In 2012, Hesse re-established his former production company, John Hesse Productions, to develop and produce content for national and international distribution. Most recently Hesse served as the Executive Producer for the award-winning PBS documentary James Baker: The Man Who Made Washington Work. Prior to that, he was the Executive Producer for two other PBS documentaries about the Berlin Wall, The Wall – A World Divided, and After The Wall – A World United.
In addition, Hesse also works with the other independent producers to help distribute their films.
John Hesse is the former General Manager of KUHT/HoustonPBS, serving in that capacity from June of 2002 to November of 2011. Since arriving as Station Manager in 1997, he was in charge of programming, production, engineering, communications, development, and community education and outreach. He was instrumental in the development and management of HoustonPBS local, regional, national and international production efforts. As General Manager, his oversight guided the development of digital content for local and national audiences that includes, Mary Lou’s Flip Flop Shop, Laser Vision: 20/10 by 2010?, To Heal a Heart, Space Station, Brother Can You Spare A Billion: The Story of Jesse H. Jones, The American Woodshop, and The Houston Symphony: A Maestro’s Farewell.
Hesse began his public broadcasting career in 1968 as a producer/writer/director for KUAT-TV in Tucson. In 1974, he became a producer/writer/director for KUED-TV in Salt Lake City, where he remained for the next six years.
In 1980, he turned toward commercial television working widely in syndication and cable. He managed and directed numerous projects for Osmond Entertainment, then formed John Hesse Productions to produce a wide array of projects for syndication, HBO, Country Television of England, Osmond Entertainment, and PBS.
In 1983 Hesse helped launch The Nashville Network, producing and directing over 500 hours of entertainment programming for the cable network.
In 1989, he returned to public broadcasting in the development arena at KCET in Los Angeles, managing major donor fundraising, foundation, corporate and capital campaign initiatives.
In 1993 Hesse became the General Manager of WLJT-TV, the PBS station in Martin, Tennessee. During his four years there he successfully headed up that station’s “rebirth,”substantially boosting audience, membership and revenue, as well as upgrading their technical facilities.
Hesse’s dual experience in commercial and public broadcasting is one of the keys to his success in content development for all audiences.
In other leadership positions Hesse has served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Association of Public Television Stations (APTS), Vice President of the Texas Public Broadcasting Association, Past Chairman of the National Educational Telecommunications Association (NETA), board member of the Public Television Major Market Group, and a member of the PBS Affinity Group Coalition. He also served on the PBS Task Force for More Effective Governance and the Early Childhood Education Working Group for the PBS Digital Future Initiative.