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Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson

Broadcast executive Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson was born in 1948 in Los Angeles, California. Jackson graduated from George Washington High School in 1966. She went on to receive her B.A. degree in child development from California State University in Los Angeles in 1972.

Upon graduation, Jackson was hired as a secretary in the network research department of NBC-TV. She was promoted to a manager 1976, and soon became a program executive and supervisor for many shows, including The Richard Pryor Show, Chico & the Man, Little House on the Prairie, and ChiPs. In 1982, Jackson was promoted to vice president of children’s and family programs at NBC, becoming the first African American woman to reach the level of vice president in programming. While serving as vice president, she implemented, directed and supervised a number of children’s television programs, including the Smurfs, Alvin & the Chipmunks, Mr. T, Punky Brewster, Jim Henson’s StoryTeller, Big Bird Goes to China, and Saved by the Bell. Jackson was instrumental in making NBC Saturday morning the number-one rated kids network for seven years, and she increased advertising sales from $2 million to $35 million.

In 1991, Jackson joined the World African Network, where she served as executive vice president until 1997. After raising her family in South Africa for thirteen years, Jackson returned to the United States when she was hired as the special projects consultant for the launch of The Hub cable network. Jackson was promoted to network story editor of The Hub in 2012. Then, in that same year, she was hired as the vice president of broadcast standards and practices at Saban Brands, where she became responsible for the review of all Saban Brands programming content for the CW Saturday morning block. Jackson has received many honors and awards, including being named to Dollars and Sense Magazine’s America’s Top 100 Black Business and Professional Women. She was also appointed to the board of trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts by President Bill Clinton.

Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 17, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.296

Sex

Female

Interview Date

11/17/2013 |and| 12/16/2013

Last Name

Jackson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

Tucker Vinson

Occupation
Schools

California State University, Los Angeles

George Washington Preparatory High School

116th Street Elementary School

Los Angeles Harbor College

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Phyllis

Birth City, State, Country

Los Angeles

HM ID

JAC33

Favorite Season

Summer

State

California

Favorite Vacation Destination

South Africa

Favorite Quote

Tell Yourself The Truth

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Interview Description
Birth Date

7/2/1948

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Shrimp, Chicken

Short Description

Broadcast executive Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson (1948- ) was the first African American woman to reach the level of vice president in programming when she was hired as the vice president of children’s and family programs at NBC in 1982.

Employment

Saban Brands

Hub

Tommy Lynch Productions

World African Network

NBC

Favorite Color

Yellow

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson's interview, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Slating of Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson's interview, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about her maternal family history

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about her paternal family history

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about the tradition of education in her father's family

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson describes her mother's experience growing up on a farm in Neeses, South Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson describes her father's experience growing up in Orangeburg, South Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about her family's tradition of attending Claflin College in Orangeburg, South Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about her parents' move to Los Angeles, California

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson describes her parents' personalities

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson lists her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson describes her earliest childhood memory in Lancaster, California

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about the community in south Los Angeles, California where she was raised

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson remembers her first day of fifth grade at 116th Street Elementary School in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson describes her experience in school in the 1950s and her children's experience in school in South Africa in the 1990s

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about the stigma of being a divorcee in 1971

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about attending Holman United Methodist Church in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson describes her family's values as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about her experience watching television as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about her exposure to African American history as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson explains that she did not know many celebrities growing up in South Los Angeles, California

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson describes the social organization she and her friends created at George Washington Preparatory High School in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson describes her social life during her high school years

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about her role models and being discouraged from going to college by a high school counselor

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about the riot in Watts, California in 1965

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson recalls the March on Washington and President John F. Kennedy's assassination in 1963

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about her early experiences with live television

Tape: 2 Story: 14 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about attending Los Angeles Harbor Community College in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 2 Story: 15 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about being a young single mother

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about applying to the police academy in 1969

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about the television show 'Julia' starring HistoryMaker Diahann Carroll

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about majoring in child development at California State University, Los Angeles, in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about collecting children's literature

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about teaching in a mobile pre-school while in college

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Phyllis Jackson talks about graduating from California State University, Los Angeles and being hired by NBC as a secretary

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson describes working at NBC in 1972, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson describes working at NBC in 1972, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about TV shows that were on NBC when she first started working at the network in 1972

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about being promoted to manager of variety programming at NBC

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about the live taping of the first episode of 'The Richard Pryor Show'

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson describes the people working on 'The Richard Pryor Show': Richard Pryor, Paul Mooney and Rocco Urbisci

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson explains why 'The Richard Pryor Show' was unsuccessful

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson describes why she was not interested in producing variety programming

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson describes her work in child and human development at Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena, California

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson describes the shows she oversaw as program executive for dramatic programming

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks being promoted to director of children's programming at NBC

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about the production process for NBC's children's programming

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about developing the 'Smurfs' TV show

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about the role of toy manufacturers in the development of children's programming

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about how characters were developed in children's programming

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about supervising the creation of the TV show 'Alvin and the Chipmunks,' pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about supervising the creation of the TV show 'Alvin and the Chipmunks' pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about 'Saved by the Bell' and working with HistoryMaker Karen Hill-Scott

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about briefly working with Bill Cosby

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about the global impact of 'Saved by the Bell'

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about the African Americans she hired while working at NBC

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about her attempts in the early 1980s to increase diversity on television

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about the television characters she's named after her children

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about NBC's declining to invest in the Cabbage Patch Kids

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about the World African Network, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about the World African Network, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson leaves NBC to work at NBC Productions, where her programs were described as "too black"

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about the show 'Miss Collegiate African American Pageant'

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson describes her sister, Dorothy Middleton Taylor, as one of the first African American writers for children's programming

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson describes the opportunity she and her husband, Eugene Jackson, had to work in South African television programming in 1992

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about the popularity of Nigerian soap operas

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about moving to South Africa with her family

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about World African Network Online

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about meeting HistoryMakers Charlayne Hunter-Gault and Ronald T. Gault in South Africa

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about moving from Bryanston, South Africa to a farm outside of Pretoria, South Africa

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about South African fashion

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about 'Saved by the Bell'

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about the conference she organized on diversity in television

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson explains how 'Saved by the Bell' set the stage for diverse casting in pre-teen shows

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about positive black characters on TV shows

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about 'The Cosby Show'

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about NBC's lack of interest in investing in the Cabbage Patch Kids

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about Phil Mendez and 'The Black Snowman'

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about NBC's Project Peacock

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about the TV show the 'Gummi Bears' and blond haired heroines in children's television

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about the production schedule in children's programming

Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about the success of Nickelodeon

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Phyllis Jackson talks about the change in network television since the 1980s and 1990s

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about the types of programming she liked to air on NBC, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about the types of programming she liked to air on NBC, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about her decision to leave NBC Productions and work full-time at the World African Network

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Phyllis Jackson describes how historically black colleges and universities in were popularized in the 1980s and 1990s

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about her interest in African media and selling World African Network to cable operators

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about 'Stomp,' a show produced by the World African Network

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson explains why the World African Network never got on the air

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about what she would have done differently with World African Network

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about what convinced she and her husband to move to South Africa

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about having tea with Nelson Mandela, pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about having tea with Nelson Mandela, pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about having tea with Nelson Mandela, pt. 3

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about other African Americans who were moving to South Africa in the 1990s

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about the type of programming she wanted to air on the World African Network, pt.1

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about the type of programming she wanted to air on the World African Network, pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about attending Nelson Mandela's inauguration in 1994

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about the culture in South Africa, post-apartheid

Tape: 9 Story: 9 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about the cell phone business, Afrotel, her husband, Eugene Jackson, started in South Africa

Tape: 9 Story: 10 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about sending her children to South African schools

Tape: 9 Story: 11 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about the cultural differences in South African business

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson describes the differences in the business environment in South Africa and that in the United States

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson describes the difficulty she experienced trying to adapt American business models to South Africa

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about subtle cultural distinctions between South Africa and the United States

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about the ethnic and racial demographic in South Africa

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about the children's television series, 'Scout's Safari'

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about the first World AIDS Day and starting a production company in South Africa

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson describes her return to the United States to work for the Hub network and the changes in technology from 1998

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about working on the animated television program, 'Secret Millionaires Club'

Tape: 10 Story: 9 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about the Children's Television Act of 1990 and the new standards for children's programming

Tape: 10 Story: 10 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about her role as vice president of broadcasting standards and practices at Saban Brands

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson describes her feelings while working at Saban Brands

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about her dream of creating a show that tells children's stories from the African diaspora

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about the film industry in African countries, pt. 1

Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about the film industry in African countries, pt. 2

Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson describes what she would have done differently in her life

Tape: 11 Story: 6 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 11 Story: 7 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 11 Story: 8 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson describes the challenges of balancing her career with raising children

Tape: 11 Story: 9 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about her relationship with her ex-husband Eugene Jackson

Tape: 11 Story: 10 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 11 Story: 11 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson narrates her photographs, pt.1

Tape: 11 Story: 12 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson narrates her photographs, pt. 2

Tape: 12 Story: 1 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson narrates her photographs, pt. 3

Tape: 12 Story: 2 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson narrates her photographs, pt. 4

Tape: 12 Story: 3 - Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson narrates her photographs, pt. 5

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

12$6

DATitle
Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson describes the people working on 'The Richard Pryor Show': Richard Pryor, Paul Mooney and Rocco Urbisci
Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson talks about her attempts in the early 1980s to increase diversity on television
Transcript
And Richard [Pryor]--it was really a pleasure to work with him because he's so--he was just so brilliant. I remember we did a sh--sh--sketch about clowns. And the sketch itself, in terms of him being a sad clown, as I was sitting there and watching it in the bleachers, just moved you to tears. He was such a brilliant actor.$$Okay, yeah, you know, it's been said many times that comedians are really sa--very sad people. Did you find that to be true with him?$$No, what I said was I think they're brilliant. After working with Richard Pryor and Robin Williams, they are brilliant. You don't realize that the kit--it made me--because--maybe because I'm the child development and the mother, realize that--and, and Ed--Eddie Murphy the same thing. They're brilliant. And school situations contain them and constantly tell 'em no and sit down and things like that. And they are actually brilliant. They are brilliant observers of life, and they bring it to life through their observations of life. And Robin Williams used to play with my son [Nye Tucker] like in the sta--in the--in the bleachers. He'd do all those faces and, and voices and things like that and make him laugh. He was eight (unclear) he's--he was eight years old, and he would just entertain him. 'Cause they--and they also keep busy, and they keep moving. They can't be still. That's what I found, in terms of being around them. They have to--they're constantly on, they're constantly entertaining; they're constantly moving around; they're constantly telling jokes; they're constantly having the focus of the attention on them; but they're brilliant 'cause they just see things in life that you don't see.$$Okay, so you're saying when they're, they're in public they're actually being themselves. They're engaging all the time.$$They're engaging. They're on all the time. And Richard was just--he would run and he would hide and not--I mean, Rocco Urbisci was the producer. And Paul Mooney was a part of the team that got him to come out.$$So that's interesting. That relationship--Paul Mooney I know did a lot of the writing for the 'Richard Pryor Show.'$$Um-hmm, he did.$$And so he had to actually persuade Richard to come out?$$Uh-hmm, 'cause he was a good--he was a--he was kind of a friend. Rocco Urbisci--in fact, to me there needed to be a stronger authority on the show who could make Richard more--Richard needed to be more accountable. If anything, those, those people to me, from my perspective--and I mean I was a young program executive--they were more friends with Richard. They were more friendly with Richard, and it took--it just needed to be--there needed to be an authority figure as far as I was concerned.$$Okay, well, we know that the show ran four episodes, but--so what was--kind of give, give us a perspective I guess from--what happened, you know.$$It wasn't a ratings success. It wasn't a ratings success, and I also think it was a combination. It wasn't a ratings success--but any show that starts new, unless it's highly promoted, has to be given time. Richard was not happy because of the restrictions, and it really was not programmed in the right time period. It should have been a ten o'clock show.$Now you hosted--I don't know what, what time period. The date isn't here, but you put together a conference of African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, women, the physically disabled people to discuss program content. Is this--well, what was the name of this?$$It didn't have a name really. It started out as a meeting that we organized with the research department from NBC [National Broadcasting Company], and we brought in consultants from those various communities, and had a meeting actually at the Universal Sheraton. Be--the rea--the impetus for the meeting was this: All the writers, you know, the Joe Bar--Joe Barbera, Friz Freleng, and the writers at the studio who were trying to create these content, did not have any--much exper--it's mostly men, no women at that time, and no people of color, and there was no diversity. So you're trying to get them to be more diverse and more open to having African-American characters, to having Latino characters, to dealing with let--you know, disabled stories. So what we decided--what I decided to do was--and I talked to our research department about organizing a meeting and having someone come in. Karen [HM Hill-Scott] from the African American community, Dr. Scott [ph.] from Latin American community, a woman from UCLA [University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California], Asian--some--a Chinese--either--it was Asian. I can't remember what community it was from, but we met and talked about what it was like to come from all these diverse communities as a group--as a research group first. The information was so enlightening, we decided to share it with the creative community. And I will never forget we, we had a bigger meeting where we invited the studios in, the writers, everybody that we knew. It was probably fifty, one hundred people. It was so successful, we ended up doing it in New York [New York] as well and talked about what it was like being a person of color and how you wanted to see yourself on television. And one of the statistics that came out was--and this probably was in, say, '81 [1981], '82 [1982]--that in twenty years, the population in Los Angeles [California] would be--I don't know--forty percent Latino. And there was a gasp in the room; it was like (gasp sound) (laughter), and it's here. You know, it was like--because people were looking at numbers and making projections--they saying things like the white community is on--only having 1.2--these numbers are not accurate--1.2 children; the African-American family is having 2.5 children; you know, the Latino community is having 4.5. Well, they thought based on those numbers, they were gonna grow in population. So it was--and we were saying that to say how important it was to embrace these other cultures and portray them on television. Because I would give writers notes to say why don't we make this character--I'll never forget, a writer on 'Spiderman.' There was a manager of a upscale hotel in a 'Spiderman' cartoon. And I said, "Why don't we make this role African American?" And he said, "That would never happen, have an African American manager of an upscale hotel." And from his experience, that's what his experience was. And just tying it to my own life, I remember going and staying at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Buckhead in Los An--in Atlanta [Georgia] thinking--and there was an African American manager. I'm like see (laughter), but it wasn't his experience. So that's what we were up against. It's like, the writers who were actually writing material could not even imagine having people of color in other roles. And in their mind it was just a block. So it was educating that community. We educated that community and the larger community, and then we did it in New York. And as a result of what we did and understanding that people of color wanted to see themselves on television--and at that time, NBC was number three--Brandon Tartikoff took that information, and as a result, in 'Miami Vice,' cast--what was the African American brother's name [sic, Philip Michael Thomas] who was in--$$Yeah, I know Don Johnson and the other was--God, what was--$$Mario Van Peebles? Was it--$$No, it wasn't Mario. It was--yeah, this is tel--I hope he doesn't see this.$$Well, we'll stop--$$We can't think of his name.$$--right and we'll go back and--$$But--$$--say that, but--$$Yeah, but--$$--as a result of that information, he put him in that role to attract our community, and more people beginning to understand the importance of that. All right God, what is his name?$$Let's not dwell on that--$$Okay.$$We'll, we'll, we'll get to that.$$But anyway--$$--(Simultaneous)--$$--we'll go--$$--(Simultaneous)--$$Anyway--and we'll go back and--$$Yeah.$$--they can edit it--but anyway, yeah. But as a result of that information, they be--NBC began to thoughtfully consider populating their television shows with people of color. So not only did it affect children's programming, but it affected other areas as well.

Benjamin Tucker

Noted jazz musician Benjamin Mayor Tucker was born on December 13, 1930 in Brentwood, Tennessee. Tucker and his twin brother grew up in Nashville with their parents Carrie Clayborne and Joseph Tucker. He graduated from Pearl High School in 1946 and matriculated at Tennessee State University in 1949 as a music major. In 1950, he joined the United States Air Force, serving for four years.

Tucker’s love for music began at an early age. He taught himself to play the tuba at the age of thirteen and later the bass violin and piano. Some of his favorite jazz musicians included Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Fletcher Henderson. In 1956, Tucker moved to Hollywood, California, where he met Warren Marsh. His first recording was a collaboration with Marsh entitled Jazz of Two Cities in 1959. That same year, Metronome magazine named him one of the world’s top ten bass players. In 1961, he recorded Coming Home Baby, a hit for Herbie Mann and Mel Torme. This song was featured in the film Get Shorty.

Tucker became Savannah, Georgia’s first African American radio station owner in 1972 when he purchased WSOK Radio. WSOK was the top AM station for thirteen years. His station had over 400,000 listeners and a reputation of integrity in advertising. In 1989, Tucker opened Hard Hearted Hannah’s, a jazz club. He was not only the owner of the club, but he also led the band six nights a week.

Tucker served on the boards of several organizations. President Jimmy Carter appointed him to serve on the Selective Service Board, and President Ronald Reagan reappointed him. Tucker for the 1996 Olympic Committee in Atlanta, Georgia. He was also the creator of the Telfair Jazz Society in Savannah.

Tucker and his wife, Gloria, resided in Savannah, Georgia. They had two adult children, Sabra and Wayne.

Tucker was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 23, 2007.

Benjamin Tucker passed away on June 4, 2013.

Accession Number

A2007.026

Sex

Male

Interview Date

1/23/2007

Last Name

Tucker

Maker Category
Schools

Tennessee State University

Martin Luther King Jr Magnet High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Benjamin

Birth City, State, Country

Brentwood

HM ID

TUC05

Favorite Season

Spring

Sponsor

Savannah Chapter of the Links, Inc

State

Tennessee

Favorite Vacation Destination

Barbados, Grenada, Antigua

Favorite Quote

I Love You.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Interview Description
Birth Date

12/13/1930

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Savannah

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Ox Tails, Filet Mignon

Death Date

6/4/2013

Short Description

Radio entrepreneur and jazz bassist Benjamin Tucker (1930 - 2013 ) was Savannah, Georgia's first African American radio station owner.

Employment

Tuckrow Productions, Inc.

WSOK Radio

WLVH Radio

Hard Hearted Hannah's

Main Sponsor
Main Sponsor URL
Favorite Color

Lavender, Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Benjamin Tucker's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Benjamin Tucker lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Benjamin Tucker remembers his paternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Benjamin Tucker remembers his paternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Benjamin Tucker remembers his maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Benjamin Tucker recalls lessons from his maternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Benjamin Tucker recalls his father's gardening skills

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Benjamin Tucker remembers his relationship with his father

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Benjamin Tucker describes his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Benjamin Tucker remembers his home in Brentwood, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Benjamin Tucker remembers his mother's resourcefulness

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Benjamin Tucker describes his brothers

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Benjamin Tucker remembers his neighbors in Brentwood, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Benjamin Tucker remembers Brentwood Elementary School in Brentwood, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Benjamin Tucker describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Benjamin Tucker recalls his childhood activities

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Benjamin Tucker describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Benjamin Tucker remembers Pearl High School in Nashville, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Benjamin Tucker recalls serving in the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Benjamin Tucker recalls his experience of racial discrimination on a bus ride

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Benjamin Tucker recalls discovering the jazz community in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Benjamin Tucker remembers his bass violin training

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Benjamin Tucker recalls purchasing his Tyrolean bass violin

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Benjamin Tucker recalls his introduction to New York City's jazz community

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Benjamin Tucker recalls playing with Marian McPartland at the Hickory House in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Benjamin Tucker recalls his early recordings on the West Coast

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Benjamin Tucker remembers recording 'Comin' Home Baby'

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Benjamin Tucker recalls the impact of the record, 'Comin' Home Baby'

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Benjamin Tucker remembers helping Bobby Hebb record 'Sunny'

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Benjamin Tucker recalls selling his publishing rights to 'Sunny'

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Benjamin Tucker remembers founding Tuckrow Productions, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Benjamin Tucker remembers creating educational songs

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Benjamin Tucker recalls his venture into the radio broadcast industry

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Benjamin Tucker recalls purchasing WSOK Radio in Savannah, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Benjamin Tucker recalls his initial challenges at WSOK Radio

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Benjamin Tucker describes his programming at WSOK Radio

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Benjamin Tucker remembers his community engagement at WSOK Radio

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Benjamin Tucker recalls buying WLVH Radio in Hardeeville, South Carolina

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Benjamin Tucker recalls building a new broadcast tower for WLVH Radio

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Benjamin Tucker recalls his return to musicianship

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Benjamin Tucker talks about his committee and board service

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Benjamin Tucker recalls musicians with whom he played in Savannah, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Benjamin Tucker recalls Hard Hearted Hannah's jazz club in Savannah, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Benjamin Tucker talks about the challenges of owning a restaurant

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Benjamin Tucker describes his commitment to Savannah's African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Benjamin Tucker recalls his social activism in Savannah, Georgia, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Benjamin Tucker recalls his social activism in Savannah, Georgia, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Benjamin Tucker recalls playing music at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Benjamin Tucker talks about his albums, 'Savannah Presents Jazz' and 'Christmas in Savannah'

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Benjamin Tucker talks about his diabetes advocacy

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Benjamin Tucker recalls playing with renowned jazz musicians

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Benjamin Tucker remembers touring with Peggy Lee

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Benjamin Tucker remembers repairing his antique bass violin

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Benjamin Tucker talks about musicians with whom he would like to play

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Benjamin Tucker describes the changes in Brentwood, Tennessee

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Benjamin Tucker talks about his family members

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Benjamin Tucker reflects upon his life

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Benjamin Tucker describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Benjamin Tucker narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

6$5

DATitle
Benjamin Tucker remembers recording 'Comin' Home Baby'
Benjamin Tucker recalls his initial challenges at WSOK Radio
Transcript
What year was this that you make the record that was the big hit for you?$$Oh, that was--that, that was--the big hit that, that I wrote was in 1961--1960.$$And tell me the name of it one more time?$$It's called 'Comin' Home Baby,' C-O-M-I-N, Home Baby.$$And you said you wrote it for your wife?$$I wrote it for my wife. (Laughter) Yeah, it was funny--you know, it was funny. She, she was--I was at the bar one night in, in the Hickory House [New York, New York], and a guy walks in and he sits down and starts talking to me. And I tell--I tell him, I said, "Look, man, I need a place to stay. I don't have a place to stay." He said, "You don't?" I said, "No." He says, "I know a lady that, that maybe she, she could help you," and he calls Gloria [Gloria Daly Tucker]. Gloria was sick at the time. She, she just got out of the hospital. She's sick, so she tried to help me. And I was so appreciative of someone trying to help me back then, I invited her to come to the Hickory House and be my guest and see Tucker [HistoryMaker Benjamin Tucker] was making some money, you know, I, I could afford more than a cup of coffee. But she came. She didn't come when I invited her to come, she came about three or four weeks later. She was supposed to come like this week, she didn't come like until six weeks later, three, three to six weeks later. She, she pops in. When she walked through the front door, I said, that's her 'cause she came in with a girlfriend. She had this mink hat on and, and mink around her neck and leather, leather coat and I said, ooh, look out. And sure enough, it was her. She walked in, the maitre d' seated them. And when I came off the bandstand, I went straight to her and sit down next to her and I said, "Hey, there." She (laughter)--she says, "You (unclear)," I said (laughter)--I played around with her. I said, "Well, this is mine. I want you. I appreciate what you did, girl. You're something else." And it worked out. And I just kept hounding her and hounding her from day in and day out for about six months and finally she gave in. "Okay, all right, all right." And so the result is she's my wife. And I was practicing back then and I came across this melody on my instrument. I said, hm, son of a gun. Played it. In about ten minutes, I had the whole song written. So I was working with Herbie Mann at the Village Gate [New York, New York] at the time and I said, "Herbie, I'm gonna teach you a song," right. He says, "Cool." So I taught him the song. And they were recording live the next night and I taught the song to the vibraphonist and to the drummer. Each, each, each musician I would teach, teach the song. "Hey, man, this the way this go," (makes sounds). And I went up and did one take live and it was a big smash, twenty-three minutes long, one tune. Three tunes on the album, one tune that long, big hit. And here I am again smiling from jaw to jaw. The guy said (laughter)--it was funny. It was funny. I was on the road. I left--Herbie went on the road with Chris Connor and, and while I was on the road, guys would tell me, "Hey man, you got a big tune in, in Cash Box and Record World," and, and, and I said, "Oh, really? Okay." I didn't know it until I saw it and then right here, there it was.$So you purchased the radio station.$$I purchased the radio station.$$Okay.$$And--$$What was the first order of business?$$The first order of business was to find out what I was going to program and how I was going to program it. Then, I ran into a lot of opposition from the people that were--that were at the station when I--when I walked in the first day. They didn't wanna see me. They didn't wanna hear me. They didn't--'cause I'd never ran a station before in my life, but I was determined that what is needed on the air, you don't need a tremendous amount of experienced with it. All you need to do is know what direction you wanna go in. And so I had that--I had that laid out already in my own mind and down on paper, cool, so I went in. A lot of people quit. I didn't know that at WSOK [WSOK Radio, Savannah, Georgia] that at that time, they had a lot of shooting going on and other--drugs going on and, and up in the--in the ceiling there's all kinds of gunshots, you know, in the--in this--I had no idea this went down. It's a good thing that they didn't tell me this 'cause I, I--I would have probably flipped out. But then--but, but then, I, I had employees to, to, to get so down on me that they went and, and, and--to South Carolina side and bring--they brought the voodoo thing on me. I went through the voodoo. Let me tell, tell you about that voodoo business, you know. The voodoo was that they would have dead cats laid out along the path of, of--for me coming to the station and that's supposed to redirect my, my directions in life, or what I need to do (laughter). They were trying to control me, you know. "Hey, hey, hey, boy, you can't do that (unclear)." So, I would--I would get the rake every morning for about a month and rake this cat out the way. One morning I came there and there was--there was a cross like this (gesture) with, with cat heads, nine cat heads, six and three like this laying up against the--I said, I don't believe this, man. So I, I get the rake again and knock the--knock the--knock the cross down and kick the rake on in, in the back and just, just kicking it along and kicking it along. I didn't wanna touch it, you know. I just kicked it down there. Finally, they gave up (laughter). They finally gave up. But, but, but some other things went on, you know, besides that in terms of running the station, trying--when, when I finally got the station moving forward, everything quieted down, the community believed in what I was doing and I was bringing community affairs, I was dealing with economics. I, I even cleaned up the gospel program, bringing on churches and things of this nature, trying to make it--make it more better and, and trying to deal with them. And, and I became number one in the market, that was the first forty-three days of, of being there and I stayed number one for about eleven years with an AM station, with 1000 watts a day and 250 watts at night, right (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Wow.