Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Bill Jackson Salutes Literacy

One of the greatest things about working at Lerner Newspapers was a certain amount of freedom that we had. I was able to do a lot of fun things within the confines of my job as Director of Circulation.
As mentioned in earlier posts, the Newspaper In Education (NIE) program provided me with a lot of fun. Through the NIE ad series, I interacted with many people from varying fields. Laurie always encouraged me to have fun with it and one particular ad really captured the whole fun concept.
Bill Jackson was a Chicago children's television staple when I was young. Jackson's shows changed titles and settings over the years, but they always involved him interacting with various puppets, such as Dirty Dragon and Weird. Jackson's creative skills were displayed when he would sketch a picture based on a number or when he would turn 'Blob' into a new form every show. Jackson was a bit of a one man show, doing everything from writing the shows to performing all of the puppet voices to actual set building.
I contacted Jackson about appearing in our NIE ad series. I figured he would make a great connection with the parents of the students in the NIE program. Jackson responded enthusiastically and quickly. Much to my surprise and delight, he also included a couple sketches!
Our graphics department designed an ad which perfectly conveyed the spirit of Jackson's shows. It was colorful and whimsical. Many parents loved the nostalgia of the ad and responded very positively, but so did the students, who began researching Jackson on their own.
It could not have worked out any better. Plus, it was a real thrill for me to be involved with one of my early childhood favorites. Bill Jackson is a real class act and a Chicago television icon. Seeing Jackson in one of our ads is one of my proudest moments of the NIE years.
Jackson currently lives in California. He still runs a website, through which you can learn a bit about BJ and all of his friends and you can order some great dvd's. Jackson also recently published a book 'The Only Kid on the Carnival' about his life.


Anonymous said...

I loved Gigglesnort. Dirty Dragon was the absolute best! Thanks for this bit of memory lane.

Anonymous said...

I miss those days of tv. Frazier Thomas, Bob Bell, Ray Rayner and Bill Jackson were almost family to me.

Anonymous said...

BJ was the coolest and cutest. Do you ever talk to him?

Johngy said...

I have exchanged a couple emails with BJ over the years. He is really a great guy. It was a pleasure and honor to have him in our ad series.