CBS Sports Radio host JR Jackson visits Point Park

Written By Amanda Andrews, Antonio Rossetti, and Tyler Krajacic

Point Park is known throughout the city for its Center of Media Innovation, and this week the campus hosted a nationally recognized media innovator.

On Oct. 4 and Oct. 5, founder of JR SportBrief and CBS Sports Radio host JR Jackson traveled to Point Park University to continue his “Media for the Movement” tour aimed at imparting professional advice to sports media and communications students.

Point Park was one of at least 20 higher education institutions he was stopping by, and his visit on Monday and Tuesday marked the third week of a planned 11-week tour.

“The purpose of this tour is to push that button to happen for a lot of folks a whole lot sooner,” Jackson said. “Because the same resources that I had, they’re even more widely available and accepted—utilizing the Internet to ‘build a brand’ and start a business and start a company. So I was motivated by being able to do something new and fresh, and I’m still motivated to do that because I also want to share that with other people too.”

JR Jackson began his professional radio and broadcast career at the age of 17 when he had an internship with VIBE Magazine in New York City. Jackson started to use YouTube around 2009 for interviews and broadcasting, which caught the attention of millions of viewers. Now, Jackson is a CBS Sports Radio Host and is looking to encourage college students on the tips and tricks of getting into the media industry while on tour. Jackson said that his main objective for the tour is to promote three professional goals for students: branding, programming and inclusivity as well as diversity.

“The first [thing] is branding, and whether you’re going to go work for somebody, or whether you want to try to start your own thing, it’s like who are you,“ Jackson said. “The second point really boils down to programming, and when I think about programming, that’s preparation. And then the third key point is inclusivity and diversity, and it’s being able to step outside of your comfort zone, let people in and it makes you a better person and also makes you better professionally.”

The first two goals, branding and programming, require a rigorous work ethic and showing a history of a reliable, quality product or performance, according to Jackson.

“Your best networking tool is how hard you work,” he said.

Jackson said he believes that hard work is how one succeeds in multimedia. When posting on YouTube, Jackson posted consistently and built his “proof of [his] concept.” His dedication to building himself and his brand allowed him opportunities to interview star athletes including Kobe Bryant, Charles Barkley, Usain Bolt and many more.

Although branding and programming are elements that are important to Jackson, he said he is also driven to reach out to students to inform them about the benefits of inclusivity. Jackson’s tour is partnered with Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools (SOUCS) to raise awareness about accessibility and sports.

“People are having fun…. they are having the time of their life,” said Jackson about the Olympians in the Special Olympics. “Why do…Special Olympic athletes or people with intellectual or physical disabilities, why do they ‘have’ to feel different than anybody else?”

As one of the only solo Black sports radio hosts in the larger national media industry, Jackson said he can relate to a part of the Special Olympians’ experience in being marginalized.

“What they do is amazing,” he said. “You know, because I know what it feels like to go into a room and feel separate, or feel different. I understand what that feels like in a lot of cases.”

Jackson said seeing the joy of everyone at the Special Olympics World Games in 2015 opened his eyes. The inclusive environment at the games there inspired him to include them in the tour, comparing their athletic feats in Special Olympics to the Super Bowl and the college basketball Final Four.

While at Point Park, he held a lunch with sports, arts and entertainment management and communications students, participated in a discussion in Lawrence Hall ballroom, met with Point Park athletes and broadcasted his show, JR SportBrief, from Audacy / 93.7 The Fan station here in the Pittsburgh area.

Jackson had to hit the road for the next tour stop today, but he said he looks forward to speaking with more students and advancing his life ambitions to be a storyteller and an advisor.

“It’s important for me to…continue to tell stories, and then…help other people find out the opportunities that exist,” he said. “Because I think, and this is a personal thing and may not be for everybody, I find it real robbery not to share what I’ve learned to make somebody’s life easier. That’s it. Life can be hard enough, professionally and personally.”