Remember when there were only three networks on television? Remember when TV used to go off at night? Not the case anymore.
I remember watching BET in its early stages. At one point, MTV would not show any videos by African-American artists. BET was the only place we could see videos from such artists as Stephanie Mills or even Luther Vandross. It was only after Michael Jackson released “Thriller” and his record label applied pressure that MTV began to open the doors to other urban artists as well. (NOTE: MTV insists it made the move without such pressure.)
Today, BET has grown into a full-fledged network, which founder Bob Johnson sold a few years ago for over $3 billion dollars. It now produces its own original programming and continues to increase its viewership.
TV One has recently grown into a power player in urban programming as well. Its popular show “Unsung” has been setting records for the network since its debut nearly 4 years ago. TV One was started by Cathy Hughes, who is also the founder and chairman of Radio One, a broadcast company that owns 69 radio stations in 22 cities. Its other shows, such as “Life After” and “Love That Girl” are amongst its most popular.
Basketball great Magic Johnson is about to launch a 24-hour channel, with a focus on positive, uplifting images of African Americans. Aspire is set to debut in June. Along side BET and TV One, the basic cable outlet will offer opportunities for African Americans who have struggled to find work in mainstream Hollywood.
Meanwhile, rapper and entrepreneur Diddy is creating a music channel called Revolt, which is scheduled to launch later this year with a mixture of music and news content and will air in a 24/7 daily format. If you’re wondering if you will be able to catch it in Memphis, Comcast will more than likely carry it here. That’s gauging by talks Comcast already is engaged in to carry the channel in various other markets.
Magic’s channel and Diddy’s channel are set for launch in the wake of the debut of Oprah’s channel, OWN. However, Oprah has struggled over the past year to develop shows that have attracted a large audience.
Hopefully Magic and Diddy will take note of Oprah’s challenge and produce some quality programming that will not only give African Americans more of a choice, but will also shine light on the spending power of the African-American consumer.
Happy Birthday Ruby!
Ruby Wilson – the “queen of Beale St.” – will have a birthday celebration at B.B. King’s on February 29. The party kicks off at 7 p.m.
Throw Down Thursdays
What’s Happening Wednesdays have been changed to Throw-Down Thursdays. Everything remains the same – great food, lots of bowling, $5 drink specials and all! The only thing that changes is the night! Make plans to come out to What’s Happening Thursdays with me, Myron Mays.