By Carley Crain
Students and faculty gathered in Judd Gymnasium on Monday afternoon to listen to CBS Sports radio host J.R. Jackson share his wisdom on the media industry and his experiences as a Black journalist.
Jackson is a well-known figure in the sports world, ever since he started his YouTube channel, J.R. Sports Brief. From there, he was able to grow a platform and has worked in different media outlets such as television, broadcasting, and radio, while also focusing on diversity and inclusion.
Springfield College is the first stop on his “Media for the Movement” College Tour, which was created by Jackson to help students across the country who are interested in sports journalism and marketing. Over the course of the next 11 weeks, Jackson will be traveling to universities like UCLA and the University of Georgia, focusing on informing students on how they can succeed in the ever-changing sports media world.
The lecture kicked off with an introduction from Communications/Sports Journalism professor Kyle Belanger before the mic was passed to Jackson. His calm and bubbly personality was immediately affectionate as he stood tall with his black sweatshirt and boots, almost looking like a college kid himself.
He opened his presentation by speaking about his early success on his Youtube channel, and how that translated into opportunities within the sports industry. Jackson emphasized the importance of consistency and how that helps build a solid foundation.
“It is all about connecting with people. For me, I have utilized sports as a way to help other people. It’s such a people business what we do,” he said.
Building relationships and having good communication skills were common themes throughout his lecture. Jackson spoke about how branding is key. He introduced the thought of selling yourself like a brand, emphasizing finding your niche.
“If you are looking for an opportunity, a lot of the time that means building it yourself,” he said. “It really is just a matter of branding as well as what spin you can put on yourself. No matter what idea anybody comes up with, we are all individuals and have something that makes us different and special.”
Jackson spoke for about 40 minutes, and then moved on to a question and answer session where he went into even more depth about his personal experiences as a journalist. He shared a story about how many times people don’t believe he is an actual reporter, as oftentimes he is mistaken for being a part of the camera crew, which is just one example of a microaggression he has experienced as a young black man in the media. Small comments like this have built up over time, which in a way sparked his passion for promoting diversity and inclusion.
While Jackson’s main job is talking on-air about sports, he is also very involved with the Special Olympics. He believes everyone deserves a chance and the opportunity to succeed.
“My end goal isn’t to be on radio or TV till I have gray hairs in my beard,” he said. “We all have an expiration date, nobody will be here forever. The way I view life is the same way I view business. What can I do now to support my family? But also what can I do to make someone else’s life just a bit easier?”
At the conclusion of his lecture, Jackson spoke with students and staff individually from the communications and sports journalism program, offering more insight and advice. Later on Monday night, Jackson recorded his show at the radio station on campus, which aired nationally on CBS.
Photo: Kyle Belanger