Hannity, Sean 1961-
HANNITY, Sean 1961-
PERSONAL: Born 1961, in Franklin Square, NY; married Jill Rhodes (an editor and homemaker), 1993; children: Patrick, Merri. Education: Attended college for two years. Politics: Conservative. Religion: Catholic.
ADDRESSES: Offıce—The Fox Entertainment Group, 1211 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036.
CAREER: Journalist. House painter and building contractor, 1982-91; WVNN Radio, Huntsville, AL, talk show host, 1991-92; WGST Radio, Atlanta, GA, talk show host, 1992-96; Fox News, New York, NY, co-host of Hannity & Colmes, 1996—; WABC Radio, New York, NY, host, The Sean Hannity Show, 1997—, syndicated, 2001—.
AWARDS, HONORS: Voted talk personality of the year by readers of Radio & Records magazine.
Let Freedom Ring: Winning the War of Ideas in Politics, Media, and Life, Regan Books (New York, NY), 2002.
SIDELIGHTS: Conservative commentator Sean Hannity has forged dual careers in radio and television and is considered by some critics to be the national heir-apparent to Rush Limbaugh. Hannity can be heard daily on syndicated radio on a talk show that originates at WABC Radio in New York City. In the evenings he is co-host of Hannity & Colmes, a "point-counterpoint"-style television show on the Fox News channel. In both cases Hannity is a voice for the conservative agenda and an outspoken critic of liberalism as embodied by certain Democrats and former Democratic presidents. Although extremely candid in his remarks, Hannity maintains an affable demeanor that has won him the allegiance of a large audience. He told a Time magazine contributor: "One of the things I think works for me is, I am passionate about my belief system but I try never to forget the human side of the debate. I don't take it personally, and I don't make it personal. You can play golf with liberals, be neighbors with them, go out to dinner. I just don't want them in power."
Born on Long Island, New York, Hannity grew up in a household that encouraged hard work and debate. His father was a family court probation officer, his mother a homemaker. He attended college for two years but dropped out when he could no longer afford the tuition. Instead he opened his own house painting business in Rhode Island and within three years saved enough money to travel to the West Coast. He was living in Santa Barbara, California and working as a building contractor when he began to attract attention by his frequent telephone calls to radio talk shows. His ardent opinions about the Iran-Contra arms sales in 1987 won him a brief unpaid position as a talk show host for a radio station run by the University of California—Santa Barbara. He got his first full-time job in radio in 1991, when a Huntsville, Alabama station responded to a "Job Wanted" advertisement he ran in Radio & Records magazine.
Hannity quickly rose through the ranks in talk radio, moving from Huntsville to Atlanta, Georgia in 1992 and on to New York City in 1996. Although he had never been on television before, he was signed to the Hannity & Colmes show on the fledgling Fox News network. Conceived as a "point-counterpoint"-style talk show with guests and commentary, Hannity & Colmes began to steal a significant market share of cable television news viewers in the nine o'clock p.m. time slot. In 1997 Hannity returned to radio in tandem with his television work, and his syndicated radio program, The Sean Hannity Show was heard on more than two hundred stations nationwide by 2003.
The terrorist bombing of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 was for Hannity a watershed moment. Always outspoken about the virtues of a strong military and the necessity of a viable international espionage force, Hannity decided to write a book about the dangers liberal thinking poses to American freedoms and the safety of U.S. citizens. Let Freedom Ring: Winning the War of Ideas in Politics, Media, and Life was published in 2002 and quickly rose to the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list—a significant accomplishment for a first-time author who admitted he was too busy to read many books. Hannity wrote the work by dictating passages into a tape recorder while commuting to work from his home on Long Island. Later, he transcribed his notes and polished them into manuscript form. The book is an unapologetic diatribe against liberalism, exposing its flaws in logic and posing questions about the outcome of its agenda for Americans.
In his People review of Let Freedom Ring, Todd Seavey called Hannity "an amusing tour guide of an imaginary Museum of Modern Left-Wing Lunacy" and noted that Hannity's "outrage is entertaining." Washington Times correspondent Jennifer Harper noted that Hannity "celebrates the cachet of clear conservatism and does not cozy up to centrist territory or the poll du jour." Martha Zoller in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution maintained that the book "is essentially an extension of the Hannity broadcast phenomenon. His writing style is much like his talking style—direct, passionate, and respectful. And he has discovered the key to winning debates: getting your opponent to think of issues in a different way."
By all accounts Hannity is a hard-working individual who considers himself fortunate to have such interesting work and to have achieved so much recognition in less than a decade. He told Time: "I really don't map out my life. There's no big plan. . . . If I were doing what I do today 30 years from now, I'd be happy."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, April 29, 2002, Jill Vejnoska, "Hoppin' Hannity: Whirlwind of a Talk Show Host Expands from TV and Radio to Upcoming Book," p. C1; August 23, 2002, Martha Zoller, "Radio Talker Hannity Pushes Hot Buttons," p. E1.
People, February 11, 2002, Michael A. Lipton and Jennifer Frey, "The (Far) Right Stuff: Fishing's Fun, but Talk Show Host Sean Hannity Would Rather Bait Large-Mouth Liberals," p. 117; September 16, 2002, Todd Seavey, review of Let Freedom Ring: Winning the War of Ideas in Politics, Media, and Life, p. 43.
Time, November 11, 2002, Pames Poniewozik, "Ten Questions for Sean Hannity," p. 8.
Variety, April 23, 2001, Paula Bernstein, "Fox Finds a Sleeper Hit," p. 14.
Washington Times, August 19, 2002, Jennifer Harper, "New Hannity Book Maps Defeat of the Left," p. A6.
Sean Hannity Offıcial Home Page,http://www.hannity.com (May 2, 2003).*