Hal Jackson, in his own words
CHANTELL BLACK Special to the AmNews | 6/17/2012, 2:21 p.m.
And as he became more of a force in the world of radio, Jackson never forgot the Black community that had nourished him and given him so much opportunity. For years he held Talented Teens International,a talent contest for girls ages 13 to 17. That organization, in conjunction with his weekly radio show, "Hal Jackson's Sunday Classics with Debi B and Clay Berry," co-hosted with his fourth wife, Debi B. (who he met when she was a volunteer with Talented Teens), is what kept him going well through his silver years.
During the interview, when asked about when or if he would ever retire, his wife intervened:"He doesn't like that question," she said.
Jackson followed her. "There ain't no retirement," he stated with a bit of an attitude. He did lighten up, however, as he further explained, "I always find that every time I start thinking about [retirement], some other need comes up. I think about my Talented Teens and all these girls from all over the world. If I try to shun the responsibility of giving back, I feel miserable."
When asked about her husband of 24 years, Debi B. beamed like a lighthouse and looked at him with great admiration. "He really knew how to impress a person," she explained nostalgically of their early encounters and their time together over the years.
Her life with Jackson was wonderful despite their considerable age difference. According to Debi, Jackson always remained engaged in the world, keeping up with current events by watching MSNBC and reading newspapers. But Sundays were his special days.
After serving him his favorite breakfast meal--sardines, grits and prune juice--Debi would remind him what day it was. "It's Sunday? I gotta go to work!" she would mimic the loyal disc jockey. "He would get so excited, because he loves what he does and he looked forward to it every week. I don't know what he would if he were to stop. It wouldn't be good."
Quietly reading the paper while awaiting his next cue from his other co-host, Clay Berry, his wife talked about the memories they had shared in their joint career ventures. She also assisted him during the interview, writing down the questions, as he was profoundly deaf in both ears.
It can be difficult to interview a person who has been in the industry for the duration of the average person's lifetime because there is so much that can be discussed, especially the hundreds of celebrities Jackson has interviewed and worked with over the decades.From Mary McLeod Bethune to Bob Marley to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Lena Horne, and Michael Jackson; he met them all and helped chronicle their lives for the Black community.
"I go way back with Michael because the Jacksons were my friends," he said of the legendary pop star. "He used to hang in my studio, loved being around the radio. I used to ask him, 'What you getting out of this?' He'd say, 'I'm getting a whole lot of Hal,' and then he went on to do the movies and everything else...but he was a determined little devil."