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Tavis Smiley Responds To Cancellation Of "Smiley & West" In Open Letter To Chicago Public Radio, WBEZ

CHICAGO, Oct. 15, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Tavis Smiley, public radio and television broadcaster, emailed the following letter Monday to Torey Malatia, President and CEO of Chicago Public Media, regarding the recent cancellation of Smiley & West from Public Radio International (PRI) by WBEZ.  In the letter Smiley rejects the claim that his public radio work has become "far less inclusive," as Malatia has suggested.

"I am as 'inclusive' as I have ever been because I am as curious as I have ever been. I reject and resent the very suggestion by you in letters to listeners that I do not demonstrate a willingness to 'respect and hear opposing views,'" writes Smiley.

Smiley's entire letter is included below and can also be read at: www.smileyandwest.com.

Dear Mr. Malatia,

In my 20 years of being a broadcaster, this letter represents the very first time I have felt compelled to write a personal note to the head of a local station.

I was content to simply move on beyond a cancellation decision I vehemently disagreed with, because I respect the public media model that stations know best. That is until I was made privy to the content of your written response to listeners who have been expressing disappointment about the cancellation of Smiley & West on Chicago's WBEZ 91.5 FM.  I must say that the spin found in your letter is beneath you, the station you work for, and moreover the people you serve.  Say nothing of the fact that to my knowledge, at no point did you or your staff ever attempt to communicate to me any of the impressions you so freely shared in your letter to listeners.

The disregard and disrespect for my work one reads in your letter to listeners is too extreme to adequately address in this email; but when you suggest that I have become "far less inclusive" in my work, you advance a lie.  A big lie.  I'm about to celebrate 10 years on PBS and 12 years on public radio. As an African American in the still-too-lacking-in-diversity world of public media, one does not survive in these environs --- much less thrive --- if one's interview style is remotely akin to the intellectual bullying of Bill O'Reilly. To compare my work to his in your letter to listeners is to defame me in the worst way.  I take pride in being the first African American in the history of PBS and NPR to simultaneously host his own signature weekday public television and radio shows, opening the doors for other persons of color to now host or co-host award-winning programs over public media.

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