Tavis Smiley said "it's unthinkable, it's untenable, it's unacceptable," that KCET execs didn't let him know that they were breaking from PBS as of Jan. 1 (Current, Oct. 18). He told the Los Angeles Times in a story today (Nov. 23) that being out of the loop when his show is produced on the lot at the L.A. station is "unconscionable."
"I literally got a phone call as KCET was making the statement publicly, as this story was breaking," he said. "I was traveling, so I wasn't even in the city. I didn't even find out about this until hours after it had been announced."
But wait, that's not all. "What has rubbed me raw for these seven years is that when we started this relationship with KCET it was supposed to be a partnership," Smiley said. "For seven years, KCET has not raised a single dime for this program. I was never supposed to be producer, host, chief marketer and fundraiser."
KCET President Al Jerome denied that Smiley wasn't informed of station negotiations with PBS. He confirmed that the station raised no money for Tavis Smiley, because its fundraising contract was for less than a year and that station officials found it difficult to work with Smiley's in-house fundraiser.
Smiley is finalizing a contract with KCET that will keep him on the lot for at least another year. He said he didn't have time to find another location. His show will be carried on KOCE in Orange County, the new market primary, in the new year.