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For immediate release
Thursday, May 31, 2001
Gretchen Michael,
202-513-2313
gmichael@npr.org



NPR and African American Public Radio Stations Announce Agreement with Tavis Smiley to Develop New Morning Show



Washington, DC - National Public Radio (NPR) and a consortium of NPR member stations have signed an agreement with Tavis Smiley, an award-winning broadcast journalist and author, to conceive and develop a morning news program targeted to African American listeners. Smiley is a former talk show host from Black Entertainment Television and is heard weekly on the Tom Joyner Morning Show.

The new public radio program is envisioned as a one-hour morning newsmagazine hosted by Smiley. It will include a mix of news, interviews and features, bringing an energetic and intelligent sensibility to issues of interest to a broad range of audiences. NPR and this group of member stations hope to launch the program by the end of 2001.

"Tavis Smiley is one of the most influential and respected personalities in the country," said Jay Kernis, NPR's senior vice president for programming, "He brings a wealth of talent, experience and enthusiasm to public radio. We are thrilled he has come aboard to work with us and our member stations to create a show that extends NPR's already powerful presence in morning drive time."

This project is the result of a collaboration between NPR and African American public radio professionals representing 38 public radio stations. Its goal is to bring new voices and perspectives to public radio and attract a broader base of listenership. The program will be co-produced by NPR, these member stations and Smiley. The launch of the program will provide public radio stations with an innovative option to further meet the needs of their current and prospective audiences.

"National Public Radio has always been in the vanguard of what quality radio is all about," said Tavis Smiley, "I could not be more pleased to be associated with NPR."

Tavis Smiley is a former host of BET Tonight. He currently offers political commentary on the Tom Joyner Morning Show and is a contributing editor to USA Weekend magazine. Smiley is the recipient of numerous awards and recognition including the Mickey Leland Humanitarian Award from the National Association of Minorities in Communications and the NAACP Image Award for Best "News, Talk or information Series" for three consecutive years.