Creative Class: Ann Delisi, WDET


Ann Delisi has been an influential part of Detroit media for more than 20 years. From radio to television to voiceovers, Ann Delisi is a familiar voice to metro Detroiters. A Wayne State grad and former WDET staffer (1983-1995), Ann now hosts a show on WDET that is a fun, contemporary and thoroughly hand-picked approach to music that moves Detroit. Ann will guide us through the “essential music,” both new and familiar, that’s shaping our culture and feature music made in Detroit every hour. Ann’s show also brings you live performances, interviews and special features.
Follow her on Twitter: @anndelisimusic 
What inspires you to create?
Most of my creativity is channeled through the free-form radio program I produce called Essential Music on WDET. The program’s themes and ideas, and the production I create to support those shows, is driven by how I hope the listeners will react when they hear it. I do it for them and they are my inspiration. I think about them every day, with the goal of presenting programs in which they learn something new and are excited by what they hear. Radio is a unique medium because listeners cannot see me, I cannot see the people to whom I broadcast, nor do I have conversations with them unless I interact with them after the show has aired, which is rare. After all these years, I still find it interesting that I research and execute the show entirely alone, but reach thousands of people.

When I am not doing radio, I like to work with my hands working in decorative concrete, photography, cooking, gardening and painting with my sister’s company, Paintwork Detroit. Given that two of her clients are Orchestra Hall and The Fox, it has been exciting to work in those stunning concert halls. All of these artistic outlets have a tangible outcome, unlike my radio work that is basically “air”, these other creative outlets allow me to touch, smell, see and experience the results, sometimes over and over again. My radio work doesn’t provide me with any of those things. That being said, I love radio, its anonymity, its intimacy (people usually listen alone) and its spontaneity. I am grateful for the opportunity to continue to do this work…every time I am behind the microphone.

Can you describe your greatest creative achievement?
I suppose my greatest creative achievement is Essential Music which has been on the air for 7 and a half years. Although I have worked in radio since 1983, this show is the culmination of all that I’ve learned and the most creative approach to radio that I’ve employed in all these years. It’s a show that has morphed into something quite different than how it started because I basically let my curiosity and excitement about music guide me and my work. I have such deep appreciation for the listeners who let me try my ideas out on them, come along for the ride, contribute to the shows, praise me when they are inspired and kindly let me know when I missed the mark, yet still tune in the following week to hear what is next. It doesn’t get much better than that.

What advice would you give to the next generation of creative people?
The advice I would give is to allow yourself to be quiet, to think, to create. Some of your best ideas will come during that quiet time. Take risks, challenge yourself and for goodness sakes, strive for excellence. “Okay” should not be okay and there are plenty of people who think it is. Don’t be one of them. Those who see your work and meet you will remember how much you cared, or didn’t care, about them and the work you present to them. I try to do a solid, inspired show every time and sometimes I fall short. When I walk away from a show like that I think about the listeners who might have heard the show for the first time or I think “what if that was the last show I ever did”? It’s a feeling I am not comfortable with so I work hard to avoid it.
What one word would you use to describe yourself or the work you do?
I’m Italian and a radio person, a combination that most definitely lends itself to more words, not less…and certainly not one. That’s all I’ll say about that.

slide1_fotoris a series of profiles of creative people throughout the world that I have either shared the stage with or have observed their talents from a far. The questions are my own and their answers are unaltered.

(Photo and Bio of Ann Delisi is from WDET (
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