoking information! I’m looking forward to tuning in from Colorado : )


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