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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Magic Johnson is playing point again, this time as chairman of Vibe Holdings, the owner of the magazines Vibe and Uptown and the “Soul Train” TV show.
The former Los Angeles Lakers superstar said Wednesday that he and partner Ron Burkle have invested more than $10 million in the company, and are planning to make it the starter in a fledgling urban-media empire.
“This is just the beginning of what we’re going to start buying,” said 51-year-old Johnson. “We’re looking to roll up other urban-based brands up under these three. We’re out there looking for deals as we speak.”
Johnson said that the Vibe business was running at about break even following a reorganization that began in 2009.
In June 2009, the hip-hop and urban culture magazine founded in 1993 by producer Quincy Jones shut down amid a sharp decline in advertising revenue. It was bought by private equity fund InterMedia Partners, which is still an investor, and saw its assets merged with Uptown, a lifestyle magazine for affluent African-Americans, and interactive sales firm Blackrock Digital.
Vibe Holdings now represents TV shows, publications and 25 websites such as BallerStatus.com, Vibe.com and AllHipHop.com that reach 19 million people a month.
He said he plans to find a Saturday morning time slot to bring “Soul Train,” a syndicated variety show that ran from 1971 to 2006, back to TV. It is already making money from DVD box sets and on-demand orders of its 1,100 one-hour episodes.
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