Twelve-Step Meeting 'Steps' Into On-Air, Online Spotlight

Sadness and disappointment all too often permeate our society.

Having a substance abuse issue usually leads to extreme depression; not knowing what to do about it or where to get help however might be even more cataclysmic.

As always though, knowledge is power, and potent indeed are the wisdom-packed stories of Powerful Radio Productions' "Steppin' Out Radio," the first and only 12-step meeting on radio and online.

"Steppin' Out Radio" doesn't mimic real life -- it is real life.

Surviving and thriving is beyond doubt the desired result of the storytellers featured in this gripping, riveting, and triumphant radio show.

Common thread woven throughout these compelling narratives is how a person becomes powerless over something capable of literally destroying their life.

The brainchild of Powerful Radio President/Executive Producer Denise McIntee, "Steppin' Out Radio" stemmed from the longtime radio veteran's fascination with graduate Psychology courses she was taking where she had to attend 12-step meetings.

Accounts that McIntee heard in the meetings were so deeply intimate that they dramatically changed her life. "There was so much raw truth and honesty," she points 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 is not in recovery -- emphasizes that, "Great talk radio is great storytelling, and these were the best storytellers in the world."

Wanting to adhere to a 12-step meeting format, McIntee, explains there is no preaching -- the stories are the star. "People tell how their problem started; how it progressed; what took them to take action; and what their life is like now. There is a 12-step meeting for every issue you can think of from alcohol to drugs, gambling, nicotine, food, and even hoarding."

Friends and families of those struggling share their insights as well.

Particularly conscientious at securing stellar speakers, McIntee states that many emails and calls she receives are from people who are not in recovery. "They are simply captivated by the stories," she remarks. "They tell us if the storytellers could turn their lives around, then they felt they could too. Being able to jump online at 3:00am and hear a story of inspiration from anywhere in the world has helped so many people."

Many therapists have contacted McIntee in support of the radio prgram that debuted in 1998. "Their clients were hesitant to initially attend a meeting, but after hearing the show, their fears were assuaged," she comments.

Past "Steppin' Out" participants have included actress Barbara Eden, former MLB player Darryl Strawberry; CNBC's Larry Kudlow, Greg Allman of the Allman Brothers, Joe Pantoliano ("Ralph Cifaretto" from "The Sopranos") and others from virtually every demographic/psychographic group. As McIntee underscores, "This is an issue that affects us all."

Over and above the approximate 30 terrestrial 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 to a prospective audience of one million military members and their families.

Countless others, of course, can access it online.

Some speakers prefer not to use their last name on the program. Nevertheless, eradicating the stigma of shame associated with being in recovery is one of McIntee's main objectives. "Addiction is considered a disease - the shame is not doing anything about it," she stresses. "People go into recovery every day, but there's a misconception that they are homeless people who live under bridges, which could not be further from the truth."

Those maintaining a life of sobriety tend to be healthy, have disposable income, careers, and they usually enjoy great lives. "We feature pilots, doctors, lawyers, policemen, and teachers, among others," notes McIntee, who spent 18 years at New York City's WABC-AM, the last five as the talk radio station's Operations Manager. "Oftentimes, the media perpetuates the myth of those in recovery as out-of-control people who cannot stay sober and wreak havoc on others."

Those, however, are not the ones McIntee features on this radio/online program. "Many organizations don't want their product to be associated with those in recovery, further perpetuating the stigma," she remarks. "Our society has de-stigmatized most issues. By airing these stories, we hope to de-stigmatize this issue too."