John Hannam, the host of Britain’s longest running non-stop radio chat show, which celebrated its 20th anniversary in April 2010, first fell in love with radio as a schoolboy and among his favourite Light Programme shows were Educating Archie, Ray’s A Laugh, Worker’s Playtime and the Billy Cotton Band Show. He also enjoyed trips to the Theatre Royal, at Portsmouth, to watch the top stars of the day in variety shows and collect autographs at the stage door. Later in life he has interviewed some of the names in his autograph book.
Born in East Cowes, he enjoyed sport at Grange Road Primary and later Cowes Secondary Modern. During his time at Cowes he became the Hampshire schoolboy mile champion and went on to run in the All-England Championships. He was inspired by Roger Bannister and was so honoured to have Sir Roger, the world’s first sub four minute miler, on his radio show. Locally, for several years, John was one of the Island’s most successful village cricketers and took hundreds of wickets as a fast bowler.
John’s love of sport led him into broadcasting. On a Saturday night in the early 70s he visited the Isle of Wight Hospital Studio, at St Mary’s, to talk about sport. He was invited back the next week as a regular on the show and then moved into interviewing famous stars who visited the Island. His earliest being The Bachelors, Eve Boswell, Helen Shapiro and Roy Castle.
In 1975 he joined the new local paper, the Isle of Wight Weekly Post, and wrote a Stagetalk column and a regular Sports Personality feature. He wrote for the full 15 year history of the now defunct newspaper. His love of showbiz led him to interview top stars and he began to write for The Stage, the national newspaper for the entertainment industry. This still continues today and he goes all over the South Coast reviewing shows.
When Isle of Wight Radio launched in 1990 he was given his own chat show and John Hannam Meets is still going strong today. During these years John has interviewed hundreds of local characters and personalities and helped many young Islanders in their hunt for success in life.
He is also known for thousands of interviews with famous stars and personalities, all of which have been with in-person interviews. John is almost unique in British radio as all of his interviews are face to face. He does not undertake phone or down-the-line interviews and has so many memories and stories of meeting the stars. He does occasional talks for charity on his life as an interviewer.
Through his contacts, personal friendships with stars and credibility within the industry he regularly attracts stars who do not normally do local radio interviews. On John Hannam Meets his past guests have included Charlton Heston, John Mills, Prince Edward, Cliff Richard, Martha Reeves, Victoria Wood, Ken Dodd, Bruce Forsyth, Alan Rickman, Twiggy, Jeremy Irons, Michael Winner and numerous soap stars.
John’s first book, I Was A Stage Door Johnny, with a forward by Bob Monkhouse, was published in 1999.
He also runs the Isle of Wight County Press Amateur Theatre Awards.
Away from work he enjoys visiting the theatre, running across the downs, reading biographies and following cricket.
John has two children, Sean is a journalist/broadcaster in the electronics industry and Caroline a West End wardrobe mistress.