Radio host Delilah says faith ‘saved my sanity’ after she lost two sons: ‘I did the best that I could’
Delilah is recognized as the most listened woman in American radio. But back home, a 55-acre farm in Port Orchard, Wash., Delilah is just mom — to 14 children.
As her fans know, the hands-on mother with a sunny personality has endured unimaginable heartbreak. In 2017, her son Zack took his life at age 18, just a few years after her 16-year-old son Sammy died in 2012 from complications caused by sickle cell anemia.
Delilah details her life story in “One Heart at a Time.” (Courtesy of Delilah)
Despite all her private pain, the 59-year-old is still determined to be a soothing voice of comfort for others in need. Recently, Delilah published a book titled “One Heart at a Time” where she shares personal stories and life lessons to hopefully inspire others to examine their own lives and find purpose about what really matters.
Delilah spoke to Fox News about discovering her voice, being a proud parent and how she has relied on faith to cope with the heartbreaking loss.
Fox News: Looking back, what compelled you to write “One Heart at a Time”? Delilah: I started the book a couple of years ago and was really into it and eager to tell my story and to get other people engaged in finding their voice… Then, I lost my son and everything kind of came to a screeching halt. It was really hard but important to find the energy to finish it… But I really wanted to honor my son’s life and tell part of his story, as well as my own. That kind of gave me the push to get it finished and get it out there. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever written, but I think the best thing I’ve ever written.
Delilah revisited her personal tragedies and how she found strength in “One Heart at a Time.” — Delilah
Fox News: What has kept you going? Delilah: I came to my faith in my 20s and it is my faith that has kept me going through losing two boys, two of my sons, Sammy and Zack. There is a verse that says, “Every one of our days is numbered before a single one comes to pass.” That one verse has saved my sanity because all of my sons’ days were numbered. God knew when they were going to leave this earth before they came to this earth and knowing that changes everything. Because if I didn’t believe that, then I would do the what-ifs. What if I had done this differently? What if I had done that differently?
Delilah (wearing blue) and her family. — Courtesy of Delilah
I would drive myself insane with the what-ifs. But the reality is I did the best that I could with the information I had. All of our days are numbered. God already knows when he’s going to call me home. So while I have today, while he’s given me this 24 hours, I can spend it mourning and depressed over what I’ve lost or I can spend it rejoicing in children who still need me, who still need their mom to be fully present. So, I choose life. I choose joy. I choose to invest my energies into those people that God has in my life today.
Delilah’s late son, Zack. (Courtesy of Delilah)
I have to. I have no choice. I have dogs and children and goats that need me. I’m up and I hit the floor running and I use my energy to be a blessing, not to focus on myself and my own pain.
Fox News: It sounds like faith has played an essential role throughout your whole career. Delilah: I was not raised in a particular faith or denomination and I had a series of [events] hit when I was in my 20s where I lost my brother. I lost my husband. He didn’t die. My brother and his wife died. My husband walked out on me and I lost my job in a six month period. I had a baby. So, I had to find answers. I had to know, would I ever see my brother again? Would I ever get to laugh with him again? The last conversation we had was short and brief and loving, but it wasn’t enough. So, I went on a spiritual quest, if you will, questioning, trying this, trying that, trying different religions.
Bridget and Sammy. (Courtesy of Delilah)
I found a little book called “More Than a Carpenter” that changed my life. I came to my faith, which was the same faith my brother had had for years, and I realized I’ll see him again. I know exactly where he is and I know that he’s not suffering, he’s not hurting, he’s not miserable. He’s at peace and filled with joy. When I’m there, I’ll be there. But, that faith has gotten me through losing both my parents, my grandparents, two children, got me through divorces, got me through being fired.
Fox News: According to your book, you were fired 12 times before becoming a success. What inspired you to keep trying? Delilah: I’m glad you asked me what inspired me to keep trying instead of why I got fired all those times *laughs*. I think it’s just the way I was born. I’m really hard-headed and I’m really stubborn and I know that what I do has value. I’ve always known that what I do has value, even though my bosses didn’t always agree with that. My listeners, I do my show for my listeners. I have to have bosses to be on the air. I have to have program directors to allow me the gift of being on the air. But, it’s my listeners that that are my audience and from the beginning, they have said what I do matters.
Fox News: What’s it like having 14 children? Delilah: We’re also getting custody of a young lady who hopefully will be adopted. She’s a foster daughter, so 14 and maybe 15 God willing. What’s that like? It’s a whole lot of fried potatoes. It’s a whole lot of love and a whole lot of cooking. We probably run through five loads, four or five loads of laundry a day, 10 pounds of potatoes a week easily, even though I’m not eating carbs. The supersize jumbo salad mixes. I try to cook every day for my kids, at least one or two meals a day. Homemade meals, so a lot of food, a lot of laughter.
Delilah’s family continues to grow. — Courtesy of Delilah
Fox News: Why raise them on a farm? Delilah: I was born in Oregon and I grew up my first 10 years on a farm that my parents were caretakers of. They rented an old farmhouse and in exchange for rent, my mom would help milk the cows. I was born and raised on a farm with animals and vegetables and dirt and cows and chickens and I loved it. Then my grandparents bought a small farm, eight acres and I spent every summer with them until I left home and my heart was always in the earth. I love to have my hands in the dirt. I love growing things. I love producing healthy food for my kids.
Delilah’s parents, circa 1982. (Courtesy of Delilah)
When my career hit a point where I could kind of call the shots and determine where I was going to live, I bought the biggest piece of land I could find. We have horses and goats and chickens. We raise all of our own beef. We raise goats for goat milk, and I make my own cheese and we probably have five or 10 dozen eggs a day from our chickens, so a lot of good, fresh, healthy food. But, I just like being close to the earth and I like my kids being able to grow up in that environment.
Delilah as a single mother of eight. — Courtesy of Delilah
Fox News: When did you realize you had the voice? Delilah: I didn’t. Two men named Steve and Jerome Carnegie who owned a little bitty radio station in a town called Reedsport, Oregon did. I won a speech contest and they were the judges for the speech contest when I was in junior high. At the end of the contest, they came up to my mother and they said, “Oh my gosh, your daughter never stops talking.” My mom went into apologetic mode. “I’m sorry. We’ve tried everything to get her to shut up.” They said, “No, this is a good thing. We own a radio station. We want to use that. We want to develop that gift of hers.”
Delilah as a single mother of one. — Courtesy of Delilah
Fox News: Why do you think so many listeners are drawn to you? Delilah: I think the reason people are drawn to my show at night is that I’m real and they know I’m real. If you listen for any length of time at all, I’m pretty transparent. I talk about my failed marriages. When people call and say, “I need advice on marriage,” I’m like, “I don’t know that I’m the person who should be giving that advice. I can tell you what not to do.” But, people know that I’m real and they know that they can trust me because I’m not ever going to beat somebody up. I’m never going to take a moral stand, a high road and tell you that I know better than you what you should be doing because the truth is I don’t.
Nationally syndicated radio personality Delilah meeting fans. — Photo by JUDY GRIESEDIECK/Star Tribune via Getty Images
I don’t know better than you what’s right for your life. That’s your path that you need to walk out. I can share things that did and didn’t work in mine and I can encourage you, but I really see my role on the radio at night is to be a friend, a listening ear and a friend.
It matters in their life. It matters at the end of the long day. It matters when they’re with the kids in their car that they have something that inspires conversation between them and their kids. It matters. I knew it mattered and I knew it would work despite what everybody else might’ve thought. I knew it would work. So, it’s kind of fun to be able to do the “I told you so” dance.
Delilah refused to change her name. (Courtesy of Delilah)
Fox News: You were told to change your name — Delilah: To Kelly Star. Yeah. A program director thought that Delilah sounded contrived and made-up, so he wanted me to change my name to Kelly Star. I said, “You want me to change my real name that I was given at birth to the name of a stripper? I don’t think that’s a really good idea.” We compromised and I did it my way as soon as I went on the air because it’s the name that I was given at birth, and I love it. It’s funny because I have a daughter named Delilah, but I didn’t name her, her birth mother did. She’s adopted, and she thinks that the song is all about her, “Hey There Delilah.” It works. But, yeah, I’ve been told to change my name, to change my attitude, to change my faith and not talk about my kids. You name it, and I’ve been told to do it.