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Benjamin Hooks appointed him NAACP national political director in 1978. He was also political director of the SEIU, and a director of COTE. He is a former member of NAACP's national board, and remains a life member.
Madison began his broadcasting career in 1980 at Detroit's legendary WXYZ-AM radio station.
He publicized claims of CIA complicity in moving cocaine into the United States, sought evidence, and promoted legislation to declassify possibly related documents. On October 15, 1996, Madison, Dick Gregory, and John Newman launched a hunger strike to promote this legislation.
Joining an otherwise white lineup at WWRC-AM in the early '90s, he developed a crossover appeal handling issues that included race but were aimed at the station's multiracial audience. He left in 1998, after the station fired its talent and changed format, to start an online chat show.
The national capital's preeminent black talk station, WOL-AM, became his catapult to further impact, including syndication on the Radio One Talk Network and its XM satellite channel. He left WOL in 2013.
In 2013 and 2014, Joe Madison hosted events pertaining to the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. Special guests included former Johnson Publishing Company news reporter and their Washington, DC Bureau Chief Simeon Booker, Rev. Bernice King (youngest daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) and Luci Baines Johnson (youngest daughter of President Lyndon Johnson) and singer/activist Harry Belafonte.
In addition to his broadcasts, Madison has engaged in hunger strikes and supported causes ranging from Sudanese slavery to securing a star for the Four Tops on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. On February 2, 2015, comedian and activist Dick Gregory finally received his Star on the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame. This was largely due to Joe Madison's support in raising the $30,000.00 fee (by actively asking his SIRIUS talk show listeners to donate because of the significance of Dick Gregory being honored) required to receive a Hollywood Star. In two weeks, the entire amount was raised, thanks to Joe's efforts.