“Delilah has shared all of her stuff on the radio and shares her heartbreak and shares her love of life,” he said. “I think other people say, ‘Wow, if she’s that open and vulnerable, I will be too.’”
It also helps that callers remain largely anonymous like readers who write to Dear Abby.
Delilah developed the format for her radio show in September 1984 when her firstborn son was 16 days old. It was an uphill battle to get the program directors to back her sappy, heart-to-heart talk show, but she believed in the vision and fought for it.
“When you get hundreds of calls a night, people tell you that what you’re doing matters and it’s inspired them, it doesn’t really matter what somebody else’s research shows or opinion says,” she said. “I trust my listeners.”
Of the estimated 62,000 calls she receives over 12 hours each night, she takes about 50-60 of them and only 25 callers get on air.
She hears from all kinds of people from the bubbly to the heartbroken. With some, she becomes their instant best friend and confidant.
“We live in a world where we have all these technologies and all these abilities to connect and communicate with cell phones and iPads and iPhones and faxing and texting and WhatsApp and Facebook,” she said. “Yet, people are lonelier than ever before.”
She’s felt the pangs of loneliness and has relentlessly sought love and given love, even though the act of doing so opened her up to excruciating pain when she lost her adopted 16-year-old son, Sammy, to sickle cell anemia four years ago.
Delilah adopted many of her children when she was single, and many of them have health issues.
“Every day is a challenge,” she said. But it’s apparent she still feels blessed for each new day the sun rises over her 55-acre farm outside of Seattle.
On this particular morning, she got up early and served her children a frittata with homemade goat cheese before they went off to school. They eat a lot of eggs for breakfast – scrambled, boiled, fried – since 600 chickens live on the farm.
She went down to her basement studio for an early-morning interview and got started on the day’s pre-recordings. She walked her dogs, checked on the pregnant goats and pulled some meat out of the freezer for dinner – all before noon.
Delilah says she doesn’t have down days. She has days where she’s annoyed or her heart is breaking, but even then, she’s pretty obnoxiously optimistic.