Unsmiling Smiley to end NPR show

Talk-show host Tavis Smiley said Monday that he was not renewing his contract with National Public Radio, criticizing NPR for not reaching out to a wider audience.

“After all that we’ve accomplished towards our goal of seeking a broader, more diverse and younger audience for public radio, NPR has simply failed to meaningfully reach out to a broad spectrum of Americans,” Smiley wrote in an e-mail to station managers.

For several weeks, NPR had been in negotiation with Smiley over renewing his contract, which expires in January. Smiley was not reachable, and the issues at stake were not immediately clear. David Umansky, NPR’s vice president for communications, said “The Tavis Smiley Show,” which began in 2002 and was targeted to African American listeners, had been successful in raising the diversity of the NPR audience. Twenty-nine percent of listeners were African American, and 40% were 44 or younger.

“We agree more needs to be done,” Umansky said. “This show got more promotional resources than any NPR show in history,” he added.


Umansky said NPR will search for a successor to host a show with similar goals.

The last scheduled airdate for the show, which is heard locally on KPCC-FM (89.3) weeknights at 8, will be Dec. 16.

-- Lynn Smith