Monday, December 27, 2004

NPR: Radio and Records on Thursday reported that NPR hired Ed Gordan to replace Tavis Smiley who left NPR because he claimed the public radio station was getting in his way on how his show should be. "The most difficult thing that I have had to do," he told me, "is fight a culture at NPR, a culture that is antithetical to the best interests of people of color." The African American Public Radio Consortium, which helped recruit Smiley four years ago, has meanwhile urged Smiley's listeners to stay with NPR. Perhaps they will, as NPR embarks on a search for a new permanent host to replace Smiley.But Smiley is a personality with particular cachet among many blacks. He has a fan base that has followed him from his days on Black Entertainment Television to "The Tom Joyner Morning Show" on black commercial radio." "....In addition, NPR asked Smiley to work this particular miracle and then proceeded to question the way he did it. "The struggle that I am engaged in, and that my staff is engaged in, is to get this network to understand that we live in the most multicultural, multiracial and multiethnic America ever, and that we know how to do this show," he told me.During Smiley's time at NPR, the network and its stations reportedly questioned his openness with his liberal political views, his irreverent style and his willingness to ask challenging questions, as well as to allow a few arguments to break out on his show." I have listened to Smiley on Tom Joyner's show. He comes off as a loudmouth saying simplistic things that end up in the "liberal gooood, everything else bad" mantra with the occasional black empowerment talk that comes off like a bad Jesse Jackson shakedown impression. He's also a defender of Jean Aristide at a time when everyone realized the guy had turn into a mini version of Papa Doc over the last 5+ years. That is enough to question his judgement. But I'm wondering if NPR was just getting tired of his act and realizing that his ego was writing checks his talent couldn't cash.

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