How a Radio Producer from Brooklyn Ended up with Tom Hanks as a DJ and a Flagship Exclusive Station on TuneIn
SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–This is the story about how a vegan turkey roast, a typewriter and thousands of lost songs from the ’60s brought Tom Hanks and Debbie Daughtry together, and ultimately launched his budding DJ career on TuneIn, the world’s leading live-streaming audio service.
It started on a Thanksgiving when Colin Hanks shared with his father a radio program called Rock ‘n’ Soul Ichiban airing on a New York-area community radio station called WFMU. The 24-hour alternate stream featured an eclectic mix of forgotten and lost 45s from the 1960s, with vintage jingles and DJ airchecks. Hanks was immediately hooked. A long-time lover of radio, he tweeted out his fondness for the show. That tweet made it back to Ichiban creator and producer Debbie Daughtry.
“I couldn’t believe it when I heard that Tom Hanks was a fan! But, then he sent me a typewritten fan letter to the radio station. I responded with some station swag and we became typewriter/pen pals,” remembered Daughtry.
Looking back at what first drew him into Boss Radio 66 and what led him to work with Debbie on this project, Tom Hanks recalled:
“At WFMU and Ichiban Radio, I heard brand new music that is 60 years old! Artists who put passion and drive into making their records that I appreciated. When Debbie played some Japanese Guitar-heavy Surf Band from 1964, my head burst. ‘Where has this music been?’ Her playlist was an undiscovered musical score for my day. When Debbie contacted me that she had left Ichiban and started Boss Radio 66, I knew SHE had created my dream station.”
Tom and Debbie regularly communicated by mail over the years. Then one day when Tom visited the WNYC studios to promote one of his films, Debbie was there to meet him in person for the first time. And it wasn’t the last.
Debbie Daughtry is not one to let the dust settle. At the time she not only worked as a producer at WNYC and ran her Ichiban radio stream at WFMU, but she also worked at several other radio stations throughout New York. As a result, it seemed like every time Tom opened a door to do a radio interview in New York, Debbie was on the other side waiting to greet him.
When Covid hit, Daughtry left WFMU and started her own digital radio station, and Ichiban became Boss Radio 66, an homage to the 1960s Boss Radio format. Tom was an instant supporter of the new station and of Debbie as the station found a new home exclusively on the TuneIn streaming audio platform.
“I had asked Tom if he wanted to be a guest DJ in the past, but his schedule never really allowed for it,” continued Daughtry. “With the shutdown halting most film production, I decided to ask again and this time he said yes, so once a month Tom records his DJ session out in LA or wherever in the world he is filming and sends the files over to me. I then layer him in with the curated set. It surprises no one that he’s a natural Boss Jock, and it’s amazing to think that since then Tom Hanks has been a regular DJ for my bespoke Brooklyn-based radio station.”
Now Debbie and Tom are creating more bespoke radio together. With a new recording studio at TuneIn’s headquarters, an expanding archive of over 6,500 curated songs from Debbie and Tom’s personal vinyl collections, and a few more projects together planned for the future, what started out as Hanksgiving background music and a tweet, has become something much more. For Tom, this is a passion project and for Debbie, this has allowed her to turn her passion for this music into her sole career focus. Boss Radio 66 is just the beginning.
“What Debbie created, and what resonated so deeply with Tom, is simply great radio,” said Richard Stern, CEO of TuneIn. “Radio is an art form, and like any artistic medium, it thrives when creators connect with their audience. While there is a lot of investment happening now to create radio with artificial intelligence and synthetic voices, this approach misses the whole point and value of radio. It’s not just hearing a playlist, it’s feeling connected to the people who love what you love. It’s about how imperfect moments achieve perfection on air. That’s magic for our listeners, and that’s why TuneIn is investing in passionate creators like Debbie and Tom.”
Hanks feels the same way when he thinks about what radio means to him and why he is so involved with helping Debbie create the future of Boss Radio 66:
“I had that relationship with stations in Oakland when I got my first clock radio. Me, alone, listening deep into the night. In the car, too. Great radio understands that – you are playing to a single set of ears, an individual listener. A curated radio show wants to delight each listener, steer them to the new and undiscovered, and thrill them with the familiar. Your own playlists and algorithms can play what you want and what you might like, but absent the human touch of someone else putting a record into a rotation – that’s machine-tooled serendipity. I enjoy knowing that someone thought this record would be stirring or hilarious to put on the air. In some ways, listening to one specific station is the same as going to a Broadway show, or the opera. If you are not there by specific choice, you miss out. There is joy in the curation of each moment of a radio station.”
Boss Radio 66 is just the first of several collaborations between Tom and Debbie to come, including a country music and American Standards station soon to follow on TuneIn.
To listen to the latest DJ set by Tom Hanks on Boss Radio 66, head to tunein.com/bossradio66 or download the TuneIn app now.
TuneIn, the world’s leading live streaming service, brings together live sports, news, music, podcasts and radio from around the globe. With more than 75 million monthly active users, TuneIn is one of the most widely used streaming audio platforms in the world. TuneIn broadcasts over 100,000 owned & operated and partner radio stations. With premier distribution across 200 platforms and connected devices, TuneIn empowers listeners to ‘hear’ what they love wherever ‘here’ might be. TuneIn Premium subscribers get exclusive access to commercial-free news from top networks like CNN, Fox News Radio, CSPAN, MSNBC, CNBC and Bloomberg, as well as live MLB, NFL, NHL and college sports programming and commercial-free music channels. For more information, please visit us at www.tunein.com or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.