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Some would say that an exclusive interview with the President of the United States, during one of the most controversial scandals to ever hit the White House, is the interview of a lifetime. Others would say interviewing Fidel Castro in the wake of unprecedented U.S. sanctions relief, or the conversation with Pope John Paul II was the most significant.
Time selected Smiley as one of America's 50 most promising young leaders. Newsweek profiled him as one of the 20 people changing how Americans get their news and dubbed him one of the nation's captains of the airwaves.
With his late-night television talk show, Tavis Smiley on PBS, and his earlier radio show The Tavis Smiley Show from NPR, Smiley was the first American ever to simultaneously host signature talk shows on both PBS and NPR. Smiley's television show continues now in its second season, and Smiley just announced the return of The Tavis Smiley Show to public radio in association with Public Radio International, PRI, coming April 29th.
Smiley, who started his career as an aide to the late Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley, also offers political commentary twice weekly on the Tom Joyner Morning Show. In addition, he has authored eight books and has his own imprint (Smiley Books) with Hay House.
Texas Southern University recently honored Smiley with the opening of The Tavis Smiley School of Communications and The Tavis Smiley Center for Professional Media Studies, making him the youngest African American to ever have a professional school and center named after him on a college or university campus. Smiley cemented his commitment to TSU with a $1million gift to the Center.
The mission of his nonprofit organization Tavis Smiley Foundation is to enlighten, encourage and empower Black youth. Tavis Smiley Presents, a subsidiary of The Smiley Group, Inc., brings ideas and people together through symposiums, seminars, forums, and town hall meetings.
Smiley has received numerous honorary doctorate degrees, including one from his alma mater, Indiana University.
One of 10 children, Smiley is single and lives in Los Angeles. In his spare time, he enjoys a good game of Scrabble with friends.