Jordan's Return Could Benefit D.C. Children at Christmas

Article excerpt

Byline: Dick Heller

A lot of folks might reap the benefits of Michael Jordan's decision last week to resume basketball combat, and some of them could be children in the District at Yuletide.

Harold Bell, the radio sports talk pioneer whose community involvement is well known, will open his 34th annual Christmas toy drive this week, and Jordan could be putting on a figurative Santa Claus suit by way of indirectly helping.

Between tomorrow and Dec. 18, Bell's Kids In Trouble Inc. will hold a happy hour each Tuesday between 6 and 10 p.m. at the F Street Sports Bar at MCI Center. Fans can drop by to hear jazz, ingest free hors d'oeuvres and leave a $5 donation to help buy toys. The annual Christmas toy party will be held at the same location Dec. 22.

The way Bell sees it, Jordan's return will bring many more people downtown than in past Decembers, making it what he calls "a hot spot" once more. (Jaromir Jagr's presence on the Capitals won't hurt either.)

The toy drive is one more example of how Bell works to help the community while simultaneously dispensing some of the most honest sports talk to be found anywhere on the airwaves. His "Inside Sports" show has been a must for many fans in this area, at least those who don't find the usual electronic combination of babble and bombast palatable.

Over the years, many subsequently prominent black broadcasters have made their debut as guests on Bell's program. One of them was James Brown, the former DeMatha High School and Harvard basketball star, who presides over Fox's NFL pregame show every Sunday.

"Harold has always been a voice for people who don't have a voice," Brown said. "He always called it as he saw it, and that was an inspiration and motivation for me and a lot of other African-American broadcasters."

Another early guest of Bell's was former Georgetown basketball icon John Thompson, who first found Harold's microphone under his nose when he coached at St. Anthony's High in the mid-'60s. Thompson now conducts his own talk show on WTEM-AM, although he could use a few lessons in candor from Bell.

Along with Bill McCaffrey, who hosts a cable TV sports talk show in Prince George's, Bell is planning to produce a syndicated version of "Inside Sports" that would increase his exposure dramatically. …