Bishop Wayne T. Jackson and his son, Royal Jackson, had a lot to celebrate—indeed to shout about— this Father’s Day. To be sure, the two men praised God for their innumerable blessings—from life, health, and strength to love, legacy, and laughter. But this year, they were not just grateful for their precious bond in paternal kinship. Father and son are in a newfound business relationship as C-suite peers at Impact Network, the faith-based channel that the elder Jackson founded in 2010.
Bishop Wayne T. Jackson, Impact’s chief executive officer, promoted his son Royal from director of marketing to the company’s chief creative officer and head of original content. Father and son now share executive roles and responsibilities at their Detroit-based, Black-owned, and family-founded media empire.
“My father’s success didn’t come from a master’s degree in business. It came from his life experience, trust in God, and faith in himself,” says Royal, who will lead the channel’s big push into entertainment and lifestyle projects, including “Soul Food With Tara Wallace” (of Love & Hip-Hop fame).
“It’s true when they say, ‘you don’t know what you don’t know,’” he adds. “When I chose to work for my dad, I was blessed to sit at his feet, where I learned humility, perseverance, and determination; all those things are the intangibles of business.”
Now, with his son at his side, Bishop Jackson has a way of waxing visionary about Impact as the “Black Hallmark.” He praises forthcoming projects for “bringing consciousness up” to stand in the spiritual gap for an intergenerational Black community. Meanwhile, Royal revels in a big-picture view that’s both forward-looking and retrospective.
“From the beginning, Impact aimed to serve the whole being—spirit, mind, soul, and body,” says Royal. “Am I better off after watching Impact? People want entertainment and enrichment. They want to grow their money and be healthier. They want to find better ways to connect with their family and relationships.”
“We’re moving into original programming that will help uplift our people,” says Bishop Jackson. “Back in the day, when I was coming up, we had the training of our elders, but we’re not getting that now.”
As owners and operators of a thriving family company, the Jacksons have learned that growth in families and business always comes with growing pains. Yet, they also know that tremendous success can come even in tumultuous seasons.
In 2010, in the wake of The Great Recession, Bishop Jackson and his wife, Dr. Beverly Y. Jackson, launched the broadcast network with a $150,000 investment from the couple’s savings. Back then, their audience numbered around 200,000 homes. And now, Impact Network has a reach of 80 million homes.
The pandemic threatened the survival and success of countless small businesses, many of which are family-owned. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, family businesses account for at least 30% of private companies. Economists predicted the pandemic would threaten the livelihoods of family enterprises. Today, in the new back-to-normal and family-owned businesses are the scrappy survivors whose flexibility and adaptability have allowed them to continue bolstering the bottom line.
“When the pandemic came, who did it catch off guard?” asks Bishop Jackson. “African-Americans. We were dying left and right. So, Impact’s looking at the pandemic; let’s build our community to ensure we know how to overcome it.”