When you grow up in front of a microphone making announcements for your high school and your church, a lifelong career in radio seems like the most natural progression. “I always had something to say,” says WDAS-FM’s Patty Jackson. Jackson got her start in radio as a commentator on a sports station. As a Philadelphia native who loves all Philadelphia sports, with football being her favorite, it only makes sense that her start in radio was on a sports station.
“My father didn’t want me to get into radio,” says Jackson. “He didn’t think there was a future in it.” Thirty-three years later, Jackson’s strong ties with her family have had a clear, lasting influence on her reporting style. “My father told me to always be prepared and to know what you’re going to say, and that’s something that’s stuck with me today,” she says.
Anyone who has talked to Jackson can attest to the fact that she has the ability to put people at ease as soon as she picks up the phone. “I like to smile on the phone,” she says. Jackson prides herself on being prepared for her interviews, no matter who she’s interviewing. “I always know who’s coming into my studio. I’m very prepared. I know everything about what we’re going to talk about, and I think that also helps put people at ease and makes our interview more conversational.”
If Jackson wasn’t in radio, she would love to be doing something related to cooking. “Cooking, particularly baking, really relaxes me. My mom was an incredible baker, and cooking is important to my family,” Jackson explains.
When asked what her most memorable interviews have been, Jackson easily answers Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton before the 2008 presidential election. “I wanted to ask Hillary if she ever took time rest, because it seemed like she was always on the go,” Jackson remembers. “I had a good feeling about Barack,” Jackson says when asked what her initial opinion of him was following that interview. “What struck me was that he was using radio as such a big part of his campaign. He seemed to understand the importance of using radio to reach a large audience.”
As for the person in history she would most like to interview? “Malcolm X. I would want to ask him about his life experiences, his Hajj trip and what changed him,” she says. Jackson also went on to discuss artists in history who helped shape radio. “I never had the opportunity to interview Marvin Gaye. He was a troubled soul,” she says. “Black radio wouldn’t be what it is today without artists like Marvin or Michael Jackson. Even though they have passed away, we still play them regularly on our station.”
Jackson notes the changes in the music industry culture today, and reminisces about the time when it wasn’t hypersexualized and there was a stronger emphasis on an artist’s voice and choice of lyrics. “We play a lot of throwback songs,” she says. “In ten years, I really wonder what songs will be considered throwbacks.”