THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT

Halliday Jackson, Author, James Haskins, With, Ahmet Ertegun, Foreword by THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILTHal $26 (256p) ISBN 978-0-06-019847-3

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.)

Reviewed on: 03/26/2001
Release date: 03/01/2001
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