Over the last several months, Glenn has emphasized the importance of bringing together individuals who share the same goals and unifying principles so that we can learn from one another. GlennBeck.com is working to fulfill that goal by sitting down with some of the most interesting minds to give you an inside look at who they are and what they are working on.
We begin our series with conservative radio and TV personality Sean Hannity, who spoke with GlennBeck.com assistant editor Meg Storm about the “most anti-capitalist thing” he’s ever said, what he really thinks of the GOP (HINT: They are “timid” and “weak”), and what he has planned for 2014.
Below is a transcript of the interview:
Thank you so much for hopping on a call with us! We are running a new interview series in the Glenn Beck Newsletter that features interesting people –-
So you want me to give you a list!?
You actually make the list!
So I heard you have had some odd jobs over the years…
You know, I have. It’s actually the best thing that’s ever happened to me that I’ve done all these crazy jobs. I have a pretty strong blue-collar background.
I had my first job when I was 8 years old. It was a paper route. You had to be 12 to have the paper route, so we put it in my older sister’s name instead. I never liked it because I hated collecting, which probably is the most anti-capitalist thing I’ve ever said because that’s when you get paid and get your tips. But that was the hard part of the job.
When I was 12 years old, I got a job washing dishes in a place in West Hempstead, Long Island called the Norwood Inn. It was a pretty busy pub restaurant, and I would go there on Friday nights after school. They didn’t clean one thing all week long, so there were piles and piles. It was hard work. We would work until 2 o’clock in the morning. And this was kind of illegal, but we would then get a St. Pauli Girl beer and go home.
A year later, when I was 13, the chef walked out one Thanksgiving, and the owner threw me the apron and said, “You’re in.” I got promoted to be a short order cook. I still love to cook. I cook shrimp scampi, lobster tails, steak, fettuccini.
Then I worked as a busboy at the Merry Pedlar in Floral Park. On my 17th birthday they let me be a bartender, so I tended bar there and at Salisbury on the Green in Eisenhower Park. It was like a wedding factory. They would have five weddings on Friday, five in the afternoon on Saturday, five Saturday night, five Sunday mid-day, five Sunday night. I would work all those weddings, and I made a fortune. It was great.
I was paying for my own college, so all that money I made all those years went to the first year of college. One year I went to Adelphi. One year I went to New York University. Then I got into construction. I started painting houses. I did a small apprenticeship for a builder. And then I went to building school – actual college to learn how to be a contractor. I did everything in contracting you can imagine. I kind of specialized in finish work because I have a good eye.
It’s funny because my kids know me for radio and TV. My daughter recently said she wanted to paint her room. And I said I would do it, but everyone in my family is rolling their eyes like I can’t do it. One day about a month ago, I went out and bought all the materials, and two hours later, it was done perfectly. They are like, “How did you do this?” And I was like, “I used to do it for a living! What are you guys talking about?” They just didn’t know it that way. It was pretty funny.
The one constant – and this kind of ties into how I got into radio – is since I was a teenager I was listening to talk radio everyday. I would be on ladders, and I started calling talk radio shows. And I guess that is what kind of led me into talk radio in 1986 or ‘87 out in California.
Did you ever think you would end up in radio?
No, I had no intention of getting into journalism or news. I had a double major in college of economics and political science. I was really interested in politics and really interested in radio. My parents never came in and said, “Turn off the TV.” They said, “Shut that stupid radio off.”
In California was when the radio stuff started. At that point, I had built a pretty good business in Rhode Island doing rehab and finish work. There was this Rhode Island tech college that I went to, and the whole point was that I wanted to build houses. On one hand, I made a lot of money and had some pretty big contracts. I did pretty well, but it wasn’t my passion in life.
Like the Glenn Beck Radio Program, the Sean Hannity Show premiered nationally just before the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
My show began day the before September 11 – September 10, 2001. It’s kind of hard because I can never say, “This is my anniversary.” It’s just not what we expected.
What was it like to be on air that day?
We couldn’t get into Manhattan to do the show that day. We ended up going to WLIR in Garden City, Long Island. It was amazing because I think they were able to wire in and get four other radio stations on the air at the same time. The amazing thing was you would walk in the halls and there were wires everywhere, but everyone got on the air and everyone got listened to that day. It was amazing.
Glenn talks about how much that experience changed his outlook. Do you feel the same way?
It changed my life in this way: I really think the world needs to understand radical Islamists. I think in the year 2014 we have let out guard down. There was a story in the Daily Caller late last week about how people with limited terrorist ties can still get into the country – as long as they’re ‘limited’. When you think of it – the people that did it that day are still at war with us, and they are still plotting and would like nothing better than to hit us again.
You also have your nightly program on Fox News. Do you prefer one medium to the other?
It’s not a preference. I love doing it all. I feel lucky to be doing it all. I’ve been at Fox since the beginning. They are really just great to me. I enjoy doing the show every night. We have fun; we talk about serious topics; we cover the issues. I am very fortunate to have the platform.
Are there differences between the way you cover a topic on radio versus the way you cover it on TV?
On TV you are always running out of time. What’s great is I go through this cathartic experience where I have gotten everything I want to say out – and more importantly, I fine-tune my argument on radio. After I go through a 20-minute monologue, I can reduce it to a specific question. And it actually really helps. It is really preparation in a way. They fit together perfectly.
You can do things on TV you can’t do on radio – make a face, shake my head, use a video. All of that helps you make your points versus explaining everything. Radio is the theater of the mind.
Between your radio and television programs and prepping for the two, what is a typical day like for you?
Today is probably pretty typical. I got up around 7am to say goodbye to kids before they head off to school. I like to start slow, and I don’t like to start with email right away. I usually start with headlines. I get early delivery of the New York Post, Daily News, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. I don’t get the New York Times anymore – I can’t stand it.
Then I move to the Internet and start answering email. I begin meetings with radio and TV – usually have a few email exchanges before we get to the actual meeting part, which is somewhere between 9 and 10 o’clock. If I have interviews that morning, I will do those. I get into hard prep after that.
I have an hour’s ride in, so I usually read and answer emails, and then I usually like to do some writing. I don’t write anything script-wise, but I like notes. I have files – a security file, an ‘other’ file. I do this news and information overload hour on radio, and it’s just to bring up topics that maybe aren’t the top stories of the day. And then I go for the top story of the day.
Once I finish radio, I do TV. Then I get home, hang out until my kids go to sleep, and I start all over again in bed with my iPad.
In the wake of Andrew Cuomo’s comments about ‘extreme conservatives’ in New York, you were vocal about your willingness to leave the state. I know Glenn would love to have you in Texas. Are you still considering a move?
The way the media played it, they said, “Oh look, he is not really leaving because he is not gone tomorrow.” I don’t know what universe they live in. The idea that I have well over 100 people on radio and TV that count on me for jobs – they have mortgages to pay, and kids in college, and car payments, and apartments. The idea that I am just going to say, “See ya” and walk away from people – I am not an irresponsible person. Number one.
Number two: I have contractual obligations that take me well through the 2016 elections. It doesn’t mean I am leaving radio or TV either. It’s just my wife and I have decided we want to leave New York. High taxes is one of the reasons. I also feel the government just takes and takes and takes too much money.
Apparently other people think so too because New York was the number one state people left in the last census – 3.5 million people left the state. New Jersey lost $70 billion worth in wealth leaving the state in a 4-year period. Liberals have destroyed the state. I don’t know if it can be fixed. It probably could, if the right person was in office. But I think people have been so conditioned to get government stuff, I am not sure if that battle can be won anymore.
Are you looking anyplace in particular?
When my son graduates high school, yeah, we are looking at Florida, Texas, Georgia, Tennessee. My wife is originally from Alabama. States like that. I have to say, Florida and Texas are the leading two candidates in my mind.
Glenn is open about how fed up he is with the establishment GOP and what he describes as the progressive element of the Republican Party —
Do you have similar frustrations?
I am fed up too. There is a group of about 40 conservatives that are in the Republican Party that are fed up with us, but that’s it. I would argue they are timid. They are weak. They are too focused on their own power, their own reelections. They are uninspiring, and they don’t have an agenda that is going to help solve this country’s problems.
This morning, I woke up to the news that Republicans are going to leave open the debt ceiling. They do not want to fight on the debt ceiling debate. They originally were going to fight on the issue of the Keystone Pipeline or bailing out Obamacare, and now they are going to leave the debt ceiling open until March 2015. So it is no longer $17 trillion in debt. It is whatever this President decides until then.
To me, if they want to be the party of limited government. They have to fight to be the party of limited government. What they need to say is: We are the party that is going to stop robbing from our children. I have put a list of these things on my website. It is called the Conservative Solutions Caucus 2014. What is wrong with the penny plan, baseline budgeting, having a balanced budget amendment, and explaining to people you don’t want to steal from your children anymore? It seems like common sense.
Editor’s Note: You can learn more about the Conservative Solutions Caucus 2014 HERE.
Switching topics a bit, you broadcasted your radio show from TheBlaze’s New York studios last fall.
I miss my Liberty Treehouse friends!
They miss you too! I know I speak on behalf of all TheBlaze staff when I say thank you for the delicious pizza lunches. The way to our hearts is definitely through our stomachs.
I have learned that is a very common trait in radio and TV. It was just my way of saying thanks.
How was it broadcasting at TheBlaze?
Glenn was very gracious. He not only gave me the studio, while they were rebuilding mine, but he gave me his office with a view of the Empire State Building. I just got to know everybody there. I saw some old friends, made some new friends, and everybody couldn’t have been more gracious to me.
You obviously have a very busy schedule, but do you have anything you like to do in your free time?
I try to shut down as much as I can over the weekend. My kids play in a lot of national tennis tournaments, so we are traveling all over the place. When you enter the tennis world, it is a total escape.
I am not a big golfer, but I will play occasionally. I play a lot of tennis. And I try to work out as much as I can. Running and the elliptical – stuff like that.
I like to go to concerts. I love country music. I saw Florida Georgia Line recently. Brad Paisley is playing at Nassau Coliseum this week, so I might go out and try to see him.
Is there anything people would be surprised to learn about you?
Yes, but I won’t tell you.
Most of my private life is pretty boring. I like to read. I don’t have enough time though. I am just doing typical dad stuff.
I like to be private. I never go to dinners. I never go to Washington. I never do anything like that. I prefer anonymity. It’s silly, considering the profession I am in, but if you see me, I am going to be in sweatpants or jeans, a t-shirt, baseball hat, and glasses. By the way, I have worn that since I was little. Same outfit. Same shirt even – if I can save it, I save it.
Do you have any big plans for 2014?
I am just looking for the best people, the best candidates I can support. I don’t like that Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Mike Lee are sort of outcasts within their own party. So I am looking for other people like that, and if they show up, hopefully we can get them elected.
Okay, I am going to ask you a few ‘lightening round’ questions, so one word answers will do.
Go for it.
What’s your favorite book?
Well, I have to say the Bible because that’s the one I read the most. That is your roadmap for life.
What’s your favorite movie?
Okay, it is a tie: Gladiator, Brave Heart, and the Passion of the Christ.
What’s your favorite TV show?
Hannity on the Fox News Channel at 10pm ET. Just kidding. I love sports and Duck Dynasty. I am a big Duck Dynasty fan.
What’s your favorite food?
What’s your favorite place to visit?
Who is your favorite artist?
I would have to say Garth because he got me into country music. I am a big Garth Brooks fan.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us!
Hannity airs weeknights at 10pm ET on the Fox News Channel.