Gary Byrd Meets With WABC; Could Succeed Retired Gil Noble as Host

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[On The Media]

WABC has scheduled a second meeting with Imhotep Gary Byrd to discuss a possible hiring as host to carry on the legacy of "Like It Is," The Black Star News has learned.

Long-time host of "Like It Is," Gil Noble, retired after suffering a serious stroke earlier this year.

Gary Byrd met November 9 with Dave Davis, president and general manager of WABC-TV to discuss the potential hiring, according to people familiar with the matter. A second meeting is planned after Byrd returns from a vacation. Byrd, who has been in mourning the past few weeks since losing his beloved partner of 10 years, Vanessa Cooper, to pancreatic cancer, is one of the most popular and respected journalist's in New York City, with an international reputation.

Davis would not confirm or deny the meeting when contacted today by The Black Star News.

"Unfortunately, I cannot comment on personnel matters," Davis responded to questions submitted via e-mail message. "I can say that we are currently using some of our experienced Eyewitness News anchors and reporters to host 'Here and Now' as we decide on a permanent host. The program 'Here and Now' is the replacement for 'Like It Is', and like all new shows, will continue to evolve. We always welcome comments from viewers about our programming."

Byrd could not be reached for comment by online publication time.

According to several people familiar with the matter, WABC's Davis invited Byrd for a meeting following demands from supporters of "Like It Is," and a campaign cordinated by CEMOTAP that included a rally outside the station's Lincoln Square offices. The "Like It Is" supporters have demanded that any show that succeeds "Like It Is," carry on the level of "excellence" and Afri-centric historical-based focus of Gil Noble's shows.

A statement from Byrd, containing some information about his meeting with WABC was read yesterday at a community meeting at CEMOTAP's headquarters. People who attended the meeting say it now appears that WABC has benefitted from a learning curve since the station stopped broadcasting "Like It Is."

The statement said Byrd presented Davis with some strategic and creative branding ideas for the proposed permanent show --including title-- that, presumably, will replace "Here and Now," the show currently being broadcast in the "Like It Is" former time-slot. The suggestions by Byrd are intended to ensure that the new permanent show would: honor the legacy of "Like It Is"; send a clear signal to the Black community of the WABC's intentions, and; set the stage for the new Sunday broadcast that could benefit from Byrd's own Global Black Experience (GBE) "multi station print-social media platform and from the unique and synergistic relationship of guests and topics, which has existed for years between 'Like It Is' and the GBE."

In the statement, Byrd revealed that Davis said he was "very impressed" with a press package submitted to WABC by Akila Worksongs, outlining Byrd's past work and achievements.

Byrd's statement said the meeting with Davis "centered around the question of how to build around the legacy created by 'Like It Is' in a way that honors the foundation of excellence that brother Gil Noble has built in the platform, over multiple decades of serving," the New York City Tri-State African American, Caribbean American and African community.

Byrd said it was "frankly, a truly empowering experience to go into the meeting knowing that I was carrying the endorsement of a significant segment of Like It Is followers, Brother Gil, his family, and a body of Black leadership."

In the statement, Byrd added: "I was assured by Mr. Davis, that he and WABC-TV are looking for the best way to do that and that the current programming, i.e., 'Here and Now' was designed to fill the void of the Sunday broadcast window, until something could be put on which would become the 'permanent' replacement show."

"Mr. Davis and I both noted that Brother Gil can never be replaced," Gary Byrd continued. "But we both agreed that WABC-TV can aim high, at the standards that he set, in creating the award winning broadcast institution 'Like It Is.'"

"Let us remember to use brother Gil's lifework as a testament to his dedication, courage and comitment, to the global African community," Byrd concluded. "Also remembering Brother Elombe Brath's contribution to that process. We wish him well."

Brath was a former producer on "Like It Is" and introduced Noble to many African presidents and statesmen. Many supporters of "Like It Is" contend that WABC has not financially supported Brath who has been immobilized since he too suffered a stroke a few years ago.

WABC's Davis did not respond to a question sent via e-mail message inquiring whether there had been any discussion about supporting Brath.

Byrd also singled out CEMOTAP's co-founders Sister Betty Dopson and
Brother James McIntosh for their continued
support for his work on the Global Black Experience (GBE).

Lisa Noble, Gil Noble's daughter, also attended the CEMOTAP meeting yesterday.

Others at the meeting were: Attorney Michael Warren; Dr. Gerald Deas; Dr. Booker T. Coleman; Sol The Radical Educator; Bernard White; Councilman Charles Barron; Amadi Ajamu; State AssemblyWoman Inez Barron; Brother Aminifu; Larry Hamm; Nzingha Abena; Shaka Shakur; Ed Ward; Suzanne Williams; Winston Greene; Yvonne Hill; Lonnie Johnson, Sister Betty Dopson, and; Dr. James McIntosh.

"Speaking Truth To Empower."

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