The Los Angeles Lakers and NBA legend is still playing ball: He’s part of the Guggenheim Partners-backed group that purchased the Los Angeles Dodgers this year. But Earvin “Magic” Johnson is also prepping for a formidable slam-dunk in urban entertainment. No stranger to that arena, Johnson once hosted a short-lived late-night talk show — “The Magic Hour” — on Fox in 1998. Two years later, he launched Magic Johnson Music. A joint venture with MCA Music, the label scored several hits with R&B singer/songwriter Avant.
Fast-forward 12 years and Johnson is now rolling out his own cable channel, Aspire. Focusing on family-driven content and positive images of African-Americans, the channel went live June 27 to 7 million Comcast and Time Warner Cable homes in 16 of the top 25 African-American markets, including New York, Atlanta, Chicago and Washington, D.C. Among the personalities helming its prime-time programming blocks: Grammy Award winner Esperanza Spalding, who will host Aspire’s “Groundbreaking Music” lineup on Friday nights. Aside from TV, Magic Johnson Enterprises has an interest in Inner City Broadcasting, parent to New York urban radio institution WBLS. Also under the Johnson umbrella: Vibe magazine and the “Soul Train” franchise, whose annual awards show airs on BET’s Centric channel. – Gail Mitchell