As seen on TV

Sean Hannity finds sanity in South Florida

 

If Sean Hannity had his way, he’d be a full-time South Florida resident.

With a vacation home in Naples, the Long Island-based TV and radio personality dreams of a day when he can just relax and not think about cameras, mics and politics.

“I go there around Christmastime, and I’m coming from New York where everyone’s all bundled up, and you see people running outside in 75 degrees. It’s a healthier lifestyle,” says Hannity, 51. “In May the weather here is still rainy and windy. It’s annoying. If I could, I’d live there like yesterday.”

But for now he can’t. Hannity has way too much going on with two eponymous shows on AM radio (610 WIOD) and the Fox News Channel. Hannity reaches a big milestone Wednesday evening: the 1,000th episode.

“It’s kind of all of a blur,” admits the conservative newsman, who shot to fame and living rooms co-hosting Hannity & Colmes with liberal commentator Alan Colmes from 1996 to 2009 on the same network.

Not that the news junkie isn’t loving the pace.

“One of the cool things about what I do is I’ve interviewed presidents and secretaries of defense and Hollywood stars and really interesting people. I like that part of it. I get to debate and disagree. I like the competitive part of it, too. It makes it fun.”

The overall gig is 24/7.

“My Monday starts Sunday night,” he says. “You’re always looking, preparing topics. You’re definitely on duty all the time.”

Hannity has also written three bestsellers. There may not be many more coming down the pipeline, though.

“To me, writing is painful. I’m on the air four hours a day: three hours of radio and one hour of TV and it’s gone. When you write, you have to go back and sculpt it and change it and polish it and sand it and prime it and paint it, then do it all over again.”

Luckily, he has an in-house editor, wife Jill Rhodes Hannity. The two met while Sean was just starting out in radio in Huntsville, Ala., and she was a reporter at The Huntsville Times; they married six months later.

The couple later moved to Atlanta, where Jill wrote for Creative Loafing alternative papers.

“She cleans up my copy. She’s a good eye to have. I give her stuff, and she says to me, ‘Sean, really? Really?’ ”

Their two children, Merry, 11, and Patrick, 14, aren’t really into politics, more like tennis.

“They understand, they ask questions, but when we’re home we don’t talk about Barack Obama even though I may be thinking about it, thinking about the country,” Hannity says. “I want them to have a happy, normal childhood.”

The teen years are full steam ahead, and the kids may be more like their dad than he realizes.

“They started talking back,” he says, laughing. “I tell them, ‘My biggest mistake is that I taught you how to speak!’ ”

Hannity has a long career ahead but he takes it day to day.

“It’s sort of like the gerbil on the little wheel,” he says. “You’re only as good as the last show, and you keep grinding out the next one. What I do is really simple. My formula is: follow the news, whatever that happens to be. Whatever’s going on is what I’m going to talk about.”

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