From 7PM to midnight in more than 200 cities, the velvety voice of the most-listened-to woman in America flows through radio speakers in cars, homes, and third-shift workplaces. Some tuning in and calling in are truckers driving through the night. Others are forlorn, hopeful, or reunited lovers, all looking to be inspired or comforted by their host and a song. The music is often sappy, with lyrics to match the situation at hand. Unlike many radio call-in request shows, many listeners of this show trust their host to pick the perfect song.
Their host is Delilah Rene Luke, who is known to her 8 million listeners simply as "Delilah."
Delilah is very open about her own life on her show, talking about her kids, a love life with ups and downs, her take on religion and God. She's written two books, 'Love Someone Tonight' and 'Love Matters.' 'Family Matters,' about the importance of family in turbulent times, will hit shelves next year. She owns Delilah's Cozy Kitchin, a small comfort food cafe in Port Orchard, Wash., and lives nearby. Delilah founded Point Hope, a foundation dedicated to improving conditions for foster children in Ghana. She doesn't just sign checks; she goes to Africa when she can.
This is not a woman who shows up, flips the microphone switch on, chit-chats, and goes home after the show. That's because Delilah is already home. She might be considered the ultimate work at home mom, or WAHM. It didn't come easily or quickly.
Delilah becomes "Delilah"
Delilah, 50, spent three decades working worked her way up in the business, starting as a news reader, then traffic reporter and DJ at small radio stations. Early on, she started a call-in show. Years passed, and as she bounced around different radio station markets, listeners loved it. 1996 brought the first syndication of the show, then based out of Rochester, N.Y. Three stations grew to 12. A year later, she returned to her home state of Washington and the show expanded to more than 200 stations.
Off the air, her family grew through childbirth and adoption. Her radio family grew as well, hiring old friends and even a few listeners to help produce her show. Her listener base grew by millions.
The ultimate work at home mom
Delilah first got the idea to work from home more than 20 years ago. In Seattle, Veronica Weikle broadcast a morning radio show from a studio in a closet. "It was brilliant, and I knew that if she could do that from home, I could do it from my home someday," Delilah says. "Well, when my commute involved a ferry ride to and from work, I decided I needed to make that dream a reality!"
The radio host originally from rural Reedsport, Ore., is a single mom to 10 children; six live at home. She has eight grandchildren, soon to be nine. And despite busy nights taking care of her listeners, she's a very involved mother. Preparation for her five-hour nightly radio show starts when the kids leave for school. She had a nanny when the kids were smaller, but now with two of the kids driving, they help with errands and shuttling the little ones around. "If there is a really important event, like my youngest daughter, Blessing's, graduation from kindergarten [recently], I can pre-produce an hour or two of the show so I can attend the event," she says.
All moms become masters of scheduling that would rival a busy airport's air traffic control tower. Delilah has a personal assistant who lives close by and works out of the home-based studio. Her assistant is more than just "hired help" -- as is the situation with most of Delilah's staff. Their daughters are best friends, and in addition to keeping the trains on time, her assistant helps care for Delilah's horses. She even keeps her own horse with Delilah's animals.
It also helps to be the boss. In a media world where radio shows are owned by moguls, controlled by program directors, and driven by ratings, Delilah gets to call the shots. She owns her show.
Work brain off, family brain on?
Many people who work at home rue the idea that it's hard to "turn it off," when there's perhaps only a door between helping with homework and business work to be done. Delilah embraces the competing demands so they mesh smoothly.
"To me, work, kids, faith, family, neighbors are all interwoven," she says. "I live life fully and then reflect it back to my listeners via the radio each night. I don't say, 'OK, now I have to take notes about this trip so I can talk about it on the air' -- it is just something I do naturally."
Want to be a WAHM like Delilah?
Starting with a dream to be on radio when she was just a kid, Delilah put in decades of hard work. But if you haven't got that long and you'd still like to be a WAHM, all is not lost. She speaks of writers, designers, and quilters she knows who all make it work, successfully.
She says, "Work-from-home dreams happen when you recognize what you're really good at doing, and find a company or a marketplace to provide your services or products to, and then exceed everyone's expectations."