Hal Jackson

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Hal Jackson
Hal B. Jackson.jpg
Birth name Harold Baron Jackson
Born (1915-11-03)November 3, 1915
Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Died May 23, 2012(2012-05-23) (aged 96)
New York, New York, USA
Show Sunday Classics

WBLS - New York

KGFJ/ KUTE - Los Angeles
Country United States
Previous show(s) The Bronze Review
WINX-Washington, D.C.
The House That Jack Built
WOOK-Washington, D.C.

Harold Baron Jackson (November 3, 1914 – May 23, 2012) was an American disc jockey and radio personality who broke a number of color barriers in American radio broadcasting.


Early years[edit]

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.[1]

Jackson moved to New York City 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.[2] 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.[3][4] 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 was group chairman, owns and operates stations in New York, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Fort Lauderdale, Columbia, South Carolina, and Jackson, Mississippi.[5] The flagship station was hampered by its frequency, sharing it with WOWO of Fort Wayne, IN. After being turned down by the FCC to change frequencies, Inner City Broadcasting, in an industry un-precedented move, purchased WOWO solely to reduce its output and upped the power of the NYC transmitters to 50,000 watts daytime/30,000 watts night, and subsequently be heard full-time across the entire New York market.

As of February 2011, nonagenarian Jackson continued to host Sunday Classics on WBLS each Sunday from 3 to 6 p.m.,[6] with Clay Berry and Deborah Bolling Jackson, known professionally as Debi B., his wife[7] of 25 years.[8]

In 1990, Hal Jackson was the first minority inducted into the National Association of Broadcaster's Hall of Fame.[9] In 1995, he became the first African-American inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame.[6] In 2001 the Broadcast and Cable Hall of Fame inducted Mr. Jackson.[10] For over 11 years he hosted a radio program rated #1 by Arbitron in its time slot on 107.5 WBLS in New York, the Hal Jackson Sunday Morning Classics.[11] 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.[12] Jackson was also inducted into the Guinness Book of World Records as being the oldest broadcaster, with a record 73 year-career.[13]

Jackson was the founder of the Hal Jackson Talented Teens International Competition.[14]


Jackson died of natural causes in New York City on May 23, 2012 with his wife and three children at his bedside at the age of 96.[15][16] He often signed off the air with the motto; reminding listeners, "It's nice to be important, but it's important to be nice."[17]


See also[edit]

Radio icon.png Radio portal P vip.svg Biography portal


  1. ^ By admin ·. "Remembering Hal Jackson, the Godfather of Black Radio". Soul Train. Retrieved 2016-02-25. 
  2. ^ http://www.behindthemicandontheset.com/news.xml
  3. ^ "New York Radio Guide - Station Information for WLIB-AM". Nyradioguide.com. Retrieved 2016-02-25. 
  4. ^ Jerry Barmash (2012-05-24). "Hal Jackson, Black Radio Legend, Dies at 96 | FishbowlNY". Adweek.com. Retrieved 2016-02-25. 
  5. ^ "Radio-History.com | New York City AM Radio History - Page 4". Angelfire.com. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 25 February 2016. 
  6. ^ a b "The Legendary Hal Jackson: Hal Jackson's Sunday Classics With Debi B. & Clay Berry", WBLS.com, n.d. WebCitation archive.
  7. ^ "Debi B.", WBLS.com. WebCitation archive.
  8. ^ 07:00pm. "debib". Wbls.com. Retrieved 2016-02-25. 
  9. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/25/nyregion/hal-jackson-pioneer-in-radio-and-racial-progress-dies-at-96.html?_r=0
  10. ^ http://hof.nysbroadcasters.org/2006-inductees/hal-jackson/
  11. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/25/nyregion/hal-jackson-pioneer-in-radio-and-racial-progress-dies-at-96.html
  12. ^ "Honor Roll – October 15th ♦ Luncheon ♦ Gotham Hall". Giantsofbroadcasting.com. Retrieved 2016-02-25. 
  13. ^ "Audrey's Whirl: Family & Friends Bid Farewell to Black Radio Trailblazer - Harold 'Hal' B. Jackson". EURweb. Retrieved 2016-02-25. 
  14. ^ Hal Jackson Talented Teens International Scholarship Competition
  15. ^ "Hal Jackson, pioneer on black radio, dies at 97". NY Daily News. 2012-01-29. Retrieved 2012-05-24. 
  16. ^ "Longtime DJ Hal Jackson Dies At 96". Archived from the original on 27 May 2012. Retrieved 24 May 2012. 
  17. ^ http://www.haljacksonslegacy.org/about.html
  18. ^ "Camille Cosby, Kathleen Battle Win Candace Awards". Jet. 82 (13): 16–17. July 20, 1992. 

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Harris M. Lentz III (24 April 2013). Obituaries in the Performing Arts, 2012. McFarland. pp. 140–. ISBN 978-0-7864-7063-1.