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Gil Noble Ends His Legendary Hosting Duties on 'Like It Is'

by Curtis
October 8, 2011 5:00 AM
11 Comments
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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:


Lena Horne

Bob Marley

Gil Noble interview by the Visionary Project:

show opening, long version

Visit to The Nile Valley

Abbey Lincoln

Kwame Toure (one of MANY interviews)

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11 Comments

  • stephen james | October 26, 2011 3:19 AMReply

    i live outside the country but i never miss a sunday with gil. i hope he has a cild that ca n carry on his great work. viva gil noble from the botom

  • Lisa Jackson | October 11, 2011 12:17 PMReply

    Thanks so much for this article and clips from "Like It Is." I recently relocated from NY to GA and one the things that I knew I would miss was "Like It Is. My Sun ritual consisted of 10am service and rushing home for "Like It Is" at noon. I've watched "Like It Is" off and on since its inception when I was an early teen. I protested and collected signatures for petitions each time ABC threatened to cancel the show. I was so sorry to learn of Brother Noble's stroke and pray for his recovery. I also pray that "Like It Is" will continue.

  • amilcar | October 10, 2011 3:09 AMReply

    Thank you for this piece. Like you Gil Noble has been a hero of mine since I started watching Like It Is in the early eighties. His book Black Is The Color Of My TV Tube had a profound impact on me and is the reason why I'm a videographer today.

  • Maitefa Angaza | October 9, 2011 3:30 AMReply

    Job well done, Bro Gil and thank you! Like It Is has been a Sunday afternoon staple in my household for decades. Let's hope WABC will see the value in packaging some of the historic episodes for sale.

    Melba Tolliver was co-host with Gil in the show's early days and Elombe Brath was by his side for decades, working on this rare gem of a show.

    Get well Bro. Gil.

  • Tombs | October 9, 2011 3:25 AMReply

    I met Mr Noble a couple of months ago where he filmed his TV show. He certainly display the class of a real gentleman. He kept it real as a true warrior. I would recommend people to pick up his book call "Black is the Color of my TV tube." Thank you, Mr Noble, for your wisdom and knowledge in providing us a sense of our proud history week after week.

  • Curtis | October 9, 2011 2:19 AMReply

    @ Laura - I didn't include it here, but Geraldo co-hosted Like It Is at one point in the early 70s.

    @James - ABC continues to air past shows and has a lot of them online. See the link near the bottom of my writeup for that. I totally agree though, Noble has done more than enough...he deserves to chill.

    @ Al - it was/is totally like church for us too! Only football pre-game stops that, and even so we flip back n forth! LOL

    Its funny, at one time there were trying to take it off the air (about 5 years ago or so) and also reduced to a 1/2hr, whenever it would actually come on. I'm guessing new management or someone of that caliber has recognized the importance of having a show like this.

  • JMac | October 8, 2011 11:58 AMReply

    Why have I never heard of this guy and this show? No one thought people outside NY would be interested? Have a lot of catching up to do.

  • James Madison | October 8, 2011 10:39 AMReply

    End of an Era.

    So many insightful programs through the years aired on "Like It Is".
    A great many relevant to this day. Hopefully ABC could air the past shows, but I seriously doubt they would.

    If someone who is not obsessed with being a celebrity in this day and age could pick up the baton it would be great..and a shock.

    Mr. Gil Noble deserves to relax. He has given a lot. More than enough.

    Thank you Mr. Gil Noble for a job well done.

  • al | October 8, 2011 8:33 AMReply

    I grew up with this man ... figuratively. Growing up in New York , his show was a Sunday afternoon staple. Time marches on...

  • Laura | October 8, 2011 8:14 AMReply

    I remember watching it with my mother when I was a kid. She watched religiously until she passed away. "Like It Is" was church for my mother. I use to watch every Sunday when I was in college and grad school.

    If I'm not mistaken Geraldo Rivera (yes that Geraldo Rivera) and Gil Noble use to co-host another community affairs show in the late 60's

  • David Fleiss | October 8, 2011 6:39 AMReply

    It's a shame. "Like It Is" is one of the things I miss most about not living in New York.

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