It was 1952 when Keith Jackson broadcast, on radio, his first college football game -- Stanford at Washington State. Stanford won 14-13 when the Cougar holder fumbled the snap for the extra point. And 48 seasons later, Keith Jackson is still having fun at the college football stadium and still sees Walter Mitty on occasional Saturdays.
When ABC Sports acquired the broadcast rights for NCAA football in 1966, Jackson was a member of the announcing corps; and going into the first season of the new century he is still a member of the ABC corps, though his work is primarily the Pac-10 Conference. Keith says, "Travel was the devil that convinced" him that "ONE TIME ZONE equaled longevity." He is not convinced 72 years has anything to do with it.
At the close of 1999, Keith Jackson was awarded the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame Gold Medal, its highest honor; and named to the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame, the first broadcaster accorded these distinguished honors. Another first for Jackson was the Amos Alonzo Stagg Award from the American Football Coaches Association; and he was named National Sportscaster of the Year five successive times by the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association. He is in the NSSA Hall of Fame, The National Sportscasters Association Hall of Fame and the Southern California Sports Broadcasters Hall of Fame.
Jackson's career highlights include 10 Winter and Summer Olympics, in which he covered the two greatest gold medal winners in the history of the Olympic Games. In 1972, Mark Spitz won seven gold medals in swimming and in 1980, Eric Heiden won five individual gold medals in speedskating. He has worked eleven World Series and League Championship Series in baseball; NBA basketball in the '60s and '70s; auto racing, including NASCAR, USAC, and Formula One, including seven Grand Prix of Monaco races. Jackson has covered many different kinds of events for "ABC's Wide World of Sports," with travels to 31 different countries. In 1958, while at KOMO Radio and Television in Seattle, he did the first live sports broadcast from the Soviet Union to the United States.
Jackson spent 10 years at ABC affiliate KOMO in Seattle in news, sports and production. He moved from KOMO to ABC Radio West as sports director in 1964 and continued freelance work with ABC Sports before becoming full-time in 1966. He also worked as a radio news correspondent during those years. In 1965, he worked a baseball telecast with Jackie Robinson in the afternoon and covered the Watts riots that same night in Los Angeles.
Jackson was born and raised on a farm near the Georgia-Alabama state line. He served four years in the U.S. Marines, including time in China. He attended Washington State College with the intent to study police and political science, but graduated with a degree in broadcast journalism, learning his trade in the same studios that produced Edward R. Murrow, among others in the broadcast industry.
Keith and his wife of 48 years, Turi Ann, reside in Sherman Oaks, California. They have three children -- Melanie Ann, Lindsey and Christopher. They also have two grandchildren, Ian McKenzie and Holly Elizabeth.