Dee Dee Renee is the energetic voice on KISS FM’s number one adult mid-day show. Each day, order thousands of listeners look forward to her daily “Word of the Day, health ” and her outlook and cheerful voice are ideal for mid-day motivation.
But three years ago, buy she was stressed out and exhausted, and her cardiac health was suffering. While she’s been a light of hope at this station for fifteen years, along the way, Dee Dee Renee has had to learn to take care of herself the way she encourages her listeners to.
The daughter of Moses and Willie Mae Lynch, Dee Dee grew up in Richmond’s North Side. She dreamed of becoming a pediatric nurse, and she admits she frequently got in trouble for talking so much. “I was raised as an only child, she says. “I had the best of. I think I was a brat. Even now, I still go to my dad. I’m a daddy’s girl.” She graduated John Marshall High School and attended Virginia Commonwealth University.
At age 28, she was working for Fashion Fair Cosmetics. A dedicated client who was impressed with the young woman’s charisma introduced Dee Dee to her husband, an executive in radio. At his request, Dee Dee visited the station. Each time she appeared on air, listeners responded immediately. She believes her optimistic attitude was her appeal. “It brought me everybody who was having a down day. I think that’s what they gravitate to, the positivity,” she says. After she sent ratings soaring one Saturday, he asked her to work there full time. That was August of 1993.
Dee Dee embraced her new career fully, and gave it her all. The life of any radio personality is rigorous, and Dee Dee was also balancing motherhood, what she credits as her greatest passion. When the horrific act of a burned-out mother became a high-profile tragedy in the news, Dee Dee went on-air and told her listeners if they were feeling pushed to their limits by the demands of parenthood, she would come and personally take their children for a day to give them a break. Reaction was immediate.
“I got calls from social services offering help,” she says. “I got calls from shelters. I got calls from people saying they’re frustrated. I got all types of calls. I was ready to make a move to go and pick up every last one of those children.” No one could question her dedication.
But radio is a notoriously volatile industry. “Here today, gone tomorrow,” Dee Dee says. “Sometimes you’re here today gone today.” On-air she was the voice of positivity, but privately she frequently gave in to doubt. “I was worried a lot, thinking about if my career was going to end today or tomorrow. All of those things were in my brain and that would cause me to sleep maybe two hours a night. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong in life.”
Her physical health began to suffer. Then she was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation a condition that dangerously affects heart rate. “It was crazy. I could have had a heart attack and died,” she says. “A lot of it was because of my weight. So I started to diet. But I wasn’t doing it healthy. I was doing the diet pills.”
When her doctor told her she would have to have heart surgery, Dee Dee says, “That right there, I had to stop all [the worry]. When I started going to church, I realized I didn’t have to be that way. What I was doing wrong in life was not believing. I believed that everything on earth materialistically was my source. I had to have a job, I had to have a man. But I just had to have God and He just worked out the rest.”
She slimmed down, but this time, without the risky diet pills. “I gave up pork, I gave up beef,” she says. “I started to feel healthier. I’m just now starting to notice the weight loss.”
Today Dee Dee looks healthy and svelte. She emphasizes the foundation of her decision.
“It was for me. It wasn’t for anyone else. I was not trying to be America’s Next Top Model. I knew that the older I got, the harder it would be to lose weight. Once I started to lose weight and realized that it was for me, I realized that there was nothing I couldn’t do for me. I could raise my children for me. Losing weight and being healthy are things it’s okay to be selfish about.”
She enjoys unusual support from station management. “When I’ve felt down and I was at work, my General Manager Linda Forem, and my Operations Manager, Jeff Anderson, they can feel it in me. A lot of managers won’t do this, but they will actually walk in and say, ‘I just came in to check on you. Are you okay? You’re not sounding like yourself.’ That’s the kind of support you need.”
She shares more than a birthday – September 22 – with Clovia Lawrence, KISS FM’s radio personality known as “Miss Clovia.”
“Clovia is my right hand and I’m her left. We work as a team,” Dee Dee says. “We never bump heads, because we are probably older and we compromise. If she’s tired and she has a lot, I’ll take it on for her so that she can rest, because then I’m going to be tired, and she’ll pick up the ball and run.”
Dee Dee continues to devote herself to family. She’s the mother of four, including twin girls, aged 7, a daughter aged 15, and a son, aged 26. “All my spare time is with my kids. When you work out all the time, being home is what you like. We play Scrabble, we watch movies, we eat popcorn – just things that don’t require me to go anywhere.” Her parents travel frequently in their RV, and Dee Dee says, “They’re very much still in my life.”
And she’s let go of stressful and unfounded worries. “This is what I say to myself: I’m going to do what I do to the best of my ability. That’s all I can do.”
Dee Dee wants her listeners to know: “I would just have to tell them as long as they receive me, I’ll be here for them. As long as they enjoy what I say, enjoy what I do, and enjoy the fun that I have with them, as long as they do that, I’ll keep doing it. As long as they receive me for all that I give, and know that I contribute to their lives, I’m here.”
A new member of Mt. Gilead Full Gospel Ministries Church, Dee Dee has strong faith, and urges, “Think yourself happy. That is what I do. It’s on my business cards. My sister Stacie sowed that into my life and I’ve been living by it ever since.”
She adds, “Pray and watch God change things. One of my favorite songs says, I’ll pray for you, you pray for me, and we’ll watch God change things.”
Written by Cesca Janece Waterfield
Photographed by Thomas Roberts