Joe Madison, an influential radio host with a booming musical baritone, who interviewed President Barack Obama in the Oval Office and many other political leaders in his studio in Washington, D.C., urging them to take action on civil and human rights issues, has dead. at his home in Washington. He was 74 years old.
His family announced the death Thursday but did not specify when it occurred. In December, Ella Madison said in a statement that she would be absent from her daily show on SiriusXM satellite radio after learning that her prostate cancer had returned; She had been in remission since she was first diagnosed in 2009.
Madison was ranked No. 6 as the nation’s top talk show host in 2023 by conversationalists magazine on your Heavy Hundred list. He was also the highest-ranked non-white presenter.
“Joe Madison was the voice of a generation,” President Biden saying in a post on social media. “Whether it was a hunger strike for the right to vote or his advocacy for anti-lynching legislation that I was proud to sign in 2022, Joe fought hard against injustice.”
Madison, a former top NAACP official, combined on-air social activism with off-studio advocacy. He participated in a 73-day hunger strike in 2021 to urge Congress to strengthen voting rights laws after Democrats gained control of the Senate and the White House.
On Madison’s show, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the new majority leader, pledged to back long-stalled anti-lynching legislation because, he said, black voters had played a crucial role in the return of Democrats to power and “we owe it to them.”
“No one fought harder for his beliefs and his community than Joe Madison,” Schumer said in a statement.
Other recent guests included Vice President Kamala Harris, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California when she was speaker of the House, and Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina.
At Congress’ signing of the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act in 2021, Pelosi thanked Madison for defending her.
Her broadcast, heard from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., Monday through Friday, was on the Urban View channel on SiriusXM, which Madison joined exclusively in 2013. For decades before that, she was a fiery personality on two Washington AM talk stations , WWRC. and WOL, where she was known as “the judge” to people who called to verify the facts.
“People will call you and try to give you wrong information,” said The Washington Post in 2013. “Most people get angry out of frustration. “They don’t like to be challenged, but that’s how I grew up: people challenged your thought process.”
Before entering radio in 1980, Madison was the political director of the NAACP and served on its national board for 14 years. While there, he led a march from Los Angeles to Baltimore to promote voter registration.
He continued his political activism as a radio host. He was arrested in 2001 after handcuffing himself to the Sudanese embassy in Washington; he had made repeated broadcasts to raise awareness about modern slavery in Sudan. He made several trips there and, working with the Swiss-based organization Christian Solidarity International, helped free Sudanese who were being held as slaves.
In 1996, Mr. Madison was arrested while leading a protest outside CIA headquarters after repeatedly accusing the agency in its program of contributing to an explosion of crack cocaine use in black communities in the 1980s. The accusations emerged in a series of articles in The San Jose Mercury News. A congressman from Michigan, Rep. John Conyers Jr., went on Madison’s show to praise him for raising the issue, but critics said Madison was spreading a conspiracy theory to black listeners.
An investigation by the House Intelligence Committee No evidence was later found linking the CIA to the epidemic.
In 2015, Madison stayed on the air for 52 hours straight to raise funds for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Joseph Edward Madison was born on June 16, 1949 in Dayton, Ohio, the son of Felix Madison, a press operator, and Nancy (Stone) Madison. He was the first in his family to graduate from college, earning a bachelor’s degree in sociology in 1971 from Washington University in St. Louis, where he was a running back on the football team, a baritone soloist in the campus choir, and a DJ at the campus radio station.
At age 24, he became director of the Detroit branch of the NAACP. His radio career began at WXYZ-AM in Detroit.
After moving to Washington, his popularity led to national syndication of his show and then a deal with SiriusXM, the satellite platform available to subscribers nationwide. He called himself “The Black Eagle” on the air. He was installed in the Radio Hall of Fame in 2019.
In 1977, Mr. Madison married Sharon L. Moore, who survives him, along with their four children, Shawna, Jason, Monesha and Michelle; five grandchildren; and a great-grandson.
Mr. Madison often posed a signature challenge to guests: “What are you going to do about it?”
“I have always seen myself as a person who recognizes that one person can make a difference.” explained in 2013. “Rosa Parks was a seamstress. Mabel Teel was a mother. Fannie Lou was a sharecropper. “President Obama was a community organizer.”