Tavis Smiley is making his return to radio, but this time the veteran radio and TV talker is jumping into ownership. Smiley has signed a deal to buy KBLA Los Angeles (1580) from Multicultural Radio Broadcasting. The sale – valued at $7.15 million – will usher a new talk format into the market. Smiley will position KBLA as “unapologetically progressive” according to its website.
KBLA has 50,000-watts day and night with a signal that stretches from Thousand Oaks to San Clemente. It is currently airing ethnic brokered programming. The station shares tower space with Multicultural’s KYPA (1230) and, according to the filing, Smiley will pay the seller $10,000 per month to not only remain on the tower but to also rent studio and office space. The deal also includes an eight-year non-compete agreement in which Multicultural pledges it will not help any other broadcaster with an urban format in the Los Angeles market.
Smiley lives in Los Angeles and his move into radio does not appear to be part of a national radio plan, but rather a take-it-slow step onto the Southern California airwaves.
Smiley came to national attention on radio when in 1996 he became a frequent commentator on the “Tom Joyner Morning Show.” BET took notice and he landed a television talk show that ran from 1996 to 2001. Smiley then returned to radio where he hosted “The Tavis Smiley Show” on NPR until 2004. In 2005 he teamed up with Public Radio International to host a new weekly radio show. He remained at PRI until 2017 when the network cancelled its agreement with Tavis Smiley Productions after what it said were “troubling allegations” of workplace misconduct at his nightly PBS television talk show. Smiley has steadfastly maintained his innocence while also speaking out in favor of the #MeToo movement.
Once the sale closes, Multicultural Radio Broadcasting will still own adult standards/ethnic KALI-FM (106.3), ethnic KMRB (1430), ethnic “Radio Chinese” KAZN/KAHZ (1300/1600) and ethnic KALI (900) in the Los Angeles market.
The sale of KBLA was brokered by Patrick Communications.