I sat down with MIX 106.5’s Maria Dennis! We talked about her recovery from leukemia and the stations upcoming Mistletoe Meltdown concert.
When did you know you wanted to be a DJ?
I went to Northeastern in Boston for Criminal Law, which didn’t really work out. I took a television class as an elective, and it was the only ‘A’ I ever got there. I left Northeastern and went to a broadcasting school in New England, where I graduated with a 4.0. That sealed the deal!
Who is your favorite celebrity that you’ve met throughout your career so far?
You’re NEVER going to believe this..Lionel Richie. He was fantastic! We were singing with him on air, he invited us to our concert in DC years. He was absolutely down to earth. He’s one of the ones that didn’t need to be down to earth, you know what I mean? He’s so HUGE, he could easily be an ass and everyone would accept that. Compared to a few up and comers, he was so wonderful.
Q: What is your favorite part of working for MIX 106.5?
I would say my interaction with the fans who listen to the radio station. When they call in to request a song, or when they win a prize on air..it’s priceless.
Q: You were diagnosed with Leukemia two weeks after Radiothon 2014. What was going through your mind at that exact moment?
We had just finished Radiothon. I had just interviewed all kinds of people with leukemia, cancer..all these different diseases. Two weeks after that, I was diagnosed with a childhood form of leukemia. Some of the kids we interviewed had the same kind. It’s rare for an adult to have it. It’s usually in younger kids, or older people, and the fact that I had it was shocking. It took me a while for it to hit me. I was in he dredges of treatment when it finally hit me: “Wow..I have leukemia.”
Q: How did you get through it?
My kids. My kids and my husband got me through it. Without them…I don’t know how I would have. You rally around the people you love, and that’s what happened. I had a STRONG will to live because of them. I went in with the positive attitude that this wouldn’t beat me.
Q: After being declared leukemia free, how did it feel returning to MIX and your listeners?
Oh my god. It took me a good few months to not want to cry happy tears. People would send me Facebook messages, emails, call the station..and they would say they were inspired by me. I didn’t totally understand it at first..I still don’t fully understand really. I’ll take it.
I think as listeners, we get to know you guys, and we follow your good and bad times from afar. We feel connected. You fought cancer and won..
I fought my ass off!
Q: This past February, MIX 106.5 raised over $1 million dollars for The Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. How did that feel?
That was the first time we raised $1 million in a few years. I was BAWLING through the whole thing ::laughs:: I couldn’t believe it. . I ended one Radiothon, entered Floor 5 Leukemia Ward at Johns Hopkins, and then came back to the next Radiothon. I get it now. I get what happens when you go in the hospital. I see how the money raised first hand. I remember walking with my IV pole in the same area where we set up to broadcast for Radiothon. It was just bizarre.
Q: Mistletoe Meltdown is coming in December. What is your favorite part of live station events like that?
I love being backstage, and watching people who’ve bought tickets enjoying the show. I love the joy on their faces. Love meeting the bands, but viewing it as a spectator, seeing how much fun people have, it just makes my day.
Q: Which act are you excited to see perform?
Rachel Platten. She released “Fight Song” ten months before January 2015, and NOBODY picked it up. I came back to work in January, after a horrific time with leukemia. When we first heard the song as a group, we were bawling. At that time, she wasn’t even on a major record label. We were the first station in the country to add it. After that, she was signed to Columbia. To meet Rachel..oh my God. I can’t wait.
Q: What encouragement would you give to someone going through cancer treatment?
There were times when I didn’t want to continue treatment. My advice would be to hang in there. ‘This too shall pass.’ That’s something I hung on to throughout the whole process. It’s so terrible going through it..but if you can hang on..Fight.
Mistletoe Meltdown featuring Robin Thicke, Rachel Platten, Omi, and The Vamps takes place December 11th at Towson SECU Arena!
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