Tavis Smiley to Leave NPR After Three Years
Talk-show host Tavis Smiley announced Nov. 29 that he will be leaving National Public Radio, which he said has tried hard but fallen short of reaching “a broad spectrum of Americans who would benefit from public radio.”
Smiley, 40, said Dec. 16 will be his last day as host of “The Tavis Smiley Show.” Launched in January 2002, the show is a daily, one-hour program, a collaboration between NPR and public radio stations with predominantly Black audiences.
Smiley said he decided against renewing his contract, which is up at the end of the year.
In a statement, he thanked NPR stations and said he has come to care even more for public radio and its potential.
“Yet, after all that we’ve accomplished towards our goal of seeking a broader, more diverse and younger audience for public radio,” he said, “NPR’s own research has confirmed that NPR has simply failed to meaningfully reach out to a broad spectrum of Americans who would benefit from public radio but simply don’t know it exists or what it offers.”
NPR’s vice president for communications, David Umansky, said the network wishes Smiley well, and “he will always have a place in our hearts and our history.” NPR will launch a nationwide search for a new host.
The show offers a mix of news and pop culture coverage. Smiley’s guests have included politicians — Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton — and celebrities — Halle Berry and Bill Maher. The show draws 900,000 listeners every week. Its audience is 29 percent Black, and 40 percent of his listeners are 44 years old or younger.
Smiley did not disclose his future plans.
— Associated Press
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