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Interview with Wayne Jackson, September 25, 2006 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Interview with Wayne Jackson, September 25, 2006
September 25, 2006
Wayne Jackson is the narrator of this oral history interview, which covers life in Wilmington and at UNCW from 1954 until the present day. Mr. Jackson came to Wilmington from Rocky Mount, NC, to host a television talk show at the local NBC television affiliate. While at the station, he was involved in broadcasting early UNCW athletic events, including the first televised Wilmington College basketball game in 1960. He also discusses the 1977 match between UNCW and Wake Forest. Trask Coliseum was dedicated during this event. Following his retirement from WECT in 1989, he worked as an announcer for UNCW basketball, traveling with the Seahawks for 13 years. Mr. Jackson was friends with players and their families as well as coaches and UNCW athletics staff. Mr. Jackson also discusses his involvement as a UNCW Lifelong Scholar and his continuing service and support for the university.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee: Jackson, Wayne Interviewer: Riggins, Adina Date of Interview: 9/25/2006 Series: Voices of UNCW Length: 59 minutes

Riggins: Good morning. My name is Adina Riggins. I'm behind the camera here. I'm the archivist at UNCW and I'm here to interview someone who's been very important to the history of UNCW and athletics in particular among other things at UNCW. Please, sir, state your name for the tape.

Wayne Jackson: I'm Wayne Jackson.

Riggins: Thank you, Mr. Jackson. Today is September 25, 2006. This interview is part of the Voices of UNCW university archives oral history video program, and I'd like to start off, Mr. Jackson, like I do for all of the tapes, and that is by asking you where were you born and where did you grow up?

Wayne Jackson: Well, I was born in the suburbs of Chicago about 20 miles west of Chicago, small town, Hinsdale, Illinois, and I grew up there and came to North Carolina in 1951 to start a radio career in Rocky Mount. And I worked there from December of '51 until September of '54, at which time I received an offer from, it was then WMFD-TV, it's now WECT, to come to Wilmington and start an afternoon talk show. And after thinking about it quite a bit and my wife and I talking it over, we decided to try it and get into a new medium. So I did it. An hour and a half in the afternoon with one black and white camera, no videotape. Quite different than today.

Riggins: Oh, yes. Well, let's back up a bit. You had said in a previous interview that we have done for our southeast North Carolina collection that you had some radio training in the Army, is that correct?

Wayne Jackson: No, not in the Army. After I got out, I went to the Radio Institute of Chicago and my ambition at that time after being born in the suburbs and raised there, I was a staunch Chicago Cub fan, and I looked at something and I said, "Boy, wouldn't it be great to be the announcer for the Chicago Cubs baseball team," and that's why I went to the radio school.

Riggins: That makes sense, follow your dreams.

Wayne Jackson: The Cubs and I never got together, but (laughs) I got into radio and then television.

Riggins: Okay. And then you had heard about this opportunity in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, is that right?

Wayne Jackson: Mmhmm, yes.

Riggins: And how did you like living there?

Wayne Jackson: Well, I enjoyed it. It was a big difference. The town I grew up in was all Republican, and I got to Rocky Mount and it was all Democrat, and it was segregated in those days, in the '50s, but the program director there was amazingly enough small world was from a town about 20 miles from where I grew up, and he and I had played football against each other in high school, and we didn't know it until I got down there. So it's a small world sometimes. But I enjoyed it. I had a chance to broadcast football, basketball, baseball and get started into sports broadcasting.

Riggins: For all of the local teams?

Wayne Jackson: The high schools, high schools. In fact, the first basketball game that I ever broadcast was between two black high schools, Booker T. Washington from Rocky Mount, and Pattillo High School from Tarboro.

Riggins: Really? Wow.

Wayne Jackson: And I did a girls' basketball game, and I had never seen one, because we didn't have girls' basketball back in Illinois, not at that time, anyway.

Riggins: Right. Oh, interesting, so it was down here before it was up there?

Wayne Jackson: Mmhmm.

Riggins: So. Yeah, so that was, uh, people still in 1951 were listening to sports on the radio if they wanted to learn any-- you know, follow the game?

Wayne Jackson: Oh, sure.

Riggins: And that was a popular thing to do, at home, not in their cars? It wasn't -

Wayne Jackson: No.

Riggins: No, there was no radio in cars at that point. So.

Wayne Jackson: No, it was primitive, and it was small, but it was good. It took care of the local community, and that's what we were there for.

Riggins: Right. Someone had contacted you from Wilmington?

Wayne Jackson: Well, in broadcasting high school sports, Rocky Mount and Wilmington were in the same conference. So I got to know some of the people from the television station and the radio. Well, first the radio station in Wilmington. In fact, the man I replaced in Rocky Mount in radio ended up being the program director in Wilmington for the television station. And I said, "Why do you want me to come down and start an afternoon talk show?" And they said, "Because you like to talk." And anyway, as I said, after discussing it with my wife and talking down here a couple times, I decided to try it. And I've stayed.

Riggins: Right, yeah. You moved down here in '54, you said? And what was the name of the talk show?

Wayne Jackson: Relax with Jax.

Riggins: Jax, Jackson?

Wayne Jackson: Yeah, J-A-X. And it was an hour and a half, 4:30 until 6:00.

Riggins: Mmhmm, mmhmm. Who were some of the guests?

Wayne Jackson: Well, the first one I had was a United States Senator, Alton Lennon, who was from Wilmington. And then we got people from all over the area. One of the - probably the biggest name real early in the career was Jackie Robinson, the baseball player. He was in town to talk to a group of black student council representatives from black high schools in North Carolina. And when we heard he was going to be in town I said, "Boy, wouldn't it be great to have him on the air?" So made a phone call, and he said "Sure." And he came in.

Riggins: Were you excited about that?

Wayne Jackson: Well, yes. And knowing the situation, there was a big separation in the black and white communities in those years, and the local newspaper didn't print the picture of a black person. And to get Jackie Robinson on the air, it really surprised a lot of people that we would do that. But he was very gracious and very nice, brought the President of the Black Student Council Association with him. And we got a chance to talk to him, too. So it was a very interesting period.

Riggins: So it was a departure from the print format - print medium, but you all being the new medium maybe felt like, "We can do it, you know, we can set our own rules."

Wayne Jackson: I was a sports fan, I was a baseball fan, and to have a chance to sit down next to Jackie Robinson and interview him, I was not going to let that pass up. No, I wanted that one. I wanted that one.

Riggins: And you talked to him about his career?

Wayne Jackson: His career and what he was doing with the kids and all that, and he was very gracious.

Riggins: That's great. That's exciting. Who were some of the early people you had on the show from Wilmington College? When did you start hearing about Wilmington College as being this entity that's not just a little school somewhere, but it's really, they're really proud of it?

Wayne Jackson: When it was a junior college.

Riggins: Yeah?

Wayne Jackson: Yeah. I guess, well, in going through, as you developed and the college grew, we always had interviews with people from the college. Bill Brooks was one of them. But I guess the first big thing really with the college was in 1960 they were playing Campbell College. And their basketball games then were played at Brogden Hall at New Hanover High School. And we talked to Coach Brooks, and we televised the championship game of the tournament between Wilmington and Campbell, and Campbell won the game. We videotaped it, it wasn't live, it was videotape when we played it back about 11:00 at night after our late news. The game ended up in a big fight. Campbell won, and they wanted to cut down the nets, and the Wilmington players took exception to it. And we got the fight on camera, too, and played it on the air. But that was our first basketball telecast. And we just, probably, well, I think that was the only one we did for a long time locally.

Riggins: I wonder where that is, where the copy of that is.

Wayne Jackson: Where the tape is?

Riggins: Yeah.

Wayne Jackson: There may be a copy somewhere in the archives at the television station, I don't know. It'd be nice to see it.

Riggins: Yes. Yeah. Because it was videotape. It wasn't - yeah. So. It would - that would be nice. So that was a -

Wayne Jackson: Well, the videotape in those days was big wide two-inch tape, so it was a lot different than the technology today.

Riggins: We'd have to find a way to play it now.

Wayne Jackson: Yes. I don't know if there are any, well, there may be some somewhere, some tapes where they could roll it.

Riggins: Roll it or copy it. So. And I understand from a previous interview that after that fight, you brought Bill Brooks on to talk about it? Or no, you maybe brought Bill Brooks over to view it and Bill Randall?

Wayne Jackson: Bill called me and the President of the College and one or two other officials. They came over and got back in our tape room, and they looked at the tape. They wanted to see who participated in it and exactly what they did.

Riggins: To see if discipline was - ?

Wayne Jackson: Yeah, I don't think anything ever came of it, because it was pretty much the end of the season, and that, but yeah, they wanted to check on it, because there were things they didn't see that the camera caught.

Riggins: Sure, like any time.

Wayne Jackson: Yeah.

Riggins: And this was the tournament for the championship?

Wayne Jackson: Yeah, Mmhmm.

Riggins: It was I guess some kind of a conference?

Wayne Jackson: I forget exactly what the name of it was at the time, the conference, but...and Campbell was an arch rival anyway, just being just up the road a ways, so it all added up into a big evening.

Riggins: People were excited. So that was 1960?

Wayne Jackson: It gave Wilmington College basketball more publicity, probably more than they wanted at the time.

Riggins: And did people express interest in seeing more basketball on television after that?

Wayne Jackson: Well, they were interested in it because it's the first time they had been seen, and we hadn't done anything, so you get into things slowly but surely. In later years, in the late '60s, not involving the college or the university, but we videotaped high school football games on Friday night and played them back on Saturday morning.

Riggins: Yeah, that's a good service.

Wayne Jackson: So, and schools from all over the area. Not just New Hanover High School, but Tabor City, and Whiteville, and Wallace, and Conway, and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Elizabethtown, Lumberton. And we had those on. The big one that we did was in 1977, November of '77, when they dedicated Trask Coliseum, and had the first game there and Wake Forest came down to play.

Riggins: Yeah, let's see, do you have something from that? Do you have the program from that?

Wayne Jackson: Oh, I've got my score sheet and, yeah, this is the program.

Riggins: I might want to ask if we can make a copy for the archives. I'm sure we have it somewhere, but if we could put it in a file under your name.

Wayne Jackson: The Seahawks versus Wake Forest.

Riggins: Let's see. Zoom in on it. Oh, that looks great.

Wayne Jackson: And, yeah, people, they get used to seeing the networks do their things with all of their cameras and all of their very experienced people. And then a local station comes along with just a few cameras, a smaller gym, a couple of announcers who had never done a game on television before. And you know, we try it.

Riggins: So you did it live, then?

Wayne Jackson: Yeah, we did it live.

Riggins: Was that the first live one, you think?

Wayne Jackson: Mmhmm.

Riggins: And this was the same time you dedicated Trask Coliseum?

Wayne Jackson: Yeah, that was the night they dedicated it, in honor of Rayford Trask. And Wake Forest comes down, big school, and that, and they had a player by the name of Rod Griffin, who was just a super player. And Wake won the game 83 to 79. The starting lineup for the Seahawks, Dave Wolf and Delaney Jones at forward, Denny Fields was the center, and Bobby Martin and Lonnie Payton were the guards, and Bobby Martin's twin brother, Billy, came off the bench. In fact, Billy led the team in scoring with 21 points in that, so it was - it was a big night.

Riggins: And I know that it was huge night because it was close at the end, right? It was a close game?

Wayne Jackson: Yes. Yeah. In fact, I think with a minute to play, Wake was ahead by two points. And their coach, in an interview that we ran before the game, their coach, Carl Tacey [ph?] said, "I hate a game like this." And I said, "Why?" And he said, "Because you're home, you're playing a school from like Wake Forest, you're dedicating the game," he says, "everybody is pumped up," and he said, "you give us everything that you've got and," he said, "it scares me."

Riggins: And he was right.

Wayne Jackson: And after the game, I saw him and he said, "I told you so."

Riggins: Yeah, he knew.

Wayne Jackson: Yeah, Mmhmm.

Riggins: This was special for Wilmington. And even though they were not equally matched in terms of ability and resources and all that...

Wayne Jackson: True.

Riggins: was a real run.

Wayne Jackson: The thing about basketball, when it really became big, I guess is when a man by the name of C.D. Chesley started to do games for the Atlantic Coast Conference. And two of the games that we carried one year, North Carolina won the National Championship, and I forget who they beat, maybe Michigan State, but then they played Kansas and Wilt Chamberlain in the Championship game. And they won that one. Both games went into overtime. And the thought of basketball on television really blossomed after that, and the audiences were big.

Riggins: Was this in the early '70s, late '60s?

Wayne Jackson: The '60s, yes. Anyway, when we would get our basketball schedule, our telecast schedule, I would call Coach Brooks and say, "Bill, here are our games." And in those days, there were only really one game a week. But if you had a game during the week, if it happened to fall on a time when the Seahawks were going to play here, Bill would call the other school and say, "Hey, there's going to be a game on television. How about playing." Say the game was going to be on Wednesday on television, he'd say, "How about let's play on Tuesday or Thursday?" So they would not be in competition with the televised game. Because if you had Carolina, Duke, or State on television, a lot of people would stay home and watch that and not come out here. So by changing the schedule, and then the coach up at Pembroke would call us also and say, "What's your schedule?" And we would tell him. And even the coach at Fayetteville State a couple times. So they would try and switch their schedule, because they didn't want to compete with a televised game. Now there are so many games on television, there's no way you can escape it. Yeah.

Riggins: So yeah, it's a different marketing strategy, I suppose.

Wayne Jackson: It is.

Riggins: Well, before we talk about basketball a little bit more, let's talk about baseball.

Wayne Jackson: Oh.

Riggins: We forgot that part.

Wayne Jackson: Yeah, back in the early '60s, the Seahawk baseball program was just super. And they went out to Grand Junction, Colorado, and won the national, they were national champions of junior college baseball in '61, finished second in '62, and won it again in '63. And after the '61 game, a group of us got together in Wilmington. We said, "Hey, we got some national champions." So when they got back, we had a dinner for them downtown, and the city and the county joined in with it, and the baseball team. There was a scout for the Baltimore Orioles who came in, and he agreed to be the speaker for the program. They had beat Boise, Idaho; Pueblo, Colorado; and then in the semifinals and finals, they beat Mesa, Colorado. So they were the national junior college champions.

Riggins: That's amazing.

Wayne Jackson: And Bill Brooks was the coach, and Dave Miller, who's been associated with the university for many years, Dave was one of the players on the team. Lou Howard, Larry Edens, who has had a season ticket for Seahawk basketball for years, he was one of it. There were about 18 players, and they were all in the program. And so we had a dinner for them.

Riggins: Let's show that program to the - thank you. Let's see. That's in great shape, National College 1967 Junior College Baseball.

Wayne Jackson: Yeah.

Riggins: And that's the city of Wilmington, New Hanover County dinner in their honor.

Wayne Jackson: Right. Mmhmm, 1961. Dr. Bill Randall was president of the college at that time. And one other thing that I got involved in with, well, there were fifteen men in Wilmington, and we got articles of incorporation for the Wilmington College Student Aid Association, got that registered with the State of North Carolina Department of State back in July of 1966. And its purpose was to operate exclusively for educational purposes in aiding, fostering and promoting the education of qualified, young men by the soliciting, obtaining and procuring of donations or contributions of money or other property, to and for the use and benefit of the scholarship program offered and sponsored by Wilmington College. Maybe the interesting thing there, and I just happened to think about it then, was qualified, young men. The young women, they didn't have the women's sports then that they have now. But anyway, this probably led to the Seahawk Club and everything else. But it was back in 1966, and there were fifteen of us who collaborated.

Riggins: Who were some of the others?

Wayne Jackson: Benny Schwartz [ph?], Fred Kovol [ph?], Charles Wren [ph?], J.B. Fox, Jr., that was Wholesome Bakery, Winfield Sapp [ph?], Brad Tillery [ph?], Jim Boseman, Boseman's Sporting Goods, T.E. Dou [ph?] from Delco, Bunny [ph?] Hines, who was very active in sports all his life, lives down at Wrightsville Beach, Ed Ward, E.P. Godwin, Jr. from Godwin Oil and Godwin Sons, A.A. Johnston, Johnson Harris, Howard Suttle [ph?]. Those were the fifteen.

Riggins: And you sort of organized that and coordinated it?

Wayne Jackson: I was one of the directors of it.

Riggins: Directors. And this was of course, I mean, your main job was over at the - I mean, your job was the station?

Wayne Jackson: Yes.

Riggins: So this was just in your own time?

Wayne Jackson: But I was doing a lot of sports too.

Riggins: It fit in?

Wayne Jackson: And I guess I have to thank my wife very much for allowing me the freedom to go out and do things. Because we had two sons growing up, and I wasn't home as much as a lot of fathers.

Riggins: Yeah, so a lot of organization fell to her, I'm sure.

Wayne Jackson: Yeah. But the boys enjoyed it, because they liked the sports, and they would get a chance to go and see the sports. And we could get tickets for it, and they enjoyed it.

Riggins: And the better the programs, the more fun they'll have.

Wayne Jackson: Oh yeah, Mmhmm.

Riggins: Yeah, that is helping the family and other families.

Wayne Jackson: Yeah, those things, they start out slowly, and they keep growing. But as long as you could publicize and let people know what was going on, they enjoyed it, and then they get more and more interested in it.

Riggins: How long was this organization around, the Aid, Student Aid Association, how long did that remain?

Wayne Jackson: I think what's going on out here now is an offshoot of that. I don't know exactly how it may have changed legally and technically through the years.

Riggins: Right. But the Seahawk Club now is -

Wayne Jackson: Mmhmm, yeah. And you still hear about the student aid and help, and it's both the young men and the young women.

Riggins: Well, you were here at a time when you saw a lot of changes at the university and at the college, and you mentioned Bill Randall a couple of times. When I interviewed Bill Brooks, he also mentioned that Bill Randall was supportive of sports at the school.

Wayne Jackson: Yes.

Riggins: Did you get to know Bill Randall pretty well?

Wayne Jackson: Oh yeah, oh sure.

Riggins: What was he like? And did you - ?

Wayne Jackson: Wonderful, wonderful man. Looking for the growth of the university, or the college, and looking into the future, and very interested in the coaches, the faculty, the students. He was a good man, Bill Randall.

Riggins: And he was from the Midwest as well. So did you - ?

Wayne Jackson: I didn't know that.

Riggins: Oh, really?

Wayne Jackson: No.

Riggins: Yeah, he was from Chicago, I believe.

Wayne Jackson: Wow.

Riggins: Or somewhere in there and he was, he went to Chicago, University of Chicago. But he was very devoted to the college, even though it was an accident that he ended up here, so the story.

Wayne Jackson: Well, he was a good man. If it an accident that he ended up here, he did a good job for it.

Riggins: Right, oh yeah. It was a - there was a famous story. There was a car accident. He was on his way to Georgia to start a position down there, and they heard he came through and they said, "Oh, we need a dean for our college," because he began as dean, and they convinced him to stay. Yeah, so he was quite supportive and did a lot for the establishment of the university, that's for sure. Well, who else did you get to know through your contacts with the university? Marshall Crews, did you get to know him?

Wayne Jackson: Yes, worked with Marshall Crews on a number of things. Ty Rowell [ph?], who's been around forever and ever, and still is, Mimi Cunningham. So many people, and they stayed here for so many years, which indicates a love of the school, and a love of Wilmington and the area. And you think, like Dave Miller was at the Hall of Fame luncheon, was it two years ago, and we were talking, and I mentioned something, and I had an extra copy of that dinner, and I gave it to Dave and he really appreciated it. But he remembered the trip. In fact, he said when they went out there, Bill Brooks did not like to spend money. Well, number one, Bill didn't have that much money in the college athletic fund. And Dave said when they started driving out to Grand Junction, they didn't fly like teams do now, he said they drove all day, all night the first night they kept driving. They would stop and fill up with gas, and then take off and drive again. He said the second night on the road, they would stop and get into a motel room. But he said it was tough. All the guys would be in the car.

Riggins: Right, a couple station wagons.

Wayne Jackson: Mmhmm, they'd be sleeping, stop and eat, and then get in the car, and I would guess every once in a while they'd stop and get out and run around a little bit to loosen up and then get back in the car and go.

Riggins: Right. So it was really special, very different from today.

Wayne Jackson: Oh, very much so. I think of the thirteen years that I helped broadcast Seahawk basketball and flying trips different places and that, and being with the young men was a great experience.

Riggins: Uh-huh, yeah, let's talk about that. That's another thing I wanted to talk to you about. You were the voice of UNCW basketball for thirteen years?

Wayne Jackson: Well, I was really not, I don't know, I wasn't really the voice, I was the second guy there. Sam Gore did the play by play. He was more of the voice than I was. But it was very interesting. I enjoyed being there. I learned a lot about the university. I learned about the young men and how good they were and also got a chance to meet their parents, and you see how the boys grew up and meet their parents and their family. And -

Riggins: Right, after watching them on the court.

Wayne Jackson: Yeah. They were a lot more than basketball players. Sometimes you'd be coming back on a bus trip at one or two o'clock in the morning, I'd wake up and I'd look around and I'd see a light on, and there'd be one of the players with one of his books open and he's reading and studying. Now the whole team wasn't doing it, one or two players would do it, and on each trip, it'd be somebody different. And then the coaches were different.

Riggins: Well, when did you start doing this? This was when you retired from the television station?

Wayne Jackson: When I retired from television.

Riggins: Did someone approach you about participating?

Wayne Jackson: Yeah, they called and asked if I'd like to be on the broadcast team for Seahawk basketball. That was back in '89. I said, "Why not?" So I started it, and I did it for thirteen years and then it was time to retire again.

Riggins: So this was a new, a second career in a sense?

Wayne Jackson: Mmhmm.

Riggins: What did it involve? It was for men's basketball?

Wayne Jackson: Yes.

Riggins: And the coach at the time, who was the coach?

Wayne Jackson: Well, it - Robert McPherson, and then Kevin Eastman, Jerry Wainwright, ended up with Brad Brownell.

Riggins: Wow.

Wayne Jackson: Eastman was there the longest, I mean, Jerry Wainwright. Jerry was there I think eight years. So, um. But different players, different teams and very interesting, and getting to know the parents was something special, too.

Riggins: And at this point, when you started they were in the CAA, is that right?

Wayne Jackson: No, they, oh gee, you ask me, I'd have to think back. The CAA came, not when I started, I forget exactly how the conferences were set up, but then we could join the CAA, and that really branched out.

Riggins: How was that helpful? Just more opportunities?

Wayne Jackson: More opportunities, and you get to different places, and you get, the team gets that much more publicity, and the school gets that much more publicity. And then you start playing in areas where you have alumni also, and if, hey they get a chance to see their old school come and play, so they would do that.

Riggins: Right. I know when - I went to college at American University, and when I was there, I think UNCW was in.

Wayne Jackson: Yeah, we played American.

Riggins: And TCU, at one point, right?

Wayne Jackson: Yeah.

Riggins: Were in the CAA. So you went up and played. Did you announce at American?

Wayne Jackson: Yeah.

Riggins: Do you remember the Bender Arena, that was a new - ?

Wayne Jackson: Yeah.

Riggins: Yeah. That was new, before they used to have to play off campus somewhere.

Wayne Jackson: Well, traveling, and you get a chance to see a lot of the world, too. Because one year we played in a tournament up in Alaska, in Fairbanks, Alaska, and we played in Seattle against University of Washington, played in a tournament at Portland, Oregon. So you traveled around the world quite a bit. And I would use it also sometimes, there might be some place where there'd be a family member close by. I could contact them, or somebody I had been in high school with and I could contact them and they would come over.

Riggins: Get together?

Wayne Jackson: And get together and have dinner, and then they'd go see the game and talk to them.

Riggins: Who was the fellow who did the play by play? Was he local?

Wayne Jackson: Sam Gore was local.

Riggins: And you were there to supplement, offer commentaries?

Wayne Jackson: Yeah. I would do interviews for the pre-game show and for half-time, I'd do the half-time guest and that and talk during the game, catch us up on stats and point out little things that I would see.

Riggins: Well, how did the program grow? Because by the time I came here in 2001, it was strong, and Wainwright was here, and they had just come off of - they'd won the CAA Tournament I think for the first time, was it 2000?

Wayne Jackson: Yeah. Well, the program just kept growing through the years. And it would feed on itself, you know, you get to play in different places. Played a couple games in the Chicago area, and that would get you some recognition there, and play at Michigan State, so you would get some from Michigan State. And one year we played Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio and then the next day got on a plane and flew up to Minneapolis and played Minnesota. So you played two big ten schools in three nights on their court. And started out well against Ohio State and then got, got whipped pretty good. But went up to Minnesota and beat Minnesota on their court. So here's UNC-Wilmington going to the University of Minnesota and beat them on their own court. Of course that creates problems, because when you do things like that, a lot of other schools don't want to schedule you.

Riggins: For the various reasons.

Wayne Jackson: Yeah, they don't want to get beat by a small school.

Riggins: Right, right. So that's the coach's issue. So they have to try and maneuver that?

Wayne Jackson: Yes. But I don't know, Adina, there are a lot of different things that you can get involved in. I've always been a sports lover.

Riggins: What sports did you play?

Wayne Jackson: Oh, in high school I played basketball and a little football and ran on the track team. I didn't go to college. Got into service in World War II, and that, and got out and went to the Radio Institute of Chicago and looked for a broadcast career. But even now there are things that you can do. You stay involved with the athletic program and that. When I was on television, Dave Allen's been a coach here for a long time, swim coach, and I interviewed him a couple times on television many years ago. And there's a tee announcer, this Tradition Golf Tournament, that goes on at Landfall in the end of October, where the men and women's teams each have eleven other teams, golf teams, come in from all over the country, and they have some of the best men's and women's golf teams that there are.

Riggins: This is NCAA, university?

Wayne Jackson: Yeah, and UNC Wilmington's the host. There are eleven other women's teams, and eleven other men's teams and they play the last weekend in October. It's a great, great golf tournament, Minnesota, Tulsa, Oregon, and Southern Cal, you never know, New Mexico. They come from all over and they enjoy it here. And I've had the opportunity to be the tee announcer. So when they come up I can say, "And now from the University of Tulsa, Joe Smith. From the University of Minnesota, so and so."

Riggins: You do that now, to this day?

Wayne Jackson: Yeah. I've done it for several years. Looking forward to the end of October this year.

Riggins: Right, right. Yeah, so that's a good way to stay connected and see what's going on.

Wayne Jackson: And then Joe Browning has given me the honor of being the MC each year when they have the UNC Wilmington Sports Hall of Fame luncheons. It's usually end of December. And that's always a lot of fun.

Riggins: Right. So you know the program in advance, obviously.

Wayne Jackson: Oh, sure.

Riggins: Because you have to plan it out.

Wayne Jackson: Oh, Joe does them. As Associate Athletic Director and head of the Sports Information Department, he's a hard working man, and he does just a phenomenal job of keeping everybody informed and getting the script and doing all of those things.

Riggins: And then the Seahawk Club of course has been growing, and you probably know a lot of those members?

Wayne Jackson: Oh, yeah.

Riggins: And do you go to the games now?

Wayne Jackson: Oh, sure. I go to almost every home game. And last year, I think I got on the bus and went up to East Carolina for the game.

Riggins: Was that a tournament game?

Wayne Jackson: No, just a regular season game.

Riggins: Okay.

Wayne Jackson: Yeah.

Riggins: Do you go to any post-season games?

Wayne Jackson: I haven't lately, no.

Riggins: Yeah, I think it's just a great way to stay connected, and then they know you from a long time ago, so they can ask you questions about the past, or any - resolve any questions, "Did this really happen?" or "Did that really happen?" They can check that out with you. Well, what are some of the other - let me see how much time we have left on this tape...we have time. What are some of the other things you've been involved with? I understand you've done the Adult Scholars?

Wayne Jackson: Adult Scholar Leadership Group.

Riggins: Right. What does that involve?

Wayne Jackson: Well, that started back in, they started forming it back in 1989, and the university had an opportunity, somebody from Asheville was coming here, Asheville had the program going. And they were coming here and Jan Johnson called me and asked me if I'd like to come and sit in. She said, "I think it's something you might be interested in, and see what you think." So I came out, and Asheville showed us what kind of a program they've got, and the college decided, "Hey, let's go ahead and do something like that," so I was in.

Riggins: So you were in from the beginning?

Wayne Jackson: Yeah, I took the course the first year and helped set the schedule up a little bit and then from then on I've been a moderator and helped take care of a couple days and so on and so forth, and that's been going on sixteen years now.

Riggins: Wow. Yeah, I know, and it's gotten some revived interest.

Wayne Jackson: So we've had each year there are about thirty to thirty-five people. Most of them are people who have moved in here from someplace else, and in a seven-week course they learn a lot about the community and the area and what's going on. And almost to a person, they volunteer in the community. And many, many of them volunteer out here at the university in different ways. A lot of them buy season tickets for the basketball games, too. So it's worked very well, it's been a very successful program.

Riggins: Right. They are retirees for the most part?

Wayne Jackson: Oh yeah, almost all are retirees.

Riggins: And part of the program is volunteering? Or they just have an interest?

Wayne Jackson: Well, they learn about the community, and then we meet about nine times a year, the fourth Thursday of the month and just have speakers and talk about things. And you hear about opportunities to volunteer, but they get mixed in with the community, and get to meet other people and learn about the community. And it just kind of all falls into place.

Riggins: And do most of them stay? Like if you've been involved for sixteen years, are a lot of the people from that first class still around?

Wayne Jackson: I don't know if a lot of them are still around, but a number of them are. Some of them are still active in the Adult Scholars course, but not too many.

Riggins: Right. Yeah, they've kind of gone off, done their own thing.

Wayne Jackson: Yeah, yeah. Some are deceased, some have just said, "Hey, that's enough of it, I'll go ahead and do something else," or some of them get so involved in other things in the community that they forget the Adult Scholar course, but it runs in February and March every year for seven weeks. I don't know, there are a lot of different things in the community that you can - you can do.

Riggins: Sure, if you're not working. So, so around, when was it, in 1994 or so, or 1993, you said that's enough of traveling with the team?

Wayne Jackson: Oh no, I did that for thirteen years.

Riggins: Oh no, that's right. I'm thinking '89, you started around '89, you said?

Wayne Jackson: Yeah.

Riggins: So thirteen years.

Wayne Jackson: So it was 2002, 2003, somewhere in there. But it was great being with the players and getting to know them and having fun with it. Forgot one game that we televised that was a big one back in I think, when was it, '87. David Robinson was playing for the Naval Academy. And Bryan Rowsom was playing here for the Seahawks, and Navy was coming in to play, and we got with the university and we televised that game. And Navy won it because Robinson sank about a 15-foot jump shot at the buzzer, but it was one of the great games of all time involving the Seahawks and that.

Riggins: Was the other guy you mentioned, was he our center?

Wayne Jackson: Brian Rowsom.

Riggins: And was he one of - was he a big center guy?

Wayne Jackson: Yeah, Mmhmm.

Riggins: Rowsom, R-O-W?

Wayne Jackson: And David Robinson, from Navy. It was a -

Riggins: I remember him, of course.

Wayne Jackson: Yeah.

Riggins: Brian Rowsom, R-O-W?

Wayne Jackson: S-O-M.

Riggins: S-O-M.

Wayne Jackson: Brian is still involved in basketball. I think he's part owner of a semi-pro team or a team in a professional league down in Florida. And Brian, along with Bill Mayew and Brett Blizzard are three fellas who have started a program to try and raise money to help the basketball program.

Riggins: Really? Brian and Brett Blizzard?

Wayne Jackson: And Bill Mayew.

Riggins: Oh, okay. Wow.

Wayne Jackson: All of their jerseys have been retired. They're hanging up in Trask Coliseum. Brett's still playing basketball over in Italy, and Bill Mayew is on the faculty at Duke University now.

Riggins: Yeah. So it must have been great getting to know all these guys. And Jerry Wainwright, you must have gotten to know him pretty well since he stayed a long time.

Wayne Jackson: Oh, yes. In fact, I've seen Jerry a couple times when I've gone back to Chicago. I had a sister who was living there, and I'd go back, and a couple of very close friends from my high school days, and I'd go back there, and I got up to DePaul twice to see Jerry and Debbie.

Riggins: Oh, he's at DePaul now?

Wayne Jackson: Yeah.

Riggins: Oh, that's right. Because he went first to University of Richmond.

Wayne Jackson: Yeah, he went to Richmond. Now he's at DePaul.

Riggins: Really? He didn't stay long at Richmond.

Wayne Jackson: I'd take - eh, a few years.

Riggins: And then it was time to move on?

Wayne Jackson: Yeah. I'd take the train from the suburbs into Chicago and get on the subway and go up to DePaul.

Riggins: And you'd check in with him. How's he doing?

Wayne Jackson: He's doing fine.

Riggins: Yeah?

Wayne Jackson: He's doing fine.

Riggins: He has fond memories of being here?

Wayne Jackson: Oh, yeah. Jerry was very interesting and really knew his players and the family. He was so interested in them, not just as players, but as individuals and to see and watch them grow after they left UNC Wilmington.

Riggins: That's a hard, yeah, to be able to be concerned like that, yet you still have to be the disciplinarian and, you know, when necessary and it's tough.

Wayne Jackson: Well, and our coaches have always wanted to see the players graduate.

Riggins: I remember hearing certain strict things like, well, it seemed strict to me, they don't have their names on their uniforms, just the numbers?

Wayne Jackson: Mmhmm.

Riggins: And certain things, well, in Wainwright's days, he was very strict about appearance and how they wore their socks, you know, if everybody wants to differentiate themselves in a certain way, and he said "No, none of that," you know, the earrings or the tattoos or whatever, no, none of that.

Wayne Jackson: Yeah.

Riggins: I'm sure a lot of them didn't go for it.

Wayne Jackson: But Jerry, he had some strict rules, but he loved his players, and they had a great bond between them. And they all knew where they stood, and they knew what Jerry's rules and regulations were.

Riggins: Well, you can respect that, yeah.

Wayne Jackson: Mmhmm.

Riggins: You know. It's strict but it's the same way with everybody.

Wayne Jackson: Yeah.

Riggins: So it's no surprises.

Wayne Jackson: But Jerry was very interesting, and -

Riggins: He did a lot for this community too, didn't he?

Wayne Jackson: Yes. Yeah, he went out - he would be asked to go and speak to places, and almost every time he would go. And if he couldn't because of his schedule, he'd say "Well, let's, can we rearrange it for another time?" Yeah, he wanted to get to know people and they get to know him, and you, um...and the players, I made a copy of my old high school yearbook, a picture of our basketball team, and the players were always kidding me about something. They had a few nicknames for me. But I took this picture one time and I said, "Here's a picture of the best high school basketball team there ever was in Illinois." And they said, "Yeah, because you were on it, huh?" And I said, "Well, if you think I was, see if you can find me in this picture." And they got together, and then I could hear them, "That's him, that's him, no, no." Finally they came up and pointed and said, "That's you, number twelve." I said, "Yeah." But things like that. And you would get to know the players.

Riggins: Mmhmm, mmhmm. Yeah, and I suppose, did you work with them or, speaking to the media and stuff, did you ever interview the players themselves?

Wayne Jackson: Oh, sure.

Riggins: Because that's something that they would have to work on, if they haven't done it, anybody would have to work on it if they haven't done it before, so did they kind of kid you about that?

Wayne Jackson: No. They knew I wasn't going to try and trap them and give them any silly question or anything. But they were all very good. They were all very good. And their parents were, when it was senior night, before the game and at half-time, we would always try and interview the parents of the players.

Riggins: Oh, that's nice.

Wayne Jackson: And one player, one time his grandmother was there, she had raised him, and I said, "Did he behave you? Did he do what you told him to do?" And she said with a big grin, she said, "He had better." The parents were nice, and we would pass some little messages over the airwaves sometimes for them and say, Craig Callahan's parents out in Iowa, and we'd say, "I wonder what it's like in Cascade, Iowa?" or something, you know, and next time we'd see them, they'd say, "We heard you."

Riggins: Right, right. Oh yeah, I remember hearing about that. Was he almost a walk on?

Wayne Jackson: No, no.

Riggins: I mean, they really - he turned into a fabulous player, but I think he had to work hard. I remember hearing about that.

Wayne Jackson: And the players were really good. They worked hard at the game, they knew what they were doing. Like I said, they studied, they graduated, and they went on to other careers and were successful in the later years of life.

Riggins: Mmhmm, mmhmm. Yeah, and then the current ones, well, Goldsberry graduated. Has Goldsberry graduated?

Wayne Jackson: Yeah, yeah, he's going over and play in Europe.

Riggins: Did you know him?

Wayne Jackson: Yeah. John was very quiet. He was not a real outgoing person like some of them, but very intense on the court, very intelligent young man, a hard worker, tough, good man.

Riggins: Yeah. Well, I suppose with athletes, a lot of them are outgoing?

Wayne Jackson: Some of them are. It's like anything, you put twelve, fifteen people together, some are going to be very outgoing, some will be a little quieter, but most of them had pretty good outgoing personalities. And as they would get to know you, you never know what their backgrounds were, but as they got to know you and trust you, then they would be a little more outgoing.

Riggins: Gregarious, yeah.

Wayne Jackson: Yeah.

Riggins: And talk some more. So it's a - you miss some of those days, right?

Wayne Jackson: Oh, yeah. Yeah. See in my, two games, the time the Seahawks beat Southern Cal in the NCAA Tournament in overtime.

Riggins: Oh yes, that was in '02, I think, or something like that?

Wayne Jackson: We were out in Sacramento, California playing. That was a year I don't know how we ever ended up in Sacramento, because the NCAA said they were going to schedule teams closer to home so you didn't have to travel as far, and I think we had the longest trip of any team in the tournament.

Riggins: Probably.

Wayne Jackson: Wilmington to Sacramento, and then played Southern Cal, but we beat them in overtime.

Riggins: Which is amazing, right there in California, and Southern Cal. That was huge, and I remember the...

Wayne Jackson: It was.

Riggins: ..the newspapers, they were saying, "UNCW? UNC Where? W stands for 'Where'," you know?

Wayne Jackson: You talk about things that happened, and I may have broken a broadcast rule in a way, but I was there by myself. They had three seats for each broadcast crew. I was the only one of our crew that was able to make that game. I have a grandson that lives in California and he was sitting next to me during the whole broadcast.

Riggins: He must have been excited.

Wayne Jackson: He was.

Riggins: How old?

Wayne Jackson: When he got home, his friends asked him if he had gone to the game, and he said, "Yeah." And they said, "Did you have a good seat?" and he said, "Well, yeah, it wasn't so bad," and then he told them where he was sitting. But for the Seahawks to have a lead, lose it, Southern Cal takes them into overtime, and then the Seahawks came back and beat the daylights out of Southern Cal in the overtime, that was really something. The CBS broadcasters really couldn't believe it. They were high in their praise of the Seahawks.

Riggins: Yes, yes.

Wayne Jackson: That one, and then the other NCAA game is when Maryland, a guy from Maryland, Nicholas, sank a three pointer at the buzzer...

Riggins: That was heartbreaking.

Wayne Jackson: beat the Seahawks.

Riggins: Was that in the first round?

Wayne Jackson: Yeah, it was in Nashville, Tennessee.

Riggins: And that was probably the next year or so?

Wayne Jackson: Yeah, Brad Brownell was the coach. Brad just kind of fell back on the floor. He couldn't believe it when that shot went in.

Riggins: Yeah. Oh yeah, I think - oh yeah, that was just amazing.

Wayne Jackson: So you have your very high points and then you have your very low points.

Riggins: That's the way it is.

Wayne Jackson: Disappointments and -

Riggins: I guess after they played Southern Cal, they went to - they played Indiana?

Wayne Jackson: Yeah, yeah, but it was also at Sacramento.

Riggins: Right. So did you go to that?

Wayne Jackson: Oh yeah, I was there, oh yeah.

Riggins: Yeah, you stayed. That - they almost beat Indiana.

Wayne Jackson: Yeah, eight or nine points, gave them a good game, and Indiana went to the Final Four.

Riggins: Right, right.

Wayne Jackson: So, you think back and say, "What if?"

Riggins: Well, it was just like this past year when George Mason got to the Final Four in their CAA, right?

Wayne Jackson: Yeah.

Riggins: And they almost didn't get to go. CAA got two bids this time to go.

Wayne Jackson: I couldn't believe that George Mason got to the Final Four.

Riggins: Or even got to go. But you couldn't believe they got to go to the Final Four, yeah. And they weren't originally going to get a bid, I don't think. So the CAA got two bids this year, I think that shows that it's a really strong conference, which we all know anyway. I have another couple questions for you, but this is great, to just hear the memories of your experiences here. But what have you been doing in retirement? You were telling a story before we started about how you still remain involved with UNCW athletics. What was the fundraiser for the Literacy Council that you were involved in?

Wayne Jackson: Oh, my wife and I for the past three years have sponsored a team in the Spelling Bee. You have, there are eighteen to twenty teams and they're from all over the community. The Rotary Clubs, Friends of the Library, several of the big companies in town, BB&T Bank sponsors a team, Star News sponsors a team, and my wife and I decided, well, let's see, and the last three years we sponsored the women's basketball team, then the men's basketball team, and this year was the swimming and diving team.

Riggins: Men?

Wayne Jackson: Yeah, we had two men and one women, and they did very well. They did better than either of the basketball teams. And Dave Allen, the coach, had all of the other swimmers and divers in the audience as a cheering section for the team. It got very loud and raucous, but they were having a good time.

Riggins: Where was it held?

Wayne Jackson: It's held at the Scottish Rite Masonic Temple on 17th Street. And they don't have to stand up in front of the camera like the little kids do that you see on television. You have a three person team, and they give you a word and you have one minute to get your heads together and see how to spell it, print it out, and then they put it up on a screen so everybody can see how you spelled it. And they got down, they were one of the four finalists.

Riggins: And if, and all the funds raised went to the Literacy Council?

Wayne Jackson: They all go to the Literacy Council.

Riggins: And then do you get more funds if you win, or how did that work?

Wayne Jackson: No, you don't get money. It's not a money thing. The winners get a trophy, that's it.

Riggins: Well, they must have enjoyed it, something very different from their usual competition?

Wayne Jackson: Oh yeah, it is.

Riggins: And I'm sure they got embarrassed, you know, if they were not - if it was hard, or they had no idea how to spell or whatever?

Wayne Jackson: Mmhmm. Well, the women's team didn't do too well and they were embarrassed. They came up to my wife and I and apologized for not doing better. The men's basketball team did a little better. They missed, the word they missed was whippoorwill. I forget how they missed it. The swim team got down to where the final round, any teams that are left in there, if you miss a word in a round then you're eliminated, and they were one of four teams still left of the nineteen. And they get, everybody gets the same ten words and they've got about five minutes to spell them out. Toughest words you ever saw. Oh, unbelievable. The team that won it got four of the ten right.

Riggins: Wow. Well, are you going to sponsor them again?

Wayne Jackson: Oh, we'll sponsor another team, but I don't know whether it'll be golf or volleyball, baseball, softball.

Riggins: Whatever they need, yeah.

Wayne Jackson: Tennis, somebody. We'll see. We've committed ourselves and try to get a different team each year.

Riggins: That's great. I mean, that's a - and the funds raised go to Literacy Council. Oh, but you've also been involved in supporting the Athletics Department, too for various activities?

Wayne Jackson: Oh, yeah. If Joe Browning, I'm available if Joe Browning needs me for something. He knows he can give me a call. I have a couple season tickets for the game, and like I said, help out on the Tradition Golf Tournament. And through the Adult Scholars, we've worked on move-in day to help what we can and help pass out information at the Alcohol and Drug Studies Program. So, little things. You never know when something's gonna pop up.

Riggins: Well, you're staying busy.

Wayne Jackson: And there are other things in the community that you can do. When people find out that you're retired, they know you don't have anything to do, so they give you a call.

Riggins: Oh, that's funny. That's like someone, a realtor finding out that you need a house, they won't leave you alone. So yeah, you will have plenty to do. And do you travel some?

Wayne Jackson: Yeah, we take vacations and travel around.

Riggins: But of course you live in a good, nice place, too?

Wayne Jackson: Oh yeah, but it's fun to travel. See -

Riggins: See the grandkids.

Wayne Jackson: Yeah.

Riggins: See the children. Well, I thank you for coming in. Have I forgotten anything? I'm sure I have, but you're a phone call away.

Wayne Jackson: Well hey, you know, when you're trying to do something and cover fifty, fifty-five years, there's a lot of things that go into it.

Riggins: Right. But I always have to say I know I learned something and I know there's a lot of good information conveyed. And if I think of other topics, I'll just make a note of them and call you up, ask you to come in again.

Wayne Jackson: You know my phone number, huh?

Riggins: Yes.

(tape break)

Wayne Jackson: My pleasure.

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