Michael Jackson (radio commentator) bigraphy, stories - American radio commentator

Michael Jackson (radio commentator) : biography

April 16, 1934 -

Michael Jackson (born April 16, 1934 in London, England) is an American talk radio host based in the Los Angeles, California area. Jackson is best known for his radio show which covered arts, politics, and human interest subjects, particularly in the Los Angeles and greater Southern California area in the era before "shock jocks." His show originally aired on L.A. radio station KABC and briefly aired on KGIL.

Early life

Jackson was born in England and experienced the Blitz as a child. After the war, during which his father served in the RAF as a navigator trainer, his family moved to South Africa where he became a radio disc jockey. The Jacksons were appalled by the apartheid then dominant in South Africa, and they moved to the United States in 1958. Jackson had always wanted to be on the radio in Los Angeles, but first, he worked in cities like San Francisco, where he did a Top-40 show for station KYA.(Rose, 1978, p. 56) Listeners loved his British accent, but he didn't especially enjoy being a rock deejay. In fact, he hated rock music and ended up getting fired. When he was hired in the early '60s at KEWB to do an overnight shift, he gradually phased out playing records, and began chatting with callers. He got the reputation of being a problem-solver, and comedian Mort Sahl, a big fan of his, jokingly called him the "All Night Psychiatrist." The police regularly monitored his show, with his permission, so they could trace the calls of the occasional listener who expressed suicidal thoughts and make sure the person was okay. Time Magazine praised him for his ability to maintain a calm demeanor no matter what the subject turned out to be.

Death of Michael Jackson, the recording artist

Shortly after the death of the pop star of the same name on June 25, 2009, the singer's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was blocked off due to the premiere of the film Brüno at nearby Grauman's Chinese Theatre. Fans of the late singer started a makeshift memorial at the star belonging to Jackson the radio personality instead. In response, the commentator stated on his website: "I am willingly loan[ing] it to him and, if it would bring him back, he can have it. He was a real star. Sinatra, Presley, The Beatles and Michael Jackson."

Later years

Jackson continued to be successful into the 1980s, but radio was changing. Although regarded by many as a liberal, he was not alone in that point of view: KABC had several liberal hosts, as well as several who were conservative. Rush Limbaugh was Jackson's competitor, on the air at crosstown KFI, and Rush had little difficulty defeating the veteran KABC talk show host. KABC's management ultimately felt Jackson's style no longer fit with the modern "in your face" talk shows, the vast majority of which were conservative. On July 3, 1997, Jackson did his last daily talk show for KABC, to the chagrin of his fans and a number of critics. Said one, "Jackson has served as one of the radio dial's last passionate voices of liberal politics…."(Richmond, 1997, p.1) The timing was especially bad given that Jackson had just won an award as "Radio Talk Show Host of the Year" from the Los Angeles Times. He was moved to weekends and ultimately let go in November 1998, after more than 32 years with KABC.


Jackson would return to radio, finding employment at KRLA (1110 AM), where he secured good ratings, but was still not able to beat Limbaugh. KRLA was pleased, however, because he increased the size of their audience. They had recently changed their format from oldies to all-talk, and station management felt that because he was so well known in Los Angeles, Jackson would be able to attract new listeners.(Littleton, 1999, p. 3) Jackson found himself out of work again when KRLA was sold in October 2000. In addition to changing hands, KRLA would also change its programming, becoming a sports station. He was then hired at KLAC, only to be placed out of work again in 2002 when the station changed its format back to music. In 2003, Jackson was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame; he was still a talented announcer, but at that point, he had no station to work for.

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