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On Sunday, Feb. 28, a reception was held for former NBA star Earl Lloyd at the Boiling Air Force Base Officer’s Club. If you read an account of the party in the March 12 edition of the Washington City Paper (Cheap Seats, “Microphone as Megaphone”), you would think no one of importance was there. Among those in attendance were NBA legend Sam Jones, sportscaster James Brown, Washington Redskins great Roy Jefferson, former NFL running back and artist George Nock, writer and poet Murray Brooks, WOL sports-talk-show host Butch McAdams, and P.G. Cable 15 sports-talk-show host Bill McCaffrey. Dave McKenna, who writes a column titled “Cheap Seats,” took a cheap shot when he wrote, “Local and daily newspapers and television stations, along with major local sports figures, all stayed away from the tribute…because of [Harold Bell].”
I suggested that the article written about me should be about Earl Lloyd, but McKenna evidently had another agenda. McKenna says, “Lloyd, for whatever reason, never got his due around his hometown through the years, and, sadly, he still isn’t likely to after this function.” He must be from Mars. And the standing-room-only crowd must have been composed of Martians. When was the last time major media made covering a good-news story in the black community a priority?
I was the first sports media personality in Washington, D.C., to sponsor Celebrity Salutes, fashion shows, and tennis and golf tournaments. These affairs were always popular and well-attended by major sports figures. I never depended on any one athlete to make these outings a success. During the reception, I never once heard Earl Lloyd say, “Harold, I wonder where John Thompson is?” McKenna spent so some much time noticing who was not there, he forgot who was there! He never heard the mesmerizing story of the guest of honor. The standing-room-only crowd listened spellbound as Earl Lloyd spun story after story of growing up in the all-black section of Alexandria, Va., and his trials and tribulations as an NBA pioneer.
McKenna went on to say, “[Local sports celebrities] would rather eat glass than take Bell’s calls.” He assumes because they won’t return his calls for a story about me, they won’t take mine. Check the records of AT&T and see when was the last time I spent 10 cents a minute to dial their numbers!
McKenna also makes the erroneous claim that the reason I am not on local radio is because of my controversial bent, and no radio stations are willing to broadcast my show! Nothing could be further from the truth. This is another example of a writer not doing his homework! If McKenna had taken the time to investigate, he would have discovered that I am not on local radio because of breach of contracts by my shows’ sponsors. I buy time from the radio stations. I pay the stations, not vice versa. Without sponsors, there is no Inside Sports. He also claims I now concentrate on print diatribes to make up for not being on the radio! The dictionary definition for “diatribe” is “bitter and abusive criticism”! I was the first sports radio or television journalist to write commentaries for my shows. They have always been frank and honest, never bitter and abusive criticism. In my 25 years as a media personality, not one subject of my commentaries or columns has ever challenged their authenticity or honesty. I have always offered equal time to the person who is the topic of conversation. Unheard of in media! McKenna critiques my radio show, Inside Sports, but has never heard it. He says, “On Inside Sports, callers weren’t afraid to rail about Marion Barry’s legal problems and Doug Williams’ benching, and maybe establish a link between the two. And the host, well, he was not afraid to rail about anything or speak up against anyone.” Great observation for someone who has never heard Inside Sports. He fails to mention that Marion Barry asked for equal time and got it. When I brought to his attention that he never mentioned that Fox Television’s James Brown was in attendance, he called me a liar and said he was never there.
He describes me as a “do-gooder…and all-around rabble-rouser,” controversial, and a railer. He says, “Though he started in local radio more than 25 years ago, Bell remains essentially unknown among D.C.’s white residents”! He never tells the readers that my wife, Hattie, and I have coordinated Christmas toy parties for thousands of needy elementary school children throughout the metro area for 30 years, as reported in the Washington Post on Dec. 16, 1998. I was the first sports media personality named Washingtonian of the Year by Washingtonian. William Taaff and Norman Chad of the Washington Post picked Inside Sports as the best radio sports talk show in Washington. He never mentions the countless times my story has appeared on the sports pages of the Washington Times. He also forgot to mention that I coined the phrase “inside sports” in 1974. And that every radio and television sports-talk-show format in the country is a facsimile of The Original Inside Sports. And that I co-host a radio talk show in Portland, Ore., on Monday nights titled Inside Sports East & West. And that I co-host a television show titled Inside Sports with Bill McCaffrey on P.G. Cable TV 16 the second Friday of each month.
The bottom line is, I know who I am! The Greaseman, the now-infamous radio talk-show host, wants to teach a course in Racism 101. He should be joined by Dave McKenna. It is a myth to think that the Greaseman, Howard Stern, and McKenna have a patent on racism in America. In 1974, I coined the phrase “Every black face you see is not your brother, and every white face you see is not your enemy.” Thirty years after the death of Martin Luther King, our theme song continues to be “We Shall Overcome”! I know I won’t be waiting for the good old boys like the Greaseman and McKenna to record our place in American history.