Tavis Smiley is an American talk show host, author and liberal political commentator who was born in Gulport, Missisippi the product of a single parent home. Smiley became a radio commentator in 1991, and starting in 1996 hosting the talk show “BET Talk” (later renamed BET Tonight) on BET. In 2001 Smiley sold an exclusive interview of Sara Jane Olson to ABC News and BET declined to renew his contract that year. Smiley then began hosting The Tavis Smiley Show on NPR from 2002 to 2004 and currently hosts Tavis Smiley on PBS on the weekdays and “The Tavis Smiley Show.”
Three of his longtime producers (Neal Kendall, Luke Sader and Stephanie Storey) at the Travis Smiley show recently resigned amidst allegations of discord regarding the creative direction of broadcast. The three executives were responsible for Smiley’s “Visions for a New America” which aired live on C-Span during mid January from George Washington University. It is not known if the pre-production fast pace coverage of the C-Span show impacted their departures. The resignations come at time when the television program is enjoying its 10th anniversary.
According to Leshelle Sargent, Smiley’s spokesperson, “Monday afternoon the entire ‘Tavis Smiley’ on PBS television staff joined Tavis in a gathering on his sound stage to celebrate and thank three producers who have been with him since day one in 2004.
We categorically deny any rumor suggesting that there is any “acrimony” amongst his TV show family. Quite the contrary, as the show is just starting its 10th anniversary season. Moreover, none of the three producers celebrated today have suggested otherwise. We will have no further comment on this scurrilous gossip.”