For more than a generation, “Like It Is” has been a reliable source of inspiration and information, and its host, Gil Noble, an exemplar of rectitude.
Reports that the esteemed communicator was ailing sent shock waves through the community, the alarm only outpaced by the outpouring of prayers. According to a family member, he suffered a stroke.
“Last week, while I was at Grant’s Tomb for a tribute to Gil Scott-Heron, I learned that Harlem’s other Gil was in critical condition,” said attorney Robert Van Lierop, who worked with Noble as a co-producer of “Like It Is” from 1977-79.
“Gil is very committed to telling the story of Black icons-Paul Robeson, Malcolm X, Dr. King, Michael Manley, Fannie Lou Hamer, Charlie Parker, Ella Baker, Nelson Mandela, Adam Clayton Powell Jr., and many others,” Van Lierop continued. “But he is also interested in telling the stories of lesser known Black Americans, those who have been neglected and cast aside.”
Van Lierop joined a chorus of Noble fans who followed him devotedly, listening for that “voice in the wilderness,” as so many characterized him and his show.
Noble was born in Harlem on Feb. 22, 1932, and came of age on Sugar Hill in the company of a number of noble New Yorkers like jazz greats such as Sonny Rollins, the late drummer Art Taylor and saxophonist Jackie McLean, who was featured on the show last Sunday.
His early years were spent in the world of music, where he often fronted an ensemble as a pianist. “He was a very good piano player,” Van Lierop said, “particularly in the realm of jazz and the music of Monk, Bird, Max Roach and Duke Ellington.”
A four-time Emmy winner, he joined WABC in the summer of 1967 and almost immediately began broadcasting the weekend reports. “Like It Is” was launched in 1968 and is one of the longest running African-American oriented television shows in the nation.
“I know he’s in critical condition and of course my prayers are with him,” Van Lierop added. “No matter what happens to him, his legacy is secure. His work has kept us in touch with our valuable past-a past that I hope the coming generations give as much attention and respect that Gil has given.”
There is a wealth of information about Noble online for those interested in learning more. He also wrote a memoir, “Black is the Color of My TV Tube” (Lyle Stuart Inc., 1981).