New York – April 1, 2014
During a recent taping of the “Tavis Smiley Show”, President of Music Programming at BET, Stephen Hill finally tells it all. Hill claims the ongoing probe by the FCC, coupled with his reconnection to his new found faith in Jehovah led to this revealing interview that will air during sweeps week on NPR.
Tavis Smiley once again shows his journalistic skills in this exclusive detailed interview. Stephen Hill reveals that when he first made the switch to BET from MTV in 1999, he was instructed by Bob Johnson “to dumb the network down”. Hill knew he was brought to BET, due to the imminent sale to MTV’s parent company Viacom. The transition was easy, Hill said. “I simply copied MTV shows like TRL, Tom Green and created 106 & Park. They wanted low budget programming and I have delivered it for 15 years”.
Hill admitted to Tavis Smiley that his real problem was catering to the urban market. Hill broke down in tears and admitted that Destiny’s Child “Bills, Bills, Bills” was his all-time favorite song but ironically, it was also the beginning of his lavish life of payola. Hill said, “I knew pay-for-play was working as early as 2005. After watching D4L’s “Laffy Taffy” climb BET’S charts, he knew he could get away with almost anything.
Little did he know that former New York Attorney General Elliot Spitzer’s office planted D4L’s “Laffy Taffy” as a nationwide sting. Hill, along with over fifteen hundred programmers, took cash payments to make D4L the most paid-for song in the history of radio.
Stephen Hill admitted that both Bob Johnson and Viacom knew that BET’s core audience would fall for almost anything. Hill told Tavis Smiley that the “industry has run amuck. Pay-for-play is the rule now and I am tired of playing Kunta for the music industry”.
During the final minutes of this must-see interview, Tavis asked the Brown Alumnus, “You have three pictures on your desk: Tiger, OJ and Michael Jackson; which one of those stars are your favorite?” Hear the answer and more when Tavis Smiley interviews Stephen Hill, President of Programming on April 4th, on PBS.
Kelly Hudlin is a freelance writer, from Chicago, best known for his short film “I Saw It, I Seen It, Then I Did It”.
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