John Hanson, Producer and host of the nationally syndicated radio series IN BLACK AMERICA will be the moderator of a discussion at the Carver Library in Austin prior to the PBS Broadcast of the Tavis Smiley All-American Presidential Watch Forums with the GOP Candidates.
Here is his bio…
If you’re someone who has gained stardom and/or success in the fields of business, sports, entertainment, banking, teaching, religious leadership or politics, you have probably already met John Hanson. If you are on your way to the top of your chosen career ladder, you need to meet him. If he hasn’t heard about your success yet, he will soon. He is the widely respected producer and host of the nationally syndicated radio series IN BLACK AMERICA.
John Hanson, who is currently the Executive Producer of the Longhorn Radio Network and Administrative Services Officer at the University of Texas at Austin, has overseen the production and distribution of his own series as well as twenty or so others for the past seventeen years, and has produced INBLACK AMERICA since 1980. In its ten years, IN BLACK AMERICA has attained an enormous audience which includes the larger radio markets in the U.S. (Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, New York) as well as smaller and rural areas whose listeners get little else in the way of what’s happening in the worldwide black community. Currently IN BLACK AMERICA enjoys the status of being the only nationally broadcast black-oriented public affairs radio program, heard weekly on 53 radio stations nationwide.
Hanson’s commitment to radio as his chosen ladder was made in his hometown, Detroit, as a teenager. He began as a music programmer and youth reporter for the student station in his school. Upon his high school graduation, he traveled to Austin, Texas, to attend Huston-Tilotson College, and landed a DJ slot at a small, low wattage station in nearby Lockhart where he offered a popular nightly program of jazz and soul music. The commuting from Austin weighed heavily on Hanson after graduation, so he began seeking employment at the various radio stations in the Austin area. His particular goal was to get hired at the public radio station at UT/Austin, where he felt his special mix of radio entertainment, which includes music, news and motivational pieces, might be more welcome. After many attempts and rejections, Hanson’s diligence was rewarded, and he was hired by KUT radio in 1974. His first assignment was to produce a nightly program called “soul on FM” which became an immediate success and ultimately earned him recognition as “Best DJ in Texas” by Texas Monthly magazine in 1976.
In 1977, Hanson received a Minority Training Grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which he used to learn the ropes for setting up a public affairs program for KUT, the NPR affiliate licensed to UT/Austin. Upon his return from the CPB workshops, Hanson turned his attention to improving and increasing information about the black community, which was not effectively reaching the local media outlets. Additionally, he sought to provide a venue for leaders and organizers whose issues and activities deserved wider exposure. This was accomplished via his implementation of “ACCESS”, a weekly, live, phone-in program on KUT, which allowed experts in various fields and endeavors to address the public about their intended impact on the Austin community. From that rung on his ladder, Hanson was promoted to the producer of IN BLACK AMERICA after its previous host left the city in 1980.
At the outset of his work as host of IN BLACK AMERICA, Hanson set his sights on national and international leaders and rising stars in all areas of life affecting black Americans. Rather than waiting for newsmakers to come to Austin to be interviewed, he dusted off his briefcase and recording equipment and hit the road, seeking out the best and brightest, interviewing such people as Lena Horne, Andrew Young, Joseph Lowery, Coretta Scott King, Bill Cosby, Arthur Ashe, Dr. Maulana Karenga, Les Payne, Dr. Benjamin Carson, MD, Tony Brown and Joe Sample.
“Meeting the stars and the bigwigs is fun, sure, but the best part of his job is being able to keep my hand on the pulse of black America. The only drawback is that I only have two hands.” Hanson says in his typically understated assessment of the impact made by his program. “I try not to always focus on those who are in the headlines, adding “the programs I get the most mail about with the most positive responses are the interviews I do with some of the lesser known leaders of our era.”
This group includes publisher Earl Graves of Black Enterprise magazine; Dr. Edith M. Jones, immediate past president of the National medical Association; Ms. Marian Barnes, director of the National Association of Black Storytellers; Ms. Chaney Allen, author of I’m Black and Sober; Brother Mateen Baaith, ex-convict and director of Over the Hill, Inc., an organization to assist ex-offenders, and Frank Mingo, president and CEO of Mingo-Advertising Agency, Inc.
Hanson says he arranges interviews with people he’s heard about and from conversations with friends and business associates, as well as from the hundreds of journals, magazines and newspapers he reads regularly. Victor Salupo, author of The BS Syndrome, wrote to Hanson recently, after his IN BLACK AMERICA interview was aired. His letter states:
“John, your program has an unbelievable impact. We had over 150 phone calls for the book! When the deluge of calls began to hit my desk, it took me a while to put two and two together to realize it was your program on the radio that prompted the widespread reaction, and I wanted you to know the power of your program.”
That power has been exercised repeatedly over the years in which Hanson has provided a forum for black America to educate and be educated by each other, capitalizing on his primary strength as a journalist, which is to emphasize his subject’s point of view rather than his own. No superstar, and certainly no rising star, can ask more of a journalist than to stand out as a good listener during a conversation. Hanson is, indeed, just that.
IN BLACK AMERICA reaches every segment of our society in which your specific strengths will be promoted, and Hanson is the one to rely on to project the most positive image to the broadest possible audience. When you get a message from John Hanson at the Longhorn Radio Network, take the time to return his call. It can lead you into the large, respected circle of those whose names and ambitions have reached the hearts and minds of those in the know IN BLACK AMERICA.
Hanson is married to the former Latischa M. Merritt; he has two children, Kacey and Michael.