The self-proclaimed “queen of sappy love songs,” Delilah Rene has been the most-listened-to woman in American radio for more than 30 years. Beginning her career in high school after winning a speech contest that was judged by local radio station hosts, Delilah was given her own time slot during shifts before and after school on KDUN Radio in Reedsport, Oregon.
She broadcasts these days from her home studio in West Seattle, and the Delilah radio show is heard by over 8 million listeners on over 150 stations nationwide. Her self-titled radio show, Delilah, has since gained a reputation for being the “safety zone where listeners share their secrets” on air — secrets about love, heartbreak and circumstances they are dealing with — and Delilah then plays a song that she feels best matches the caller’s situation as a special tribute to help them. Through the years, this personal radio experience has helped Delilah form a unique connection with her callers, listeners and fans.
Woman’s World recently caught up with Delilah in Times Square just minutes after she stepped off the stage as host of the 23rd annual Broadway in Bryant Park, produced by 106.7 LITE FM. Delilah has been part of this summer tradition for almost two decades, and this year, she was host of Disney Day — where actors performed hits from The Lion King, Aladdin and Frozen. Hundreds of fans packed out the lawn to enjoy the lunchtime performances and after the spectacular acts, a line of fans waited to get Delilah’s autograph.
Since she’s typically heard only over the radio waves, it’s a treat for loyal listeners to get to see her face-to-face. Delilah greets each fan with her signature warmth, radiant smile and genuine personality, and each fan shares how she has touched their lives over the years.
Here, Delilah gives Woman’s World a peek into her life on her farm near Port Orchard, Washington with her 15 children — 11 of whom are adopted — and 23 grandchildren, and she opens up in a Q&A about her faith, how she stays strong in the face of the loss of three sons and ultimately finds hope in heartache.
Woman’s World: What’s it like having 15 kids and 23 grandchildren?
Delilah: It’s a lot of fun having them all around. I do everything with my kids. Wherever Mama goes, they go. We like riding horses together and going to be beach. We do a lot of arts and crafts projects. We’ve even had a water fight at least once a day for the last month. We have hoses and we’re not afraid to use them!
Just last week, my grandson, who is 14, just got dumped in the pool with his new leather cowboy boots on. His mom was not happy, but I said, “Don’t be mad at me, I didn’t throw him in!”
WW: How do you spend your quiet time?
Delilah: What is quiet time? [Laughs] I heard that one of the saints said, “If I don’t start my day with two or three hours of alone time with the Lord, I can’t get anything accomplished.” And I’m like, “You clearly don’t have babies climbing in your bed!”
But God meets you right there in the bed. Jesus always met the women at the well. The guys go to the mountaintop with their friends and their tents. But we women, we meet Him at the well in the heat of the day.
WW: Do you watch any TV shows with your family?
Delilah: We love The Chosen — it follows the life of Jesus as he recruits His disciples and begins his ministry. I got to visit the set last year and meet some of the actors and actresses. Even the story of their set is incredible. They were set-less. They didn’t have a place to film. Then COVID came, and there was a Christian camp in Texas that had to shut down.
The camp was going to lose everything, and the folks at The Chosen heard about this camp, and said, “We’ll lease it, pay the bills and mortgages, if we can use it to film our show.”
Then they built the largest TV studio in all of Texas on the campground. They built a city on the lake. They brought in anthropologists and experts to help design the set so it looks like Capernaum and Bethlehem. It blows your mind how much detail goes into it. And they even still have campers come to camp. The campground saved them, and they saved the campground.
(Click through to read more about The Chosen and how it’s coming to network TV)
WW: You have had such deep loss, how do you find purpose in pain?
Delilah: I don’t know if I’ve found the purpose in the pain of losing my boys. [In 2012, Delilah lost her son, Sammy, to sickle cell anemia. Then in 2017, her biological son Zachariah died by suicide at just 18 years old, and in 2019, her stepson Ryan also passed away]. You can’t find purpose in the loss of a child. But what I have found is anticipation in being with them again, which changes everything.
It was [country singer] Rory Feek — who had lost his wife, Joey — who gave me that gift. He said, “Your boys are a part of your future, not a part of your past.” Before that I was just thinking of the here and now, and I got angry. I’m like, “They don’t have a future, they’re gone.” Yes, they’re gone, but they’re in Heaven, and now I can look forward to it with anticipation.
I don’t fear death. I’m not rushing headlong into it because I’ve got a 7-year-old that I need to raise. But I look forward to that day with so much anticipation, and that changes everything.
WW: What do you tell women who struggle to love themselves?
Delilah: If you don’t have self-love, you can’t make healthy choices. If you don’t make healthy choices, you aren’t going to feel good, which then doesn’t help with the self-love. It’s a vicious cycle that has to begin with self-love.
But how do we do that? I can’t do that because I know I’m a sinner — to the core. I’m very self-aware. I know my limitations. I know my sin-nature. I know that if left to my own devices, I can get in trouble really fast. But then I let God love me, when I let the Almighty tell me, “You are precious, you are fearfully and wonderfully made. I knit you together in your mother’s womb. I know every hair on your head. I cherish you. I rejoice over you with singing.” [Psalm 139: 13-16]
When I take that all in and go, “Wait a minute, You call me daughter? You call me a princess. You call me Your friend. You who spoke the whole universe into being consider me a friend?” When I wrap my head around that, I can’t help but love myself. I can’t help but go, “Dang, I’m all that?” And when I love myself, I want to make good choices.
WW: How do you find body confidence?
Delilah: I want to be healthy. I want to be strong. I want to be fit and live to be able to see my youngest son graduate high school. I want to be as healthy as I possibly can. If I have the choice to stay healthy, I’m going to do that because I love myself and I want to honor this body. It doesn’t matter if you’re tall or short, or what ethnicity you are, just be the best you that you can be.
That’s not living up to somebody else’s standards, that’s being the best version of yourself you can be. You shouldn’t destroy all the beauty that God has created. Your standard of beauty should be: How can I be the best me — spiritually, physically, emotionally, mentally?
In God’s eyes, we are holy. Not because of what we do. I mess up every day. I mess up all day. But He has “clothed me in his garbs of righteousness.” He invited me into the wedding feast, and I show up like, “I can’t wear these rags.” And God says, “Don’t worry about it, I have clothes for you. Come on in!”
WW: What advice would you give your younger self?
Delilah: If I could go back to my 21-year-old self, I would say, “Don’t give yourself away.” So many young women do what I did looking for love and validation. I would say, “You’re worth it. Wait until somebody truly loves you and honors you and respects you, and will move mountains for you. Wait until you meet your best friend. Then when it’s real and it’s tangible and based on trust and respect.”
That would be my best advice to a younger Delilah. I can’t go back and un-do it, and there’s nothing I can do but say, “Thank you, Jesus, for redemption.” Me and my husband now are both sinners saved by grace.
WW: What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
Delilah: There’s a guy named Charlie Brown, who used to be on air in Seattle. He told me once, “Delilah, don’t forget about the Power of Ten. For every interaction you have with somebody, they will tell ten other people, if it’s a powerful interaction. You decide if it’s going to be powerful in the positive or powerful in the negative.”
For every person you touch and share something with, and have an honest, authentic interaction, remember the Power of Ten. And you decide: Do you want to be a blessing or a heartbreak?
WW: Millions are inspired by the Delilah radio show, what inspires you?
Delilah: The Bible. There are so many great books and great authors. When I was a new Christian, I would listen to Charles Stanley all day, every day. There’s great teachers and preachers. But when I’m hurting, the only thing that I turn to is praise and worship music, and the Word of God.
Half the time, I can’t even pray. There are just no words. I just cry, but that is prayer. I listen to our local Christian radio station for worship music. I love the personalities on there. We’ve got a whole bunch of praise and worship CDs that came out in the 90s like the K-Tel Presents worship collections.
WW: Who was your favorite interview of all time?
Delilah: There’s a guy named Charlie Mackesy who wrote a sweet little book called The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse, and I did a podcast with him. I could’ve talked to him for 10 hours. He just was love and so much goodness. Very sarcastic — but in a loving way and had very sharp wit.
I love people that are funny. But it’s a tiny little book, but it’s so profound in its simplicity. The best quote in the book says: “’What would you like to be when you grow up?’…‘Kind,’ said the boy.” If everybody would take that to heart and be kind, wouldn’t the world be so much better? If leaders could just sit down and be kind to one another? Let’s all just be kind.
Don’t miss Delilah radio’s new podcasts
Hey, It’s Delilah, which is her daily (Monday-Friday) podcast with 10-15 minute episodes containing a variety of sweet dedications, tug-at-your heartstrings stories, funny situations, and snippets of her “Mama Delilah” radio advice. – Listen HERE.
Love Someone, which drops new episodes on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month, where she cultivates conversations that inspire listeners with iconic special guests — Musicians, actors, writers, directors, activists and sports figures — like Shania Twain, Jen Hatmaker, Rita Wilson and Michael Bublé