Sometimes it seems that sadness and disappointment permeate our society. This is particularly true for people struggling with addiction. Substance abuse and other serious problems can quickly lead to major depression; not knowing what to do about it or where to get help creates even more challenges. Arming oneself with information can be a helpful first step.
Knowledge is power, and the wisdom-packed stories of Powerful Radio Productions’ Steppin’ Out Radio are filled with suggestions and practical solutions for some of life’s most serious issues, especially the disease of addiction.
Steppin’ Out Radio does not mimic life – it is life; real life. The storytellers featured in this riveting and positive radio show illustrate that surviving and thriving are within everyone’s reach. The common thread throughout these compelling narratives is the ability to transform a broken life into one of promise and sobriety. Each show centers on how a person who was powerless over a destructive addiction was able to recover.
Steppin’ Out Radio, which debuted in 2000, is the brainchild of Powerful Radio president and executive producer, Denise McIntee, who became fascinated with the Twelve Step meetings she attended as part of a requirement for graduate psychology courses. At these meetings, she learned how people in the grip of addiction were able to transform their lives.
The accounts McIntee heard in the meetings were so deeply intimate and moving that they dramatically changed her life. “There was so much raw truth and honesty,” she pointed out. “Men and women talked in real terms, freely sharing their feelings. At the center of it, people were rooting for each other.”
Confident that a show like this would touch radio listeners, McIntee, who was not in recovery, emphasized, “Great talk radio is great storytelling, and these were the best storytellers in the world.”
Wanting to adhere to a Twelve Step meeting format, McIntee explained that the stories are the stars. “It’s just people sharing how their problem started, how it progressed, what spurred them to take action, how they managed to turn their lives around, and what their lives are like now.”
McIntee has been particularly conscientious about securing stellar speakers. Many emails and calls she receives are from people who are not in recovery. “They are simply captivated by the stories,” she explains. “They tell us if these storytellers could turn their lives around, then they could, too. Being able to jump online at 3 AM or listen in on our Steppin’ Out Radio mobile app to hear a story of inspiration from anywhere in the world has helped so many people.”
McIntee noted that many therapists have contacted her in support of the radio program. “Their clients were hesitant to initially attend a meeting, but after hearing the show, their fears were assuaged,” she shares.
Steppin’ Out participants have included actress Barbara Eden; former MLB player, Darryl Strawberry; CNBC‘s Larry Kudlow; rock star Greg Allman of the Allman Brothers; Joe Pantoliano (Ralph Cifaretto of The Sopranos); and many others from every walk of life. As McIntee underscored, “[Addiction] is an issue that affects us all.”
In addition to the approximately 30 traditional radio stations that air Steppin’ Out, the program can be heard in over 180 countries on the American Armed Forces Radio Network and on all naval ships by a prospective audience of one million military members and their families. Countless others tune in online at www.12stepmeeting.com and on our new mobile app @ Steppin’ Out Radio.
Though some speakers prefer not to use their last name on the program, eradicating the stigma of shame associated with being in recovery and with mental illness is one of McIntee’s main objectives. “Addiction and mental illness are diseases – the shame is in not doing anything about them,” she stressed. “People go into recovery every day, but there’s a misconception that they are homeless people who live under bridges. This could not be further from the truth.”
The program also features the “Anon” speakers, friends and family members of those grappling with an addiction who have found help in this worldwide Twelve Step program and through other means.
“We feature pilots, doctors, lawyers, policemen and teachers, among others,” noted McIntee, who spent 18 years at New York City’s WABC-AM, the last five of which she was the talk radio station’s operations manager. “Oftentimes, the media perpetuates the myth that those in recovery are out-of-control people who cannot stay sober and wreak havoc on [the lives of] others.” The truth is, most of these people maintain a life of sobriety and good mental health. They tend to have successful careers and happy, productive lives.
Though McIntee features the positive side of recovery, she remarked, “Many organizations don’t want their products to be associated with those in recovery, further perpetuating the stigma. Our society removed the stigma from many other issues. By airing these stories, we hope to do the same with recovery.”
Slowly, it’s happening, one story at a time.