John L. Hanson Jr.

Host, Producer, In Black America

John L. Hanson is the producer and host of the nationally syndicated radio series In Black America. It’s heard on home station KUT Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m., as well as weekly on close to 20 stations across the country. The weekly podcast of IBA, the only nationally broadcast black-oriented public affairs radio program, is one of KUT’s most popular podcasts.

Hanson’s love of radio started 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-Tillotson 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. Eventually he was hired by KUT radio in 1974 where 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. 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. He soon created 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 there, Hanson was promoted to the producer of In Black America after its previous host left the city in 1980.

Since that time, Hanson has served many roles at KUT, including being the station’s interim GM on two occasions. He retired from KUT in 2011 but has continued to work on IBA and host the Old School Dance Party on sister station KUTX 98.9 Friday afternoons from 4-7 p.m. Hanson is married to the former Latischa M. Merritt; he has two children, Kacey and Michael.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Dr. E. James West, the Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in American History at Northumbria University and author of Ebony Magazine and Lerone Bennett Jr: Popular Black History in Postwar America

First published in November 1945, Ebony magazine was politically and socially influential. However, the magazine also played an important role in educating millions of African Americans about their past. 

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Shaundell Newsome, co-chair of Small Business for America’s Future and visionary and founder of Sumnu Marketing.

At the time of this production, officials in all 50 states had given businesses the green light to reopen under certain restrictions, yet the road to recovery for small businesses was steep. 

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. concludes his tribute to the Honorable John Robert Lewis, who represented Georgia’s 5th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives. Lewis died July 17, 2020. He was 80 years old.

Lewis was first elected to Congress in 1986 and served 17 terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. Because of his length of service, he became the dean of the Georgia congressional delegation.

In Black America spoke with Lewis in the Spring of 2005.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. presents a tribute to the Honorable John Robert Lewis, who served in the U.S House of Representatives for Georgia’s 5th congressional district. Lewis died July 17, 2020. He was 80 years old.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Cathy Hughes, founder and chairperson of Urban One, Inc., the largest African-American-owned and operated media company in America.

Hughes began her broadcasting career in her hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, at KOWH (AM), a station owned by a group of African-American professionals.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Cathy Hughes, founder and chairperson of Urban One, Inc., the largest African American-owned and operated media company in America. 

Hughes began her broadcasting career in her hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, at KOWH (AM), a station owned by a group of African-American professionals.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Leslie ‘Les’ Payne, former associate managing editor at Newsday, co-founder and past president of the National Association of Black Journalists and a Pulitzer Prize winner. Payne died on March 29, 2018. He was 76.

In 1975, he helped establish the National Association of Black Journalists and served as the fourth president of the organization.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Dr. Rebecca S. Etz, an associate professor of family medicine and population health at Virginia Commonwealth University and co-director of the Larry A. Green Center; and Christine Bechtel, a patient advocate and co-founder of X4 Health

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Dyana Williams, a member of the board of directors for the National Museum of African American Music and co-originator and co-founder of Black Music Month.

This past June we celebrated the 41st anniversary of African American Music Appreciation Month. 

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Earl G. Graves, Sr.,  founder of Black Enterprise magazine. Graves died on April 6. He was 85.

Founded in 1970, Black Enterprise covered African-American entrepreneurship and provided its readers with business strategies.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Dan C. Goldberg, a health care reporter with Politico and author of The Golden 13: How Black Men Won The Right To Wear Navy Gold

Through oral histories and original interviews with surviving family members, Goldberg brings to life 13 forgotten heroes. He reveals the opposition these men faced: the racist pseudo-science, the regular condescension, the repeated epithets, the verbal abuse and even violence.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Dr. Steve Perry, noted educator, founder and head of Capital Preparatory Schools. Perry is the voice of a generation, a people's champion who has been fighting for disadvantaged children and families for 30 years.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Michael I. Meyerson, the DLA Piper professor of law and director of the Fannie Angelos Program for Academic Excellence at the University of Baltimore School of Law. This program represents a revolutionary and comprehensive approach for addressing the lack of diversity in legal education and the legal profession.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Erika Rickard, director of civil legal modernization at the PEW Charitable Trusts. From 1993 to 2013, the number of debt claims filed in civil courts across this country increased to the point where it became the single largest share of civil court business over that period, particularly as people used civil courts less for other issues. 

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Cheryl Grace, senior vice president of strategic community alliances and consumer engagement at Nielsen. According to Nielsen, African-American consumers make up $1.3 trillion in annual buying power.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Howard Bryant, ESPN senior writer, NPR’s Weekend Edition contributor and author of Full Dissidence: Notes From an Uneven Playing Field. Whether the issues are protests, labor, patriotism, or class division, it’s clear that professional sports are no longer simply fun and games.

In his book, Bryant talks about the player-owner relationship, the militarization of sports, the myth of integration and the erasure of African-American identity as a condition of success.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Michael and Pele Bennett. Michael is a professional football player, Super Bowl Champion, activist, author and co-host of the podcast Mouthpeace. Pele is a food advocate, a skilled Polynesian dancer, co-founder of the Bennett Foundation and co-host of Mouthpeace.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Charles Whitaker, the newly appointed dean of the Medill School of Journalism, Media, and Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University.

Whitaker talks about his new appointment, working for Ebony magazine, why Medill is a leader in journalism education and the lack of people of color in newsroom management.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. revisits a conversation with Dr. Robert F. Jefferson Jr., associate professor of history at the University of New Mexico and author of Brothers in Valor: Battlefield Stories of the 89 African Americans Awarded the Medal of Honor.

Brothers in Valor is a history lesson on 89 men who were awarded the nation’s highest military award, the Congressional Medal of Honor.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. presents an encore discussion with Dr. Albert D. Chester, owner of New Town Pharmacy and founder and director of Capstone Institute, both located in Jacksonville, Fla.

Chester talks about training future health care workers, opening a pharmacy in the neighborhood his grandfather grew up in, and being the primary resource for all health care needs.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. presents an encore conversation with Selena Sage, publisher, inspirational speaker and author of Get Free: 7 Simple Steps to Free Your Mind & Live Your Dreams.

Born and raised in Austin, Sage graduated from the LBJ Science Academy (now LASA), and then went on to graduate from Northwestern University's Honors Program of Engineering and Management, with degrees in industrial engineering and business.

On this archived edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with the late Ron Banks. The singer was a founding member of the Detroit vocal group The Dramatics, which formed in the mid-1960s and continued to play for avid audiences around the country for years.

Banks talks about growing up in Detroit, not signing with Motown Records, forming the soul group and what distinguishes them from other male vocal groups, and wanting to be a professional baseball player.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. presents an encore conversation with Corey Minor Smith, attorney; former Canton, Ohio, City Council member; motivational speaker; and author of #Driven.

Minor Smith talks candidly about her childhood, her path to becoming an attorney and how her family's struggles with mental illness inspired her to become a motivational speaker.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. presents a rebroadcast of a conversation with Robert Townsend, comedian, actor, film director/producer, writer and former cable network programming CEO. His projects include Hollywood Shuffle, The Meteor Man and The Five Heartbeats.

Townsend talks about growing up in Chicago, being an independent filmmaker, his first big movie break, working with Eddie Murphy and why he believes The Five Heartbeats is a classic film.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Dr. Laura W. Cheever, MD, a physician and the associate administrator for the HIV/AIDS Bureau of the Health Resources and Services Administration.

On Feb. 7, we commemorated the annual observance of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. presents highlights of the 15th Annual Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. Salute To Excellence Awards presented by the Fritz Pollard Alliance Foundation held during Super Bowl LIV week.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. presents a panel discussion on the legacy and impact of historically black colleges and universities football. Featured on the program are former Miami Dolphins Larry Little and De’Lance Turner; Arthur McAfee, NFL senior vice president of player engagement; and Dr. Derrick E. White, associate professor of history and African American and Africana studies at the University of Kentucky. 

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Dr. Derrick E. White, associate professor of history and African American and Africana studies at the University of Kentucky and author of Blood, Sweat and Tears: Jake Gaither, Florida A&M, and the History of Black College Football

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. concludes his conversation with Regina E. Mason, international speaker, executive producer and author of The Life of William Grimes, the Runaway Slave, published by Oxford University Press, and Sean Durant, the producer/director of Gina’s Journey: The Search for William Grimes.

The Life of William Grimes, the Runaway Slave is the first fugitive slave narrative in American history. 

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Regina E. Mason, international speaker, executive producer and author of The Life of William Grimes, the Runaway Slave, published by Oxford University Press, and Sean Durant, the producer and director of Gina’s Journey: The Search for William Grimes.

The Life of William Grimes, the Runaway Slave is the first fugitive slave narrative in American history. 

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