Prolific author and veteran talk media purveyor of current events with a focus on African American perspectives, Tavis Smiley, was honored by the TALKERS editorial board at the TALKERS 2023 conference as the 2023 recipient of the highly prestigious Gene Burns Memorial Award for Freedom of Speech. (The presentation was sponsored by The Todd Starnes Show) The award is presented each year to a talk media practitioner whose work sets an example for the exercise and preservation of the First Amendment. Smiley, who has hosted shows on a diverse array of platforms such as BET, CNN, ABC, PBS, KABC Radio, and KGFJ Radio among others, joins such former recipients of the award as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’ Reilly, Mark Levin, Michael Savage, Glenn Beck, Bob Grant, Thom Hartmann, Alan Colmes, Joe Madison, Karen Hunter, Al Franken, Brian Lamb, Norm Pattiz, Ian Freeman and others dating back to the origins of TALKERS in the late 1980s. Some two years ago, Smiley’s media company acquired an AM radio station in Los Angeles, the former hip hop legend KDAY, and transformed it into a new station and format – KBLA Talk 1580 – where he’s assembled an outstanding on-air staff, including himself, with the passionate mission of, as he puts it, “unapologetically serving people of color and who are politically progressive.” In making the announcement of this year’s recipient, TALKERS founder Michael Harrison states, “This is our longest-running and most-important award. Mr. Smiley has risen to the enormous talk radio challenge of providing underserved African Americans and progressives with a major commercial platform in the nation’s second largest market with a worldwide reach. In today’s political environment and struggling AM radio industry, it doesn’t get any more ‘First Amendment’ than that.” Tavis Smiley was presented the award by Harrison at TALKERS 2023 on Friday, June 2 at Hofstra University on Long Island. See the presentation and Smiley’s acceptance speech here.