Tom Hanks, DJ! How the Actor Became a Regular Guest Host on His 'Dream' N.Y.C. Radio Station

·5-min read

"When Debbie [Daughtry] contacted me that she had left Ichiban and started Boss Radio 66, I knew she had created my dream station," the actor tells PEOPLE

Wil Corpus - TuneIn Tom Hanks and Debbie Daughtry
Wil Corpus - TuneIn Tom Hanks and Debbie Daughtry

Tom Hanks is not only an Oscar-winning actor — he's recently added radio DJ to his list of accomplishments!

The prolific actor-producer-director serves as a part-time host on the Brooklyn, New York-based station Boss Radio 66, presenting a set of lesser-known decades-old tunes curated by founder Debbie Daughtry.

The road to his approximately once-a-month gig all started when son Colin Hanks introduced him to a show called Rock 'n' Soul Ichiban airing on New York-area community radio station WFMU. Tom, 66, tweeted his love for the show back in 2011, reached out to Daughtry (who was with WFMU at the time) to offer his support via typewritten letter — and the rest is history.

"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," Tom tells PEOPLE of his initial discovery of the show. "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."

The Forrest Gump actor goes on to recall how, before discovering Ichiban Radio, he'd been "toying with the idea to download my vinyl and create an app that required you to simply hit play, and out would spill the lesser hits of from the years when radio stations played artists from every kind of [genre]: R&B, jazz, country, rock & roll, instrumentals, Broadway, novelty songs, Dean Martin!"

"The startup was going take forever, and there was the question of costs, etc. When Debbie contacted me that she had left Ichiban and started Boss Radio 66, I knew she had created my dream station," Tom explains of the station, available now on TuneIn.

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Courtesy Debbie Daughtry Tom Hanks' letter to Debbie Daughtry
Courtesy Debbie Daughtry Tom Hanks' letter to Debbie Daughtry

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Daughtry tells PEOPLE that, upon receiving the letter from Tom, she sent him a package of WMFU station goodies. After that, "Every once in a while, we would send each other a letter through the mail," she says "And his were always typewritten, which was cool."

Fast-forward to the beginning of COVID-19 pandemic, Daughtry "went out on my own and changed the name of the station to Boss Radio 66, because it seemed to fit more like what we had become."

"And then I sent Tom a letter and said, 'Hey, I'm no longer at WFMU. I'm independent now.' And that's when we started emailing each other and making plans to build the radio station," she recalls. "And I'd been asking him for years to do a guest-DJ set, and the timing just finally worked out."

But before they officially collaborated, they met in person during a chance encounter in 2016, when Tom was recording an interview for a WNYC show — which Daughtry was working on at the time — to promote his movie Sully.

"He just asked me a million questions: 'Where do you get all these songs? Where do you get all these promos? Where do you get all these singles? How do you know so much about radio?' " Daughtry remembers, sharing with PEOPLE that she also ran into the actor later at NPR.

Alexandra Crotin From left: Manoli Wetherell, Tom Hanks and Debbie Daughtry
Alexandra Crotin From left: Manoli Wetherell, Tom Hanks and Debbie Daughtry

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"Debbie sends me the playlist and I do a dive on the web for salient and fascinating information," Tom tells PEOPLE of how he prepares for his sets. "Stories of the who and the where of the recording and the personalities of the artists. Many crazy stories."

"There are not that many radio stations that are as declared, curated and consistently one-of-a-kind as is Boss Radio 66. Debbie did it!" he adds of his inspiration behind joining up with Daughtry.

"And there are no ads, save, like, the Four Seasons promoting bowling as a perfect date, or the Rolling Stones selling, I kid you not, Rice Krispies … " the Big actor continues.

If he were to curate a playlist for PEOPLE, Tom says it would include "lesser-known tracks from Booker T. & the M.G.'s. Johnny Otis. Candi Staton. Dolly Parton before she was Dolly Parton."

While the Cast Away actor's DJ stints began by recording himself on his phone during the pandemic, it eventually began including in-studio sessions alongside Daughtry, as well.

Wil Corpus - TuneIn Debbie Daughtry and Tom Hanks
Wil Corpus - TuneIn Debbie Daughtry and Tom Hanks

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Asked her favorite part of having Tom on the station, Daughtry — who admits she's a huge fan of his music-powered 1996 film That Thing You Do! — can't pick one single moment.

"It's just so much fun. It's just pure joy," she says. "It's just all about these great songs, and he seems to love it just as much as I do."

As for the station itself, "It just takes you to a place," explains Daughtry of Boss Radio 66. "On TuneIn, our tagline is 'Travel the Back Roads.' "

"And I think that's just a great description of what this is like," she adds. "It's like traveling down Route 66 in the '60s, and that's what radio sounded like back then."

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.

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Read the original article on People.