Wendy Williams is a former radio personality, now talk show host, who is known for her outspokenness and brash no-nonsense attitude. She gained fame and notoriety for her on-air clashes with celebrities before moving on to host her own talk show.
Since 2008, Williams has hosted the nationally syndicated television talk show, The Wendy Williams Show. The New Jersey-born native is also an actress, New York Times bestselling author, and fashion designer. Now one of the most influential figures on TV here is a look at how she made the journey from college DJ to national icon.
Wendy Williams Grew Up in New Jersey
She was born Wendy Joan Williams on July 18, 1964, in Ocean Township, Monmouth County, New Jersey, as the second child of three to her parents; Thomas and Shirley Williams.
The Williams family grew up in a middle-class community in the Wayside section of Ocean Township. She attended Ocean Township High School, where she was involved in a lot of extracurricular activities. In addition to being a Girl Scout, she played the clarinet in the marching band and was part of her school’s swimming team.
Upon graduating High School, Williams elected to relocate to Boston, Massachusetts, where her older sister lived, to attend Northeastern University. She majored in Communications and minored in Journalism.
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#TBT to the year I graduated from Northeastern University in Boston. I hightailed it to the USVI where I had my first radio job. I made $3.75/hour, and loved every second of it. I was on my own and lived in a small apartment. It was an amazing experience and really helped launch my career. To all those who graduated this year, congratulations. And remember what Aunt Wendy says – focus on yourself and your career. This is the time of your life. Enjoy the ride. #hustle #graduation #college #usvi #radio
As a child, Williams had a loud voice and spoke too much. She was able to channel that energy into radio as she worked at Northeastern’s radio station, WRBB, while in college. She hosted an urban music show and also took up an internship in Kiss 108 radio, where she worked under Matt Seigel.
From a Humble Career in Radio to TV Juggernaut
After completing her education, Wendy Williams began her career in radio in the United States Virgin Islands, working for WVIS. After a few months there, she returned to the mainland and took an afternoon job in a Washington, D.C based station, WOL. She also held another position for a radio, WQHT, in Queens, New York, for an overnight weekend shift.
In 1989, Williams got a full-time job in New York, prompting her to move back to the Big Apple. Urban contemporary radio, WRKS, first hired her for a morning show and then later moved her to an afternoon show where she won the Billboard award for “Best On-Air Radio Personality” in 1993.
A three-year stint in an urban radio station, WUSL, aka Power 99FM, in Philadelphia followed before she returned to New York in 2001. By this time, Williams had become somewhat of a cult personality as she nicknamed herself The Queen of All Media.
In her new job, Williams embraced her challenges in life and talked about them openly on the radio. Issues like her past drug addiction, plastic surgeries, and miscarriages were open conversation topics. This made Wendy relatable, and in turn, led to the rise of both her profile and the radio station.
In 2001, a syndicated show by WBLS caused her to return to New York. It was a notable milestone in her career, transforming her into a national figure. One very noteworthy incident that occurred during her time with the radio show was when she clashed with Whitney Houston after she asked her about her past drug addiction, which led both of them to use foul language on-air.
The Birth of The Wendy Williams Show and A Long TV Career
Williams left the show and radio altogether in 2009 to focus on a new career in television. She first got a six-week trial of her talk show. The performance of the show among audiences immediately caused Fox to sign the show to a national deal, establishing Williams’ national presence on TV.
Since airing, Williams has received multiple Daytime Emmy Awards nominations for Outstanding Entertainment Talk Show Host. On average, her show also has 2.4 million daily viewers and has been on the air for more than 12 seasons.
Wendy Williams has made a couple of television and movie appearances. She made her acting debut in 1992 on the sitcom Martin and has gone ahead to appear in several other productions, including Think Like a Man and Think Like a Man Too. Others include Drop Dead Diva and the reality shows, Dancing with the Stars and The Face.
How Being a Talk Show Host Has Made Wendy Williams Rich
According to In Touch Weekly, Wendy Williams has a net worth of $40 million. Most of it comes from her career as a talk show host, which fetches her an estimated $10 million per year. Based on those figures, she makes $55,000 per episode. With other business ventures like her clothing line, her production company, Wendy Williams Productions, the TV personality’s yearly earnings reportedly reach up to $15 million per year according to Forbes.
Other sources of income for Wendy include the jewelry line, Adorn by Wendy Williams. She sells it on the home shopping network, QVC. She also has endorsement deals with Georges Veselle champagne and PETA. Her clothing line sells exclusively on the Home Shopping Network, and its debut was the most-watched premiere in the network’s history.
Wendy has also made money from books. She is a published author of the autobiography Wendy’s Got the Heat, The Wendy Williams Experience, Hold Me in Contempt, and four other books.
Wendy Williams’ Marriage to Kevin Hunter and Its Disappointing End
Wendy Williams is married to Kevin Hunter, who works as her manager and is also a business partner. The couple has been married for over 20 years after exchanging vows in 1997. They have one child from their marriage, a son named Kevin Hunter Jr., born in 1999.
Considering they had business dealings together, including co-owning her production company, it appeared Wendy and Kevin’s marriage was stable. However, that belief changed in April 2019 when she filed for divorce.
In typical Wendy fashion, she revealed the real cause of the divorce – infidelity. Kevin Hunter fathered a child with another woman. The well-publicized divorce not only ended a 20-year marriage but also cost her $20 million, paid out in divorce settlement. Some of it, $250,000, to be exact, went to securing a new home for her ex-husband.
After a protracted period of negotiation and settlements, they finalized the divorce in January 2020. Since then, Wendy has moved on to other relationships.
Wendy Might Still Be Playing the Dating Field
After a marriage of 20 years, Wendy Williams’ new single status presented a chance to play the field and have some fun. Since she announced the divorce, there have been a few men linked to the talk show host. A convicted felon, Marc Tomblin, was seen with her, which drew controversy.
Other names have yet to make it to the public. But Wendy admits, in an interview with Andy Cohen, that she is dating a few men. However, among the cluster of new romantic interests is a mystery doctor that piques her interest. She said on her show that she is crazy about him. Will it lead to something more serious? For Wendy, it might be too early to tell.