'I'm a hellcat on daytime TV': Wendy Williams reflects on conquering radio and TV

The talk show host is approaching ten seasons on daytime TV.

June 5, 2018, 1:35 PM

For more than three decades, Wendy Williams has made waves across radio and TV by mastering her craft of "say it like you mean it" in the world of entertainment and pop culture.

"With my confidence about what I’m doing, it’s all evolved into just Wendy, which is great," Williams told ABC News' Chief Business, Technology and Economics Correspondent Rebecca Jarvis on an episode of ABC Radio’s "No Limits." "I hate that it took so long."

Today, Williams' wit and confidence are key elements of her widely popular daytime talk show "The Wendy Williams Show," which will begin its 10th season on air this fall. But as a host who originally gained notoriety through radio, Williams told Jarvis that her sudden switch to daytime TV was not an easy transition.

"It was very difficult to try to explain, because I tried to explain to the people who really loved me on radio," Williams said. "But the people on radio the first couple of seasons were like, ‘Who is this girl. This is not Wendy!"

The Wendy her radio audience was referring to got her start in college while studying Communications at Northeastern University.

Williams then went on to earn positions at coveted stations in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and New York. In the urban radio circuit, Williams rose up the ranks for her honest takes on the latest celebrity stories, while simultaneously growing a loyal listener base that would often call in for advice.

"On radio I was a hellcat," Williams said. "And now I’m a hellcat on daytime TV."

"The Wendy Williams Show" launched in 2008 and now airs in 52 countries. Williams told Jarvis that in order to attract a wider fan base than what she had in radio, she had to "bend" the honest, gritty persona that had made her radio royalty.

"On night time, I could tell you exactly how I feel right now," she said.

Whereas, on daytime TV, Williams said, "I’ve got to pull her in gently, pull down my skirt, and cover up the cleavage. And almost ten years later, she gets who I am."

"There are a lot of things that you have to adjust for a daytime position, particularly when you’re black and big," she added.

When Williams steps onto the stage in front of her live studio audience in New York, she believes that the show’s success comes from a legion of fans who may not look like her, but understand her distinct humor on a deeper level.

"I can’t change my skin, I won’t change my voice, I can’t change my confidence. All I can do is pray that you put up with me long enough that you actually begin to get it. You know?” she said. "Even though you think we don’t, know this is what we have in common."

Although Williams believes that success depends on how each person chooses to define it, the media mogul believes she has made waves across different mediums by staying true to her convictions and bonding with a wide-ranging fan base.

When asked about what her 6-year-old self would say about her life now, Williams immediately responded, "You turned the world on. You made it on your own terms."

Hear more of Wendy Williams’ interview on this week's episode of "No Limits with Rebecca Jarvis," available on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play Music, Spotify, TuneIn and the ABC News app.