Thursday, April 19, 2012

Gil Noble, 1932-2012: Pioneering Television Journalist, Documentary Filmmaker, and Legendary Black Media Figure

GIL NOBLE, 1932-2012

Gil Noble
WABC-TV, via Associated Press Voices




Gil was a great journalist and a major black media pioneer on a number of different levels. Malcolm X, Dr. King, James Baldwin, Bob Marley, Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael), Muhammad Ali, Aretha Franklin, and Nelson Mandela among many, many other important African Americans in politics, literature, music, science, sports, and the arts routinely appeared or were interviewed on his long running award winning program "Like It Is". Mr. Noble was a man who understood the crucial importance of mass communications and excelled in making that fact known and appreciated by his audience both in New York and via PBS throughout the rest of the country. His legacy will live on wherever we make the collective effort to properly embrace and extend what his extraordinary work left us. He will be greatly missed. RIP brother...


Gil Noble Dead: Legendary Black Journalist Dies At 80
By Jack Mirkinson

The Huffington Post

Gil Noble, a legendary black journalist, has died at 80.

Noble hosted the New York public affairs show "Like It Is" for 33 years. WABC, the station he worked for, said that he created "the largest body of programs and documentaries on African Americans in the country."

"Like It Is" was born out of an effort to put more African American programs on television in the wake of the civil rights and black power movements. The show began in 1968, and it was only a stroke that forced Noble off the air in 2011.

Noble was born and bred in Harlem. In a 1998 interview, he said that he grew up "with no thought at all" of becoming a broadcaster. "[It] certainly had no place for people of color," he said. He eventually got a job at a Harlem radio station before moving to television in 1967, where he stayed for the rest of his career.

"The civil rights movement was really exploding," he continued in that interview. "I got myself an understanding of myself, my history, this country and another perspective of its story and its history and the world by all of the dynamic people who were in Harlem at the time."

Noble interviewed everyone from historians to presidents, revolutionaries to music icons. Just some of the many, many legends he spoke to include Nelson Mandela, Bob Marley, Aretha Franklin, Muhammad Ali, Kwame Ture, Jesse Jackson, Julius Nyerere and Sarah Vaughan. He also produced many documentaries about black history.

"Gil Noble's life and work had a profound effect on our society and culture," WABC president Dave Davis said in a statement.

Gil Noble, Host of Pioneering TV Show Focusing on Black Issues, Dies at 80
April 5, 2012
New York Times

Gil Noble, a television journalist who hosted “Like It Is,” an award-winning Sunday morning public affairs program in New York, one of the longest-running in the country dedicated to showcasing black leadership and the African-American experience, died on Thursday in a hospital in Wayne, N.J. He was 80.

The cause was complications of a stroke he had last summer, said Dave Davis, president and general manager of WABC-TV, which had broadcast “Like It Is” since 1968.

Though broadcast only in the New York metropolitan area, “Like It Is” attracted guests of national and international influence. Some were controversial. His interviews with figures like Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam drew complaints of one-sidedness. But for Mr. Noble, that was the point:
“My response to those who complained that I didn’t present the other side of the story was that this show was the other side of the story,” he said in 1982.
His interviews comprised a veritable archive of contemporary black history in America: hundreds of hourlong conversations with political and cultural figures like Lena Horne, Fannie Lou Hamer, Bill Cosby, Sammy Davis Jr., Muhammad Ali, Andrew Young, Dizzy Gillespie and Stokely Carmichael.

Mr. Noble viewed “Like It Is” as a platform for ideas and perspectives — especially those of blacks — that were missing from the mainstream news media. He once called his show “the antidote to the 6 and 11 o’clock news.”

His one-on-one exchanges with African and Caribbean heads of state, including Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, Michael Manley of Jamaica and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, were part of another mission: to report on events affecting people of African descent throughout the world.

“You learned a lot watching Gil,” former Mayor David N. Dinkins of New York said in an interview for this obituary. “You didn’t have to agree with everything he said, but for many of us, he was required watching.”

The deep support Mr. Noble enjoyed among his viewers helped him survive two controversies stemming from interviews with figures considered anti-Semitic, biased against Israel or both. In 1982, the Anti-Defamation League accused Mr. Noble of showing an anti-Israel bias when he broadcast a panel discussion about the Israeli invasion of Lebanon without presenting the Israeli perspective.

Just the rumor of disciplinary action prompted protests outside WABC headquarters, led by the Rev. Calvin O. Butts, pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, and the Rev. Al Sharpton. No disciplinary action was taken, but Mr. Noble was required to present a program with pro-Israeli guests.

Similar tensions arose in the summer of 1991, when Mr. Noble made plans to broadcast a speech in which a friend, Leonard Jeffries, a City College professor of black studies, was said to have made bigoted remarks. News reports had led to Mr. Jeffries’s removal as chairman of the black studies department.

Mr. Noble argued that only by hearing the speech in full could college officials (and everyone else) decide whether the remarks were cause for discipline or had been taken out of context. (In one remark, Mr. Jeffries said Hollywood movies demeaning to blacks were made by “people called Greenberg and Weisberg and Trigliani.” In another, he said, “Everyone knows rich Jews financed the slave trade.”)

WABC-TV executives shelved the segment, saying it could aggravate racial unrest in the city. As it happened, long-simmering tensions between blacks and Jews in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn exploded into violence the next week.

Protesters again appeared outside the station’s offices. This time, they included a state senator, later to be governor of New York, David A. Paterson.

“It was a spontaneous protest as I recall,” Mr. Paterson said in an interview. “People just showed up. Because ‘Like It Is’ — it was something special in the African-American community, to be protected.” A segment on the Jeffries affair was eventually shown later.

“Some white Americans are repelled by ‘Like It Is,’ but that’s the nature of the program,” Mr. Noble told The Village Voice later that year. “We are witnessing a quarrel between the races in America, and certain opinions in the black community must be heard even if they are revolting.”

After Mr. Noble’s stroke, WABC-TV began broadcasting “Here and Now,” a public affairs show it described as “continuing the legacy of Gil Noble.”

Gilbert Edward Noble was born in Harlem on Feb. 22, 1932, the son of Rachel Noble, a teacher, and Gilbert R. Noble, who owned an auto repair shop. Both parents were born in Jamaica. He attended City College and was drafted into the Army during the Korean War.

Mr. Noble was hired as a reporter for the radio station WLIB in 1962. In 1967, after nationwide race riots that prompted television stations around the country to recruit some of their first black reporters, he was hired by WABC. He worked as reporter, weekend anchor and sometime correspondent for “Like It Is,” a show begun in 1968, before taking over as its host in 1975. He received seven Emmy Awards.

Mr. Noble’s survivors include his wife, Norma Jean; their four daughters, Lynn, Lisa, Leslie and Jennifer; a son, Chris; and eight grandchildren.

Milton Allimadi, publisher of the Harlem-based newspaper Black Star News and an occasional guest on Mr. Noble’s show, described the special regard in which Mr. Noble was held in the community he served.

After Mr. Allimadi appeared as a guest on the show, strangers stopped him on the street to shake his hand, he wrote in an online appreciation last August. “When I enter an M.T.A. bus, drivers refuse to accept my fare,” he wrote, “saying they are happy to drive someone who has been on ‘Like It Is.’ ”


The late, great Gil Noble (1932-2012) --Always Honest, Always Direct, Always Sincere, Always Valuable--And the Kind of Genuine Black Public Intellectual and Cultural Worker That For The Most Part We Are Just Not Producing Anymore--Much To Our Detriment As a People...



Gilbert Edward "Gil" Noble (February 22, 1932 – April 5, 2012) was an American television reporter and interviewer. He was the producer and host of New York City television station WABC-TV's weekly, Like It Is, originally co-hosted with Melba Tolliver. The program focused primarily on issues concerning African Americans and those within the African diaspora. He was born and raised in Harlem, New York

Broadcast journalism career of Gil Noble, 1932-2012

In 1962 Noble got his professional break into broadcast media when he was hired as a part-time announcer at WLIB radio. He began reading and reporting newscasts. Noble joined WABC-TV in July 1967 as a reporter, after reporting on the 1967 Newark riots.[5] Starting in January 1968 became an anchor of its Saturday and Sunday night newscasts. He became host of Like It Is a few months prior to the rebranding of the station's newscasts as Eyewitness News in November 1968. In addition, he was an occasional interviewer on some of WABC's other public affairs shows, such as Eyewitness Exclusive. From 1986 on, Noble concentrated exclusively on Like It Is. Noble also created documentaries on such topics as W. E. B. Du Bois, Malcolm X, Fannie Lou Hamer, Ella Baker, Decade of Struggle, Martin Luther King Jr., Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., Jack Johnson, Charlie Parker and Essay on Drugs. In 1977, he wrote, directed and produced the first documentary on Paul Robeson, entitled The Tallest Tree in Our Forest.

In 1973, Noble reported (for local TV station WABC channel 7) on the first mobile cellular phone invented by Marty Cooper from the NY Hilton in New York. In 1981, he wrote an autobiography, Black is the Color of My TV Tube.[1] He was a member of the board of directors of The Jazz Foundation of America, hosting the 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2007 "A Great Night in Harlem" Concert/Benefit for The Jazz Foundation to support The Musicians Emergency Fund.[6] Noble won seven Emmy Awards and 650 community awards, and was granted five honorary doctorates.

Noble, Gil
National Visionary
February 22, 1932 - April 5, 2012

Journalist, TV Producer, Host, Documentarian


Gil Noble, producer and host of the public affairs program “Like It Is,” has interviewed famous African Americans like Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., Fannie Lou Hamer and Paul Robeson. During his career, he worked to correct negative media representations of African Americans and has promoted ethics and objectivity in journalism.

Noble was born in Harlem to Jamaican immigrants Gilbert and Iris Noble. As a teenager, Noble was inspired by pianist Erroll Garner and decided to pursue a career in music. He formed the Gil Noble Trio and played in clubs around New York City while attending City College. After graduating, he worked for Union Carbide and modeled on the side. He met his wife Jean, also a model, during this time.

Noble attempted to break into broadcast by doing voiceovers and television commercials. He became a part-time announcer for WLIB, a Harlem radio station, in 1962. While at WLIB, he also reported, read newscasts, serviced the Associated Press teletype machine and tracked interview tapes. This experience gave him working knowledge of all aspects of a newsroom operation.

In 1967, Noble auditioned for a TV reporter position at WABC. On his second audition assignment, he was called to cover violence in Newark, New Jersey’s Central Ward. Blacks had been shut off by a National Guard barricade while white city officials and journalists stood at the perimeter. Noble was able to cross the barricade and get the story from the black community’s perspective. Because of his reports, he was hired. By 1968, he was anchoring weekend newscasts. At that time, WABC created a black-oriented program in response to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Actor Robert Hooks was the host and Noble was the interviewer. When Hooks accepted an acting job, Noble replaced him as host. In the beginning, “Like It Is” focused on mostly entertainers, however, when Noble became producer in 1975, he turned its focus to the more serious issues of the black experience.

Over the years, Noble saw the documentary as the central focus and most rewarding aspect of his career. “Like It Is” has produced the largest collection of programs and documentaries on the African-American experience in the last half of the 20th century. He says documentaries “remain a powerful weapon to change false values, correct historical error and cure the poison of prejudice in the minds of black and white Americans.” In 2002, he survived an attempt by WABC to cancel his contract and show. Supporters of the show held rallies in its defense and the show remains on the air.