Tavis Smiley Is Sticking With Los Angeles

Despite signing a deal to make New York’s PBS affiliate WNET the co-production partner for his nightly talkshow–instead of LA’s newly minted primary PBS affiliate PBS SoCal–Tavis Smiley unequivocally put to rest any rumors of an impending move to New York.

“LA is home,” Smiley tells Fishbowl LA. “I expect to be there. We take pride in being based in LA…Smart television is not a wholly owned subsidiary of the Eastern seaboard. Ours was the first PBS show broadcast live, west of the Mississippi. My staff and I like the distinction broadcasting from Los Angeles gives us.”

Smiley says he’s been speaking with PBS SoCal, formerly KOCE, president Mel Rogers on a fairly regularly basis since the station overnight became PBS’ primary affiliate in Southern California, with the departure of Smiley’s old station KCET from the PBS umbrella.

“They have so much on their plate right now. To go overnight to being Southern California’s primary PBS affiliate. Imagine what they’re up against. Mel has more programming requests then he has real estate. So when I told them about the WNET deal, they were more than happy not to have to eat the cost of my program. And I have the wonderful opportunity to partner with the grand-daddy of the PBS network. So it works out for both of us.”

Though he will continue to make LA his primary base of operation into the foreseeable future, Smiley says that taping more shows out of New York isn’t out of the question.

“WNET has a beautiful, newly built facility in Lincoln Center, and we plan to take advantage of those studios when the opportunity presents itself.”