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.”