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Spotlight: Hal Jackson | Radio Personality & DJ

Hal Jackson was an African American business leader, disc jockey and radio personality who broke the color barriers in American radio broadcasting. He was born on November 3, 1915 in Charleston, South Carolina. His parents passed when he was young, and he stayed with other family until moving out on his own at the age of 13. He excelled in several athletics at Dunbar High School. He then went on to attend Howard University, where her worked as a college sports announcer. He was able to secure a position providing commentary to a crowd at games of Homestead Grays, who were apart of the Negro Leagues.

By the end of the 1930s, Jackson approached Washington D.C. based WINX with an idea for an interviewing program, but Jackson was told that an African American would never work at that station. He found a sponsor and hired an advertising agency to secure 15 minutes of WINX airtime. The show was an immediate hit and came to be known as The Bronze Review. Jackson expanded his broadcasts to three other stations in the D.C and Maryland areas, and then launched his music show, The House the Jack Built. In the mid-1950’s, he moved to New York and started broadcasting at WMCA and WLIB and appearing live on WABC shows.

In 1971, Jackson teamed with Percy Sutton to cofound the Inner City Broadcasting, while also acquiring WLIB (AM) and WBLS (FM), the first African-American owned and operated radio stations in New York City.

Jackson received four presidential commendations over the course of his career, in honor of his impact on civil rights, radio and the media industry in general. He was inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 1990—becoming the first African American to earn that distinction—and the National Radio Hall of Fame in 1995. In 2001, Jackson released his autobiography, The House That Jack Built. Jackson passed away May 23, 2012, in New York City, at the age of 97.

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