Chances are you haven’t seen Danni Starr, but you’ve probably heard her. Her voice is known all over the country as co-host of the incredibly popular morning program, The Kane Show. The show is syndicated through iHeart Radio and broadcast locally on DC’s FM station Hot 99.5. The Kane Show personalities are local, and Danni is truly one of us – a DMV wife and mother to two beautiful daughters.
Growing up in Minnesota, Danni always loved entertainment news but thought of it as a distant dream, unsure of the logical steps to get there. “I didn’t think that door would even open. I thought, oh, I’ll be a teacher, or I’ll do this – I just wanted to help people.” She says she changed her major in college at least 10 times, from special education to becoming a detective (a decision made after watching a 24-hour “Law & Order” marathon).
She was home for summer break after her sophomore year of college when her life completely changed. The classic “right place at the right time” moment happened when she met a local radio DJ at a party. He told her she had a great voice and should be in radio. The following week, Danni went into the station, cut a few commercials, and has been in radio ever since. “I fell in love and literally never left.”
She decided not to go back to college the following semester. “Everyone thought I was crazy. Of course, nobody thinks that now, but at the time they thought I wouldn’t make any money, and that it wasn’t logical, but it was what I wanted to do. So I stuck it out. Nobody was really supportive, and they weren’t for a few years, but my heart was set on it, and I knew I was good at it, so I fought hard.”
Danni worked in radio for free those first two years, switching to weekend college classes so she could finish school, “but also seize what seemed to me like a huge opportunity.” During that time, she worked mostly in promotions and was on air during afternoons, late nights and overnights, finally working her way up to mornings. While climbing the radio ladder, she also managed to earn her degree in Communications Studies. She was the first person in her family to graduate from college and “that means more to me than anything.”
She is now settled in Rockville, MD, and has now been in radio for 11 years, including the last two on the Kane Show. She describes the show as funny and relatable, with fan favorites like “Moron Madness” and “War of the Roses.” “It’s friends who really like each other, hanging out, and happen to have a lot of people listening and joining in on those conversations. We have really great camaraderie, and we really like each other. We let people in on that and they feel like they’re a part of it.”
Q&A with Danni:
What’s an average workday like for you?
Believe it or not, there really isn’t an average day! Things are constantly changing with our schedule. The only thing that is a definite is that I am up by 4 a.m. every morning, out the door by 5 a.m. and live on the air from 5:30 – 10 a.m.
After the show, work consists of daily meetings with our boss, studio time to record commercials, appearances and celebrity interviews. You would be surprised how many people actually think I only work four hours a day. Everything during the day is really considered show prep, so in some capacity, I always feel like I’m working. If my kids do something funny, I write it down or snap a photo so that I can share it with listeners the next day. Also, because I cover the Hollywood news, I always make it a point to stay up-to-date with that, too.
Is it difficult to juggle your job and the early morning hours it requires with the commitments of being a mom, especially with a newborn?
Absolutely, especially because I don’t drink caffeine! I am often tired, but I’ve learned to sleep in the oddest of places and positions. I love being a mom, and I love what I do, so it’s all worth it to me. Somehow I have managed to be good at both. I don’t question how or why, and I am just grateful that my family life and my career can coexist.
We read that you struggled with postpartum depression after your first baby. Would you be willing to share about your experience? Did it happen with your second?
Postpartum depression was my life’s lowest moments. There really aren’t words to fully describe it, just feelings: sadness, anger, paranoia, unworthiness, pain, betrayal, helplessness and hopelessness. And finally…eventually, strength and VICTORY. I am exceedingly vocal about that time in my life because I really needed help during that time. As such, I know that at any given time, there are other women — many other women — who need help! I am here to help, I feel the pain, and I know that every mother is so worthy.
During my postpartum depression, I spent most days thinking I wouldn’t make it. But I did get through it, and I’m not afraid to openly recognize the reality of postpartum depression. It is my truth, an ugly truth that I managed to conquer.
With my new baby, I did experience some very low moments, but none of it compared to the period following my first daughter, MJ’s birth. I was still terrified though, and I felt lucky to be able to instantly recognize the symptoms. When that happened, I reached out to my inner circle for support, and they were there for me.
I think it’s sad that the beginning of MJ’s life is such a haze for me, but after DC’s birth, I really got to experience every moment. For that, I’m exceedingly thankful.
What kind of support system do you have?
My husband is such a great dad. He actually stays home with the girls during the day so that I can work, and he handles all of the ins and outs of Slim and Starr Entertainment, our DJ/event host company.
My best friend, Claire, also plays a pivotal role in my success as a working mom. She often flies from Minnesota to stay with the girls when I travel for work. For me, it’s imperative to have someone that I trust 100 percent to leave my kids with so that I can work without also worrying every minute about the girls. I have that with Claire, and I am very blessed. She actually was in the delivery room when both my girls were born, and I am positive I could never get through this thing called motherhood without her. She is constantly reminding me that I am a good mom, and that’s important because it’s so easy to question yourself as a parent. Am I doing the right things? Spending enough time with my family? Having Claire’s reassurance is wonderful.
You have a great dynamic with your coworkers. You often talk about them as being your family. What are some ways you all stay connected off air?
We spend a great deal of time off the air together. John actually beat me to the hospital when I was in labor, and Kane showed up a few days later with a breast pump. Erick and I have pedicure lunch dates, and when Rose — who works out of our Tampa studio — is here, she often stays at my house. We have spent holidays together, we have family dinners together, and we often check in with one another on non-working weekends. I can fall asleep for 25 minutes and wake up to 65 missed text messages from Kane Show members. That might sound kind of creepy, but with what we do, it’s really important to stay connected. I also love that listeners often comment that they can tell how much we really love each other. It just feels awesome to know that our camaradarie is apparent.
What’s your favorite part of working on The Kane Show?
I get paid to do what I love: talk and listen to people. That’s just incredible. I love working with my friends, but mostly I love being able to get involved with things that I never would have had the opportunity to do without my job: Helping Christopher with Down Syndrome meet his idol, Adam Levine, promoting breastfeeding on such a large scale, speaking at schools, working on campaigns with the President, raising money with Ed Sheeran for preeclampsia — these opportunities are priceless.
Do you have a favorite segment on The Kane Show?
I actually love our first conversation of the day; we call it homeroom. Listeners call in and fill us in on the big things that are going on in their lives: birthdays, engagements, baby news, etc. How can you not start your day off amazing when someone tells you at 5 a.m. that they just learned that they are going to be parents and they share with us first!
What’s the most memorable moment of your radio career?
There have been some awesome moments. I danced on stage with Prince, and as a Minnesotan, there really is nothing better. I hugged Mark Wahlberg, who will forever be my first love. But, without question, getting the job in D.C. with The Kane Show has been my biggest career highlight. Until then, I had worked so hard for that moment and that phone call. Better yet, it has been such a fulfilling journey.
Do you have a funny story/situation involving the radio show and being a mom?
Actually, I do. Someone recently threw away my pump parts. They were in the work kitchen and just disappeared. The listeners became very invested in finding the thief and making sure that I stayed on my pumping schedule. It was hilarious. I received emails, tweets and texts asking if we had found the culprit. We never did find the pump part stealer, but Kane called in reinforcements and got me new parts, so I stayed on schedule.
Do you have funny parenting moments or stories you’d like to share?
A lot of it comes down to the things that come out of my daughter’s mouth. I call her a “three-nager.” She’s hilarious! My friend got me a book, My Quotable Kid, to write down her funny quotes, and I’m so happy she did because I never thought to write them down, and now we can remember them. My daughter puts herself in time-out when I give her the mom look. When she prays, she thanks God and Ken because, “Oh you know, he’s Barbie’s favorite.” And she introduces herself as “Baby Girl.” She’s just a walking comedy show.
What advice would you give other working mothers?
I often meet other working moms who feel badly for splitting time between family and work, and who never take time for themselves. I’m also guilty of this, so I always remind them that working IS FOR their families and children, and that it’s important to take some time to themselves. You can really only be the best mom and professional when you first take care of yourself. Oftentimes, moms are so focused on taking care of our families that we neglect ourselves. My family and work have always been a priority, but I have also made ME a priority and that has made all the difference.
Where are your favorite local places to eat with your family? How about favorite date night spot?
We love Rosa Mexicana. It’s hard to beat a night out at the National Harbor and endless guacamole from Rosa. I also love brunch at Le Pain Quotidien and girls’ night at Cava Mezze. When it comes to date night, Slim and I love the new iPic Theater in Bethesda.
What do you like most about living in the D.C. area?
I am obsessed with the diversity. I grew up in Minnesota, and I could have never imagined diversity like this. I also love the many monuments, museums and endless opportunities to create experiences with my family. D.C. has become my home, and I love it.
Additional Online Content from our interview with Danni!
On becoming part of The Kane Show…
Danni has been in radio for eleven years, two of which have been spent on her current show. Kane (the namesake and co-host of the morning show) was actually the reason she ended up on The Kane Show. “Radio people often know other radio people. It’s a close culture and community. Kane was actually a fan of the show I was on before. That show switched to a different format, which often happens in radio, and we weren’t doing mornings anymore. I was looking for another job because I wanted to do another morning show and I randomly got an email from Kane basically saying, ‘I saw your audition tape’ and he hoped I wasn’t already working. I auditioned for the co-host position on the show and from our very first conversation, I knew it was where I belonged.”
On meeting her husband…
Radio has been the source of some of the most life-changing events in Danni’s life – including meeting her husband. “We were both interns at a radio station and he asked me out every single day for two years. And I said ‘no’ every single day for two years. His persistence finally wore me down. And on our very first date, I knew I was gonna marry him.” Together, they have had two adorable baby girls.
On making radio her full time job…
I was working at Macy’s at the same time and the way I actually started getting paid at the radio station was because I told them I quit my job and they needed to hire me. Macy’s told me to use my inside voice, but I was just loud by nature! I told them, I need to get paid, I know I belong here.
More funny parenting stories…
For the longest time when your kid is in diapers, you sniff (weirdest thing ever) to see if it’s full. She would get used to me doing that when she would squat down to check. One time, we were at the gym and I was actually doing squats. She ran up to me, starts sniffing my butt and she goes, “Mom, you gotta poop? No? Are you sure?” Potty training is the funniest thing. You clap when your kid poops.
Recently, we got the book “Go the F**k to Sleep” by Adam Mansbach, which is a hilarious parenting book because it’s the truth, but obviously you wouldn’t read it to the kids. A few weeks ago, my husband sent my daughter to school on the day where they happened to be having show and tell reading day. I came home that day to a note from her teacher about having a good laugh at the book she brought in and I was like, “Oh, cool what book was it?” My husband said he didn’t know and that it was “over there.” I look over at it and it was the “Go the F to Sleep” book! I was mortified, but the teacher thought it was funny and it ended up just being a funny situation.
Favorite book: Of all time, “The Giver” by Lois Lowry. Easily, “The Giver.”
Favorite movies: For Disney movies, “The Little Mermaid.” Of all time, “Romeo and Juliet” – the Leonardo version. And “My Best Friend’s Wedding.”
Favorite music right now: Meghan Trainor – “Dear Future Husband.” I also love the new Jason Derulo – “Want To Want Me.”
Photos by: Judah Avenue – http://www.judahavenue.com/
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