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For immediate release
October 29, 2003
NPR: Laura Gross,


LOS ANGELES-J.C. Watts, Jr., joins The Tavis Smiley Show as a regular commentator, beginning Tuesday, November 4. As an entrepreneur, minister, father and former congressman, Watts will bring his unique personal and political views to the program that presents news and opinion from an African American perspective. Watts will join an already diverse group of distinguished commentators on the show, including Princeton professor Cornel West, author and professor Michael Eric Dyson, noted civil rights attorney Connie Rice and Ward Connerly, a member of the University of California Board of Regents. His commentaries will be scheduled to air every Tuesday on nearly 80 public radio stations across the country.

Currently, Watts serves as chairman of J.C. Watts Companies and provides strategic focus and program leadership to the firm's business engagements, alliances and initiatives. He works with clients to implement business development, communications and public affairs strategies. He was elected to the U.S. Congress from the fourth district of Oklahoma in 1994. In 1998, he was elected by his peers to serve as chairman of the Republican Conference, the fourth-ranking leadership position in the majority party in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is also the chairman of GOPAC and has created the J.C. Watts Foundation to focus on urban renewal and other charitable initiatives. He is also the author of What Color is a Conservative? (HarperCollins 2002).

The Tavis Smiley Show from NPR is a weekday, one-hour news and opinion program featuring provocative commentary, exclusive interviews, and reports on everything from politics to pop culture, presented by Tavis Smiley. Smiley is the first African American to host a signature program for NPR. The show, produced in Los Angeles, begins its third season in January 2004 on nearly 80 public radio stations. The show has contributed to NPR's audience growth in the past five years from 13 million to 22 million listeners per week - a gain of 64 percent. The success of The Tavis Smiley Show on NPR inspired Smiley's new television show, produced by KCET/Los Angeles for broadcast on PBS stations. The new, half-hour program, Tavis Smiley, premieres on January 5, 2004.

Ms. Kennard's journalism awards include a 1990-91 duPont Columbia Award for coverage of the Persian Gulf War. She is a 1977 graduate of Northeastern University in Boston.

NPR is renowned for journalistic excellence and standard-setting news and entertainment programming. A privately supported, non-profit, membership organization, NPR serves a growing audience of 29 million Americans each week via more than 770 public radio stations. International partners in cable, satellite and short-wave services make NPR programming accessible anywhere in the world. With original online content and audio streaming, offers hourly newscasts, special features and seven years of archived audio and information.