By James Maher
Name: Delphine Blue
Occupation: Radio Host, DJ, Pilates Instructor
Location: St. Marks Place between 1st and 2nd
Date: Thursday, Feb. 2 at 1:45 pm
Read part 1 of the interview with Delphine, a Queens native, here
When the Ritz was opening where Webster Hall is, they had an ad in the SoHo Weekly News, and it said that they were starting a dance company and they were choreographing rock music. I thought that’s the company I need to be in, so I went to the audition. The dance company thing lasted for 3 seconds but Jerry Brandt who owned the Ritz, was there. I said to Jerry, ‘I’m a DJ,’ and he said to me, ‘I’ll give you any job you want here but you can’t be the DJ.’ He said I could be the waitress.
I had never been a waitress, so opening night I tried to carry 12 Heinekens on a tray, which is impossible but I didn’t know that because I wasn’t a waitress. The place was packed because it was opening night. I dropped all the beers and I just put the tray down and started dancing. He said to me, ‘Ok, you can answer the phone in the office.’ So I did that and then I started putting together the VIP list, which was totally fun. But all the time I wanted to be the DJ. So after a few months they gave me Monday Nights. I worked there for five years and I eventually started working in all the other clubs from 1979 to 1983 or 1984. Danceteria, it was so fun.
I always loved the Cure from the get-go. They were my favorite band, and they’re still my favorite band. I also loved the B-52s, Gang of Four, The Police, The Knack, The Records, The Pretenders, Elvis Costello and Marianne Faithfull. One of my favorite nights ... was when Tina Turner played. This was probably the most exciting night. She played and after the show I was in the VIP room and David Bowie was there. I said to my friend, ‘I wish I could kiss him,’ and he heard me and spun around and kissed me on the lips. I think I fainted. That’s my big Bowie story.
Meanwhile, I also wanted to be on the radio, so I went to WNEW, which was the cool station and I just stood outside the door. Vin Scelsa came out and I said, ‘I really want to be on the radio. I really want to be a DJ,’ and he hit on me. I was so crestfallen, because I was so sincere and earnest.
Meanwhile. I got hired to work at WLIR, which was a modern rock station. Then in like 1985-86, everybody started listening to these stupid big hair bands like Poison. Everyone started going in that metal direction and I just couldn’t get with it. So I got fired from WLIR and I started my own show on WBAI. I forged a place for myself and developed a reputation based on playing music that you didn’t hear on the radio.
In 2000, I started working at WFUV, then I got hired at Sirius, and then at the same time East Village Radio started. East Village Radio just blew up, and it was so fun being in that DJ booth in that window. I loved that station, but then they crashed and burned and WBAI became a frightening caricature of itself and started to fail, so I left there.
Somewhere in the middle of all of this I got hired to be on Jack.fm, which was the most despised FM radio station, but it didn’t matter because it was the No. 1 market in New York. I was on afternoon drive so I had gone to the mountaintop. That’s it — I did it. I got to speak 30 seconds twice and hour in a three-hour shift, and I made more money than I had ever made in my life. We’re talking basically three minutes in three hours. It was ridiculous. I would say nothing, nothing. Then they changed the format one day without telling me and I lost my job.
I got scared and lost sleep, and then I decided to become a Pilates teacher. I got certified, which was really hard to learn something totally new. I still do radio and DJing too so I’m happier now. A little while later one of the guys who had been on EVR, my friend Steve Dima, called me and he and a couple people were starting a radio station at the South Street Seaport called Little Water Radio. So now I’m an owner-operator. Four of us started the station and we’re having a blast.
James Maher is a fine art and studio photographer based in the East Village. Find his website here.