This Man Delivered Bold Blackness To Your TV For 40 Years
Called the “electronic griot,” Gil Noble used his journalism expertise as the host of WABC-TV show Like It Is to help change the way Black people saw themselves. His death in 2012 sent shock waves in the Black community.
Like It Is was the longest running issues-oriented Sunday show for Black people. In its 43-year run, Noble interviewed many Black luminaries like Ralph Abernathy, Amiri Baraka, Sarah Vaughan, Bob Marley and countless others. The show went on air after WABC-TV decided there should be more programming for Black people during the Civil Rights Movement.
Before becoming the host of Like It Is, Noble worked as a model, bank clerk and a jazz musician. He started as a part-time announcer for WBIC radio. Later, he became a reporter for WABC-TV covering the 1967 Newark Riots. Soon after, he became an anchor for the weekend nightly news broadcasts and transitioned to hosting Like It Is.
When ABC picked up NBA coverage, the show would be preempted by the coverage. The show went from an hour to 30 minutes to sometimes not airing at all. There was pressure on WABC-TV to cancel the show because of basketball’s popularity, but an outcry from the community put a stop to those plans.
In 2011, Noble suffered a stroke and could not continue with the show. The show last aired October 16, 2011, ending its 43-year run. The show Here and Now, a show similar to Like It Is, took its time slot, continuing Noble’s legacy.
At his funeral, mourners recounted the ways Gil Noble and Like It Is impacted their life. One mourner said she felt better about herself as a Black woman after years of having an inferiority complex. Another said that the show gave her ‘cultural food’ in the same way that she got ‘spiritual food’ by going to church.
In his lifetime, Noble won seven New York-area Emmys, five honorary doctorates and 650 community awards.
Noble’s work cannot be understated. His show provided a platform for Black people to speak their minds about racial injustices. Some criticized him for being one-sided, but that was his modus operandi. He wanted to finally give Black people the voice they needed.
Check out Noble’s classic interview with Bob Marley below for a hint at how powerful his show truly was.
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