Hermene Hartman keeps flowing with “N’digo Studio”

Hermene Hartman

Talk show’s sophomore season premieres locally starting Oct. 3

Media personality and publisher Hermene Hartman has done it again with her newest venture, “N’DIGO STUDIO.”

Hartman is best known as founder and publisher of Chicago’s N’DIGO Magapaper, launched in 1989. That publication survived the ravaging of print media in the digital age by deftly moving to a largely online format.

Last year, Hartman entered the broadcast media with “N’DIGO STUDIO,” in partnership with The Chicago Community Trust.

“I am excited about taking N’DIGO to television, recognizing the changing media landscape,” Hartman said. “While we see change, the African-American message still is required from an authentic view. To maintain realness and relevancy in covering our beat, we’ve established new platforms that carry us forward with new mediums. I am hopeful that ‘N’DIGO STUDIO’ will be as impactful as was N’DIGO in print.”

“N’DIGO STUDIO” is both a TV show and a podcast featuring authors, politicos and personalities discussing hot topics through a Chicago-centric lens. The TV show is in its second season, which premieres Oct. 3 on local stations. Here are details:

  • Oct. 3, 1:00 a.m. on Channel 5 (NBC). Airing Saturdays through Dec. 19 (following “Saturday Night Live”).
  • Oct. 5, 8 p.m. on Channel 25. Airing Mondays through Dec. 21.
  • Additionally, the TV show will stream to 1.8 million viewers on the newly launched VON Digital TV (found on Apple TV, ROKU and Amazon).

The “N’DIGO STUDIO” podcast can be found ­­­­­­­on Apple iTunes, Google, Spotify, Stitcher, IHeartMedia, Pocket Casts, TuneIn and ndigo.com (embedded).

Hartman has been in relentless pursuit of telling the whole story – in all its complexities – of the African-American experience, locally in Chicago and across the nation. To do so, she has had to prove fleet of foot on an often topsy-turvy mass media landscape.

“We printed Black Lives Matter before it became popular,” Hartman said. “N’DIGO entered the world with its first editorial, stating why we would capitalize the B in Black. That was the point of N’DIGO, to cover the vibrant and accomplished issues, events and people in Chicago, which has been America’s Black mecca. This is where so much starts. Sometimes Chicago forgets who she is. So much stems from the remarkable South Side.”

Hartman’s “Publisher’s Page” became a must-read by all as she offered opinion and perspective – often controversial and provocative – on topical issues.

Thanks to her relentless and passionate efforts, N’DIGO Magapaper has survived the precarity of print publishing. In its print heyday, N’DIGO was a crown jewel atop Chicago’s Black print media with a cross-generational and citywide distribution of 625,000.

“There are no rules anymore,” Hartman said. “Everyone is a photographer, videographer and writer. These days because of Facebook, journalism as we have known it is at a crossroad. Newsrooms have left their sanctuary and are following social media trends. Thus, we have happy talk, animal stories and what’s trending. We need to get back to features, interviews and investigation. Facebook beats the press to the scene and lets the media know what, when and where. We need balance in the news and inclusion at all levels.”

Hartman asserts in retrospect “that we introduced the world to Barack Obama. We were the very first publication to profile Barack Obama. We saw him early on as a budding politician with national opportunity.”

Hartman began her media career at CBS with Warner Saunders, producing “Common Ground.” She said, “Warner was my mentor and while proud of my publishing N’DIGO, he always pushed for me to be in TV. Finally, I’ve heard his call.”

The success of N’DIGO Magapaper spawned the birth of the N’DIGO Foundation, a nonprofit that aligns with Hartman’s sense of responsibility and affection for the Black community. The likewise eponymous N’DIGO Gala also came from the previously weekly print publication.

“Chicago needed a party, a fancy one, that would honor and recognize youth,” Hartman said. “We brought all sectors together for a ‘party with a purpose’ with top-named entertainment.

With 20 black tie events, we honored 99 luminaries for achievement, some historic, and sent 302 youth to college.

“I am creative, and I see what others don’t. I wanted to be included in the media landscape and change the narrative. I am seeking solutions. I saw a need in the news media, recognizing that there was a true need for news coverage of Black folks. I saw the same when I created N’DIGO Gala. There was missing from the party landscape a really upscale celebration of Black life.”

Having garnered an Emmy nomination in its debut season, “N’DIGO STUDIO” is already achieving firm footing and promises to continue attracting the city’s newsies, notables and newbies as guests. Some of the second season’s episodes include segments featuring Black photo archivist, Angela Ford, Obsidian Collection; fellow newspaper publisher, Dorothy R. Leavell, Chicago Crusader; community activist Ja’Mal Green, former youthful mayoral candidate; NBA players Craig Hodges (Chicago Bulls) and Dr. Lloyd Walton (Milwaukee Bucks); and an exclusive interview with Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

For more information about Hermene Hartman and “N’DIGO STUDIO,” contact Deborah O. Farmer at Brown Farmer Media Group. Also, visit www.ndigo.com.

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