ICON: Wendy Williams
Words by Kimberly Drew
Wendy Joan Williams, also known as the self-proclaimed “Queen of all Media”, has never been one to mince words. Today, she may be better known for The Wendy Williams Show on television, but the Wendy Williams era of terrestrial radio will always reign supreme. Everyday at 3:30pm EST, the radio in my after-school carpool would be tuned to 107.5 WBLS to hear “the black, female Howard Stern.”
Born in Wayside, New Jersey, an hour away from New York City, Williams was the most bodacious and least academically astute of her peers. Her origin story, not entirely unique, always resonated because I similarly struggled with my weight and self-image when I became a fan of The Wendy Williams Experience in the early 2000s.
Minute-for-minute, her on-air interviews with the biggest black stars of the era are some of the most vicious (and well-researched) conversations on any media outlet. She was the embodiment of beauty salon banter. She played barely any music. There wasn’t a question she didn’t ask or a rumour too nefarious for airtime. No one was safe, chiefly because no one was innocent. When school let out, I’d listen earnestly as she unapologetically confronted Lil’ Kim about her sex life and plastic surgeries, or as she went toe-to-toe on-air with Whitney Houston about her drug abuse.
Perhaps what’s most interesting about Wendy was her ability to play both the underdog and the brute. In her own interviews and memoir, Wendy is candid about her rocky marriage, plastic surgeries, battles with addiction and abortions. While radio-era Wendy remains notorious, she was also deeply human and, for that, I’m eternally in awe.