Delilah Rene, radio guru of romantic advice, has had her own rocky love life

Delilah Rene, in between recording sound bites, in the West Seattle studio where the Delilah show is produced.
Delilah Rene, in between recording sound bites, in the West Seattle studio where the Delilah show is produced. (Meryl Schenker - For The Washington Post )
By Ellen McCarthy
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 14, 2010

"Come on in," she coos through the radio in that trademark dusky voice. "It's time to relax and unwind -- to leave the cares of the day behind you. It's time to love someone."

It's time to slip into Delilah's world, a schmaltzy, airbrushed place where love is all that matters, although it's often tragic or just out of reach. But we seek it despite the pain, because when love does come, as she likes to say, "it's so stinkin' worth it."

For her predominantly female audience, Delilah Rene's show is the comforting auditory equivalent of chicken pot pie, a silk floral arrangement or an '80s-era stenciled wallpaper border. Women say "hubby" here, and "stud-muffin," and rarely fail to mention their gratitude for God's blessings.

De-liii-laahh . . . The unmistakable lead-in to the show wafts every weeknight from her studio near Seattle to 222 stations across the United States, making her the most listened-to woman on the radio. An estimated 8 million people a week tune in to hear the self-described "Queen of Sappy Love Songs" play cuts such as "That's What Friends Are For" and "Hopelessly Devoted to You." She reaches out to lonely drivers and overworked moms, shuffling requests and dedications between second helpings of empathy and homespun advice.

Stephanie's on the line now, and it's been five years on and off with this guy. Sometimes he runs around with other women, and tonight she's really hurting, but still: He's the love of her life, and she just doesn't know what to do.

Delilah: "Okay -- you want my words of wisdom?"

Stephanie: "Yes, ma'am."

Delilah: "I don't have any!"

But that's not true. It can't be.

* * *

It seems safe to assume that one doesn't become a ubiquitous expert on affairs of the heart by spending a lifetime as an emotional idiot.

But tune in long enough, and you'll hear the radio star (born Delilah Luke the day after Valentine's Day 50 years ago) drop hints about how she has made every mistake in the book, how unlucky she has been with men and how ironic it is that so many millions turn to her for advice.

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