Smiley & West Are Public Radio’s Newest Program

Posted by at 12:01 am on February 4, 2011

Tavis Smiley, Smiley Radio Properties and Public Radio International have announced that “Smiley & West” is now officially a weekly program. Alisa Miller, President and CEO of Public Radio International says, “Tavis Smiley and Cornel West bring a rare dynamism and authenticity to conversation, and a heart-felt dedication to invite listeners to take part in the exchange of ideas and bring wisdom to thought-provoking topics. Smiley and West underscores PRI’s commitment to offer new places to discover our diverse, interconnected world, and to stimulate important conversations in American society, and we are excited to distribute it to audiences nationwide.”

What started as an experiment on October 1, 2010 has become an online and offline phenomenon. Co-hosted by Tavis’ longtime friend and collaborator, Princeton professor Cornel West, “Smiley & West” is not just a radio program. It’s a seven-day-a-week conversation on the Speak Out Network via the website http://www.smileyandwest.com, social media like Twitter and Facebook, and an “old-fashioned” Speak Out Network hotline.

Issues and Conversations

Each week Smiley & West engage in deep dialogue in the “Hot Stuff” as they dissect the hottest news of the moment. Listeners get to turn the tables in the “Take ‘Em To Task” segment and challenge Smiley & West on something they said. The second half of the show features “icons and issues,” in-depth, 30-minute conversations with legendary leaders, artists and thinkers – and folks on the front lines of issues close to the hearts of Smiley & West.

In just the first four months, Smiley & West spoke with comedian Garry Shandling, bluesman Buddy Guy, Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai, funkmaster George Clinton and playwright Suzan-Lori Parks. They also tackled issues like mass incarceration with law professor Michelle Alexander, education reform with Teach for America founder Wendy Kopp, the Great Recession with former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, healthcare reform with HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Haiti with author Edwidge Danticat and the mid-term elections with New York Times columnist Frank Rich.

Building On A Movement

A common theme to emerge during the pilot process was the need for a movement. A movement built on the ideas, morality, and spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., bending in the direction of social justice. “Smiley & West” is a virtual meeting place for that movement, putting the “public” back in public radio. The program’s listeners reflect the multicultural, multiracial, multiethnic audience of the 21st Century.

“Smiley & West” can already be heard in more than 80 communities across the country including major markets like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philly and San Francisco. An aggressive carriage strategy for 2011 will build on the energy created by the 20th anniversary celebrations for Tavis Smiley and public events with Smiley & West.

Smiley & West also have more than 200,000 Twitter followers and more than 150,000 Facebook fans which allows this program to bring together its radio and new media audiences in a unique and engaging way. Each Friday afternoon, a new program is available to stream at www.smileyandwest.com or download as a podcast.

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