Born on November 3, 1915, Jackson grew up in Washington, D.C., and studied at Howard University in Washington. He first broke onto the airwaves by broadcasting Howard’s home baseball games and local American Negro Baseball League games on WOOK in Washington, becoming the first African-American radio sports announcer.
Adding to his impressive lists of famous firsts, Jackson became the first African-American host at WINX in Washington, hosting the nightly interview program The Bronze Review in 1939. He eventually moved on to hosting the jazz and blues program, The House That Jack Built, on WOOK. By the 1940s, Jackson was hosting four different daily programs for four different Washington-area radio stations.
In 1971 Jackson co-founded the Inner City Broadcasting Corporation (ICBC), which acquired WLIB-AM, the first African-American owned and operated station in New York. His trailblazing streak was honored in 1995 when he was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame, the first African-American to hold the honor. In the final years of his life, he served on the Board of Directors at Inner City Broadcasting and hosted the musical program Sunday Classics.
“Hal was a giant. He was a first for so many; for radio and Black radio. He was always looking for ways to bring people in the industry up. We lost a giant and I lost a dear friend,” Deon Livingston, vice president and general manager of WBLS.
Additionally, Jackson was celebrated for his charitable works. For 39 years he served as executive producer and host of his Talented Teens International competition, which highlights “the intelligence, creativity and talents of young minority women.
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(Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
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