Roland Martin’s popular news show has been cancelled

The talk show, specifically aimed at Black viewers, will air its final episode on December 21.

Roland Martin at the 2017 American Black Film Festival on Saturday, June 17, 2017, in Miami Beach, Florida. (CREDIT: Photo by Donald Traill/Invision/AP)
Roland Martin at the 2017 American Black Film Festival on Saturday, June 17, 2017, in Miami Beach, Florida. (CREDIT: Photo by Donald Traill/Invision/AP)

Roland Martin’s News One Now, which stands alone as the only early-morning political news talk show aimed specifically at Black viewers, is being cancelled later this month.

Martin, a prolific social media user, confirmed the news in a tweet Wednesday night, telling followers that “the sad news is true” and that the final live show would air on December 21.

Martin’s show was unique in large measure because of the host’s outsized personality and reputation for putting Black people and issues at the top of his journalistic efforts. By unashamedly promoting issues that he perceived of interest to African-American news junkies, Martin attracted a strong and loyal following to his show — and himself.

His larger than life personality, which he burnished in nearly all forms of media, persuaded officials at the Black-owned TV One cable operation to hire Martin in 2013 to host its first live, one-hour, weekday morning news show.  The show was an immediate hit among Black viewers, expanding in September to two hours of live cable broadcasting.

But the show’s following among Black viewers never mounted a competitive threat in the ratings game against the more popular morning shows such as MSNBC’s Morning Joe and long-established network rating behemoths like NBC’s Today, CBS’s This Morning, and ABC’s Good Morning America.

In a memo issued to its staff this week, TV One’s interim general manager, Michelle Rice, said budget constraints had forced the program’s shuttering.

“After four years of award-winning programming and distinguished service to our viewers as the only Black daily newscast on television, the network has made the difficult decision to suspend the production of NewsOne Now as a daily morning news show,” Rice’s memo stated.

Rice hinted that Martin would continue to have a presence at the cable news channel. “While we will continue our long-standing partnership with Roland Martin to ensure his important voice can be heard across all Urban One platforms examining issues of importance to the Black community, we regret this decision adversely affects several of our valued colleagues whose positions will be eliminated with the suspension of the show,” she wrote.

In a text message to ThinkProgress, Martin declined to comment about the show’s closing, pointing to his appearance on Thursday morning’s show and his social media comments and noting it was all he cared to say at the moment.

According to reports published in The New York Post’s “Page Six” column, Martin and his staff were surprised by the decision. 

“They called a meeting on Wednesday and told the staff they were canceling the show. They’re having significant financial problems and they have to scale back,” a source told the newspaper.

They added, “There were lots of tears … The staff was completely caught off guard.”