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Michael Robin Jackson, legendary KABC Radio host, dies at the age of 87 after battling Parkinson’s disease

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Pioneering talk radio host Michael Robin Jackson, who spent more than 32 years on KABC Radio in Los Angeles, has died after a 10-year battle with Parkinson's disease. He was 87.

Jackson's death at his home in the Los Angeles area was confirmed to Variety Saturday by Lyle Gregory, his close friend and producer for 30 years.

On Twitter and in subsequent statements on Saturday, KABC remembered Radio Jackson as a "Titan of Talk Radio" and a "Radio Hall of Famer" that was deployed in 2003.

"Michael Jackson was a leader in the emergence of the talk radio format - and KABC Radio," the station tweeted. "We honor his memory and offer our condolences to his family."

His KABC radio program aired from 1966 to 1998 and was syndicated for nearly a decade on the ABC Radio Network, largely before the era of "shock shocks" and political polarization that characterize much of today's talk radio.

The London-born Jackson show covered art, politics and human interests plus interviews with movie and TV stars, writers, musicians, artists and public figures, including Presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George HW Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

Time Magazine praised Jackson's ability to maintain calm demeanor regardless of the subject or circumstances of the interview.

More than 2,000 of his interviews are now housed in the Library of Congress.

"It was a testament to Michael that so many of the guests and celebrities actually preferred to come into the studio instead of calling," Gregory said in a statement to Variety. "With his British accent and childhood charm, Michael made people comfortable, they opened up. It was his gift.

"Michael shaped an interview for 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 referred to Michael as their personal University. "

Former California Senator Barbara Boxer, a frequent Jackson guest, fondly remembered him in a statement Saturday.

"The world knew and adored our Michael Jackson," Boxer said. "But Michael's home was California, Los Angeles, America. We're grateful for that."

Jackson began his career as a disc jockey in South Africa after his family moved there after World War II. In 1958, he and his family moved to the United States, and Jackson continued his career as a DJ in San Francisco before moving to Los Angeles, where he worked for KHJ and KNX before joining KABC.

Throughout his career, Jackson also appeared as an actor in television shows, including "The Munsters", "Police Story" and "The Rookies".

He received four Golden Mike Awards and in 1997 the Los Angeles Times named him "Number 1 Radio Talk Host of the Year".

Other accolades included receiving a star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1984, becoming a member of the Order of the British Empire, the French Legion of Merit Award and an honorary doctorate in law from the Western School of Law.

After Jackson left KABC in 1998, he hosted talk shows for KRLA, KLAC and KGIL before retiring in 2007 at the age of 73.

He was married to Alana Ladd, daughter of actress Alan Ladd, from 1965 until her death in 2014. Jackson leaves behind his sons Alan and Devon; daughter Alisa Magno; and five grandchildren.

On Monday, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce will place flowers on Jackson's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at Vine Street and Sunset Boulevard.

In his memory, Jackson's children prayed that people would honor their father's "established legacy by being polite and kind to one another. To unite as one people and to maintain democracy in the America that our Father so valued and alienated throughout his life on-air and at home, " reported.

"We are grateful for our loving father ... and for those of you who also loved him."

They urged his admirers to make a donation in his name to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research.

Copyright © 2022 by City News Service, Inc. All rights reserved.


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