Michael Robin Jackson, a talk radio personality who broadcast for more than 32 years at KABC Radio in Los Angeles, died on Saturday at his California residence. He was 87 years old.
Jackson’s death was confirmed to Variety by Lyle Gregory, his close friend and producer of 30 years. The former radio host had been enduring Parkinson’s disease for the past decade.
“It was a testament to Michael, that so many of the guests and celebrities preferred to actually come in studio, rather than do phoners,” Gregory said in a statement. “With his British accent and boyhood charm, Michael made people comfortable, they opened up. That was his gift. Michael molded an interview into conversation, news and information. Like two people sitting at a kitchen table talking. A table, an open window, where millions tuned in daily across the nation, so many of them referring to Michael as their personal university.”
Born in England on April 16, 1934, Jackson was first raised in the British Isle during World War II before moving with his family to South Africa and, later, the United States. Jackson began his stateside career in radio working as a DJ in San Francisco at KYA and KEWB before moving to Los Angeles to work at KHJ and news station KNX.
In 1966, Jackson moved to KABC, beginning a decades-spanning tenure as a talk show host at the station. In 1998, he left KABC and moved across talks shows at KRLA, KLAC and KGIL until his retirement in 2007 at the age of 73.
Over the course of his career, Jackson broadcast at KABC and was syndicated on the ABC Radio Network for nearly a decade. He has received four Golden Mike Awards, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, an induction into the Radio Hall of Fame and an honorary doctorate of laws from Western School of Law. More than 2,000 of his radio interviews are now housed in the Library of Congress. Jackson interviewed hundreds of public figures over his five-decade career, including Presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush along with various politicians, film and television stars, authors, musicians and artists.
“The world knew and adored our Michael Jackson. But Michael’s home was California, Los Angeles, America. For that we are grateful,” former California senator Barbara Boxer said in a statement. Boxer was a frequent guest on Jackson’s talk show.
Jackson married Alana Ladd in 1965. The two remained wed until Ladd’s death in 2014. The pair had three children and five grandchildren. Jackson is survived by his children Alan Jackson, Alisa Magno and Devon Jackson; their spouses, Heidi, Tom and Sarah; and his grandchildren Taylor, Emily, Adeline, Amelia and Hugo. The family asks that donation be given to The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research in memory of Jackson.