* photo supplied.
Family first: Thaao with his mom Joann and younger sister Courtney pictured at a family wedding in 2006.
* photo supplied. Family first: Thaao with his mom Joann and younger sister Courtney pictured at a family wedding in 2006.
Thaao Dill is two weeks away from starting work as a Senator. It's a high-profile public position, but how much do we really know about him other than he has a successful morning radio show and wears glasses?

If you are one of his 600+ friends on the social networking site Facebook, you probably think you know enough already - but there's plenty more to this 25 year-old than meets the eye.

For a start, he's a self-confessed neurotic - he'd rather starve than use plastic cutlery - and thinks he's too fat. He was raised under an incredibly strict religious regime - no birthday or Christmas celebrations, and certainly no Hallowe'en.

Perhaps one of his most remarkable achievements is that he started high school when he was 10 - a development that had a profound impact on how he was perceived as well as how he perceived himself.

Here, in his most candid interview to date, Mr. Dill opens up to Nigel Regan about his childhood, his goals, his move into politics and the unapologetic flouting of broadcasting laws before last month's election, and his ultimate passion and reason for being - the quest for social justice.

Thaao Dill has just finished another morning show at HOTT 107.5. He arrives at our office dressed in a smart chocolate brown pinstriped suite and a stylish pair of D&G glasses. "I've got things I need to do after this," he says. We don't ask, he doesn't tell.

Thaao Lamont Dill - named after Australian soap star Thaao Penghlis - is the son of Andre, a corporate manager at law firm CD&P, and Joann Dill, a teacher at St. George's Prep. They are divorced. He has a sister, Courtney, 22, who is studying to be a dietician in Florida. He also has a half-brother on his father's side, Che Smith, who works at Aberfeldy Nurseries.

Mr. Dill grew up in Pond Hill, Pembroke. "We were consistently middle class in every sense of the word and it was a very, very religious household," he says.

The family belonged to the Worldwide Church of God, which literally put God front and centre above everything else. "I didn't have a birthday party until I was 13 and we didn't do Christmas," Mr. Dill said.

"We were zealots. We were taken out of school a week before Christmas or Hallowe'en so we didn't get contaminated by these pagan celebrations," he laughed. "As soon as the pumpkin placards came out, I'd be like, 'you know you are going to hell, right?'"

Mr. Dill calls himself a nerd. "I say that quite fondly because nerds are beautiful people, sad sometimes but usually quite lovely."

At home, his mom and dad always had a book in their hands and the young Mr. Dill amazed everyone when he started reading the newspaper at the age of two. At school, he was so advanced he skipped two grades and was fast-tracked to P3, a development that had a deep impact on his development and sense of self.

"I was always three years younger than my peers. I'm not the biggest individual in the world. I was weird and tiny and it amplified the canyon between me and the rest of the social group," he said.

"As early as I can remember, kids would ask me to do some long multiplication or to spell some word. I was treated like a novelty. I never wanted the attention. It wasn't because of anything I had, it was just me," he said.

Spending time alone

The experience made him more insular. "It's not that I don't play well with others, but I don't necessarily ask too often for company or interaction. I was always 'the other'. Even amongst the geeks I was the other. I didn't really have any hole where my peg would fit in, so I had to learn to satisfy myself, but this may all have been fundamental to my personality."

He continued: "I'm only now developing meaningful relationships with people of my own age. Prior to that they were all five or six years older than me."

For a lot of people living an insular existence, music takes on an added importance. At home, Mr. Dill's dad fancied himself as a singer and would fill the house with Earth Wind and Fire. On the radio they'd listen to FM89 - nothing but the hits. His own awakening came a little later when he was drawn to hip-hop and artists like Nas, Jay-Z and Common. "Hip-hop gave me access to purpose, a means to an end," he said.

Since then he's cut his own CD, 'Glasshead', which shifted more than 600 copies online, and toured in the U.S. with one of his musical heroes, sample-based producer and performer Joe Beats.

From West Pembroke Primary, Mr. Dill progressed to Warwick Academy when he was ten and then onto Saltus for a one-year post grad course. After that he spent a year in Basel, Switzerland, as an exchange student before studying for a communications degree at the South Alberta Institute of Technology.

He returned to Bermuda to work at the Bermuda Broadcasting Corporation before joining HOTT in 2004.

His foray in politics grew out of a "growing obsession with social justice," he said.

"I believe in absolute equity for all members of society, regardless of their belief systems, gender, race - all that is immaterial when it comes to social justice. Once I wrapped my head around that concept, it obligated action."

PLP all the way

Politically and historically speaking, there was only one party to join - the Progressive Labour Party, which he did about a year ago. "That's what many folk don't understand about PLP supporters and members. It's more than just a party; it's really an idea. If you choose to believe in the idea of social justice, this group is for you," he said.

His allegiance got him into trouble in the run up to last month's election. HOTT is run by PLP MP Glenn Blakeney and the station incorporated Mr. Dill and other radio personalities to read pro-party messages, which flouted broadcasting laws. He remains unapologetic.

"The broadcasting regulations are unconstitutional, they limit free speech," he said.

He also said they assume that "listeners are idiots who can't figure out how to interpret information and that they need protecting from someone else's opinion... It makes me want to spit," he said.

He also questions why it's okay for the print media to publish what it likes during an election while the radio has to censor itself. "This idea that the pen is more trustworthy than the voice offends me intellectually," he said.

He's also quick to dismiss the suggestion that he was only appointed to the Senate as a reward for his loyalty to the PLP throughout the election campaign.

"It's incomplete as a thought. If you have ever really spent any length of time listening to the show, it hasn't really been PLP radio by any stretch of the imagination. We talked about the election as much as everybody else in the country did. I've only been a card carrying member of the PLP for about nine or ten months and during that time I had some heated arguments on air with ministers."

He processes the criticism like this: "Politics makes people paranoid in a way they can justify - backroom conversations and snifters of brandy - but it just doesn't happen like that."

If anything, he thinks he's bringing down the Premier's cache. "I make prank calls for a living," he laughed.

"More than anything else, I am a symbol of a young Bermudian being used in a demonstrable way. Now it's up to me to show that it was worth it by not sucking," he said.

"I'm really excited to get started, but I know the only thing I can do effectively to begin with is out-work everybody. I can read more and write more, but I shouldn't necessarily talk more. I suppose I should talk less until I understand how the entity functions."

In his private life, he is dating, although the couple prefers to remain low-key, and he is heavily into the Baha'i religion.

Spiritually moved

"The faith speaks to me logically and emotionally but I'm unwilling to take the leap and join just yet, even though it moves me in a way that I never have been spiritually, because I don't want to make it look bad by association," he said.

The big draw for him is that the religion has an inherent respect for all belief structures. "It teaches the path to God is not the relevant thing, the important thing is to arrive at God." It basically fits in with his interest in social justice.

He's a member of more than 70 groups on Facebook, including 'Remember when you had to blow on the Nintendo cartridge when it messed up' and 'I bet I can find 1,000,000 people who dislike George Bush.' He says he likes the "immediate interactivity."

While he continues to evolve and work through his neurosis, there is one person who says he will always be perfect in her eyes - his mom.

She told us: "I'm very proud of him and his achievements, I always have been. He is my first-born and my only son and I obviously adore him.

"I didn't really have anyone to compare him to. I just always accepted who he was, where he was and what he was doing."

For example, she said: "When he was six, he was very interested in Greek mythology, so we went out and got all the books on it. He has always been the type of person who is constantly interested in things.

"He is who he is and I wouldn't want to make him any other way."