John Tesh’s multiple career paths may seem strange to some, but they’ve always come naturally to him.

To the public, it looks like Tesh was a TV broadcaster first, then parlayed that fame into a music career as a composer and performer.

But even before Tesh became famous as host of the ground-breaking entertainment news magazine “Entertainment Tonight,” he had composed music for sporting events on CBS while working as a commentator for CBS Sports in the 1980s.

And even now as Tesh travels the country performing on his piano and selling millions of albums — he’ll be performing at South Portland Auditorium tonight — he is still broadcasting. He hosts a nationally syndicated radio show, blending soft-rock hits, factoids and tips meant to help people get through their days — he calls it “Intelligence for Your Life.”

The show is heard weeknights on 400 radio stations, including WHOM (94.9 FM) in Portland, and has an estimated 14 million listeners.

“My parents were both musicians, and so I always played music. I was in the marching band in school and all that,” said Tesh, 58, from New York City, where he is spending time this summer while his 16-year-old daughter, Prima, attends ballet school. (She was named for her grandfather, Primo, Tesh says.)

“But I was also the kid who sent away for a radio kit and was broadcasting from my basement. And as a teenager, I was in garage bands (on New York’s Long Island), so I always did both.”

Even while at “Entertainment Tonight,” Tesh was making albums and performing. But his performing career really took off after he did a PBS TV special in 1994.

Tesh’s music is often categorized as “New Age,” but he says his music is mostly a mix of various influences, including classical, rock and jazz. A lot of the music he’s written over the years was produced to be synchronized with sporting events on TV.

At his concerts, where Tesh usually plays piano, he’s backed by a band, singers and video screens. He sometimes has dancers and gymnasts on stage, too.

Like his radio shows, the dialogue of his live performance is often about life advice or tips on “how to hip hop dance,” Tesh said.

Tesh credits his wife, actress Connie Sellecca, with the idea for a radio show that gives advice and lifestyle tips. He says his wife is constantly reading books and magazines with that sort of information, and suggested a radio show could do the same thing, if not better.

Tesh was in the headlines earlier this year when gossip columms and his former employer, “Entertainment Tonight,” began reporting that a new unauthorized biography of Oprah Winfrey included details of Tesh’s romantic relationship, more than 30 years ago, with Winfrey.

Tesh said he and Winfrey had talked about the romance years ago on her show, so he has nothing to hide.

But he was offended that some bloggers and writers tried to paint him as a racist.

“Would I have gone out with her for six or eight months if I were a racist?” asked Tesh. “We were both young, starting out in TV in Nashville. Going into a restaurant together in Nashville, in 1974, we did certainly shock some people.”

Tesh said what “shocked” him about the reporting of the relationship is that his former colleague at “Entertainment Tonight,” Mary Hart, never called him for comment before airing the story.

“Mary never called me, and that sort of shocked me,” said Tesh. “Old friends turning on you is hard to take.” 

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-7324 or at: [email protected]