December 5, 2004

REACH OUT AND TOUCH SOMEBODY'S BASE:

10 Questions For Tavis Smiley (CHRISTOPHER JOHN FARLEY, 12/13/04, TIME)

The host of National Public Radio's three-year-old Tavis Smiley Show said last week that he will be quitting on Dec. 16, criticizing NPR for not doing enough to reach minority listeners. In his first interview since his announcement, Smiley, 40, whose show drew nearly 900,000 listeners a week but alienated some longtime subscribers, spoke to TIME's Christopher John Farley. [...]

IS IT TRUE YOU GOT ANGRY LETTERS FROM LISTENERS WHEN YOU STARTED AT NPR?

I can't begin to tell you the hate mail that I received when I started three years ago. I remember one listener emailing me to complain that my laughter was too boisterous. They didn't like the way I talked, the way I sounded. Because my whole style was so antithetical to what the traditional NPR listener had been accustomed to. And they really didn't like the substance of what I was talking about, initially. But they came to appreciate it.

WHAT'S MORE DIVERSE THESE DAYS — NPR OR PRESIDENT BUSH'S CABINET?

Bush's Cabinet. It is ironic that a Republican President has an Administration that is more inclusive and more diverse than a so-called liberal-media-elite network.

BUT DO BUSH'S MINORITY SELECTIONS REFLECT THE VALUES OF THE COMMUNITIES FROM WHICH THEY COME?

There is a distinction between symbolism and substance — Zora Neale Hurston once said, "All my skinfolk ain't my kinfolk." But whether one likes or loathes the people Bush has chosen to be part of his Administration, he is reaching out.


Good to see he also acknowledge's NPR's liberal bias.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 5, 2004 10:41 PM
Comments

Ira Glass once likened the NPR broadcasting style to Kabuki theatre, a stylized, methodical, over-rehearsed ritual.

You must talk in the calmest of voices, as if you've been given sodium pentathol (this is my take, not Glass'). The calmness and slowness is supposed to connote authority and objectivity, I guess, as if excitement and energy are a sign of personal passion and bias. SNL did a send-up on the style several years ago with a pretend-NPR weekly show about rice.

Posted by: at December 6, 2004 12:16 AM

Sorry, that was me. Every time I go to the site with a new Firefox window, it forgets my info.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at December 6, 2004 12:17 AM

Do the Remember personal info checkbox.

Posted by: Ali Choudhury at December 6, 2004 2:47 AM

Man, you got that one right Robert. I read somewhere NPR was trying to distinguish itself from the 'Morning Zoo Crew' approach used by the FM rock stations, but they have clearly taken it too far.

Posted by: Bruce Cleaver at December 6, 2004 6:07 AM

I like most NPR shows for the quality of the production and the fact that they devote several minutes to a story and more often than not a lot of their stories are interesting; however, I think they take it too far. Don't even get me started about how liberal, smug and arrogant it is.

I also am astonished how nobody else has attempted to do something better than NPR. It can be done and it isn't too hard.

Posted by: pchuck at December 6, 2004 9:43 AM

Ali, I do that, but for some reason it resets itself. But I do notice that if I click on the text entry boxes, it pops up my information in a selection list box. Something quirky about Firefox, or maybe its the cookies setting.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at December 6, 2004 10:49 AM

Tavis should research Zora more, that quote was in reference to her long-standing belief that color don't mean sh!t

Posted by: Scof at December 6, 2004 2:05 PM
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