Radio Host Delilah: Choosing to Forgive
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CBN.com- FAMILY AND CAREER
Delilah grew up in Oregon as the second eldest of four children. Her passion for radio began in middle school. In seventh grade she landed her first on-air job after winning a speech contest which was judged by two men who owned the local radio station. Her school mascot was the “Reedsport Warriors” and she reported school news and sports on a show called “Delilah Luke, on the warpath” on KDUN-AM, a small station in town. Her motivation to learn the radio business was also a way to escape her dysfunctional home. Delilah says her father was very strict and drank and her mother had issues with codependency.
On the night of her high school graduation she came home an hour past curfew and found her suitcase waiting for her on the front step. She enrolled in community college and worked part time at a radio station. At twenty one, Delilah married George Harris, a man who also worked in radio. Her parents disowned her when they found out she had married an African American man. She eventually reconciled with her mother. Delilah, then 24, gave birth to her first child – Isaiah. Shortly after the birth of her son her marriage to George ended. Sixteen days after Isaiah was born, Delilah’s call-in show “Delilah After Dark” went on the air. A few months later, her older brother and his wife were killed in a plane crash on their way to visit her and Isaiah. Religion was not a part of Delilah’s life growing up. After her marriage ended and her brother’s plane went down, Delilah remembers lying in bed one night holding Isaiah and crying out to God: “God, if you’re real, I need to know.” The next day she found a New Testament tucked under the windshield of her car with a handwritten inscription: “Jesus Loves You.” The next weekend, she went to church with a neighbor. “And that was the day I gave my heart to God,” shares Delilah. She met and married her second husband after a six-month whirlwind romance. Six weeks later she had the marriage annulled. In 1990, Delilah took her show to the East Coast where she met a man named Douglas who was involved in her church’s youth ministry. In 1996, they married, had a baby girl named Shaylah and syndicated her show.
A year later her program could be heard on more than 200 stations nationwide. Although Delilah’s career was going very well she still longed for more kids, but had trouble conceiving. So she and Douglas decided to adopt three kids from the foster care system. Then Delilah found out she was pregnant. “I went from having two biological kids…to having six children in one year,” she shares. The next year, she and Douglas separated and divorced in 2001. With regard to her failed relationships Delilah feared she was disappointing God until she realized, “You do the best that you can do, and when you can’t do it, you can’t do it.” Today she is a single mom of 13 children, 10 of whom are adopted. Her adopted son, Sammy Young Dzolali Rene, died on March 12, 2012 of complications from sickle-cell anemia. Delilah adopted him 2 years ago but previously he spent most of his life in an orphanage in a Ghanaian refugee camp.
In 2010, Delilah celebrated her 25th year anniversary of her nighttime radio program - “Delilah.” As the most listened-to-woman on radio in the U.S., her soothing voice reaches more than eight million people on over 200+ radio stations in the U.S. and Canada. She adds that her audience is “just like me and the two women working on the show who were once listeners. We are single parents who work hard to strike a balance between family and work life. We also enjoy our friendships and remember to laugh as much as possible.” In addition to her encouragement and warmth she sends to callers through the airways, she also talks about God on her show constantly.
Her experience with the foster care system in America led her to found Point Hope Foundation, a voice for forgotten children. “I founded Point Hope so that I could accomplish some things I wanted to do for children who had no one to advocate for them, children who had no voice. Since I have been blessed with a voice on the radio each night, I thought I would use my celebrity position and my financial resources to help these kids,” shares Delilah. In 1993, the original Point Hope was started as a street mission to distribute food, clothes and blankets to homeless people in Philadelphia. Delilah’s main goal was to distribute information to people so they could make better choices for themselves and their children. Delilah and her friends would make tuna fish sandwiches and go downtown every Wednesday to hand out the sandwiches, as well as clothes they had collected, and distribute pamphlets with Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meeting schedules, as well as shelter locations for women and children. When Delilah moved to Seattle in 1997, Point Hope went on hiatus as she focused on her own growing family. In 2004, Delilah received an email from a woman in West Africa who was asking for help to care for her two starving children living in a town called Buduburam where there was a Liberian refugee camp in Ghana. A few weeks later, after checking the story out Delilah stepped into the refugee camp and found more than 60,000 people living there with no fresh, running water. Water borne diseases were rampant and there were children dying daily. Point Hope was reborn in the U.S. and also assisted in establishing Point Hope Ghana, its sister Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) needed for work in West Africa. Today, Point Hope is a non-profit organization whose immediate focus is on alleviating the suffering of Liberian refugees who are camped at Buduburam, a refugee camp established after the Liberian civil war and on helping special needs children in the foster care system nationwide and in her neighborhood of White Center in Seattle.
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