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Delilah has been on the air since 1984. (Courtesy of Delilah)

Get to Know Delilah, the Woman Behind the Popular Radio Show

Delilah’s warmth emanates from her voice—a voice that is familiar with over 8 million radio listeners who tune in to her popular evening show weekly, making it one of the country’s most-listened-to programs. For several hours each night, Delilah listens as people turn to her about their love problems, requesting a song to reminisce about a long-lost lover or to console their broken hearts. Many share their tales of triumph and loss, and Delilah listens carefully, offering a dose of positivity and encouragement. She has been on air from the Seattle, Washington, area since her show started in October 1984.

In a world of chaos and uncertainty, Delilah’s words are like a salve, reminding us that there is still hope. It is remarkable that in spite of her personal tragedies—having lost two sons and her stepson in the span of several years—she still exudes an unbridled verve for life. Her 15 children, many of whom she adopted or fostered, are her reasons for living, she said. She never worried about how to take on the responsibilities of being a mother, only assured that she’ll take things one step at a time. “I was not born with the fear factor—it’s just not in my DNA.” She encourages everyone to embrace the same attitude in life. “When you realize that there’s very little we can control, then you can realize, why am I worrying about it? Why am I not just enjoying the minutes? Most fear is your imagination picturing the worst possible scenario, right? Why not use your imagination to picture the best possible scenario?”

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

(Courtesy of Delilah)

American Essence: Did you always know that you liked connecting with people?

Delilah: Oh yeah. My mom says I used to walk up to people in grocery stores and start talking to them and ask them if they had children. And could I play with them?

There are very few people that I dislike. When I do, that’s on me. Because what I’m looking at is their behavior instead of their heart. What I’m doing is, I’m judging their behaviors instead of looking at their heart and looking at why they have those behaviors.

If we would all do that, there would not be the problems that exist in the world now. There would not be the divisiveness and the division that exists now, because 99 percent of the divisiveness exists because it’s an “us against them” mentality. It’s “I’m better than them. I’m smarter than you. My political party or my political affiliation is better than yours. My religious beliefs are better than yours.” Or even worse than [that] is, “I’m afraid of you. I’m fearful of you.” And if we could just realize that we’re all eternal beings having a human experience, and get past that “us against them” mentality—I try to make it happen.

AE: Do you feel the hardships you’ve been through have helped you provide listeners with perspective?

Delilah: I don’t know that it gives people perspective, but it certainly taught me to shut my mouth more and listen more. Because I thought I knew what grief was. I thought I knew what hardship was. I don’t have a clue. And going through the stuff that I’ve gone through has made me realize that when people are really hurting, when their life has just been completely shattered, they don’t need my advice. They don’t need my pearls of wisdom. They don’t need me quoting Scripture. They don’t need me telling them things are going to get better. They need me to listen, and to honor them, and to hold space for them. That was the best change in my soul, going through the grief that I’ve gone through.

(Courtesy of Delilah)

AE: Many listeners turn to you with their worries. What are your tips on giving good advice?

Delilah: Most of the time when we’re chatting with our friends, they don’t want advice. They want somebody to listen. And honestly, when people call me looking for advice, most of the time, I would say 90 percent of the time, they already have their answers. They just need validation, and a push in the right direction.

A gal called me last night. The scenario was, she’s been involved with a guy for a couple of years. She’s asked him if there’s a future. He said, “No, I just want to have fun. Stop asking me about that. I don’t see us settling down anytime soon.” And she’s like, “So what do I do?” And I said, “You already know what to do. Why are you asking me this? You know exactly what you have to do.” And she’s like, “Yeah, but I love him.” I said, “So what you’re asking is, is there a way to manipulate him? And change him into the kind of committed man you want and need?” No, there’s not. But you already know what you have to do. You want a long-term forever committed partner. He wants to have fun. There’s a big difference between the two. Okay, well, if all you want to do is be used, stay right where you are. If you want to have a long-term committed relationship, don’t partner with somebody who has clearly told you in his own words that that is not on his agenda.

Delilah lives on a 55- acre farm with her adopted children and many animals. (Courtesy of Delilah)

AE: Have your listeners’ stories offered you a unique perspective?

Delilah: When I lost both my boys and my stepson, I was given so much comfort. People sent prayers, they sent pictures. When my son Sammy died, I can’t tell you how many millions of prayers went up for me and my family during those times. Prayers that sustain me, prayers that gave me the courage to get up every day. When you don’t want to get up, when you’ve lost somebody and you just can’t even breathe, it hurts so bad—those prayers sustain you. I appreciate my listeners. Somebody called last year on Zach’s birthday and said, “Our boys share the same birthday. And I just wanted you to know that I’m so grateful I got to share my son’s birthday this year. And I know you didn’t and I’m just calling to tell you I prayed for you.”

AE: We are living in an era of increased isolation and anxiety. How do we as a society overcome this?

Delilah: It doesn’t matter what the crisis is, or the turmoil that you’re facing; if you have faith, you can get through anything. When you believe in something greater than yourself, and you believe that there is a higher power at work, then you can know that you don’t need to be afraid, you don’t need to be anxious, you don’t need to be filled with fear and trepidation. You can just put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward. It doesn’t matter what the crisis is, or what the dilemma is; if you can hang on to even a mustard seed of faith, you can persevere and get through anything.

Because of the nature of my show, people call me with issues of the heart. And I have noticed for the last three years, certainly an uptick in loneliness. People are lonelier than I’ve ever heard them before, hungry for connection.

I had a gal call me last night to hear a song for a man she met 20 years ago, dated half a dozen times. And then he left for the military. And she’s not heard from him again. And she was just reminiscing of those beautiful moments they had together, that once-in-a-lifetime heart connection. And I said, “Honey, it doesn’t have to be once in a lifetime. You can open yourself up to love again.” So people are usually calling me and they want to share a story about a connection they have. Whatever the big emotion is that they’re feeling, they want to share that, and for whatever reason, they feel like I’m a close friend they want to share it with.

AE: What shapes your view of people and humanity in general?

Delilah: I believe that we are all miracles, that we are all eternal beings having a human experience, that every person that you encounter is a bazillion, gazillion, trillion miracles wrapped up in skin. And because we’re wrapped in skin and we’re having a human experience, we do human things and we make bonehead decisions. We’re not always the best version of ourselves. But the essence of our being remains in the image of the Almighty, the essence of our being is the Almighty. He created us and we were created for a purpose and for a reason. And when you know that, you can survive anything. Why aren’t we just in awe of every person we meet? Why aren’t we just like, “Oh my gosh, I want to get to know you. I want to know the essence of you, I want to get to know what makes you smile, makes you laugh, brings you joy.” And then I want to contribute to that joy. Everybody’s a miracle. And when you know that, you can look beyond the choice, beyond the circumstance, to the wonderful person in front of you.

(Courtesy of Delilah)

Fun Facts About Delilah

8.3 million listeners
tune in each week, on average

151 radio stations
air Delilah’s program

Florida, Texas, and New York
are the three states where Delilah gets the most calls from

Most requested songs 

“What a Wonderful World,” Louis Armstrong

“Unchained Melody,” The Righteous Brothers

“Wind Beneath My Wings,” Bette Midler

“I Will Always Love You,” Whitney Houston

How Delilah knows what songs to play for listeners

“You know how some people have sports statistics stuck in their head? I have song lyrics stuck in my head. Because I love so many different genres of music, I have millions of song lyrics that are in my head,” Delilah said. She notes that the special ability is partly passed down from her father, who loved to playfully sing lyrics to everyday questions posed to him.

When listeners tell Delilah their story, she takes notes and then types out the names of songs that she’s reminded of.

Delilah screens her own calls

Delilah herself takes all 30 to 50 calls out of the thousands of people who phone into her show each night. The show’s dynamics all depend on fate.

Delilah said she and her producer “have always prayed, ‘God, let whoever you want through to get through, whoever needs a touch from you, needs to be heard, let that person get through.’ That’s my call screening philosophy.”

Delilah doesn’t have a set routine

“Routine is not in my vocabulary. It’s so hard for me to get the kids out the door in the morning because I am so not a routine person. I am a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants person. Why plan ahead and miss out on all the excitement of the adventure? If you plan ahead, then there’s nothing like, ‘Oh dang, I forgot to put gas in the car,’” she joked.

How Delilah gets through her busy schedule

“I don’t need help getting through the day. I love my day. I hate when my day comes to an end. I loathe going to sleep at night. The frustrating thing for me is when I get off the air, and I’m done around midnight, and I’m like, ‘I’m so pumped up! I want to call somebody and talk about this.’”

Being a mother is Delilah’s greatest joy

“My motherhood is who I was meant to be. I was born to be a mama. It’s not like, ‘Okay, here’s my life. I’m a disc jockey. I’m a gardener. I’m an artist. I’m a mother.’ No, it’s, ‘I’m a mother.’ And then everything else comes after that.”

From July Issue, Volume 3