Cover image for The house that Jack built : my life story as a trailblazer in broadcasting and entertainment
The house that Jack built : my life story as a trailblazer in broadcasting and entertainment
Jackson, Hal.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Amistad Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
xvi, 201 pages, 32 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN1991.4.J33 A3 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PN1991.4.J33 A3 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
PN1991.4.J33 A3 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Black History Non-Circ
PN1991.4.J33 A3 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Biography

On Order



The House That Jack Built is the life story of Hal Jackson, one of the most important figures in American radio and television. When starting out as a young professional, during the Jim Crow era in Washington, D.C., Jackson was told by the management of WINX that no Black man would ever broadcast at their station. He ultimately proved them wrong and was given a time slot of the station -- thus beginning a long and illustrious career, filled with an extraordinary series of firsts:

The first Black radio announcer on network radio. The first Black inducted in the Radio Hall of Fame. The first Black host of a jazz show on the ABC network. The first Black to do play-by-play sports announcing on radio. The first Black to host an interracial network show on NBC-TV. The first person to broadcast from a theater live. He organized and was one of the owners of the first Black team to win the World's Basketball Championship. The first Black host of an international network television presentation. He was instrumental in acquiring the first radio station owned and operated by Blacks in New York City. At a time when Block women were prohibited from entering beauty pageants, he founded Hal Jackson's Talented Teen International contest.

Here is a remarkable story about a remarkable person. The House That Jack Built is an important addition to the history of media in the United States.

Author Notes

Author Jim Haskins was born in Demopolis, Alabama on September 19, 1941. He received a B.A. from Georgetown University in 1960, a B.S. from Alabama State University in 1962, and a M.A. from the University of New Mexico in 1963. After graduation, he became a special education teacher in a public school in Harlem. His first book, Diary of a Harlem School Teacher, was the result of his experience there. He taught at numerous colleges and universities before becoming an English professor at the University of Florida, Gainesville in 1977.

He wrote more than 100 books during his lifetime, ranging from counting books for children to biographies on Rosa Parks, Hank Aaron and Spike Lee. He won numerous awards for his work including the 1976 Coretta Scott King Award for The Story of Stevie Wonder, the 1984 Coretta Scott King Award for Lena Horne, the 1979 ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for Scott Joplin: The Man Who Made Ragtime; and the 1994 Washington Post Children's Book Guide Award. He also won the Carter G. Woodson Award for young adult non-fiction for Black Music in America; The March on Washington; and Carter G. Woodson: The Man Who Put "Black" in American History in 1989, 1994, and 2001, respectively. He died from complications of emphysema on July 6, 2005 at the age of 63.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Jackson's autobiography covers more than half a century of the career of a true pioneer in American radio and television. What makes Jackson's experience exceptional is that, as an African American, he refused to take no for an answer when seeking radio time in Washington, D.C., during the thoroughly segregated 1930s. Early in his career, as a sports broadcaster of Howard University football games and sponsor and participant in the World Basketball Championship, Jackson pursued excellence that brought him into contact with other pioneers of professional sports, such as Red Auerbach. When his achievements led him into the world of music as a disk jockey, Jackson faced conflict with programmers when he insisted on playing good music that went beyond the expected limitations of "race" music. He was successful on national network radio before much of the network brass knew he was black. Jackson is best known for developing youth talent via his teenage talent programs and for his early involvement with Percy Sutton's Inner City Broadcasting, the first major black-owned telecommunications conglomerate. An inspirational read. Vernon Ford

Publisher's Weekly Review

Written by a smooth-voiced disk jockey who remains a major force in the business he helped create, this fascinating memoir encompasses six decades of black radio in America. Ably assisted by veteran writer Haskins (Rosa Parks; Spike Lee, etc.), Jackson recalls his roots in close-knit Charleston, S.C., where his loving family was highly respected. The sudden deaths of both of his parents within a period of a few months sent Jackson into a tailspin at age eight, resulting in a series of moves and a period of homelessness. Music entered his life through rambunctious church services, while his love for the airwaves began with his purchase of an old Emerson radio receiver. Determined, ambitious and focused, he wasn't stopped by biting racial slurs or other obstacles in his path. His first radio show, The Bronze Review, became a hit in 1939 with its mix of music and guests. Jackson's fans will delight in his remembrances of many show-business personalities, as he pushed ahead in a record-setting career: first African-American disc jockey, first African-American play-by-play sports announcer and first African-American founder of a black basketball league. By 1949, he had tackled the new television market with a revamped version of his radio show. Jackson shows no bitterness when he discusses his part in the first radio payola scandal, an ordeal that left him jobless and broke, facing charges that resulted in his arrest and later acquittal. The sense of exhilaration and pride in the last chapters comes from his final set of victories: becoming the first African-American to buy a radio station and staging a solid comeback that earned him induction into the Broadcast Hall of Fame and the Radio Hall of Fame. While this gracious and inspiring memoir does not reveal much about the inner man, it evokes the joy of achievements made with grit, spunk and sheer willpower. Photos. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Hal Jackson, who recently celebrated his 60th year in broadcast entertainment, is one of the most important people in the history of black radio. His story is a tour de force of terrific accomplishment. Jackson's chronicle shows us the many stages of his career: his early days as a pioneering young black broadcaster in Washington, DC; the payola scandal, which nearly cost him his broadcasting career; his glory days as official host at Palisades Amusement Park in New Jersey in the 1960s; the wonder years of radio station ownership; and the long-term success of his radio show Sunday Morning Classics on WBLS-FM in New York, which is still heard today. Jackson's accounts of his friendships with Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X make for fascinating reading. The book is a breezy, delightful read written in an easily accessible, conversational style. It also presents lots of historic photographs of Jackson with various entertainers and includes several vintage advertising placards from his entertainment shows. The title refers to Jackson's popular radio program, begun during the 1940s. A worthwhile addition to academic library communications collections and public libraries in the Northeast. David M. Lisa, Wayne P.L., Wayne, NJ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.