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Harold Bell: Still Running Against The Wind! – By Maggie Linton


TV-7 On Your Side Anchor Paul Berry and I co-host a Inside Sports Celebrity Fashion Show.
TV-9 Anchor Maureen Bunyan and Harold Bell co-host “Toys for Tots” with Santa’s Helpers TV-5 Anchor Lark McCarthy and WKYS Radio personality, Donnie Simpson.

There will be several milestones for Harold K. Bell to mark in 2018. First, April 4, 2018 marks 50 years ago our Prince of Peace the Rev. Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. He found himself on the corner of the 9th & U Street corridor in the middle of the worst riot in DC history. May 21st marked his 80th birthday, November 28th will mark 50 years of marriage to his wife Hattie,and December 2018 will mark the 50th anniversary of hosting their first ever Christmas toy party for needy elementary school children.

There is one more important milestone we missed, in 1967 the legendary radio and television icon Petey Greene gave him five minutes to talk sports on Sundays. The show was “Petey Greene’s Washington” heard on W-O-L radio.

In 1970, Harold Bell embarked on his talk show career as an independent sports talk show host-a relatively new medium for black broadcasters. thanks to the introduction by his mentor and friend Petey Greene. Bell’s first five-minutes of radio stardom was at the helm of the two-time Emmy Award winner and sports talk has never been the same.

In 1970, he found the original “Inside Sports” heard on W-O-O-K radio in Washington, DC. The rest is sports talk radio history. Long before the late George Michael’s Sports Machine, Inside Sports Magazine, ESPN the Magazine, Outside the Lines and HBO’s Real Sports (Bryant Gumble) there was Harold Bell and “The Original Inside Sports.”

He grew up in a NE DC housing project called “Kenilworth Parkside.” He is a 4th generation Washingtonian. His great-grandfather Alfred Johnson Tyler laid the first brick to build historic Mount Airy Baptist Church located at North Capitol & L Streets NW in 1893. The Tyler House located at North Capitol & New York Ave, NW is an apartment complex for low income residents named after his great-uncle the Rev. Earl Tyler. He came by community service “The Old Fashion Way” he followed in the footsteps of his Grandmother and Great-Uncle after church each Sunday.

Bell received his education in the DC Public School system where he was an All-Star athlete at Spingarn High School. His Coach Dave Brown was his mentor and savior. Coach Brown talked the late legendary coach Clarence ‘Bighouse’ Gaines into giving him an athletic scholarship to Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina—he said, “It saved his life.”

He has been called a living legend around Washington, DC for his work with youth gangs and at-risk children. His first job was as a “Neighborhood Worker” for the United Planning Organization and later as a Roving Leader for the DC Department of Recreation and Parks (Youth Gang Task Force). Fifty-plus years later his legend continues to grow with his non-profit organization, Kids In Trouble. His radio sports talk show format “The Original Inside Sports” is a tag given to him by his wife Hattie over dinner one evening. The tag is now copied by ESPN, HBO and every radio, television and print media outlet in the world.

His pioneering contributions in sports talk radio and television in Washington DC, impressed Washington Star radio and television critic William Taaffe so much that he wrote, “Inside Sports Blazes a Trail. The show rules the roost because of a crusading kind of honesty and the show actually says something. You never have to splash water on your face to stay awake. Bell has always delved into the athlete’s personality with the eye of a reporter, and never the ‘Fluff’ of a talk-show Host.”

Legendary Washington Times sports columnist the late Dick Heller later wrote “Harold Bell is the Godfather of sports talk, the good kind.” He has interviewed hundreds of leading sports figures from “A to Z.” The list includes his dear friend the late Muhammad Ali and Redskin Mascot, Chief Zee.

His credo for the game called life was given to him by his grandmother and mother, “A lie will change a thousand times but the truth never changes and every black face you see is not your brother and every white face you see is not your enemy” says a lot about him and his talk show format. There would be less racism and hate in the world if everyone followed his talk show format, dialogue on racism is always open for discussion.

He was the first sports talk show host to play message music on air as it related to his community. There were popular tunes like Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes’ “Wake Up Every Body, and the classic by his homeboy and childhood friend, Marvin Gaye, “What’s Going On.” He established a no holds barred Media Roundtable with local and national media, unheard of during the 70’s. The Roundtable included, locals like Dick Heller, George Solomon and national sports writers Bill Rhoden of the NY Times and Larry Fitzgerald, Sr. a writer for the Minnesota Spokesman. In 1980, Bell was the first sports media personality honored as ‘Washingtonian of the Year’ by Washingtonian Magazine along with Washington Redskin QB Joe Theisman for their reach back efforts to enhance children in the DC community. Poems have been written about his exploits with youth gangs and at-risk children. The late poet Murray Brooks penned a poem titled, “For Whom the Bells Toll and family friend Earl Tilmon wrote, A Grieving Mother’s Tears.”

The sports media personalities who have benefited from Kids In Trouble, Inc. and Inside Sports read like a Who’s Who. They include, James Brown (NFL CBS), John Thompson (ESPN), Michael Wilbon (ESPN), Dave Aldridge (TBS), Kevin Blackistone (ESPN), Sugar Ray Leonard (ESPN), Adrian Branch (ESPN), Oden Polyniece (NBA), Cathy Hughes (Urban Radio & TV One), Glen Harris (TV 8 Sports), Butch McAdams (Urban Radio One sports), Adrian Dantley (Comcast Sports), Omar Tyree (Author Fly Girls, etc), Jamie Foster Brown (Sister2Sister Magazine) Jair Lynch, Grant Hill, and Comedian Chris Thomas (BET). Each one of them came through Kids In Trouble, Inc. and Inside Sports long before their 15 minutes of fame. He has more media personalities working in main stream media than anyone in the history of black broadcasting.

He was the first media personality to encourage pro athletes, judges, politicians, entertainers and newsroom media personalities to get directly involved with the community. In 2018 every pro sports franchise has followed his lead.
Isabel Sanford co-star of the TV sit-com “The Jeffersons” co-host Inside Sports

When the NFL and NBA Hall of Fames had overlooked his friends pro football pioneer Willie Wood and NBA pioneer Earl Lloyd, he led a campaign with NBA legendary coach Red Auerbach and DC sports columnist Dick Heller to get them both inducted into their respective hall of fames. Willie was inducted in 1989 and Earl was inducted in 2003. According to one African maxim, “Until the lions write their own history, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.” His passion to make sure that the Black Athlete receives his just deserts not only in Black History but also in American History is unmatched.

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About The Author

Maggie Linton has been in the radio and TV business for 45 years.

Maggie Linton has been in broadcasting for over 42-years.  She began her career in 1972 as a Sports Anchor for the KU Sports Network at KANU-FM in Lawrence, KS.  In 1974, she became Community Affairs Director and weekend Sports Anchor for KAKE-TV in Wichita, KS.  As the first woman Sports Anchor on TV in Wichita, KS she repeated this honor in St. Louis, MO at KPLR-TV and again in Washington, DC at WTTG-TV.  Maggie was a Sports Anchor and feature reporter for XM Satellite Radio USA Today News Channel.  From 2006 – 2013 Maggie was Program Director of Sirius XM Book Radio.  After programming book radio she became Host and Executive Producer of The Maggie Linton Show, a two hour award winning weekday talk show on Sirius XM Urban View Channel 126. Maggie will soon be launching her podcast. Stay tuned!

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