Joe Madison, Radio Host and Civil Rights Activist, Dies at 74

On the air, he urged politically powerful guests to take action on human rights issues. Outside the studio, he joined protests, including a hunger strike in 2021.

Joe Madison, an influential talk radio host with a rumbling musical baritone, who interviewed President Barack Obama in the Oval Office and numerous other political leaders in his Washington, D.C., studio, urging them to take action on civil and human rights issues, has died at his home in Washington. He was 74.

His family announced the death on Thursday but did not specify when it occurred. In December, Mr. Madison said in a statement that he was taking a leave from his daily show, on SiriusXM radio, after learning that his prostate cancer had returned; it had been in remission since it was first diagnosed in 2009.

Mr. Madison was ranked the No. 6 most important talk show host in the country in 2023 by Talkers Magazine on its Heavy Hundred list, where he was also the highest-ranked nonwhite host.

“Joe Madison was the voice of a generation,” President Biden said in a post on social media this week. “Whether it was a hunger strike for voting rights or his advocacy for anti-lynching legislation that I was proud to sign in 2022, Joe fought hard against injustice.”

Mr. Madison, a former senior official with the N.A.A.C.P., blended on-air social activism with advocacy outside the studio. He participated in a 73-day hunger strike in 2021 to urge Congress to strengthen voting rights laws after Democrats had gained control of the Senate and the White House.

On Mr. Madison’s show, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the new majority leader, pledged to get behind long-stalled anti-lynching legislation because, he said, Black voters had played a crucial role in returning Democrats to power and “we owe them.”

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