Delilah: The DJ Requests A Song She Loves If you've been driving down the interstate late at night, you may know the voice of Delilah. Every night, hundreds of thousands of people call in to tell her their story. Delilah, a true Queen of Hearts, listens, then plays a song to fit that person's situation. Jacki Lyden asks Delilah what song she would request.

Delilah: The Song She Loves

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(Soundbite of radio show, "Delilah After Dark")

Ms. DELILAH LUKE (Radio Personality, Author): Who's on your heart tonight? Is there a special sweetheart, a special child? Maybe there's somebody...

LYDEN: If you know this voice, then you've been driving down the interstate late at night. You're the only car on the road, and youre flipping your FM radio dial, wishing you had someone very, very special to talk to. And there she is.

(Soundbite of radio show, "Delilah After Dark")

Unidentified Woman: (Singing) Delilah...

LYDEN: Delilah Rene Luke has over 8 million listeners and a multimillion-dollar radio deal. It's no exaggeration to call her the Oprah of radio. Every night, hundreds of thousands of people call in to tell her their story. Delilah, a true Queen of Hearts, listens, then plays a song to fit that person's situation. It's an old-fashioned shout-out.

LYDEN: And Delilah, thanks for joining me.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. LUKE: Well, thank you for inviting me. This is fun kind of being on the other end of the microphone.

LYDEN: It really, really is. We love it...

Ms. LUKE: Now you get to pry into my business like I pry into everyone else's at night.

LYDEN: Describe where you do the show every night because I think people would like to know that. And how many nights we're talking about? I mean, we think we work hard here, but youve got quite the situation.

Ms. LUKE: Well, I'm in my studio right now, and it is in my home. The show is live Monday through Friday.

LYDEN: Mm-hmm.

Ms. LUKE: Saturdays and Sundays are pre-produced, but because I stinkin' love being in my studio, I usually - at least once or twice a weekend, I'll sneak into one of my studios and spend a few hours on the phones, a few hours catching up on production and stuff like that. It really is my sanctuary.

LYDEN: Wow. How do you sort through such a deluge of callers? I mean, how many do you get at a given night?

Ms. LUKE: Well, we get over 100,000 call attempts a night, that's what the phone company, they track every individual phone number that tries to call our number. Out of those, we answer a couple of hundred and out of those, I probably personally talk to 50 or 60 people. And out of those, 25 make it on the air.


Ms. LUKE: So, if you get on the air you are really one lucky duck.

LYDEN: Yeah. So youre in your basement studio-slash-sanctuary, and we know that radio's a very personal and intimate medium. Heres just one of the thousands of people who do call in. Your producers were kind enough to give it up a little bit. So heres a little air check.

(Soundbite of radio show, "Delilah After Dark")

Ms. LUKE: Bookie(ph), welcome.

BOOKIE: Thank you.

Ms. LUKE: Now is that your proper name or a nickname?

BOOKIE: It's my proper name. Believe this or not, youre the first voice I heard when I came to this country over 10 years ago.

Ms. LUKE: I love your name. Where did you come from?

BOOKIE: Nigeria.

Ms. LUKE: Well, welcome. What can I do for you?

BOOKIE: I have happened to find myself in my first crush in my entire life at 29 years old, and I have no idea what to do about it.

Ms. LUKE: Your first crush?


(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. LUKE: Youre kidding me.

BOOKIE: No. After someone's been lucky enough that guys came to me, not the other way around.

Ms. LUKE: So youve got a major crush, and you dont know what to do about it.

BOOKIE: Major crush. The only thing missing is...

LYDEN: It is difficult to give people one-on-one advice, especially when youre broadcasting it.Youre doing it night after night to dozens of people. How do you not get drained of your own sense of compassion and intimacy?

Ms. LUKE: Well, it might be difficult for somebody. This is what I do best - is to pry into people's business and mind their business. I can't help myself. I mean, I can't even go through the grocery line at the grocery store without talking to people and then, you know, giving them my opinion.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. LUKE: People fascinate me. Humans fascinate me. Relationships fascinate me - the complexities and the layers and the nuances. And I never, ever, ever, ever, ever tire of connecting with people and talking to people.

LYDEN: And this is a long broadcast - we should point out. What, it's five hours, I believe, right?

Ms. LUKE: Five hours, yeah.

LYDEN: So sometimes you might, while there's a tape on, what - just go upstairs and fix yourself a snack, or put one of the kids back to bed or something like that?

Ms. LUKE: Oh yeah. I'm constantly running up and down the stairs because my studio's in the basement and, you know, with as many kids as I have home, it's like: Go to bed. Go to bed. Go to bed. I say, go to bed. It's past your bedtime. Go to bed. Go to bed. Quit hitting your brother and go to bed.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. LUKE: But I do that, you know, while the songs are playing. I have, you know, several minutes that I can run up. But when I'm really wiped emotionally when somebody calls with something so devastating that I can't, you know, I can't regain my composure, weve got enough tapes and calls that my producer Janie can just carry on and say, take your time, Dee. Pull yourself back together. Go get a cup of tea. And I do.

LYDEN: So your listeners have become a kind of second family, it would seem, for you, and your own background - your own love life has been unadulteratedly complicated, hasnt it? And you do share it.

(Soundbite of laughter)

LYDEN: How did you like the way I put that?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. LUKE: That was good. Yeah, unadulteratedly. Actually, there was a little bit of adulteration in there. But yeah, its been kind of crazy - very crazy.

LYDEN: But perhaps that makes people trust you more, because youre a veteran of these trenches - the trenches of romance and the heart.

Ms. LUKE: Well, I do have to laugh when people will call me and say, you know, I'm having problems in this relationship and I need your expert advice on how to make this work. And I kind of laugh. I said, do you not know that I have umpteen failed relationships? I can tell you how to make it not work.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. LUKE: But I hope that I have gained some wisdom from my mistakes and my choices. I certainly can recognize a dysfunctional person within, you know, a minute or two of their conversation and say hey, I recognize you; I was you. And I relate to this behavior youre explaining and trust me, it's not good.

LYDEN: Right. Well, now - well, you are now age 50 and you like, got a great situation. Youve got your family that you have created - 10 kids?

Ms. LUKE: Ten kids.

LYDEN: That's a lot.

Ms. LUKE: That's a lot. Seven grandkids, one more on the way, six that are living under my roof now, and then others that are grown and gone and living under my roofs close by.

LYDEN: And several biological, and the rest adopted?

Ms. LUKE: Three biological.

LYDEN: Mm-hmm.

Ms. LUKE: I have two sons and a daughter that God blessed me the old-fashioned way, and the rest are my children through adoption. Yes.

LYDEN: Delilah Renee Luke, what song would you dedicate to yourself and your family at this point in your life?

Ms. LUKE: "I Could Not Ask for More," Edwin McCain. Hands down. I never in a million, bazillion, trillion years imagined that my life would have this many layers of love and richness.

LYDEN: You must think in song that just comes almost within seconds for you. How much longer do you think you want to do this; have you thought about that?

Ms. LUKE: Until I don't have breath in my body.

LYDEN: Really?

Ms. LUKE: Music is such a universal language, but I believe it's the language of the angels. You know, you can hear just one or two chords, one or two notes of a song and bam - you're right back there, you know, you're back in that moment, you're back in that day, you're back at that prom, you're back in the car. You know, songs define - songs say what our emotions can't, and I love that. I love that about music.

LYDEN: Delilah, thanks so much for speaking with us. It's been a real pleasure.

Ms. LUKE: Thank you.

(Soundbite of song, "I Could Not Ask for More")

Mr. EDWIN MCCAIN (Singer-Songwriter): (Singing) I could not ask for more than this time together. I could not ask for more than this time with you. And every prayer has been answered. Every dream I have has come true. Youre right here in this moment is right where...

LYDEN: This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden.

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