March 10, 2006
Your Vey Best Friend, Glenn

Glenn Ian Jackson started his professional career as a teacher at the Richmond Hill Government School. Although he demonstrated great competence as a teacher, he quickly realized that his real desire was to become a radio announcer.

With this in mind, he joined the staff at the then lone radio station, Radio 705 in November 1981. {{more}}

It was while at the Government-owned station that Jackson gained first national, then regional and international attention as an activist. At 705, he became known for his unique style and initiative in programming. It was at 705 that he first became known for his signature sign off, “I am and always will be, your very best friend, Glenn.”

But it was his letter-writing campaign, dubbed ‘Hands-off we bananas” that propelled Jackson to international prominence. This initiative urged Vincentians to let United States Senator Robert Dole know about their displeasure at the United States stance against preferential treatment for Caribbean bananas. The event climaxed with a rally at New Grounds Primary School on Sunday January 28, 1996.

Jackson was in action again chairing what turned out to be a call for justice in a street protest November 1, 1996.

Jackson galvanised local support behind a number of local issues, including the treatment of workers by Cable & Wireless, high telephone rates, and the five -year sentence given to lawyer Mark Williams for the shooting death of 25-year-old nurse Denise Durham.

The demonstration also rallied support for teachers and students concerning the state of education.

The innovative Jackson was one of the brains behind the National Christmas Caroling Contest, first staged at the St. Vincent Grammar School Steps in 1989.

After a few years, Jackson took over the competition which grew by leaps and bounds, and up to last December was a major part of the national entertainment calendar.

One with a natural flair for communication, Jackson also engineered the “Clash of the Bands”, which at one time was perhaps the highlight of the carnival festivities.

After disagreements with the Management of National Broadcasting Corporation (formerly Radio 705) over the content and style of his programs, Jackson parted ways with them in 1997 and took up a consultancy with an Organization of American States funded Heritage Tourism Project as Public Awareness Coordinator.

This project took Jackson throughout the length and breadth of the country as he helped produce a series of television programs “On the Heritage Trail.”

He was never one to shy away from a struggle and when that contract came to an end, his ‘Skake up’ programme was born on WE FM in 1999. This program remains a trend setter as far as Talk Shows are concerned.

Any and all issues of a national or personal nature were discussed on Jackson’s programme.

He interacted easily with callers and persons who had grievances and Jackson cultivated the knack for solving problems once they were brought to his attention.

He was a pioneer – a trait to which most Vincentians can attest.

One with a background in Trade Unionism, he served in several executive positions on the Public Service Union, and had run-ins with many, but he was not one to operate out of spite or malice, and never held a grudge.

His joviality was evident; still there was no question about the seriousness with which he undertook his tasks.

He took control of the media, and up to the time of his death, was the de facto head of the Media Workers’ Association.

In the period prior to the 2001 general elections, Jackson played a pivotal role in shaping public opinion. He perhaps acquired some enemies as a result of his activism, but that does not seem to have deterred him.

Following the March 28, 2001 victory of the Unity Labour Party, Jackson was thrust into the role of Press Secretary and personal aide to the Prime Minister, a position he retained after the December 7, 2005 poll. He also returned to the National Broadcasting Corporation, but this time as a member of the Board of Directors.

His stature as a national figure was burgeoning, and just when he appeared to have been mellowing and maturing, his end came: sudden, swift, and traumatic.

Almost the entire nation has been shocked by his death. The feelings of grief have been widespread with expressions of disbelief from regional and international circles as well.

Jackson gained the confidence of this country’s highest political players, and Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves praised him in glowing fashion from Singapore where he received the news of Jackson’s death.

The Searchlight joins in expressing condolences to the Jackson family on the tragic loss. But it is not only a family matter, the journalism fraternity has lost a genuine comrade.

May God bless his soul.