Harlem's Verdict: Gil Noble's An Irreplaceable Icon

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Dr. Gardere: “ABC should run it forever as a community service but also as a true part of history," he said of Noble's show. "They owe it to him. 'Like It Is' needs to be preserved and played in perpetuity. Gil is absolutely irreplaceable and the show wouldn’t be the same without him.”

[Heard It On 125th]

Many people don't know that the ailing legendary newsman Gil Noble initially wanted to be a musician, but found himself doing voiceovers and television commercials as an actor. This sparked his interest in and pursuit of broadcasting, which would later lead him to become one of America’s most thought-provoking reporters.

Gil Noble's appearances in the long-running program “Like It Is” on ABC television distinguishes him as an unrestricted truth-seeker with a fighting spirit. In late July, Noble had a severe stroke leaving him hospitalized at an undisclosed hospital in Montclair, New Jersey.

Given the circumstance surrounding his illness, we must move forward praying for the best, yet prepared for the unexpected. The question arises then, who is fit to fill Noble's seat as host of "Like It Is"?

To get a genuine understanding of what this renowned local and national visionary means to his community, I hit the streets of Harlem, New York earlier this week to take the pulse of Noble's supporters along 125th Street. When I sought reaction to Noble’s recent stroke, to my surprise, a fair number of his show's devoted viewers were completely unaware of his hospitalization.

Carol O’Conner-Edwards, was shocked and wanted to know why ABC hadn’t put more effort in emphasizing the severity of his illness. “They’ve been saturated with the federal government and hurricane Irene. However, this should be more publicized,” said O’Conner-Edwards, a healthcare industry employee.

With WABC, the local affiliate that airs Noble's show now owning the largest collection of programming documenting African American experiences --thanks to “Like It Is”-- it is no wonder why O'Conner-Edwards feels this way.

Cecil Brooks, who works for the city, said he's been faithfully watching “Like It Is” for the past 40 years. Although he believes that ABC could find a worthy replacement, he still thinks Noble’s absence will be a great loss. “Gil Noble helped a great deal of Black folks," he said. "He has a following that I don’t think will decrease.”

Another supporter of "Like It Is" praised Noble's commitment to his viewers.  “He fought hard to bring out truth in the Black community,” said Beverly Davis, a retiree.

ABC for the last few weeks has been airing classic “Like It Is” programs in the absence of the show’s host. Should the network continue playing re-runs until Noble resumes his position or should ABC hire a temporary host? After all, let’s not forget that as a community, an African American male or female is battling some form of injustice at any given time of the day, due to the color of his or her skin.

So who could replace Gil Noble? Maybe because of the reputation and loyalty Noble commands, I could not find many people prepared to suggest a potential replacement.

There were also mixed reaction as to whether a replacement should be a younger host or an old-timer with much more experience. Janice Teague, a program director for employment training, believes a young journalist, whom Noble himself approves of, and who is knowledgeable of the Harlem community and Black issues, would be an ideal host. In contrast, entrepreneurs James and Yvonne Boyed, a couple, believe the new host would have to be an informative individual of the older generation. Boyed saw it as a sign of apathy that people in the community didn't immediately volunteer the name of a potential new host.

As I was about to wrap up my mission, I ran into America’s renowned psychologist, Dr. Jeff Gardere. Although, I was hardly able to keep my composure, I mustered up some courage to get his take on Noble.

Dr. Gardere, an icon in his own rights, knows Noble personally. He called Noble "an honorable individual full of brilliance" whose life achievements have been tremendous.

“ABC should run it forever as a community service but also as a true part of history," he said of Noble's show. "They owe it to him. 'Like It Is' needs to be preserved and played in perpetuity. Gil is absolutely irreplaceable and the show wouldn’t be the same without him.”

He also believes that whoever is to replace Noble should also have "a noble name and reputation." Dr. Gardere also let me in on a little secret: I discovered that Noble was a great pianist.

One thing is for certain. Noble's supporters want “Like It Is” to remain on air and they are looking forward to having the host resume his job so he can continue to ask the tough questions.

Everyone interviewed sent prayers and warm wishes to Noble and his family.

Post comments online and also send messages to editor@blackstarnews.com

"Speaking Truth To Empower."

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