Tavis Smiley’s nationally-syndicated The Tavis Smiley Show from Public Radio International (PRI) will celebrate its fifth anniversary Thursday, April 29, with the announcement of a scholarship in honor of its founding executive producer who died last year.
The Sheryl Flowers Scholarship at Clark Atlanta University (CAU) will be awarded to a student who plans to pursue a career in public radio broadcasting. Flowers, Smiley’s longtime executive producer died June 8, 2009, after a two-year battle with triple negative breast cancer.
Smiley will mark the anniversary by donating $25,000 to establish the scholarship at Clark Atlanta University where Flowers attended school. The school will match Smiley’s contribution for a total of $50,000.
“Sheryl’s life calling was public radio,” said Smiley. “I would not be a television host on PBS if it had not been for Sheryl’s vision and incredible insight to help us connect with public radio listeners first. I am who I am in public broadcasting, in part, because of Sheryl. Through her genius, she had a unique way of guiding and teaching others. This scholarship at Clark Atlanta University preserves her legacy.”
Flowers first teamed up with Smiley as his senior supervising producer for The Tavis Smiley Show on NPR in 2002. After three years there, Smiley departed in 2004 and partnered with PRI with Flowers as his executive producer, starting with just two radio stations on board. The show is now heard on 90 stations around the country with about one million listeners.
This fall one junior or senior student from CAU will be awarded a financial scholarship and internship at both the school’s campus radio station, WCLK 91.9 FM and with The Tavis Smiley Show from PRI in LA.
“Sheryl Flowers’ legacy is one of excellence, keen intellect, and all-around awareness of the issues that affect people and how they live their daily lives. This scholarship and internship,” said Clark Atlanta University President Carlton E. Brown, “will not only ensure that her legacy will be upheld, but allows students here at her alma mater the opportunity to stand in her footprints and, even in spirit, upon her very strong, compassionate shoulders. We are truly grateful to The Smiley Group for their benevolence and their vote of confidence in the next generation of leaders.”
The Tavis Smiley Show from PRI debuted on April 29, 2005 and is a high-energy exchange of views, information, and insights. The two-hour weekly show offers a unique blend of news and newsmakers in expanded conversations, along with feature reports and regular commentators such as Cornel West, Connie Rice, and Omar Wasow.
“All of us at PRI are honored by our partnership with Tavis and our distribution of The Tavis Smiley Show, now celebrating five years,” said PRI President and CEO Alisa Miller. “Whether on air or online, Tavis brings intellectual rigor and wide-ranging insight to public media. His show is a sterling example of how PRI content enables listeners to ‘hear a different voice.’ We look forward to expanding the partnership over the next five years and well beyond.”
A special Earth Day program airing the weekend of April 16 features U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, Van Jones, former White House advisor for Green Jobs who is now senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, and “The Roots” drummer Ahmir Khalib “Questlove” Thompson, spokesperson for the house band for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
On tap for the fifth anniversary, a special two-hour program airing the weekend of April 30, potential GOP White House candidate Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and veteran actor Ed Asner (TV’s “Lou Grant”). Additional guests include music producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis and band leader Kevin Eubanks, soon departing The Tonight Show with Jay Leno after eighteen years.