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Tavis Smiley Quits NPR

Tavis Smiley Quits NPR

Tavis Smiley and National Public Radio are parting ways.
In an e-mail sent to affiliates of the daily one-hour “The Tavis Smiley Show,” Smiley states he decided not to renew his contract with NPR and expects his last show to air Dec. 16.
The network confirmed Smiley’s decision. A spokesman told RW Online Smiley’s decision was a surprise to the network after being in contract talks with Smiley “for several months.”
“We wish Tavis well. He’s a remarkable talent and contributed in no small way to the success of the show,” said new NPR VP of Communications David Umansky.
“With your support, I have come to care even more for public radio and its social, cultural and intellectual potential,” states Smiley. “Yet, after all that we’ve accomplished towards our goal of seeking a broader, more diverse and younger audience for public radio, 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. In the most multicultural, multiethnic and multiracial America ever – I believe that NPR can and must do better in the future.”
NPR feels the show is successful. Umansky cited Arbitron 2004 Spring survey data that show 87 stations carry the program. The audience is 29% African-American and 44% of the listeners are age 40 or younger – the youngest listeners NPR has, he said.
The show was originally concieved by NPR and a consortium of its African-American stations, some 25 facilities that buy NPR programming, said Umansky. The relationship grew into a partnership between Smiley and his staff to create the current program.
In a recent meeting, participants discussed how to build a more diverse audience for the program. “We agree with him (Smiley) there was more to be done,” said Umansky.
The show will continue with Tony Cox, who hosted every Friday, as interim host. In the meantime, NPR and the consortium will work to find a new host.

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