Radio Active: Tavis Smiley Launches New Network

Controversial political commentator Tavis Smiley has developed a new partnership with BlogTalkRadio.

Starting this week, the former contributor to the nationally syndicated “Tom Joyner Morning Show” will anchor a weekday show on BlogTalkRadio that will vary from 20 minutes to however long he wants to talk. He will also produce programs from other contributors under the Tavis Smiley Network.

BlogTalkRadio, which launched as a free web service seven years ago, will pay a talent fee to Smiley for his services. It’s the first time the network has done that with any host.

The 48-year-old commentator will also split any ad revenue from the show, which is BlogTalkRadio’s current model.

BlogTalkRadio has 15,000 registered contributors and attracts 18 million unique monthly visitors who listen 40 million times.

Rolonda Watts

Smiley, who hosts an evening TV series weeknights on PBS, told The New York Times that internet radio is “the wave of the future” and added “those numbers are worthy of being wrestled with.”

Smiley going digital follows the cancellation by some prominent public radio stations of his weekly one-hour talk radio show, “Smiley & West” – hosted with acclaimed professor Cornel West. Smiley blamed the cancellations to politics and his outspoken criticism of President Barack Obama.

In addition to hosting his own show on BlogTalkRadio, Smiley has tapped a half-dozen other hosts for his Tavis Smiley Network including TV host/actress Rolonda Watts, who will host a that focuses on relationships. Watts is no stranger to BlogTalkRadio, as she currently hosts “Sundays with Rolonda” for the network. She previously hosted an afternoon radio show for the all women’s network, GreenStone Media.

Smiley has also tapped author Kenneth Braswell to host a show on mentoring.

Tavis Smiley & Cornell West

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