Hermene Hartman, N’DIGO Studio Present New PBS TV Series Airing Nationwide

Hermene Hartman’s 12-part series debuts today on WTTW and on PBS stations nationwide with “Jesse Jackson Matters.”

Interviews with Hermene Hartman are insightful and engaging.  

She is a distinguished media pioneer having founded NDIGO, an alternative newspaper for the urbane, in Chicago. Hartman thought it was time for new news. Discussions will make you cry, think twice reflect, and cheer. In the interview style of John Callaway and Charlie Rose, Hermene asks important and often never-asked questions about contemporary issues.  

Hermene’s NDIGO STUDIO and producer Eric Hammond have spent more than two years assembling a 12-part television series for Public Broadcasting Stations (PBS). The programs are airing on the PBS network in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Orlando, Charlotte, Portland, Salt Lake City, Greenville, Columbia, Charleston, Savannah, and Myrtle Beach.    

“I am excited to be sharing with a national and local audience, a showcase of Black intelligentsia having meaningful discussions that bring forth insight and viewpoints that for too long, have been overlooked, ignored, and missed,” said host Hermene Hartman, multiple Emmy Award nominee for best interview/discussion content. “This is also an opportunity for Chicago to shine as a world-class city.” 

Hermene’s career began as a student in the Civil Rights Movement. Today she continues fighting for justice and media equity by revealing the untold stories of people who have been inspired by Rev. Martin Luther King and dedicated their lives to social and economic justice, and are making a difference, every day.

Here’s the lineup. All programs are airing on WTTW Prime, every Friday from April 12-June 28, at 5 pm, and in various PBS markets.  

April 12: “Jesse Jackson Matters”

Hermene hosts an exclusive in-depth interview with David Masciotra, author of “Why Jesse Jackson Matters.” Michael Dyson calls Masciotra: “One of the most brilliant cultural critics and graceful writers I know.”  Hermene and Masciotra discuss Jackson’s contributions to the Democratic Party, how he revolutionized modern politics, and paved the way for Barack Obama’s historic rise to the presidency. An outspoken civil rights leader and two-time presidential candidate, Jackson is a major figure in empowering black Americans to be heard and recognized on the national stage. Jackson is also interviewed on his work as a civil rights leader and his role on the world stage advocating for social and economic justice.

April 19: Policy Kings

Hermene talks with documentary filmmaker Harriet Marin Jones about her latest film about her grandfather, Edward Jones, who during the Depression was the richest Black man in in the U.S. Hermene and Marin Jones’ conversation explores the untold folklore of how Jones took a numbers game and turned it into a major enterprise. The game of policy would eventually become what is known today as the “Lottery.”

April 26: Dream Fridge

Hermene introduces viewers to Dion Dawson, a Navy veteran from Chicago’s South Side, and his Dream Fridge. Dion has dedicated his life to eliminating hunger by opening his Dream Fridge, the refrigerator he uses to store 300 pounds of fresh food that he gives away daily to the Englewood community. It’s a story of social entrepreneurship and how one man made a difference in a community. This is an in-depth interview about eradicating food insecurity in America.

May 3: Supreme Models

Hermene explores the life of Marcellas Reynolds, the first openly gay man to appear on a major network reality TV series who got a “break” as a model in Chicago before his career took him to Europe. Hermene delves into his incredible personal life for an intimate and engaging conversation. Marcellas is also an actor, documentarian, and author of “Supreme Models” which is the first book and documentary of its kind to talk about Black models and their impact on the fashion industry. It’s a true celebration of Black beauty.

May 10: Dream Catchers

Hermene is moved to tears as Brenda Myers-Powell shares her compelling story on how she moved from street prostitution to Dreamcatchers, someone who today roams the streets to save young women from human trafficking. This is a story of how young women are lured into prostitution and how Powell has transformed their lives. It’s a story of transition, testimony, and resilience.

May 17: Gen Z Studio 

Hermene speaks with three Gen Z women to discuss their career goals, and how they see themselves navigating the world of adulthood. In this candid discussion, each young woman shares their unique experiences and perspectives on topics such as social media, politics, and family. The open and honest conversation sheds light on topics that will continue to shape their lives long after graduation.

May 24: Stopping the Game

What does it mean to stop the game? In this episode, Hermene chats with champions — Dr. Lloyd Walton, one of three former basketball players to earn a doctorate after time on the hardwood – and Craig Hodges, a former Chicago Bull and one of the best three-point shooters of his day. These former NBA greats discuss what it means to disrupt the game because of social injustices and illustrate what champion activists look like.

May 31: Rebranding the Brand

Hermene sits down with Desiree Rodgers and Cheryl McKissick to discuss how they took legendary makeup brands for Black women to a new level. They revitalized the brands of Fashion Fair and Black Opal by changing the image and rekindling interest among beauty enthusiasts for women of color. How these two enterprising women brought new life to old brands is a remarkable story about a remarkable business journey.

June 7: Black Images

Hermene interviews experts on the Black image that has been filled with stereotypes. Angela Ford, archivist, Dorothy R. Leavell, newspaper publisher, and talk show host Darryl Dennard will share what popular culture Black images look like on the runway and on the cover of fashion magazines. They delve into the questions: “Is it Real?” Or “Just another Stereotype?”

June 14: Dating and Marriage

Hermene explores the meaning of modern romance and what does it take to have a successful relationship. She talks with experts about the modern dating landscape and the dating apps people use, like Tinder and Bumble.

June 21: Black Harvest

Black Harvest is a platform that celebrates and showcases Black filmmakers, directors, producers, actors, and other creatives in the motion picture industry. They highlight emerging talent and recognize the accomplishments of “celluloid heroes,” those who have created an impactful legacy. This is the place where new talent emerges to celebrate and explore American experiences and recognize the African Diaspora.

June 28: House Museums

Hermene presents two ladies who are transforming the historic homes of icons into museums that pay homage to The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, The Obsidian House honoring Mr. and Mrs. Lu Palmer, and the home of Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley.  


About Hermene D. Hartman:

Hermene, whose career began during the Civil Rights movement working for Operation Breadbasket with Rev. Jesse Jackson Jr., founded N’DIGO, Chicago’s leading African American magapaper in 1989. One the few African American women in publishing, Hermene has become well known for her publisher’s page and N’DIGO’s insightful commentary about important social issues and contemporary topics confronting African Americans that reflect the interests of the Black middle class. She earned graduate degrees in sociology and philosophy of education as well as an MBA from the University of Illinois.

Hermene coordinated the organization’s Black Expo and moved into producing public service programming for WBBM-TV Chicago. She was the first woman to serve as vice-chancellor of the City Colleges of Chicago. During this time, Hermene recognized the need for honest representations rather than stereotypical images of African American culture in mainstream media, so in 2018 Hermene launched her television production company, N’Digo Studio.


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