A.J. HAMMER, HOST OF HLN’S SHOWBIZ TONIGHT
YOU STARTED OUT AS A RADIO DJ. WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST RADIO SHOW LIKE AND DID YOU IMAGINE OR PLAN BACK THEN THAT YOUR CAREER WOULD TAKE YOU TO TELEVISION BROADCASTING?
From the time I was about ten all I ever wanted to be was a Top 40 radio DJ. So my first radio show was me, in my bedroom, playing 45’s on my old-school combo stereo emulating my favorite radio personalities for an audience of one (me). The first time I was ever truly “on the air” doing my own show was at summer camp in the Berkshires in Massachusetts when I was twelve. The camp had what’s called a “carrier current” radio station where the station’s signal radiated through the power lines and could be heard in the cabins, along with a loud buzz, on 640 am. I hosted one of the shows that was on during the cleanup period after breakfast which was particularly cool because it got me out of having to sweep the bunk. Through my teen years I was on my high school station which played over the P.A. system at lunchtime so, of course, nobody could hear it over the crowd in the cafeteria. When I got my driver’s license I could finally be heard on FM, for at least a few miles, when I did a Friday afternoon show after school on the radio station at Westchester Community College where they were kind enough to let a high school kid come and play. My first commercial gig came when I was seventeen at WVIP-FM in Mount Kisco, NY. The radio station was in a small, round building, the last in a corporate park in the middle of the woods. I was live from five to seven pm on Saturdays playing adult contemporary hits and oldies and from seven to midnight I “babysat the board” during Dick Bartley’s satellite show, “Solid Gold Saturday Night,” playing the local commercials and reading the weather. The AM side of the station shut down in the evening so I was the only one there late into the night. It was kind of creepy. As I made my way through college and continued to work in radio in those early days I never imagined or planned on transitioning to a career in TV. I was having the time of my life and living my dream.
WHAT IS YOUR MOST MEMORABLE ON-AIR MOMENT TO DATE?
It is impossible to pick a single moment as my most memorable, but one of the most spectacular times I have ever had doing what I do was being a part of VH1’s “Lift Ticket To Ride.” For a week I was hosting shows from Aspen Mountain in Colorado while skiing and presenting concerts from the artists VH1 had assembled for the event. It was all of my passions coming together in one place and I remember very distinctly stepping back from it all to appreciate how absolutely fortunate I was in that time and place.
YOU WILL ONCE AGAIN BE HOSTING CNN’S LIVE OSCARS PRE-SHOW FROM THE DOLBY THEATER IN HOLLYWOOD. WHAT DESIGNER WILL YOU BE WEARING?
I will be wearing Ted Baker at the Oscars this year – one of my favorite designers. Their suits have just the right amount of edge to step beyond something that is too traditional while remaining classic enough to be appropriate for Hollywood’s most formal awards show.
WHAT BRINGS YOU JOY?
Boating has become my life’s great passion and fewer things give me greater joy than being out on the water with my family, whether traveling to a new destination or sitting dockside and taking in the sunset with the perfect margarita. It’s rare to not find me smiling when I’m on a boat.
COMB OR BRUSH?
FINISH THIS SENTENCE: MY AGE IS…………….
for some reason diminishing every year. I can’t figure it out.
WHAT’S FOR DINNER TONIGHT?