NEW YORK CITY (May 25, 2012) – The New York Association of Black Journalists is saddened to hear legendary radio icon Hal Jackson has died. He was 97.
Jackson’s career spanned more than 70 years, including WLBS (107.5 FM), and he achieved a number of “firsts” throughout his illustrious run. His career began in the late 1930s on Washington’s WINX, where he broke his first barrier. Prior to starting at the station, the owner told him, “No n—— will ever be on my radio station.”
In 1954, he made his mark in New York, becoming the first black host on WABC. More than 20 years later, he teamed up with Percy Sutton’s Inner City Broadcasting to become the first black owners of a major AM/FM combination in New York.
Jackson had fallen ill, but until a few weeks ago he remained on the air at WBLS doing his “Sunday Classics” show. He died on Wednesday at a local hospital.
“Hal Jackson was indeed an iconic figure and his distinct voice touched several generations of listeners. He’ll be most remembered for carrying the torch and opening the doors for many black radio personalities who came after him,” said NYABJ President Michael J. Feeney. “While we’re saddened by his loss, we’re forever thankful for the contributions of Mr. Jackson and all that he has done to give black broadcasters an opportunity in radio. We extend our deepest condolences to the Jackson family.”
NYABJ Vice President of Print Cyril Josh Barker knew Jackson.
“I had the pleasure of knowing Mr. Jackson through my work as a commentator on WBLS. He paved the way for black media professionals on all platforms by breaking the color barrier in American radio,” Barker said. “His legacy will live on forever and he is an example of the importance of diversity in our profession.”
NYABJ Vice President of Broadcast Cheryl Wills also remembered Jackson.
“Hal Jackson is a broadcasting hero who opened up the airwaves for generations of African-Americans and taught us how to appreciate the broad spectrum of music from gospel to jazz to hip-hop,” Wills said. “His voice may be silenced, but his legacy will live on in our hearts.”
A viewing will take place on Wednesday, May 30 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Home at 1076 Madison Ave. Funeral services are scheduled for Thursday, May 31 at 11 a.m. at the Riverside Church at 490 Riverside Drive.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Hal Jackson’s Talented Teens International / Youth Development Foundation, 1230 Park Avenue, PH-A
New York, NY 10128.