“He was an amazing pioneer who opened the doors for black radio announcers to work in radio. He was one of the first black announcers on the air and he was was determined after being told no black person would ever be on the radio.” Stated WBLS PD Skip Dillard a few minutes ago when describing one of the most respected radio legends in the industry.
“Man, this is just too much, I had so much respect for Mr. Jackson he helped me with so many of my acts at J Records like Alicia Keys. He was a pioneer and one of the nicest guys in the industry” Stated independent promoter Ken Wilson.
Mr. Hal Jackson one of the urban radio industry’s last great pioneers and revolutionaries died today, he was 96. Without a doubt his legacy is immeasurable in the urban radio industry.
Radio Facts will now change our editorial plans so that we can dedicate the Radio Facts 17th Anniversary issue to Mr. Jackson
Radio Facts has just learned that Industry legend Hal Jackson has died. No further details are available at this moment except to say Mr. Jackson was a radio legend. He helped break the careers of many artists including Alicia Keys. We will be adding a tribute to Mr. Jackson to the 17th Anniversary issue of Radio Facts.
His bio is below and we will post more info as it comes.
Jackson was born in Charleston, South Carolina and grew up in Washington, D.C. where he was educated at Howard University.
Jackson began his broadcasting career as the first African-American radio sports announcer, broadcasting Howard’s home baseball games and local Negro league baseball games.
In 1939, he became the first African American host at WINX/Washington with The Bronze Review, a nightly interview program. He later hosted talk show, a program of jazz and blues on WOOK-TV.
Jackson moved to New York in 1954 and became the first radio personality to broadcast three daily shows on three different New York stations. Four million listeners tuned in nightly to hear Jackson’s mix of music and conversations with jazz and show business celebrities.
In 1971, Jackson and Percy Sutton, a former Manhattan borough president, co-founded the Inner City Broadcasting Corporation (ICBC), which acquired WLIB “” becoming the first African-American owned-and-operated station in New York. The following year, ICBC acquired WLIB-FM, changing its call letters to WBLS (“the total BLack experience in Sound”). As of the late 2000s ICBC, of which Jackson is group chairman, owns and operates stations in New York, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Fort Lauderdale, Columbia, South Carolina, and Jackson, Mississippi.
As of February 2011, nonagenarian Jackson continues to host Sunday Classics on WBLS each Sunday from 3 to 6 p.m., with Clay Berry and Deborah Bolling Jackson, known professionally as Debi B., his wife of 23 years.
In 1990 Hal Jackson was the first minority inducted into the National Association of Broadcaster’s Hall of Fame. In 1995, he became the first African-American inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame. He was given a Pioneer Award by the Rhythm and Blues Foundation in 2003. In October 2010 he was named a “Giant in Broadcasting” by the Library of American Broadcasting.
Jackson is the founder of the Hal Jackson Talented Teens Miss International Competition.
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