1961 in New York. He is a true product of the American Dream as his grandparents legally emigrated from Ireland to the USA. Because of his background, Sean is very much in favor of immigration - the legal kind. His father even fought in World War II spending three years in the Pacific Theater. He didn't know his father's mother because she died giving birth to his father.
Sean doesn't like to talk too much about his younger years in Franklin Square, Long Island when he was a self described "horrible kid." His father bought the 5500 block, Cape Cod, Levittown house he grew up in for $13,000 that was only 50 x 100. Sean was the youngest kid with three older sisters all sharing one bathroom. They would hog the bathroom on him endlessly and drive him insane. Occasionally he would have to relive himself in the bushes in the back yard behind the garage. Because of this he now always has his own bathroom in his homes. When he was in the first grade he had his tonsils removed. Since he was in pain his parents promised him anything when he got back home. He told them he wanted a steak and they delivered. Now he constantly extols the virtues of steaks especially at Ruth Chris Steak House. In the third grade he met John Gomez and the two have become lifelong friends. Gomez is even a talk show host in his own right and teases Sean nowadays by saying, "It's halftime Hannity!" - meaning their life is half over. He had a paper route when he was eight years old for the New York Post, Newsday and others and later a Queens paper which he hated and was the worst at it. He admitted throwing the papers all over the place. At age 12 he scrubbed pots and pans in a restaurant on Long Island that is no longer there. He even flipped burgers in Avril Park at one point. He went to Sacred Heart Seminary in NY and would listen to Rambling with Gambling praying his school would be closed when it snowed. Since his family listens to the show he doesn't want to tell too many stories of his misspent youth because he doesn't want it to come back to haunt him with his nieces and nephews. He admits to smoking, drinking, getting cavities
, smoking pot once and other dumb stuff up until around 21 years old, but won't go into specifics. He fondly remembers getting home from school in the early 70s and jumping on his bike and goofing off with friends until the sun set. He sadly laments he would never let his kids do this today. A story he told was how the principal called his mother into school one December day after already having missed 35 days! His mother was told if he missed any more time that he wouldn't be able to complete the grade. His mother took charge and said then and there she would personally drive him to school every day for the rest of the year which is not what any kid wants to hear. She would drop him off and wait until he went into the front door before she drove away. Sometimes though, he would still sneak away after she left. He admits he would flip if his kids did this to him. Even at a young age he got into listening to the NY talk radio stations, but didn't think it was a career option then. His cousin was a transit cop at the time and Sean would ride in his car to calls sometimes and got to see the underbelly of New York.
In high school he was known as a big mouth. He was constantly getting into debates with everyone. He says most of his classmates didn't think he would ever amount to much. He even had a job cleaning boats. When he was 17 he took a job working as a bartender until 4 am much to his father's chagrin. He would come home at 6am some nights after hanging out with his friends and his dad would always say, "This is not your flop house!" He now says that from age 16-21 he was an imbecile and did tons of stupid, dumb kids junk. He can't believe when young conservative kids call his show. He says he wishes he was as smart as they are when he was there age. All he says is he did tons of things he wouldn't admit to and was a complete jerk and a total idiot. He says he finally got on the straight, right path around age 22. One of his favorite places to go was Carmella's pizza in Hempstead. To see the country he went on a few solo cross country drives and at one point broke down in the middle of nowhere. One year he even joined the New Year's Eve party in Time Square. At the time it seemed like a good idea, but now it is the last place he'd ever want to be. He had a strong catholic upbringing and even went to seminary school, St. Pius X (which is no longer there) to become a Catholic priest, but eventually changed his path. He hasn't abandoned his faith saying the first thing he does every morning is pray and is a regular church goer. His sister went to Carey High School and in 2000 he got to speak there. He lived in NY until age 18 and then moved to Rhode Island. He was totally broke when he moved out of his parents' house and had to borrow $1000 from his father to get an apartment. After paying the security and first months rent he was broke again. For years the most expensive car he could afford cost $300. He spent a couple hundred on a Ford Maverick repairing and painting it himself. He started out at the bottom to make ends meet as a dishwasher in a restaurant. On Thanksgiving the chef walked out and the owner threw him the chef's hat and said, "OK, kid. You're the chef." This crash course enabled him to survive as a decent cook in his bachelor pads. He then moved to Boston and eventually CA.
He went to college at NYU and did well until he got one teacher who said on the first day, "I am a communist." Sean got A's in the class until he couldn't take it anymore and started to challenge him. Overnight his grades went from A's to C's, the lowest grades he ever got in college. He even took a job in a union at the Blount Shipbuilder Co. in Rhode Island going from painter to shift fitter to welder until he got hurt and the foreman refused to pay him any longer. He hated the unions where even if you could do the job as a welder you had to wait until you could find a fitter. He also worked construction and as a contractor
and in some cases hired illegal aliens as long as they worked hard. He finally got his start in radio at the ripe old age of 27 on his college station in Santa Barbara, California where he worked for free. He actually got his "start" in radio by calling talk shows from 50 feet up a ladder while working. He had to drop in and out of college because he couldn't afford it. His dad said he would pay for it, but he decided to pay for it himself. He would got until he ran out of money, drop out, work, make some money and go back. To make a living he worked construction, which he said was hard, but really grounds you. He was later killed by the insurance costs when he started his own company
. He says he wants his kids to do manual labor because it'll make them better people. He lived in the town for five years and used to hang out in radio stations and do production. He was such a nerd that he thought if he was on the air he could get girls to like him, but that didn't work either. Even though this was all he ever wanted, he was scared to death to be on the radio. His first day on the air he was sweating like a pig and thought he would have a panic attack. People instantly took a dislike to him and get couldn't understand why. Every little thing bugged him, but eventually he got over it. True to the form of all struggling talk show hosts he was fired after a week. In 1988 he placed a job wanted ad that got him a call back from David Soul (the former Harlem Globetrotters announcer) in Huntsville, Alabama at WVNN. He was scared to death to drive across country to a town he didn't know. The PD convinced him on the phone though. So he packed up what little he had and headed south for $19,000 the first year. He told his sister that he would go to law school if he didn't make it in radio in three years.
He was a bit of a fish out of water - a "New Yawker" in the south. Many callers to his 2pm - 5pm show would goof on his accent by saying "you talk funny". After work he would go to the mall to talk to people who worked in the stores because he was such a lonely loser and that was the only human contact he had. All the furniture he had in his apartment was a $75 couch, no TV or even a table. He admits to having a thin skin back then and if anyone said anything bad about him that it really affected him. One July 4th he was asked to work and did no preparation. He was dying because he hoped for callers and no one called in since it was a holiday. Ever since he made sure he had a bunch of show prep so he had always had some topics. His salary also increase to $20,000 a year.
It was here he met Jill, an ex-Air Force brat who was a reporter for a local newspaper. She also worked as an editor with 80 people under her. Sean knew who she was because of her picture being in the paper, but she didn't know him. When she came to his apartment for the first time and saw his plaid used $75 couch he bought from a smoker and she hated it. The only other things he had were a dining room table and his bed since childhood and she was appalled. She moved around often like Sean having lived in Hawaii, Dayton and England for six years. When Sean finally got a shot at a Top 10 market in Atlanta at WGST, he asked Jill to marry her. He told her "I have to do this. This is what I want to do." She agreed and left with him. The papers claimed, "Goodbye to the talk show host from hell."
He married her on January 9th 1993 after exactly six months of dating because she was one of the only women to go out with him. He said he could count all his girlfriends on his fingers and toes. Also true to his catholic roots they didn't have sex until after they were married. His says the first year was pretty bad an all they did was fight like dogs. He had a rule that they had to go to bed at the same time that caused many problems. He says he always says he is sorry, but she never does say it. He hates to wear his wedding ring which bothers some of his fans. In June 2003 he talked to his wife on the air about it and she admitted that it bothered her first, but the real problem was he fidgets with it and has lost the ring three times. After buying him a new ring each time she no longer worries after Sean spent some huge dollars on a new ring for her on their 10th anniversary - her third upgrade. She trusts him because of his morals anyway. Sean says her one fault is that she can't cook and that he is a much better cook then she is. Since he works so many hours he doesn't have that much time to cook during the week, which means lots of eating out. He wants to get her a book on how to cook, but she won't listen. He says she is the only woman for him though and became a stay at home mom to raise their kids. He admits that one time he had a female co-worker that lived near him and he wouldn't drive her home because he didn't want to get in a compromising position. Sean describes himself as small, petty and very jealous. He couldn't stand it if their roles were reversed because he wouldn't want guys trying to meet her. He claims she doesn't have a jealous bone in her body and they have a normal relationship as he doesn't understand anything about kinky sex, nudists, homosexuality, public sex, swingers or anything unusual that comes up in the news. He says the first year of the marriage was the toughest since they didn't totally know each other, hadn't lived together before, had almost no future and are both tough to live with. Now he lets her pick all the furniture since he hates it.
It was during his Atlanta years that he got his first TV exposure on The Phil Donahue Show. He was on a panel of radio hosts with Tom Leykis (Sean once called his show and Tom blew him up) that were against Bill Clinton. Back then Phil was the king of daytime talk and Sean was totally unknown. Now it is Phil who has faded into total obscurity. Sean also gained national talk radio recognition during this time as an occasional substitute host of the #1 radio show of all-time - The Rush Limbaugh Show. On his first guest show five minutes in he dropped the microphone and made a loud bang on the air because he was so nervous! Sean says they owe it all to him for opening the door. It paved his way for national syndication. He quotes his friend Neil Boortz on Rush, "He's the Babe Ruth of Radio." When Rush started there were 180 talk radio stations and now there are 2100. One of the first big political figures Sean interviewed in Atlanta was the Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. The two started a friendship, which lasts to this day. After three years of crafting the show in Atlanta, Sean got another chance to move up - to the top. He says one of the most memorable shows was when he debated a Klansman on the air when they were having a rally nearby. One memorable experience was when they put up a giant billboard sign of Sean near a diner where he ate. One day he went by and said someone pelted his face with eggs. He couldn't believe someone could hate him that much.
In November of 1996 he got his next big break, the call from Roger Ayles to host a debate show on the fledgling Fox News Cable Channel
. Very little arm twisting was needed and once again he packed up and headed back home, moving out to Long Island. He was teamed up with another radio host Alan Colmes, but this one was a liberal. Thus "Hannity & Colmes" was born and this began the fair and balanced aspect of Fox giving time to both sides. The show airs Monday through Friday at 9pm Eastern and is up against the likes of Larry King. At one point Larry remarked, "I don't know who Sean Hannity is." He does now as Sean has been beating him every night in the ratings for years. One question he often gets is, "How do you not reach over and slap him every night?" Some might be surprised that Sean considers and Alan a friend. He has often said that you can be friends with liberals, have them as neighbors and even play golf with them. He just doesn't want any of them in positions of power. His first review for the show said, "Hannity does not belong on TV." Ironically the same guy who wrote that now likes him.
In January 1997 Phil Boyce, from WABC 770AM the biggest radio station in the world, called him for their 11pm to 2am show. We he left Atlanta the papers said the two highlights of 1996 were "The Olympic Bombing and Sean Hannity leaving." In New York he was number one his first book so he was eventually moved to the afternoon drive slot of 3pm to 6pm in January of 1998, just in time to jump on the Monica Lewinsky scandal that broke later that month. By now he gained a tough skin and wouldn't let people's criticisms get to him. He continues to be the "Drive Time King" remaining in that slot. Most people don't know they can see Sean in the radio studio every day on TV during his live radio show. Sean hardly every mentions that he does this "Fox Hit" usually with Brit Hume on Fox News around 3:20 during his first radio break Soon after his return to NY Sean coined the term "Hannitized", referring to any liberal who listens to the show and finally is convinced to join the right side. One of his toughest cases has been his sister-in-law who was a staunch liberal. After years of working she is finally coming around. The last five minutes of Sean's radio show is called "Trash the Lines" or "Hannity's Insanity". He gives five seconds; five seconds only to those who were on hold and didn't get it or any other nut who wants to call in. The original regular from when Sean first started is Marty from Bergen, NJ. Marty is a staunch conservative and WWII vet who was at Normandy during D-Day June 6 1944. Through the years Marty has become a fan favorite getting on the air three to five times a week with his views calling them as he sees them. He pulls no punches calling homosexual marriages "depraved" and the soldiers in Iraq who complained "babies" since he was away at war for four years without compliant compared to their months.
For Sean's radio staff James Grisham was hired as a call screener for the show. Sean gives all his staff nicknames and calls him Sweet Baby James after the James Taylor song because James was so nice. James is Sean's brother-in-law having married his sister, whom he met at a church picnic, long before he ever heard of Sean. He screened for his show for awhile, but moved on to one of his first loves - computers - helping to run the computer network over at Fox News. When Eric Stanger left to become Assistant Program Director at KABC in LA, Sean asked James if he wanted to produce the show. Jill Vitale then took over as call screener and associate producer. She remains the token liberal of the show. Sean says the station, not him, hired her. He gave her the nickname Flirty Flipper because she was a flirt and has a giant dolphin tattooed on her back. She claims not to like being called Flipper, but she signs an autograph as Flipper and named her website that too. Go figure. Another integral part of the show is Gregor who is in charge of the sounds.
Other semi regular features of the radio show include "Man on the Street Thursday" which is deceptive since it is usually run by Flipper. This is a real fan favorite because Sean asks simple questions to random people which they should know like, "Who is the vice president?' and very few people know the answer. It is so pathetic it is funny. In late 2003 he had her bring pictures down of people - George Bush, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Britney Spears and Michael Jackson. Everyone gets Bush, Britney and MJ few ever get the others. He also does, "Dr. Hannity Friday" where he takes the role of an advice host answering callers questions about love, money and the like. Some people actually get offended since he isn't a real doctor! More rare is a segment called "Hammer the Host" where he takes only callers who want to complain about him. Otherwise the three-hour show is broken up this way: the first hour is the news of the day, the second is guests and the third is the "final hour free for all" or mostly callers and sometimes guests. On November 7, 1998 Sean made his movie debut in a tiny role as a newscaster in The Siege. In 1999 the Hannity's had their first son, Patrick. While everything was looking up Sean also was dealt two very tough blows, losing his father and then his mother in the same year.
On September 10, 2001 Sean began the national syndication of his radio show. As you know the world turned on 9/11/01 as Sean and millions of others were forever changed from the horrible days events. Many people who were starved for news of what was going on in this new world of terrorism turned on talk radio for the first time hearing Rush, Sean and others and haven't turned it off yet. Because of this, Sean's rating climbed and by the Summer of 2002 he was heard on more than 200 stations across the country including 9 of the Top 10 markets. He was named the fastest growing syndicated talk show in history - a claim also made by Michael Savage who has a show at night. The final Top 10 missing station was Philadelphia and was a thorn in Sean's side. He finally got on the air there in early September 2003.
On August 29, 2001 the Hannitys' had their second child, this time a girl name Rebecca. Sean says she can't date until she is 40 and can live at home until she is 60. The last member of the family is his dog Snowball. Don't let the name fool you. The name is only because the dog is all white, not because it is tiny, actually weighing over 40 pounds. Sean says a person at a tollbooth named the dog when it was driving with him and the name stuck. If there was one thing he could change about his life it would be to have had his kids when he was younger. He took his son to the zoo around this time and let him feed the goats and his wife flipped out because the goat slobbered all over his hands and she thought he would get sick from all the gems, but Sean said, "it's just a goat." He says his wife is in charge of the money since he doesn't have time, but she isn't good at it and they have had fights especially when she forgets to give him the checkbook when he asks.
Soon after Sean was a speaker at the Fifth annual edition of the Talkers magazine New Media Seminar introducing Phil Boyce who was a keynote speaker. In February 2002 Sean was also publicly attacked by a liberal columnist at Entertainment Weekly who claimed, "Sean Hannity has his brain removed and no one says a word.� Sean brought him on the air and challenged them and the columnist was forced to admit he didn't even know the Pledge of Allegiance. During the summer he went out to Utah to interview Edward Smart and his family. They were the parents in the huge case of the disappearance of their daughter Elizabeth Smart. Most people thought Edward had something to do with it, but Sean adamantly defended him the whole way. Till date it is a matter of legal proceeding to prove whether she actually ran away or was kidnapped
On August 20, 2002 his first book "Let Freedom Ring: Winning the war of Liberty over Liberalism" was published. He dictated the bulk of the book into a headset while he drove himself to work every day. No limousines here. He said it deprived him of sleep sometimes being up until 4:30 am. The book is about how liberalism caused 9/11 and if it isn't put in check we will get hit again. His publisher Judith Regan describes the cover photo of Sean as "very presidential". This sparked a campaign for Sean to run for president in 2008 after George Bush steps down. Sean thought it a joke until people started calling in and an unnamed Republican White House source was quoted on The Drudge Report that Sean is the type of candidate they are looking for. Even talkers magazine had him on the cover as the 2015 president. Sean denies over and over having any interest in public office - local or national. No matter how hard the liberals tried to hide his book in the stores, it reached #1 on the New York Times Best Seller list for many weeks. It then started to slip, but after many appearances it would go right back up.
Soon after began the "Hannitization of America Tour." Sean held book singings in all his major radio markets throughout the summer. In some cases he gave speeches like at The Nixon Library in California or the Orlando Regional Chamber of Commerce Trustee Luncheon. He delights the crowds with his Bill Clinton impression, which he demonstrates how to do. He says the people love it because it is so bad. He also talks how the democrats of today are not the democrats of JFK's day or even Scoop Jackson's. Todays' democrats have lost moral clarity and are only power hungry. Sean still does occasional appearances to reward listeners when they boost the shows ratings like in Chicago on 5/16. He also did many TV appearances like The View, 700 Club and other radio shows with his friends to promote the book. Around this time he shot up from fifth place going by Dr. Laura and Howard Stern to become the second most listened to talk radio host in America, second only to Rush. Will he ever become #1? Probably not, but that isn't his goal and besides he and Rush are friends. In early 2003 Sean gained pop culture status by being briefly mentioned on The Simpsons. The show featured a parody of how the liberals see Fox News. At the end of the show a ticker was going across that read "Coming up Next - Hannity and Idiot." Soon after he got his good friend, A great American, Mark Levin "The Great One" a job on his flagship WABC on Saturday afternoons. Mark is a Virginia lawyer who is a popular guest to Sean's radio and TV shows. On 2/10/03 Sean was voted "Talk Show Host of the Year" and one of the "Top 100 Talk Hosts in America." by Talkers Magazine. During the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom Sean added a new segment to the show called "Tony Snow Friday" where he talked to him about the politics of the day. Tony hosts a show on the Fox News Channel called "Fox News Sunday". Sean always gives him a hard time because in 2002 he did Tony's show and Tony wasn't there. Instead Sean had a miserable time with fill-in host Juan Williams. In December 2003 Tony left the show to start a radio career and was replaced by Mike Wallace's son Chris who isn't a liberal like his dad.
At the end of June 2003 weekend Sean moved 30 minutes closer to New York City, "for the last time" to shave time from his 75 minute daily commute. His previous house cost $500,000 and he paid $17,000 a year in taxes. He says his new house has even higher taxes! He explains that he and his wife have 100% veto power on buying a house
. His main reason is investment potential. If he can't make money on it, then he isn't interested. His wife is the professional packer from her Army Brat days being able to pack up a house in a day. She does everything except for Sean's office, which is the last thing to unpack. Otherwise Sean's load is light, as he only owns four pairs of shoes for example. He says all the new neighbors are great, especially Ted next door who has taken Sean and his son out on his 50 ft boat, except for one who complained about the funniest thing and his wife forbids him to talk about. All he says is that the building inspector came knocking on his door and was really nice about it. On July 4th, 2003 Sean was asked by the famous Osmond family to host a big rally concert for all US troops in Provo, Utah at the Stadium of Fire in front of 60,000 people. The concert was also simulcast worldwide to the troops stationed away from home. No problem, right? Wrong. A month before the concert Sean was front-page news in Provo day after day by a small group of left wing attackers who didn't want him there. It got so bad that Sean was ready to back out because of it, but the mayor of Provo and the Osmonds wouldn't hear of it. The real star of the show was not Sean but the troops and the performance by Martina McBride. All listeners to his radio show know who she is, if not indirectly, because she sings the song Sean adopted as his theme "Independence Day". This song opens the show every hour. It starts out with the line "Let freedom ring" which is the title for his first book.
On July 11th he held his first annual 'Freedom Concert' with all proceeds going to the foundation started by Oliver North called the Freedom Alliance. The money went towards the education of the children of all the fallen soldiers in Iraq and beyond. The concert took place at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, NJ and featured Darryl Worley, Sara Evans and Charlie Daniels. Sean did his radio show live from the park as well as a book signing with friends Oliver North and Ann Coulter to raise more money for the charity. Sara, her husband and kids even spent the day at Sean's house. The low point of the night for Sean was singing "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" with Charlie because he claims he can't sing and got nervous and screwed up some lyrics. He does admit that if he could sing the only other job he would want was as a country music star or to be Garth Brooks. He doesn't know about the women throwing themselves at rock starts though, he says that never happens to talk radio hosts. This isn't true because he does have callers who tell him he is attractive. He plans on making it a yearly event because it was so much fun and Sara Evans has already signed on board for 2004.
After he completed his first book ,which he called a real struggle, he proclaimed he would never write another book. In the summer of 2003 he announced he would indeed write another book called "Deliver Us From Evil: How to Defeat Terrorism, Despotism and Liberalism." which will be published in early 2004. The title is self-explanatory. He wants pictures of Bin Laden, Saddam and the Clintons on the cover to go with each title. Chapter 1 will be "Evil exists" where he talks about mans' inhumanity to man. Then he compares Churchill vs. Chamberlin, Regan vs. Carter and Bush vs. Clinton because he doesn't want another 9/11 to happen.
Every once in a while Sean gets a caller who wants to break into radio, or even worse - wants Sean's job when he quits. After all he is getting old they say! He tells them he doesn't need the competition and plans on doing the show until he is at least 70. He says the best advice he can give is not to get married because you will have to move around so much. Do it because you love it - not for the money. Make sure you have ffun because it is a great profession. Just get on the radio and start talking. He knows what he is talking about since he has won Talk Show Host of the Year from Radio and Records. When asked how he can talk three hours a day on the radio he says, "It is what I was born to do."
His hobbies include playing Tennis, which he taught to his nephews and now they can beat him, cooking, reading, computing, skiing in Utah, listening to country music (except for the Dixie Chicks), playing Scooby Doo on the Playstation 2 with his son, and driving his "gas guzzling" SUV -