August 24, 2011 at 12:24 PM CDT - Updated June 25 at 5:38 AM
By FRAZIER MOORE AP Television Writer
NEW YORK (AP) - After several weeks in a tryout role, the Rev. Al Sharpton has officially been named host of a weeknight hour on MSNBC.
The program, now called "PoliticsNation," will air at 6 p.m. Eastern and premieres next Monday, the network announced Tuesday.
In his new role, the well-known civil rights activist and minister will lead a lively and informed discussion of the day's top headlines, MSNBC said.
Sharpton called the hosting job "a natural extension of my life work and growth."
Besides his work as a community leader and religious figure, Sharpton already hosts a nationally syndicated radio show. He was a candidate for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination that eventually went to U.S. Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts.
The 6 p.m. hour serves as an important lead-in to MSNBC's weeknight slate that includes Chris Matthews, Laurence O'Donnell, Rachel Maddow and Ed Schultz. The network has done a swift reconfiguration in prime time since the abrupt departure of its marquee host, Keith Olbermann, in January. Olbermann took his show to Current TV.
In addition to being a guest on MSNBC throughout the network's history, Sharpton has also served as an occasional guest host on several of its programs.
"I've known Rev. Sharpton for over a decade and have tremendous respect for him," said MSNBC president Phil Griffin. "I'm thrilled that he's now reached a point in his career where he's able to devote himself to hosting a nightly show."
Earlier this month, Griffin dismissed the notion that the possible hiring of Sharpton might represent a conflict of interest for the cable channel.
"He's been on MSNBC for all 15 years," MSNBC President Phil Griffin said at the time, noting Sharpton's long track record with the network.
Sharpton last year had weighed in on behalf of the Philadelphia-based Comcast Corp. as the government scrutinized the company's ultimately successful takeover of NBCUniversal. Sharpton, the head of the National Action Network civil rights group, was among minority representatives approached by Comcast executives for support. MSNBC is part of NBCUniversal.