Bette and Delilah


This portrait was painted by Randy Watkins, I believe. You can look and buy his other works at: Randy Watkins Gallery

Delilah: Radio’s answer to comfort food Delilah
By Dan Kane Repository entertainment writer

Question: What makes radio personality Delilah qualified to dole out advice to her listeners?

Answer: If sheer life experience is a requirement, she’s earned her Ph.D.

A quick biography:

Delilah Luke grew up in Reedsport, Ore., with an alcoholic father who threw her out of the house the day after her high-school graduation for coming home an hour late. When she brought her African-American fiancé to meet her parents in 1982, her father answered the door with a shotgun in hand. Three years later, Delilah’s husband walked out on her and their baby son.

Later that same year, her brother and his wife disappeared in a plane crash. Delilah developed an eating disorder and began popping diet pills. She lost her job as a deejay in Seattle. She found God and Al-Anon, found another job, remarried, had two more children, became a nationally syndicated radio star, adopted three foster kids, divorced (nonamicably) in 2002 and recently adopted another little boy.

“I don’t pretend to have a perfect life,” Delilah, 43, says. “I just do the best I can.”

While her personal life has been turbulent, Delilah’s career is an unqualified success. Her syndicated call-in show, “Delilah After Dark,” which blends supportive advice with inspirational pop songs, airs in 200 cities. Locally, it can be heard on Mix 94.1 (WHBC-FM) weeknights from 7 to 11.

“It’s about relationships and commitments,” Delilah says about her show. “I talk to folks on the phone, record the calls and — based on what their stories are — we try to find songs that lyrically speak to their situations.”

While songs like Bette Midler’s “Wind Beneath My Wings,” Mariah Carey’s “Hero” and Whitney Houston’s “The Greatest Love of All” are Delilah mainstays, she occasionally throws listeners a loop. For a caller whose boyfriend had a 23-pound tumor removed, she played Ambrosia’s “Biggest Part of Me.”

Delilah’s show has attracted some top-flight celebrity guests, among them Barbra Streisand, James Taylor, Bette Midler, Madonna, Josh Groban, Whitney Houston and Amy Grant.

A taboo topic on the feel-good show is politics. “We don’t do any politics ever,” Delilah says. “It is not a show about issues that people debate. Occasionally I share advice, but most of my advice is based on personal experience rather than clinical advice.

“Mostly, though,” she says, “I just listen.”

What is Delilah trying to accomplish with her unabashedly warm and fuzzy show? “On any night of the week, I want anybody listening to get hope and to know, no matter what is going on or what they are going through, that things will get better,” she says.

While upwards of 100,000 calls are made to Delilah’s show, only about 30 make the cut. “We try to choose compelling calls that will not just touch that person, but a number of listeners,” Delilah says. “If somebody calls and says they are going through a terrible divorce, even though it might be a sad story we always try to end the call on a note of hope.”

The ongoing popularity of Delilah’s show allows her plenty of leeway. “I am very fortunate, because I am one of maybe a handful of people left in radio who is given creative freedom,” she says. “Every night I get to talk about life, death, love, kids, pets, refrigerators and silly things that happen in the course of my day. There aren’t many people in radio who can do this.”

Delilah will greet fans and sign autographs March 15 from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Kent State Stark Campus Professional Education & Conference Center.

Her visit will be part of A Day for Women, an expo with displays on health care, beauty, finance, home design and other topics.

The expo will run from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and admission is free.

Following the expo, there will be a benefit event from 4 to 6 p.m. hosted by Delilah and featuring a performance at 5 p.m. by vocal group All-4-One (”I Swear”). Hors d’oeuvres will be served and there will be a cash bar.

Tickets, $15, are available at WHBC and the Canton AAA. Proceeds will benefit the Stark County Foster Parent Fund and the Domestic Violence Project Teen Dating Program.

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