‘Radio’s Sweetheart’ is an open book—and proud of it
BY MELISSA WISTEHUFF | PHOTOS BY BRIAN MULLINS
When you think of the Triangle, majestic oaks, tall pines, Tobacco Road rivalries and Carolina barbecue may come to mind. But iconic personalities also enrich the region’s allure. With over two decades as the voice of G105’s morning and, more recently, afternoon commutes as host of “The Erica Show,” Erica DeLong ranks among Central North Carolina’s signature symbols, and is to local radio what the Carolina Hurricanes are to PNC Arena.
A Durham native who made the short jump to Raleigh in the early 2000s to attend what was then called Peace College (renamed William Peace University in 2011), Erica DeLong encountered an opportunity to intern for G105’s “Bob and the Showgram” morning program during her sophomore year. “I would wake up to go to work at the same time my friends were getting home from staying out all night,” she says. “I’d go do the show, then come back to classes.” The rest, as they say, is history.
The next year, she became an assistant producer for the program, and “I never looked back,” she says. Although DeLong moved to different cities early in her career, Carolina called her home. From zany morning show antics, to a more relatable girl-next-door tone on “The Erica Show,” DeLong’s audiences have had a front-row seat for all of her major milestones.
A self-described “open book,” DeLong doesn’t mind sharing her life with her “extended family.” From airing her path to love after meeting husband Ken—also known as “Boston”—to welcoming their children, Easton (7) and Ella (4), and rescuing their dog, Lucy Lou, DeLong’s audience has lived through it all with her.
Nowadays, this active family stays busy with events, volunteering and “as much travel as possible.” We sat down with Erica and Ken to chat about their adventures with Easton and Ella, their travel dreams, and what it’s like to live in the spotlight.
How do you balance all that you do in life, with your careers, marriage and children?
Erica: That’s a tough one. Ken is such a hands-on dad, which makes all the difference. If I go out of town for an event, I fly home as soon as it’s over. I don’t stay for days like I used to. As much as I want to do everything, I’d wear myself out if I don’t balance. Plus, our babies are only little for a short amount of time, so quality time with them is my priority. I’m working on saying “no” without feeling guilty. I’m such a people-pleaser, so it’s a challenge to tell someone that I can’t do something or go to an event, but I’m trying to get better at choosing what I do more carefully. Our kids are entering the sports and activities stage, too, so our weekends will soon be made up of cheering them on with whatever they’re doing. I’m excited about that.
Ken: I think we do a good job at finding a work-life balance.
Erica: Don’t lie—we fail miserably! (Laughs.)
Ken: During the week, we work on time management, especially when it comes to Erica’s events. We always prioritize time with the kids and each other.
Erica: The kids and I are so blessed that he’s such an involved dad.
Social media is a big part of your job, Erica. Have you two discussed limits for what you share about your family life?
Erica: I’ve always loved sharing my life with listeners, because it really does feel like we know each other. Since people only hear me on the radio, social media helps fans see me instead of just hearing my voice. As of now, I’m fine with showing the kids on social, but I don’t share details like where we live or what school they go to.
Ken: I only have family and close friends on my social media, so it’s a little different for me.
Erica: I do think we’ll have to adjust what we do on social media as the kids grow up, but as of now, I feel comfortable sharing some of our lives.
What is your favorite summer memory as a child, and do you try to recreate those memories for your children?
Erica: I grew up going to Atlantic Beach in the summers, and we love taking the kids there now. Phone service can sometimes be spotty, which is a good thing! Taking a boat over to Sand Dollar Island, or packing a lunch and spending the day at Cape Lookout and renting a side-by-side UTV makes a perfect day. That whole area is a special place for me.
Ken: I grew up in Boston, and we did a lot of camping with a travel trailer. We’d go to Maine every year and spend time at Sebago Lake. I love to travel with my own family now. We took an RV up to Sebago Lake in 2020, stopping to see my parents on the way. It was really fun to recreate that trip with my kids.
Describe your ideal day with family, without venturing far from home.
Erica: My ideal day would be to play with the kids at the Museum of Life and Science (in Durham). I went there growing up, and now it’s one of our favorite spots to take the kids. We even had Easton’s third birthday party there. We also love going to a Hurricanes game or to DPAC (Durham Performing Arts Center) to see a show. Our favorite restaurant is Angus Barn. Yes, even with the kids! They love the treasure box, kids’ goodies and ice cream with sprinkles. For a more casual vibe, we like MoJoe’s Burger Joint. It’s fun to sit outside in downtown Raleigh, watching people go by.
Ken: The kids are at great “park” ages, so we like to go to local parks. We like to grab lunch and head to a different park, trying new ones as much as possible. We all love riding bikes, so finding a greenway trail is fun, but even riding in the cul-de-sac is great, too. We tried Urban Air [Adventure Park] today, which has indoor skydiving and zip lining. The kids love adventure like we do, so we’re always looking for something fun and active to do.
Erica: We’re really lucky to live in the Triangle, where there are so many fun options!
What is your favorite day trip outside of the Triangle?
Erica: We love to take day trips! I love any place with water, whether it’s kayaking or hiking next to a waterfall. As long as I’m near water, I’m happy. Wherever we go, I use Roadside America, which is an app that shows random attractions on road trips. It’s fun to open the app and see what unique tourist trap we’re near, like the giant muffler man in Wilson, or the King Neptune statue in Morehead City.
It adds a little extra fun to road trips.
Ken: We’re always up for an adventure, even if it’s just for the day or weekend.
Where is your dream, bucket list vacation?
Erica: When Easton was little, we traveled to eight countries. I strapped him to me in a carrier and we visited as many places as possible. Ella was a NICU baby, so she was sheltered more when she was a newborn. Then, the pandemic happened, so her first few years were different in almost every way, including travel. Now that she’s older and the world has opened up more, I really want to start traveling again. So far, Iceland has been my favorite place. Our goal is to visit every continent. I’ve always wanted to go to Africa, but we’ll wait until the kids are older for that.
Ken: My favorite trip we’ve been on is Ireland, and I’d love to go back one day. I’d also like to explore more of Europe. There are so many great places there with so much history.
Erica: He always wants to go somewhere new, whereas I want to return to some of the great places we’ve been to.
Ken: One of the places I went to as a child was in Canada, called Bay of Fundy outside Nova Scotia. It’s the most beautiful place. I’ve always told Erica about it, so she very sweetly planned a trip for us to take Easton, but she planned it for the opposite side of Bay of Fundy.
Erica: That ended up being a good kind of oops!
Ken: It’s such a big place that it was actually nice exploring the other side.
What are your favorite hobbies to do without the kids?
Erica: We prioritize date nights, even if it means getting a sitter and having Ken join me for a work-related event. I even brought him to Midtown’s Diamond Awards celebration! I like bringing him along as much as possible.
Ken: We’ve done dance classes, gone horseback riding and roller skating.
Erica: We hugged the wall a lot while roller skating!
Ken: Whatever adventure we can find, we’re generally up for it.
Can you describe your parenting style in three words?
Erica: I’d probably say loving, disciplined and understanding.
Ken: Gentle, hands-on and fun.
Erica: I’m the stern parent, whereas Ken’s the teddy bear. We’re both super loving, though. Even in the middle of a hard moment, we say “bring it in for a hug.”
Where do you see yourselves in 10 years?
Erica: Old as hell! (Laughs.)
Ken: In a 55 and older community. (More laughter.)
Erica: You’ll be there, not me! Erica: In all seriousness, in 10 years, we’ll be enjoying our teenagers … Shuffling around to activities and proms. In 20 years, we’ll hopefully be cruising around on a boat with a lake house. That’s definitely a dream.
ERICA’S INSIDE SCOOP
With 20 years in the entertainment business, Erica has met the most famous celebrities, walked the fanciest red carpets and enjoyed some posh perks along the way. We asked her to dish on her favorite moments.
Favorite celebrity you’ve interviewed: I’ve talked to so many cool people, but I really liked Steve Harvey. He is so personable and has endless words of wisdom.
Dream interview: Hands down, Oprah! I wanted to be her when I was young. I still do!
Biggest diva: I met Mariah Carey for an in‑studio interview, and she was the biggest diva! She complained about puffy eyes, so I held frozen peas on her eyes during the interview.
Favorite perk of the job: I’m thankful to have a job that happens to be so community-focused. I love meeting listeners, as well as participating in charitable events. It’s important to me that I am involved in so many organizations that are meaningful to me.
What are you listening to right now: I love all kinds of music, but I’m partial to ’90s rap. If I want to be in a good mood, I put on some Snoop Dogg. Right now, I’m also listening to the Bible on audio.
Favorite red carpet: I love the Country Music Awards. I think country artists are generally the most approachable and down-to-earth celebrities. Taking a selfie with Brad Pitt on the 2020 Academy Awards red carpet is hard to beat, though!