Sunday, April 27, 2014

He'll Always Be a DJ - The KCCK Interview with Doug Jackson

Doug Jackson, Eastern Iowa theatre star and host of KCCK's "Smooth Brunch," passed away on April 25. Last fall, Doug sat down with us for an interview that originally appeared in KCCK's 2013 Year In Review. It's reprinted here for your enjoyment as the entire Corridor community celebrates the life and memory of our "Smooth Operator."

Doug Jackson is one of the Corridor’s most celebrated stage performers, and is also one of KCCK’s most popular program hosts. His “Smooth Brunch” has been a Saturday morning staple of Iowa’s Jazz Station since June 2004.
Doug was born in Memphis, Tennessee and grew up in East St. Louis. He says he doesn’t remember a time when music wasn’t part of his home. “Dad was a blues fan. Momma was the jazz fan, and singers like Dinah Washington, Brook Benton and Sarah Vaughn. They’d have fish fries and card parties, and there would always be a stack of LPs on the album changer.”
Doug’s mother claims music calmed him even as a baby. “There was a radio next to my crib, and she’d put me down with a bottle, turn on the radio, and never hear another peep out of me.”
After college at Southern Illinois University, Doug moved to Cedar Rapids to take a job with Rockwell Collins. He had performed all through school, and soon after settling in, got involved with the Cedar Rapids Community Theatre (Now Theatre Cedar Rapids) and The Follies.
Through the years, Doug created such memorable characters that he was asked to reprise his performances time and again. He has portrayed Jim in “Big River” and Audrey II in “Little Shop of Horrors” three times each. His role as Hoke in “Driving Miss Daisy” won him Theatre Cedar Rapids’ Volunteer of the Year award. TV audiences remember his many performances as “The Right Reverend Douglas Q. Jackson” on Liars Theatre. And 2014 marked his 22nd Follies show.

Doug’s radio career began when he hosted a volunteer show on Cedar Rapids community station, KOJC, which left the air in 1992. He created several elements that live on in today’s Smooth Brunch during those years. His KOJC show included a Gospel Hour, just like the Smooth Brunch, and mixed smooth jazz, R&B and Urban Contemporary sounds, also like his KCCK program.
Doug and Craig Boche at KCCK's "Night With The Rat Pack"
In 2004, Doug approached his good friend and fellow Follies performer, KCCK station manager Dennis Green, and asked if there might be a slot on KCCK for him.
“We jumped at the chance,” says Dennis. “Not only was Doug a celebrity, whose many friends and fans would tune in for his show, but I remembered from his time at KOJC that he had a great knack for show construction, stirring up smooth jazz, Motown oldies and Urban tunes to create a very appealing mix.”
“I also respect Doug’s dedication to KCCK,” Dennis continues. “Doug works full-time at GE Capitol, and does three or four stage shows a year. But no matter how busy he is, or how late rehearsal or a performance went Friday night, he’s in his chair with a smile, bright and early each Saturday morning.”
Making Doug’s dedication even more amazing is that he juggles work, family, performing and a KCCK show while also battling prostate cancer.
“I was diagnosed in 2008,” he says. “The first round of chemo and radiation was pretty tough. Hair fell out, everything tasted like metal. The usual.”
Doug has responded well to subsequent treatment, although he is still on a chemo regimen, and reports that his situation is “stable.”
Doug lives in Cedar Rapids with his wife Janice and daughter Anisha, who attends Washington High School.

As far as the future goes, Doug intends to continue performing, and says he’ll never give up The Smooth Brunch. “With my initials,” he says with his trademark, gap-toothed grin, “what else would I be besides a DJ?”

WATCH: Doug Jackson singing his signature song, "Wonderful World."