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In 1985, Chicago-based Tribune Entertainment (WGN's syndication wing) took over Soul Train's syndication contract; the series would continue distribution through Tribune for the rest of its original run.
Most of the stations that aired Soul Train during the final 13 years were either Fox affiliates or independent stations that would later become WB or UPN affiliates.
Don Cornelius ended his run as host at the end of the show's 22nd season in 1993, though he remained the show's main creative force from behind the scenes.
The following fall, Soul Train began using guest hosts weekly until comedian Mystro Clark began a two-year stint as permanent host in 1997. In 2003, Moore was succeeded by actor Dorian Gregory, who hosted through 2006.
By the end of the first season, Soul Train was on in the other eighteen markets.
At the time, there were no other commercial television programs being produced by black people for a black audience; the only nationally available show by blacks for blacks at the time was the public television series Soul!
However, by the start of the 2008–09 television season, the Tribune Broadcasting-owned stations (including national carrier WGN America) that had been the linchpin of the show's syndication efforts dropped the program, and many others followed suit.The program's immediate success attracted the attention of another locally based firm—the Johnson Products Company (manufacturers of the Afro Sheen line of hair-care products)—and they later agreed to co-sponsor the program's expansion into national syndication.Cornelius and Soul Trains syndicator targeted 25 markets outside of Chicago to carry the show, but stations in only seven other cities—Atlanta, Birmingham, Cleveland, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia—purchased the program, which began airing on a weekly basis on October 2, 1971.When the program moved into syndication, its home base was also shifted to Los Angeles, where it remained for the duration of its run.
Soul Train was part of a national trend toward syndicated music-oriented programs targeted at niche audiences; two other network series (Hee Haw for country music, and The Lawrence Welk Show for traditional music) also entered syndication in 1971 and would go on to have long runs.Soul Train pulled into its last stop when production of first-run episodes was suspended at the conclusion of the 2005–06 season, the show's 35th.