Smiley & West lands on two Chicago stations; town hall planned with Amy Goodman

By Mike Janssen

Two commercial radio stations in Chicago have picked up the weekly Smiley & West show after it was dropped from WBEZ, the city’s public radio news outlet.

WCPT, a progressive talk station, began airing the show Sunday, Nov. 4 at 3 p.m. and will add it to its three FM stations starting in January. It also picked up The Tavis Smiley Show for its weekend lineup. WVON-AM, which targets an African-American audience, will debut Smiley & West Saturday at 11 a.m.

WBEZ canceled the show hosted by author and broadcast host Tavis Smiley and activist and critic Cornel West last month, citing a drop in audience. Station President Torey Malatia also expressed concerns that the tone of the show’s political discussions may have been turning off listeners. Smiley responded that the show actively seeks out all points of view.

Thirteen stations have dropped Smiley & West since June 2011, with several citing the co-hosts’ political opinionating or complaints from listeners.

Tomorrow Smiley and West will co-host a town-hall event in Chicago with Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now!, another show whose tone of political advocacy has put off programmers at some public radio stations. Public media will be on the agenda, according to a press release from Smiley’s radio production company.

“How can people organize to ensure that public media outlets like WBEZ are responsible, representative, and responsive?” the release says. “How do we ensure that the public media treats our airwaves as the vital resource that they are?”

Smiley & West is distributed by Public Radio International.

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