PULLMAN, Wash. – Legendary sports broadcaster and journalist Keith Jackson was on hand at his alma mater Washington State University today to witness the formal dedication of a broadcast building in his honor.
Jackson, a 1954 WSU graduate, seemed genuinely moved by the ceremony, which attracted hundreds of fans to witness the formal re-naming of the building, which houses television studios and classrooms for The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication on the WSU Pullman campus.
Earlier in the day, The WSU Board of Regents voted to formally approve the naming of the building. Faculty members at The Murrow College had earlier voted unanimously to support the honoring of Jackson.
“When our students and faculty members and community members traverse this campus and they come here, we want them to understand enough that a great partner, a great friend, a great contributor, a great American, has been here and has made an imprint” said WSU President Elson S. Floyd.
Jackson has been hailed as the definitive voice of college football. Broadcast great Bob Costas commented earlier that Jackson now takes his place as the voice of college football in the same way that Vin Scully has defined the voice of baseball and Jim McKay had long been the iconic voice of the Olympic Games.
For more than 40 years (1966–2006), Jackson enjoyed a celebrated broadcast career with ABC Sports. During his tenure with the network, he was the first play-by-play announcer on Monday Night Football and a fixture on ABC’s Wide World of Sports, covering 10 different Olympics including the ill-fated 1972 games in Munich. Jackson’s voice could be heard covering a wide range of sports from NBA Basketball, to auto racing and Major League Baseball. During coverage of the amateur boxing championships in Cuba, Jackson interviewed a ringside fan by the name of Fidel Castro.
But Jackson’s true legacy lies in announcing college football. He coined the term “The Big House” for Michigan’s stadium and christened the Rose Bowl “the granddaddy of them all.”
Jackson’s distinctive delivery and “down to earth” manner have been compared to that of Edward R. Murrow. Both Jackson and Murrow are graduates of the WSU Department of Speech, a precursor to the Murrow College.
A strong supporter of WSU, Jackson has long helped raise the profile of the Murrow College. Since graduation, he has given more than $1 million to the university to support both the college and WSU Athletics. He was instrumental in building support to construct the Lewis Alumni Centre at WSU.
Jackson said today’s naming was an important day for not only him, but for his wife as well.
“I’m delighted from the bottom of my soul that today could happen because it caps another time in a life, mine and hers, and we’ll go home, proud to have been here, and proud to keep on remembering” said Jackson.
The naming of Keith M. Jackson Hall completes a re-designation of the primary buildings within the Murrow Communication Complex, which includes the original structure, now named the “Edward R. Murrow Hall,” the newly named “Keith Jackson Hall” and “Kathi Goertzen Hall,” renamed last year.
Listen to an interview with Jackson from WSU Athletics at http://www.wsucougars.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=30400&ATCLID=209650907.
Darin Watkins, Murrow College of Communication, 509-335-4456, email@example.com