Joe Madison is a radio talk show host and civil rights activist. He can be heard every weekday morning on SiriusXM Urban View.
RADIO TALK SHOW HOST, ACTIVIST, AUTHOR
Joe Madison is a civil rights activist, author and groundbreaking radio personality. He has built a legacy of using his voice to help oppressed people and those who are powerless against the injustices affecting them in their everyday lives.
His radio program, “The Joe Madison Show”, airs weekday mornings nationwide on SiriusXM Urban View channel 126. During his four-hour program, Mr. Madison, also known as “The Black Eagle”, talks about political and social issues, brings attention to social injustices around the world, and challenges himself and his listeners daily to “do something about it.”
Because he is always taking action to help rectify the issues discussed on his show, TALKERS magazine ranked Mr. Madison’s show in the top ten of their 100 Most Important Radio Talk Show Hosts in America over one dozen times. He has interviewed President Barack Obama in the Oval Office, Senator Chuck Schumer, Spike Lee, Barry Gordy and hundreds of people around the world. One of his frequent guests was Dick Gregory, the comedian and civil right activist who he met at age 16 and reconnected with again in his 20s. They became friends for life as they fought for justice together and went to jail together numerous times.
Mr. Madison, a native of Dayton, Ohio, was raised by his grandparents. In the mid-1960s, he attended Wisconsin State, where he was captain of the undefeated freshman football team. As a student leader, he became involved in the black student movement. The coach resented Mr. Madison’s campus activism and removed him from the team.
The next year, he enrolled at Washington University in St. Louis and became an All-Conference running back on the football team. Mr. Madison was a sociology major, a baritone soloist in the university choir and a disc jockey at the campus radio station. He earned his bachelor’s degree in 1971 and became the first person in his family to do so.
After college, he moved to Detroit where he was an active member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In 1974 at age 24, Madison became the youngest executive director of the 10,000-member Detroit chapter.
In 1986, NAACP President Benjamin Hooks appointed Mr. Madison as the organization’s National Political Director. The highlights of his eight-year tenure as director include organizing a successful boycott of Dearborn, Michigan businesses due to a racist city law, and leading hundreds of volunteers on a series of successful voter registration marches, including a cross-country “march for dignity” from Los Angeles to Baltimore. Those marches garnered thousands of signatures for an anti-apartheid bill in Congress. He was elected to the NAACP’s Board of Directors in 1986 and he held that position for 14 years.
In 1990, in the midst of his civil rights work, he continued his love for radio as a socially conscious radio talk show personality on Detroit’s WXYZ-AM. He went on to host talk shows in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. The popularity of his WOL-AM show in D.C. on Radio One, led him to SiriusXM.
As a tenacious leader in the cause for social justice, Mr. Madison uses his show as a platform for inspiring action on critical issues. He brought international attention to human rights abuses in Southern Sudan during his six trips to the country in the middle of its’ civil war. He worked with the Swiss-based Christian Solidarity International organization to help free 7,000 enslaved Sudanese people.
In February 2015, he set a Guinness World Record at 52 hours for the longest on-air broadcast. During the record-breaking show, he raised more than $250,000 for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Five months later, Mr. Madison made history again by broadcasting live from Cuba and becoming the first American radio host to do so in more than 50 years.
Mr. Madison has numerous accolades because of his humanitarian efforts. In 2013, he was selected to join the American Red Cross Board of Governors. He received the Southern Christian Leadership Conference Journalism Award in 2000, the Washington Association of Black Journalists Community Service Award in 1997 and the NAACP Image Award in 1996. In 2017, he received the Arts and Sciences’ Distinguished Alumni Award from Washington University. Two years later, he received his honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Washington University.
In December 2021, Mr. Madison went on a hunger strike for 73 days to encourage passage of the voting rights bills that were eventually defeated in the Senate. Unbeknownst to most people, he was fighting prostate cancer during his hunger strike. When asked if he understood the danger he was in, he replied, “I am willing to die.”
A few months after his hunger strike, the Emmett Till Antilynching Act passed in the Senate with the help of Mr. Madison’s continued push on the radio. His efforts were noticed by many, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who publicly thanked him for another fight for justice.
His physical struggles continue, but so does his dedication of 51 years to “do something” to make a difference in the world.
Joe Madison and his wife Sharon have been married for more than 45 years and they currently reside in Washington, D.C. Their blended family includes four children, five grandchildren and one great-grandchild.