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Tavis Smiley Says No Apology For False #MeToo Charges, Speaks On Comeback With New Black Radio Venture

Tavis Smiley Says No Apology For False #MeToo Charges, Speaks On Comeback With New Black Radio Venture

Smiley

Tavis Smiley Says No Apology For False #MeToo Charges, Speaks On Comeback With New Black Radio Venture Photo: Author and talk show host Tavis Smiley speaks at Book Expo America, May 29, 2014 in New York about his book, "Death of a King: The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Final Year." (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Veteran TV and radio talk-show host Tavis Smiley isn’t apologizing to try and get back into the media’s good graces. After his career was sidelined by #MeToo allegations of workplace sexual misconduct, Smiley was fired from his national talk show but he’ll be back on the air soon, this time, with his own radio station.

Three years ago, allegations of sexual misconduct against Smiley resulted in PBS dropping his long-running show, “The Tavis Smiley Show.” Now Smiley has purchased a Los Angeles radio station that will offer a Black and progressive perspective on the city and nation — his show. The reformatted station KBLA Talk 1580 Los Angeles debuted with a preview on Juneteenth, the holiday commemorating the last enslaved African Americans learning they were free.

Smiley is the majority owner of KBLA, which he and investment partners bought from New York-based Multicultural Radio Broadcasting in a deal estimated at $7.5 million, The Atlanta Voice reported.

“The opportunity to have a Black-owned and Black-operated talk radio station in this city, where talk radio for too long has been all day, all night, all white, is an opportunity that is begging for someone to take advantage of it. So I’m dumb enough to try,” Smiley said.

Among the hosts who will appear on the radio network are DL Hughley, whose nationally syndicated radio show is part of the KBLA afternoon lineup, and Alonzo Bodden, a winner of NBC’s “Last Comic Standing.”


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“The station doesn’t have an agenda except to be unapologetically progressive,” Smiley said. “We just want to be a voice for those who have been voiceless for too long in this city, speak a truth that is otherwise not being considered if we don’t speak it, and give people a chance literally just to be heard.”

Smiley is accused of having “had sexual relationships with multiple staff members, some of whom reportedly felt that their relationship with the TV host was connected to their employment status.” Smiley continues to deny the workplace allegations of misconduct. He said he had “consensual” dates and “consensual” sex with co-workers, NPR reported.

“I have never harassed anyone,” Smiley said.

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Smiley, then the only solo Black host of a show on PBS, sued for wrongful termination. He also contended that he was dropped from the network as a result of racial bias. He sought $1 million. He lost.

PBS countersued, claiming Smiley violated the network’s morality clause. PBS won and the court ordered Smiley to pay PBS $1.5 million. A judge increased the award to about $2.6 million in August 2020, according to The Washington Post. Smiley is appealing.