For those unaware, especially readers in NYC and the surrounding areas, it was reported last week that because of debilitating stroke, legendary veteran journalist Gil Noble, longtime host of African diasporic news and public affairs program Like It Is, has decided not to return to the program for good, ending a run that began in 1968.
According to articles from the NY Daily News and MediaBistro.com, Noble made this decision after consulting his family. Since he took ill, WABC ch.7 has been airing classic episodes of the show and according the station’s general manager Dave Davis will continue new editions with rotating hosts beginning on October 16th in its regular Sunday 12pm noon timeslot. He promises it will keep its ties to strong Black viewership, ““It will be a show that explores issues that are important to the African-American community, everything from jobs, housing, education and, culture.”
Gil Noble is a true icon, an iconoclast if you will. He began at Ch. 7 in 1967 as the weekend nightly newscast anchor. A year later he became host and producer of Like It Is, which quickly became an important outlet for area viewers to get information on topics important to the African-American community. The show remained Noble’s only focus since 1986. And although Noble has shows and interviews on hard news topics like the civil rights movement (in all its forms), integration, education (and the lack thereof), economics, Black nationalism, African/African-American history, gentrification and so much more, he’s also done seminal interviews with celebrities like Lena Horne, Bob Marley, Danny Glover, Abbey Lincoln and with repeated newsmakers and notables like Minister Louis Farrakhan, Drs. Yosef Ben-Jochannan and John Henrik Clarke (who seemed to be two of his favorite guests), Dr. Leonard Jeffries, Kwame Toure (Stokely Carmichael) and other members/former members of the Black Panthers, Dr. Frances Cress Welsing, Regent Adelaide Sandford – the list goes on and on.
Documentaries on Black life and notables were also created by Noble under the Like It Is banner. A hard-hitting doc on how drugs affect the community first comes to mind, as well as historical ones on W.E.B Du Bois, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., Fannie Lou Hamer, Jack Johnson, Charlie Parker, Jazz music on a whole, and my favorite one – Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Most of these were made int he 1970’s and early ’80s. As of this writing I’ve just found out that he wrote, produced and directed the first ever documentary on Paul Robeson, entitled The Tallest Tree in Our Forest.
Noble is also an accomplished pianist and is a fan and advocate of jazz music. He’s had a focus on different musicians throughout the years. Another note, after watching one of the interviews posted below, I’m now aware that veteran actor Robert Hooks was actually the original host of the show.
On a more personal note, though I’m happy he’s still alive and doing well, its extremely sad to not be able to see Noble on ‘Like It Is’ anymore. In short, he’s one of my heroes, a word that I just don’t toss around. My parents are among that short list, since LIke It Is was (and remains) required viewing among my family – it’s actually one of the first shows I remember watching along with Sesame Street and the like. I’ll even admit some strong emotions in writing this, but life and shows go on and let’s just hope that ch. 7 puts the show in some good hands.
A special shout to my friend, journalist Curtis Stephen for his constant updates on Gil Noble.
You can find online episodes HERE (pg. 1 begins with the Paul Robeson doc). It’s under ‘Sunday Shows’, just scroll through the list to find more – it’s worth it.
AND watch some of my favorite (at least the ones that are online) segments from the show:
Gil Noble interview by the Visionary Project:
show opening, long version
Visit to The Nile Valley
Kwame Toure (one of MANY interviews)