This undated image from video released by PBS shows host Tavis Smiley, right, during an interview with Hillary Rodham Clinton on “Tavis Smiley Reports.” Smiley, who’s marking his 10th year this month as host of his PBS talk show and his 20th year in broadcasting. (AP Photo/PBS)
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Tavis Smiley has stood out in 20 years in broadcasting, and he has no intention of changing his style or substance.
He’s the rare black host with national TV and radio platforms, one who sees his job as challenging Americans to examine their assumptions on such thorny issues as poverty, education, and racial and gender equality.
In other words, he doesn’t squander his opportunities on PBS’ daily talk show “Tavis Smiley,” which marks its 10th year this month, or on public radio’s “The Tavis Smiley Show” and “Smiley & West,” the latter a forum for commentary he shares with scholar and activist Cornel West.
His quarterly “Tavis Smiley Reports” specials for PBS, in-depth looks at topics such as the relationship between the juvenile justice system and the teenage dropout rate, fit the same bold pattern.
Smiley, marking two decades in broadcasting this year, considers himself engaged in a calling as much as a career: “This is the kind of work I think needs to be done. I’m trying to entertain and empower people.”
Among the tweets regarding his PBS landmark was this one Friday from writer Maya Angelou: “Tavis Smiley, who rightly calls himself one of my sons, deserves hallelujahs & congratulations for his 2000th show tonight on PBS!”
PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger was a public TV executive overseeing New York station WNET when she became interested in launching a Smiley talk show as a companion to “Charlie Rose.” The programs air back-to-back on a number of PBS stations.
“The two of them have very different styles. Tavis has done a great job of bringing a wide range of people on to public broadcasting,” Kerger said. “He’s constantly looking at the next big Login to read more