'Like It Is' Producer Gil Noble Is Dead at 80
He developed Like It Is into one of TV's top public-affairs programs focusing on black America.
Updated at 5:50 p.m. ET, April 5 -- As a journalist and television producer, Gil Noble worked to dispel negative images of African Americans in media. The notable host of the long-running public-affairs program Like It Is also pushed for clear ethics and objectivity in journalism. According to WABC-TV, he "passed away peacefully after a long illness," this morning, at the age of 80. Noble had suffered a stroke in July 2011.
"Gil Noble's life and work had a profound effect on our society and culture," said WABC-TV President and General Manager Dave Davis in a released statement. "His contributions are a part of history and will be remembered for years to come. Today, our hearts are with Gil's family, his wife Jean and their five children, and we thank them for so lovingly sharing him with the world all these years." WABC anchor Diana Williams, who posted the news on Twitter and Facebook, noted that Noble had taught her a lot. "Gil Noble was a giant in broadcasting who reminded generations of newscasters who followed in his footsteps that we have a responsibility to tell it 'like it is'. His loss cannot be calculated personally or professionally," noted New York Association of Black Journalists vice president of broadcast Cheryl Wills, who is also an anchor for NY1.
According to WABC-TV, Noble's family has asked that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Gil Noble Archives, P.O. Box 43138, Upper Montclair, NJ 07043. "Proceeds will be used to preserve the archives so that Noble's mission of educating the community about its culture and history will continue," reports the station.
Born on Feb. 22, 1932, in Harlem, N.Y., Noble was raised by Jamaican immigrants Gilbert and Iris Noble. Growing up influenced by jazz pianist Erroll Garner, young Noble took up the piano and decided as a teen to pursue a career in music. He even formed the Gil Noble Trio, playing in New York clubs while attending City College. (His love of jazz would later lead him to become a strong supporter of the Jazz Foundation of America and join its board of directors.)
After graduating, he went on to work for Union Carbide and modeled part time. He met his future wife, Jean, also a model, at this time.
Noble got his first break in broadcast media in 1962, when he became a part-time announcer for Harlem radio station WLIB. He soon began reporting and reading newscasts as well as servicing the Associated Press teletype machine. He also tracked interview tapes.
In 1967 he auditioned for a reporter job with WABC television news. He was hired after completing his second assignment: covering the riots in Newark, N.J.'s Central Ward. The National Guard had blocked off and isolated blacks within the area, but Noble was able to cross the barricade and get the story from the perspective of the people living in the community.