There have been many "gossip" columnist over the years in American Pop culture, going as far back as the 1930's with Walter Winchell and Louella Parsons, to Rona Barrett and Cindy Adams (who is Flo's mentor and still has her own column and radio show at 91 years young) in the 70's and 80's, to Perez Hilton and even Wendy Williams who became the radio Queen of Gossip banter in the 90's into the new millennium.
Gossip columnists have had a reciprocal relationship with the celebrities whose private lives are splashed about in the newspaper column's and on the airwaves.
While many gossip columnists engage in defamatory conduct, spreading innuendo about alleged nefarious acts by celebrities that have often times harmed celebrities' reputations, or even have led to death in some cases, a la Princess Diana, they have also been an important part of the making of a "Star".
For Flo Anthony who is an award winning journalist, becoming a gossip columnist has been more a journey of support of celebrities, to maintain their star power. And this was never more evident when she found herself defending her friend, Michael Jackson, whom she truly believed was the target of what is now referred to as the Cancel Generation era.
Defending Michael at the height of her own popularity saw many opportunities slip away as she was "black-balled", and never got her own talk show on par with Geraldo Rivera, or a Wendy Williams. Instead, Flo Anthony always maintained the high ground, and is perhaps busier today with several aspects of her career than ever.
Flo is the author of several novels including, "Keeping Secrets Telling Lies", "Deadly Stuff Players", and "One Last Deadly Play", and she currently hosts a daily radio show Gossip On The Go With Flo, which is syndicated by Superadio and heard in 20 markets across the country.
In addition, Flo is the Publisher of Black Noir, an online gossip and entertainment news magazine, and pens a weekly column Go With The Flo, which appears in the NY Amsterdam News, Philadelphia Sunday Sun, and Columbus Times. And if that is not enough, she is also a contractual freelance reporter for the NY Daily News.
As a veteran newspaper woman, Flo was the first African American woman to work in the Sports Department of the NY Post, and went on to become the first African American in the Post's Entertainment and the world renowned Page Six Departments. She also made history as the first African American woman to write a column in a supermarket tabloid with her Eye on the Stars column in the National Examiner.
Getting her start on the Emmy award-winning Joan Rivers Show, Flo's career includes an extensive television reporting stint where she appeared on over 25 talk and news programs including Geraldo, E! Entertainment TV, Joan Lunden, Ricki Lake, Sally Jesse Raphael, Fox News Channel, Entertainment Tonight, to name a few.
She revolutionized tabloid TV by bringing Michael Jackson on Inside Edition with her, and she even appeared on TV One's Life After and Hollywood Unsung.
Aside from her work as a journalist/entertainment commentator, and gossip columnist, Flo represents 1976 Olympic Gold Medalist and two-division boxing champion, Michael Spinks, and is a member of Delta Sigma Theta, Inc.
She resides in the historic Sugar Hill District of Harlem, New York, where I caught up with her recently to find out more of who this prolific media personality is, in her own right, and her contributions to Pop culture.
Q&A with Flo
Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to allow our readers to learn more about your career.
RW) You have had a storied career in the entertainment world as a journalist, media commentator, and gossip columnist. You have the distinction of being the first African American woman to be a sports writer for the New York Post, and then for the Post’s entertainment columns on “Page 6”.
Many people know you because of your “gossip” columns and commentary on television. In my introduction on this feature, I described your past and present work as making you our consummate entertainment media reporter. If you had to create a moniker for who Flo Anthony is, what would that be?
FA) Thank you for the compliments. I was actually the first woman in the sports department at the Post, and first Black person in the Entertainment and Page Six departments. I like to call myself a Celebrity Journalist.
RW) Was journalism your initial career choice and who were your influences that drew you to wanting to write as a journalist?
FA) No, I originally came to NYC to become an actress. I also taught school when I first got here. I could always write though, and loved sports. I started working for my manager, Tobe Gibson at Young Talent. She is who named Tom Mapplethorpe Tom Cruise. So, my working with her also morphed into me doing PR for world champions Saoul Mamby, Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, Michael Spinks, Larry Holmes and many more. I also worked for my college friend Lynn Whitfield when she did the Dr. Detroit movie with Dan Akroyd and Fran Drescher and Leon Isaac Kennedy. I then got a sports column in the Black American newspaper called Keep Punching. So that's how I wound up at the Post as the Agate Clerk in the sports department.
RW) Being a “gossip” columnist has a sort of negative connotation that wets our insatiable appetites for the behind the scenes lifestyles of celebrities, but one of the things I remember the most about seeing you on TV or listening to you on the radio over the years, is that you seemed more an advocate of our African American celebrities - the Michael Jackson reports and interviews stand out the most for me.
FA) Well, I like the term Gossip Columnist, but it merely means you are breaking stories. And with blogs, that has changed. Very few of them have any breaking news. Most of what you see is rehashed stories that these people see on the internet.
RW) I mentioned your reporting and interviews with Michael Jackson; were you a Jackson family spokesperson at one time, and what do you think Michael’s legacy is now a decade after his passing?
FA) I never was a spokesperson for the Jackson Family. I am a very good friend of La Toya's and was a friend of Michael's who believed in him. So, I took up for him. It got me blackballed. That is why I have never had my own talk show. However, if I had it to do all over again, I would do the same thing.
RW) You are the Publisher of blacknoir.nyc, and you pen a weekly column Go With The Flo, which appears in the NY Amsterdam News, Philadelphia Sunday Sun and Columbus Times.
In addition you are a freelance reporter for the NY Daily News. You still maintain a social impact with reporting about our entertainers over a span of 40 years. I understand there is also a new book coming from you?
FA) Yes, I publish Blacknoir.nyc. Right now my Go With The Flo column appear in Caribbean Life, Philadelphia Sunday Sun, and Columbus Times. I also have a weekly column called South O' The Highway in Dan's Paper's and a monthly column in LVM Exclusive called Keep Punching. My latest novel Last Call For A Deadly Diva is out and very available.
Flo's Books On Amazon
RW) You are New York based in the Sugar Hill section of Harlem, one of my favorite places on earth. What does it mean to you to be there, a neighborhood in America with such a rich cultural history for African Americans in particular?
FA) God has been very good to me, and I have lived in the Murray Hill section of NYC since December 28, 2021.
RW) What has been one of your worst experiences reporting about something that either turned out to not be true, or ended in tragedy?
FA) I have never reported a non-factual story. I guess having to cover deaths of friends like Michael Jackson, Donna Summer, and most recently Mary Wilson have been hard.
RW) What have been some of your proudest moments reporting on people and events, and what is the most rewarding aspect of your career thus far?
FA) The big stories I broke like Mike Tyson and Robin Givens getting married in Chicago, Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger getting married and John McEnroe and Tatum O'Neal getting married, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman adopting. I've broken hundreds of stories in the past.
RW) Where can our readers follow you on social media?
FA) Facebook Florence Anthony
RW) If you were asked to give the commencement speech for the young people graduating from City College of NY, about to pursue careers in journalism, what would your words of encouragement be for them?
FA) I would say do your best to become employed with real publications and stay away from blogging, work in all of the departments. At the Post, I worked out on the City Side on Saturdays and nights in the summer. I was the dictationist for Joey Adams and Roger Ebert, did the movie clock, TV grid, all sorts of shlock jobs, you have to work hard.
I was blackballed & never had a talk show but I will always love & believe in my friend Michael Jackson, a philanthropist, humanitarian and as my mom once said: “Your friend Michael Jackson is a phenomenon.” Dear God, Let him Rest In Peace !