Radio personality Delilah Rene is the queen of sappy love songs and dedications.
When my kids were younger and still rode in the same vehicle as me, we’d always listen to the “Delilah” show. Alternately, we’d be touched by her heartwarming stories and chuckle at her willingness to dole out relationship advice after multiple failed marriages.
Last year, I pitched the idea of an interview about her faith — something that was evident on the show but about which I’d never heard much — to a national editor I know. But I got no bite.
So I was pleased this week to see an in-depth profile of Rene in the Seattle Times — and one that delves nicely into the radio host’s faith.
Grab a tissue before diving in:
IT HAS BEEN more than a year since he left her: the carefree 18-year-old son with the tousled hair and crooked grin.
Zachariah Miguel Rene-Ortega’s ashes are buried under an apple tree in a planting bed shaped like a tear. “Zack’s Grove” also includes Greensleeves dogwoods, two fig trees and a wooden bus shelter with a sign stenciled in white: “Every hour I need Thee.” Scattered about the grove are little talismans left by his friends.
Zack’s mother is Delilah Rene, the most-listened-to woman in American radio. She lives with her large family on a 55-acre Port Orchard farm, along with one zebra, three emus, three dogs, four pigs, five sheep, six cats, 30 goats and dozens of chickens. A remodeled 1907 farmhouse on the property serves as her six-bedroom, 2,500-square-foot home. A multiwindowed turret on the second floor is set aside for prayer. This farm is where Zack grew up and made friends with local kids who still come over.
“Stuff just shows up,” Delilah says, standing in the rain at the grove. “I come out here and find little tokens, mementos, stakes and flags.”
She still dreams of Zack: happy, beautiful, ageless.
When asked how she gets through each day’s mix of regret and sadness, she mentions God. “I know he’s with Him,” she says. “And when my time comes, I’ll be with him.”
No, this writer isn’t afraid of faith — even complicated faith — which will become more clear if you read the whole piece in the Times’ Pacific NW Magazine.
If you notice the byline, you’ll understand why the prowess on the God angle is no surprise.
That’s right: GetReligion contributor Julia Duin is the writer. Perhaps I should have mentioned that sooner. Smile.
Duin even includes a short note with the story explaining religion’s compelling role in this story:
AFTER READING PILES of background material to prepare for this story, I was struck by how few reporters concentrated on Delilah Rene’s Christian beliefs.
Yet her writings are full of thoughts on how she interacts with God, why she prays, and how she hangs on after experiencing so much grief and sorrow throughout her 59 years. Delilah, who has been doing her radio show for more than 30 years, is the most-listened-to woman on American radio.
Her religious conversion occurred in the late 1980s, after the collapse of her first marriage and the death of an older brother. She asked God to show her He was real, and the next day, while visiting Pike Place Market, she returned to her car to find a tiny New Testament on her windshield with a handwritten note saying, “Jesus loves you.” She professed Christianity for the first time the following weekend in church.
When I asked Delilah what helps her through her travails, she mentioned the famous hymn “It is Well With My Soul,” and Job 13:15: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him” as the Bible verse that gets her through lonely nights.
It’s a great story, especially if you, like me, are a longtime listener and ever wanted to know more about the woman behind the voice.