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For immediate release Nov. 29, 2004  

Statement of NPR and the African American Consortium

Tavis Smiley informed us today that he will not renew his contract and that his last day will be December 16. We wish him well. Tavis is a remarkable talent and holds an important place in public radio history. We applaud Tavis for his energy and drive, which contributed greatly to the success of this historic show. NPR and the African American Public Radio Consortium — a nationwide group of public radio stations that serve African-Americans — intend to continue this program with a new host and to expand and build upon its successes.

Four years ago, the African American Consortium and NPR together conceived of a public affairs show for public radio that would build diverse audiences and reflect the interests and perspective of the African American community. Tavis helped us to jumpstart this effort — and for this we will always be grateful.

This partnership has been very successful. According to the Arbitron Spring 2004 research, the show reaches nearly 900,000 listeners each week on 87 stations, including 18 stations serving predominantly African American communities and stations that serve general audiences in nine of the top ten markets. It attracts one of the most diverse audiences to public radio: 29 percent of the listeners are African American, and 40 percent are listeners aged 44 or younger. Each of these measures is the highest of any NPR program.

We are proud that this programming concept has brought new listeners to public radio while presenting the African American perspective to broader audiences. Together, we have made tremendous progress to diversify the public radio audience, and we intend to build upon the initial success of this project.

Two weeks ago, NPR and the African American public radio stations held a three-day meeting to determine how to expand upon the show's success and to develop more programming that will extend the reach and diversity of public radio. As a result of this meeting, we have already begun the process of reaching out to smart, exciting and diverse talent to bring them into the family of public radio.

Tavis had planned to go on holiday from December 16 through January 7. The show's regular Friday host, Tony Cox, is already set to fill in during that timeframe. Working with the Consortium, NPR will launch an aggressive national search for a new host who can build upon the success of the show. NPR and the Consortium are committed to the continuation of this show — and the creation of others, for which it opened the door.

About NPR
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 more than 22 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.