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Zoe Hanson

Zoe Hanson on broadcasting horizons

By Zoe Hanson

The Podcast Lady

Relatable, personable and ultimately a great listener — presenter and podcaster Zoe Hanson knows how to connect with audiences, a skill which she has honed in over 20 years’ experience as a breakfast radio presenter for Capital and Heart.

As Zoe prepares to host the Old Bond Store’s new monthly podcast, here she shares some of her breakfast show highlights, her love of Southampton and its people’s stories, and the enjoyment in conveying her own relatable experiences.

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When did you discover your love of presenting?

I was a Butlins Redcoat for years. I learned my craft at Butlins — I'm the kind of person who always wants to be involved; I have a fear of missing out. Growing up and going on holiday to Butlins I saw the Redcoats as absolute superstars: the people who make your holiday, who are your friends for the week, who are up on stage performing and entertaining.

I got a break when I was a promo girl in London during the Ideal Home Exhibition selling cases of wine. There was a radio studio there, I did some interviews with them about wine which went really well, they helped me put a demo together and I was on a breakfast show within a month.

What were your most memorable moments as a breakfast radio presenter?

I worked on the Capital Breakfast show in London with Johnny Vaughn and there were so many amazing moments: Will Smith came in during my first week, we went to Vegas to interview David Hasselhoff, I sat next to Shirley Bassey at a Bond premiere and we went to the Oscars twice.

I think one of my memorable moments was the first time I went to the Brit Awards; it blew my mind because I'd sat religiously every year watching it on television and then I was there.

There are so many moments but what it really comes down to isn’t the big stars, I loved doing the breakfast show because it was talking to real people and hearing their stories.

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Were there times during lockdown when you felt a role as a broadcaster to maintain people’s connectivity?

That’s when we started the So SO Show, which is the podcast for Southampton. I wanted to make the podcast a really positive beacon of what is going on in the city and what people can get involved with. I’m going to a bungee aerobics class this week; I love giving listeners that information and encouraging them to give it a go.

The So SO Show was set up in the midst of the first lockdown as a podcast about the area but also, at that time, about what you could do, not what you couldn’t. Sharing where the good walks are, where you could still get a coffee, even where the toilets were open!

What do you love most about the city?

I love that there’s loads going on, there’s always something to do, there’s always something new. There are so many amazing people, so many characters. I think that, in the last couple of years, Southampton has become quite driven ⁠— there’s quite a buzz about the place.

I love that it’s small enough that you can be in the centre of town in 15 minutes and I love its marine connections ⁠— I really enjoy coming across Itchen bridge and seeing the cruise ships.

If you could interview anyone, who would they be?

I’ve always wanted to interview Madonna. She’s gone through so many different transitional times. She’s changed her mind and she’s changed what her brand is but she’s still a very unknown quantity.

"We went to Vegas to interview David Hasselhoff, I sat next to Shirley Bassey at a Bond premiere and we went to the Oscars twice.”"

Zoe Hanson, The Podcast Lady

Do you ever get starstruck?

All the time. I think nerves are very close to excitement, and so I turn it into positive energy. I think it’s all in the preparation. When you’re interviewing someone, and you know you’re going to be starstruck, the best thing you can do is prep it so that you know exactly what questions you’re going to ask and what you’re going to say.

What does the Old Bond Store podcast hold in store?

It represents the Old Bond Store community, within a podcast. It’s the personality of the Old Bond Store in audio form. The Old Bond Store is a really authentic place, where genuine conversations take place. You get to know the people here before you get to know what they do, and I think that’s a really strong way to start a podcast.

You started a blog about being a mum, it’s great fun but it also has some very relatable anecdotes about parenting. How has it been received?
People really enjoy it. I started it when my daughter was four months old because I’m a solo parent and I wanted to remember and document things but also make it relatable. It’s an antidote to that antenatal group where everything is perfect — because everything isn’t perfect.

What are your aspirations for the future?

My aspiration is to be the go-to person for podcast training. Teaching people how to do it and how to portray their messages and reach their audience.

I’ve launched The Podcast Lady. I know how to talk to people, how to create audio, and how to set up a podcast in the right way. I want to help people to make their own podcasts, whilst enjoying my work and having time with my daughter.

Which records make you smile?

Groove Armada, Super Stylin’; Rick Astley, Never Gonna Give You Up; Public Enemy, Don’t Believe The Hype; and Treasure by Bruno Mars.