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Issa Rae, Malinda Williams Will Co-Host New ASPiRE Talkshow Modeled After ‘The View’

Issa Rae, Malinda Williams Will Co-Host New ASPiRE Talkshow Modeled After 'The View'

ASPiRE, the new television network from Magic Johnson Enterprises that promised, at the time of its launch, an “entertaining and inspiring mix of original and groundbreaking programming,” with the likes of Laurence FishburneOmari HardwickEsperanza Spalding and Jonathan Slocumb set to host prime-time series blocks focused on movies, comedy, original series, and music, has has greenlit it first talkshow, according to Variety.

Titled Exhale, the new network’s entry into the talkshow space is said to be similar to The View, and will be hosted by 5 African American women in media: journalist Angela Burt-Murray, actress and comedian Erin Jackson, Issa Rae (you know her! Go Issa Rae!!), author and TV anchor Rene Syler, and actress Malinda Williams.

Content will include conversation on the usual topics – family, relationships, career, money and faith.

Exhale, which is ASPiRE’s 3rd original series, will be produced by Lynne Robinson and Black Robin Media

Shooting has already begun for what will be an 8-episode first run set to debut in June. 

We are thrilled to add ‘Exhale’ to our lineup of original programming,” said the ASPiRE GM Paul Butler. “This fresh, hip and candid new series will enlighten audiences with its broad range of topics relevant to the community.” 

The report doesn’t say, but I’m assuming this will be a daytime talkshow, not primetime. If daytime, it’ll be entering a crowded market, with at least 3 of them hosted by black entertainers. But its summer debut is wise, when most shows are on break until the fall.

When I know more, so will you.

ASPiRE, launched in June 2012, was selected by Comcast from among over 100 candidates as one of four new minority-owned independent networks, and expectations are that the new network will be available in 20 to 30 million homes by the end of this year.

As a Brooklyn-based Cablevision subscriber, I don’t get ASPiRE, so I haven’t seen any of its current programming to offer any useful commentary. But if you get the network, thoughts on it thus far?

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In short, it's been a year and I have gone from excited to dissapointed to a little frustrated with Magic Johnson. First, I was overjoyed to hear about what Magic was going to do with the Aspire channel. Then after watching for about 8 months I was dissapointed in the real weak programming. At the same time I was watching Bounce TV and there was a clear difference in quality. Both have wholesome TV, but Bounce delivers way more shows and variety. Don't know if they have better staff that make decisions on what is put out there or more money, I just don't know. But it is clear if you can only watch one it would be Bounce every time.

I became a little frustrated the last couple of months because I was looking forward to better original programs and when I watched Exhale I was not impressed. As a woman I want to see women talking about these topics, but the shows are slow and forced. Magic said this would be a different network, but so far I don't see it. I agree with the one statement, it's like whatever black folks.


I had Aspire–recently cut the cord on Comcast–and I tuned in a couple of times to the short film showcase. Omari Hardwick's hosting was wooden, and there were a few interesting films. I would've tuned in more often to the showcase if they would have given some idea in the listings of what I was going to see, or arranged the showcase around a theme. They seemed to also show some retrospectives on black film and jazz legends' work, but I never tuned in to those. They're trying, and I'm glad to hear that they are getting some original programs.


I live in a rural part of Florida, and Dish or DirecTV is my only source of Cable. I have Dish, but to receive Aspire… I will have to upgrade to a more expensive package, which is what I did to receive BET. We have 2-3 channels dedicated to black folks, and you would think it would be part of the basic package, but nope.

as a Time Warner Cable subscriber in North Carolina, i do get ASPiRE. and what i done seen on there so far leaves a lot to be desired. like FactChecker done said: its "Nothing but 40-year-old reruns of black shows…" our parents & grandparents grew up watching. but only time gon tell where Johnson plan on going with the channel tho.


Nice move Aspire! The current network runs movies from the '70s and more recent original short films.

Congrats to Rene Syler, especially after the way that CBS treated her.

Marrio Thomas

I have visited Aspire in Atlanta, and I love that we have new networks trying to come up and in. Aspire has some talented people working there and I wish them all the luck. I have submitted some material for a show so I am hoping to get my foot in the door! Love it!


I have Comcast and it's not available on my system. Additionally, it's a "pay" channel, like OWN was on several systems before it got smart and removed that "block," because no one in their right mind is going to pay for "D-List" programming, which is what this is.

Nothing but 40-year-old reruns of black shows. There's nothing new or "aspirational" about ASPIRE. Like OWN, Bounce, BET, and TV One (although they're trying harder than most) there is NO original, scripted programming, and they clearly jumped too soon into the TV entertainment business. …

Which is odd, and interesting, at the same time given Johnson's background and reputation as a businessman. Funny, when he's doing big time business that involves whites as consumers, he's on point. But when it involves blacks, it's, like "whatever."

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