Legendary Island journalist, broadcaster and author, John Hannam, has died in hospital after a short illness, aged 80.
John interviewed thousands of stars over the years and was the host of Britain’s longest running non-stop radio chat show, which celebrated its 20th anniversary in April 2010.
He 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, in Portsmouth, to watch the top stars of the day in variety shows and collect autographs at the stage door. Later in life he 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.
When Isle of Wight Radio launched in 1990 he was given his own chat show, John Hannam Meets. Over the years, he interviewed hundreds of local characters and personalities and helped many young Islanders in their hunt for success in life.
He was known for his interviews with famous stars and personalities, all of which were done in person. He did not undertake phone or down-the-line interviews and had many memories and stories of meeting the stars.
Through his contacts, personal friendships with stars and credibility within the industry he regularly attracted stars who did not normally do local radio interviews.
On John Hannam Meets, his guests included Charlton Heston, John Mills, Prince Edward, Cliff Richard, Martha Reeves, Victoria Wood, Ken Dodd, Bruce Forsyth, Alan Rickman, Twiggy, Jeremy Irons, Michael Winner, Benny Hill and numerous soap stars.
He also ran the Isle of Wight County Press amateur theatre awards.
John’s children, Sean and Caroline, said on behalf of his family: “It is with great sadness that we must let you know that John Hannam has died after a short illness. John, who was a well-known and well-loved local journalist and broadcaster on the Isle of Wight for almost 50 years, passed away peacefully in his sleep with his family at his bedside.
“Please respect the privacy of John’s family and friends at this difficult time. There will be a further announcement on how his life will be celebrated in due course.”