THE first thing that strikes you about Danny Howard is what a nice bloke he is.
I suppose, because he has gone from DJ in a local nightclub to national star in such a short space of time, and at such a young age too, I thought he might be affected and brash.
He isn’t. He is still the same lad he was before he landed a show on the institution that is Radio One and before he began mixing records for the likes of the Ministry of Sound and Example.
He is friendly, down to earth and fiercely proud of his hometown.
All of which is impressive because it’s been a hell of a year for the 24-year-old, whose star has risen dramatically since he decided to enter a competition on the Chris Moyles breakfast show in October 2011.
Prior to that, he had been happy to achieve what had been his ambition in life - to DJ at the Syndicate nightclub.
But the breakthrough on Moyles’ show - winning the competition - led to a job presenting the Saturday afternoon Dance Anthems slot, and Howard hasn’t looked back.
It isn’t a bad outcome for a lad who only decided to take up DJ-ing at university while studying for a sports science degree.
“Have I got my head round what’s happened?” says Danny, as we chat over the phone. “Yes and no.
“It is still unbelievable really because to go from DJ-ing in the clubs to Radio One isn’t something I ever dreamt about. It was too unlikely.
“My personal goal was to DJ at the Syndicate. Back in the day I used to go there every single week as a clubber and saw the best DJs in the world play there.
“I used to think to myself ‘do you know what, if I could play here one day that would be my dream come true’.
“Then eventually when I did become a resident DJ there towards the end of its time that was me hitting my goal - and it just snowballed from there.”
That’s putting it mildly. Howard is now a familiar name to music fans throughout the land, which is incredible considering he’s only been DJ-ing for five years.
“I was 19, doing a Sports and Exercise Science degree at Edge Hill, when I first had a go,” he explains.
“I borrowed some vinyl decks off a friend who never used them and practised in my uni room, probably when I should have been at lectures.
“Eventually I blagged myself a gig at the student union and that’s where it all started.
“It was weird because at that stage of my career my ambition was to work in sport and my goal was to work with athletes at the 2012 Olympics. As it happened, in 2012 I ended up with a show on Radio One … I’ll settle for that I think.”
During his meteoric rise, though, there have been hard times. Howard’s father passed away in between him taking up DJ-ing and hitting the big time.
“Because I was DJ-ing more and more, I was failing behind in my studies,” he adds.
“My dad always used to joke about how he’d never be there to see me graduate, because he was quite ill and as it happened he did pass away.
“That made me determined to knuckle down, pass uni and get my degree. I did that, as well as carrying on with the DJ-ing.
“Without getting too deep about it, I only wish he could be around to see what I’m doing now because he only ever saw me DJ around Blackpool, and didn’t even see me DJ at the Syndicate.
“If he saw what I was doing now I think he’d be gobsmacked, but I hope he’d be proud of what I’ve achieved.”
Of that there is no doubt, for Howard’s star is rising fast.
On top of his radio show, he is being chased by all the big-names to mix their records.
But what is also impressive about the former Lytham St Annes High School lad is how he hasn’t forgotten his roots.
He lives in Manchester with his girlfriend, but is back in Blackpool at least four days out of seven to see friends and family, including his mum and younger sister Jenna.
“I am incredibly proud of being a Blackpool lad … in fact regular listeners to the Radio One show will probably be sick of hearing me going on about the place,” he says.
“I always talk about it and if ever we get people texting in saying they are on their way to Blackpool for a night out, I always read it out.
“Blackpool as a town has its positives and its negatives and with the recent 999 programme not putting us in a good light, I just think ‘well that’s not actually what Blackpool is like’ so it is good for me to be able to shout about where I’m from.
“The nightclub scene in Blackpool is pretty much flat. There is nothing going on in my view in terms of clubs so it makes me proud that I can be flying the flag a little bit.”
Though Howard is a self-confessed clubber with a passion for dance music, there are signs that he could turn into a more mainstream DJ.
When host of Radio One’s daily drive time show Greg James went away recently, Howard stepped in.
“It was daunting and I have to admit I was nervous … it probably sounded like I was too,” he admits.
“The Saturday afternoon slot is big enough but then to get asked to cover drive-time is mind-blowing stuff.
“But it is something that doesn’t come round very often so I know I have to take the opportunity and make the most of it and that’s what I try to do. You don’t get a second chance at things like Radio One.”
Which begs the question how far can the Blackpool boy go?
“I am right at the start of my career and I suppose to achieve what I have in that short space of time is amazing,” he muses.
“People who don’t know me might think I take it for granted but I definitely don’t.
“It is something I know I am very lucky to have and I am just making sure I put 100 per cent into everything I do to make sure it is a success and that the show sounds good.”
He pauses, takes a deep breath, then adds: “There isn’t a week that goes by when I’m in the middle of the show on air and I think to myself ‘how did this happen?’ It is amazing.
“I look to me left and I’ve got Trevor Nelson getting ready to do his show after me and I’m just sat there thinking ‘what’s going on, how did I get here?’”
It is that kind of attitude - humble, appreciative, hungry for more - which makes Danny Howard so likeable and why the whole of the Fylde should be supportive and proud of him, and wishing him luck for the future.
*Danny Howard’s Dance Anthems show on Radio One begins every Saturday at 4pm. You can follow Danny on Twitter at @djdannyhoward