On the Line

On the Line

3.4 17
by Donna Hill

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Joy Newhouse is the diva of the airwaves, a relationship expert who scores big with listeners for her jaw-dropping, scathing commentary on men, women, sex—no subject is taboo for this provocative radio shock jock. When she's fired suddenly by new management, Joy isn't happy off the air and out of the spotlight. So she writes a book that features


Joy Newhouse is the diva of the airwaves, a relationship expert who scores big with listeners for her jaw-dropping, scathing commentary on men, women, sex—no subject is taboo for this provocative radio shock jock. When she's fired suddenly by new management, Joy isn't happy off the air and out of the spotlight. So she writes a book that features her most titillating calls and letters, a bestseller ripe with the kind of gossip intended to put Joy back where she belongs: on top.

Soon, however, negative and righteous feedback from those listeners she exploited in her book stirs up a media scandal, giving Joy a crisis of conscience—and a taste of payback. Perhaps it wasn't so wise of her to hitch her star to her readers' most personal stories—tales of secret affairs, office romances, baby-daddy drama, cheaters, swingers, sibling rivalries, job infighting and more. Perhaps there's a better way to reinvent herself?

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Kimani Press
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Before we get into all the drama that is my daily existence, let me formally introduce myself. My name is Joy Newhouse. Some callers refer to me as Ms. Newhouse, Joy, the doctor or bitch. Take your pick. In any event I'm the Diva of the airwaves with the most controversial, highest rated late-night talk show in the Tri-State of New York. My show On the Line is syndicated in thirty markets, not to mention streamed on the Internet. In other words, I'm all up in the house!

Yeah, you're probably wrinkling up your nose wondering why if I'm so bad am I on "late night." The deal is this. The kind of stories I blast on the airwaves are not for the faint of heart. In other words "adult programming," "Rated R," "over the top." Get the picture?

I get all kinds of crazy shit—call-ins, letters, e-mails and videotapes. I've even had instances where desperate listeners have come up to the station demanding my personal attention and had to be dragged away by security. Imagine that! Mind you, I'm not a psychologist or some kind of expert, but I do have common sense and that's what I share with my crazy-ass listeners—a dose of common sense and a reality check. Yes, my voice and brand of in-your-face advice reach millions one way or the other five nights per week.

Needless to say, I love my job. Every night is a new experience. When I first got into the radio game I got so many FCC fines for my potty mouth, that it was either move me to late night or lose my gig. I opted for late night. You see, I'm a straight shooter, no-holds-barred kinda girl. If I think you're an asshole I'm gonna tell you. As a result, my producer and best friend, Macy, works double time on the "bleep"board. And, trust me, I make a sistah work for her paycheck!

Me and Macy go way back from our teen years of growing up in Do-Or-Die Bedstuy in the heart of Brooklyn, New York. So I still have a little hood in me beneath my polished exterior and can get funky with the best of them. But Macy is usually at my side to keep me in check on the air and off. Truth be told, not only is Macy my best friend, she's my only friend. Sad, huh, that a successful woman like myself can count her friends on one finger? But it's cool. I'm not complaining. I have a good life. I live well, eat well, dress well and drive a brand-new Jag. My celebrity gives me entrée to all the hot parties and society events. That ain't half-bad especially for a chick that barely made it out of high school in one piece—mentally and physically.

There's no special man in my life. But I keep my pipes well-tuned—like now. I wish I could tell you what his name is, but for the life of me I can't remember.

"Hey, babe. Time to get up. Rock and roll." I shake his bare shoulder. He groans and squints up at me. A slow smile moves across his mouth.

"Hey," he says, his voice still thick with sleep.

We must have gotten in from the party about five this morning. Screwed until the sun came up then passed out. It was now almost three in the afternoon. Although I didn't go on air until ten, I need my downtime to prepare—preferably alone. I use that time to go over the tons of letters and e-mails that come into the station to see which ones spark my interest, can cause the most eyebrows to be raised and still pass under the FCC radar.

"Come on, babe, I have things to do." I call him babe so he won't flip about me not knowing his name. Plus it sounds like I almost care.

Reluctantly he throws the sheet off and DAMN I remember why I picked him. The brother was hung and even at half-mast he looked lethal. He noticed me staring and grinned.

"Want some more?"

I think about it. "Maybe some other time. You wore a sistah out!" I grin then turn away and head to the kitchen before my carnal nature changes my mind. The sun is beaming in through the windows. I adjust the blinds, turn on the radio and listen to The Steve Harvey Morning Show. That man is a riot.

Compared to the rest of my apartment, which is pretty awesome, my kitchen would give Martha Stewart a run for her money. Stainless steel throughout, gray and white marble floors—real marble, not that stick-on stuff—double sinks and a cooking island complete with a hibachi grill. Trust me, it's not that I like to cook or anything, I just love the look.

"Can I call you?" he asks, coming out into the kitchen while fastening his pants.

My eyes roll over him. "Why don't you leave me your number and I'll be in touch." I give him my best I-promise-to-call-you smile.

"Yeah, sure." He turns and walks away.

A few minutes later I hear the front door slam shut.

Suddenly I remember his name. Randy Temple. I shrug and sip my coffee. Don't know why he should be offended—men do it all the time. Some man somewhere is telling a woman right now, "I'll call you." Yeah, right.

I wander into my office, coffee cup in hand, and plop down into my chair. This is my sanctuary. I think it's kind of cozy with its solid wood furnishings. Shelving runs along the wall where I keep photos of me and Macy at the many celebrity events that we've attended over the years, my broadcasting trophies and a picture of the projects. Yeah, the Marcy projects, that's where I spent my formative years. I keep it there to remind me of where I've been and never want to be again.

There is a box at the foot of my desk piled high with letters. Depending on the issue I can usually get to three or four letters, handle the call-ins and maybe squeeze in a few e-mails if there's time. I reach into the box and pull out a random handful, put my feet up on the desk and open the first letter. One of my main criteria for reading a letter over the air is that it must read like a story, all the juicy details and the "he said, she said." See, I run my show like radio of old where folks would tune into The Shadow and stuff like that. Only I kick it up a notch. Yeah, reality radio, baby. I spread open the letter entitled, My Dilemma…

Dear Joy,

Damn, damn, damn!

I consider myself a woman of above-average intelligence. I am well educated, successfully self-employed in a very influential and highly visible position, and financially quite stable.

I have never had a brush with the law. I pay my taxes on time and make regular contributions to several reputable charitable organizations.

In other words, I am in the upper crust of your radio demographic. I am the sistah that your advertisers are dying to reach: I own a home, save and invest my money wisely, have a superb credit rating and regularly enjoy the finer things in life.

I have not one, but two master's degrees from Ivy League institutions,and a bachelor's degree from the finest women's college in the nation, thank you very much.

I remained a virgin until my sophomore year,and though I am now in my mid-thirties, I can count the number of lovers I have enjoyed on one hand. And I swear under oath that I have never, ever, not one, single damn time, had sexual intercourse without protection.

So how can something this ridiculous, this stupid, this low, happen to me?

I can't tell you how often I've talked bad about the women who call your show for advice because they find themselves pregnant and don't know who the daddy is.

I can't count how many times I've snickered,criticized, rolled my eyes, called 'em stupid, trifling, and some of everything else.

This kind of tacky ghetto farce was never supposed to happen to me.

You may have heard of me, Joy. I feel as though I know you because you are part of my life every night, from the time I roll into my California king-size bed until I drift off to sleep, counting my good fortune.

I am Simone Forrester, the nation's leading advocate and most visible and highly respected spokesperson for interracial identity and rights. I am the founding and current president of Multiracial Unity,Love,Tolerance and Identity (MULTI), the largest, most visible and influential network of its kind in the nation.

In that capacity, I appear regularly on national television—and radio—and in newspapers and magazines all over the country, and sometimes in various parts of the world. I have written three successful books on matters related to multiracial identity and earned a reputation as a leading expert on the topic.

I have won awards for my work,which is regularly called "groundbreaking,""powerful,""affirming,""life altering"and "revelatory."

But none of that is helping me now. I peed on that EPT stick and my world turned inside out in less than ten seconds. As I write this, I have just returned home from my doctor appointment, the one where they verify the pregnancy with a blood test and a pelvic exam.

I believe I am the only person in the world who knows that I have been carrying on simultaneous relationships with two men.Two men who are as different as, well, black and white.

My head is spinning, Joy.

My life is so successful because I have organized it to run a certain way,and it has been working just fine. Better than fine: wonderfully.

But now, my breasts are sore and growing like balloons. My stomach is heaving.

Everyday scents make me nauseous.

The most ridiculous things are making me cry.

Two months, the doctor said. Two months along.

As though that was perfectly normal and understandable, perfectly logical.

Which it might be, if not for my "dilemma."

Let's call it that, okay? My Dilemma.

As if it's not enough that I am in love with two men—and yes, even though it may be considered ho-ish behavior, I have been maintaining intimate relationships with both of them—now I am pregnant. Despite the consistent use of both condoms and the Pill.

I could tie my brain in knots trying to figure out how the hell this happened, though we all know the small-print statistical probability with all forms of contraception, and our mama's sage warning: No form of birth control is one hundred percent!

Of course, I realize I have an option about this whole motherhood thing. I can get an abortion since, thankfully, they're still legal in the U.S., at least for the moment. I can carry the child to term and then give it up for adoption.

But since thinking of or referring to my growing,unborn child as it turns my stomach and makes me want to cry, I'm facing the fact that I may want to keep the baby. Become a mama.

Which is complicated enough without My Dilemma: I don't know who the daddy is!

Is it Andy, the amazing jazz saxophonist of European ancestry, who grew up in the whitest of white-bread suburbs, discovered Coltrane, Miles and Bird in his twenties, and flew the coop of law school for a life fueled by passion and artistic freedom?

Or is it Sam, brothah-from-the-hood who parlayed his athletic scholarship into a Harvard MBA, and is now a rising Fortune 500 company star with killer hours,nonstop demands, and the corner office and perks to show for it?

Joy, my life has never been as simple as black or white. You see, when you're an AND, as I am, as all multiracial people are, your day-to-day existence is a balancing act.

Having this baby would obviously throw my life off balance. But I have to know who the daddy is before I decide whether to have or keep the baby.You can understand that, right?

Not knowing? That is absolute hell—worse than the sore breasts, the morning sickness, the emotional seesaw.

Because if Andy is the father, my child will be three-quarters white. And if it's Sam, my baby will be black.

Having this baby would knock me off the fence,this place I have called home for as long as I can remember. It would upset my balance. And without my balance,who am I?

But some part of me believes, I mean truly and genuinely believes that, since I became pregnant despite two levels of birth control, God wants me to have this child.

I know it's irrational,but that's what this pregnancy has done to me.I feel a bond with the child already,no matter who the father might be.It's just that there will inevitably be a moment of truth at some point, after I tell them I'm pregnant, or after the baby is born, when everything will fall apart.

Is it too much to hope that they'll both stay?

Oh,Joy, I know it's unrealistic.But doesn't love make us unrealistic anyway?

That's why I need your wisdom, your advice and your guidance.

I feel stuck, unable to move in any direction.What mess have I created for myself?

Am I a bad person?

Do I have a flawed heart? Or worse, corrupt and depraved morals?

If I tell them, I'll lose at least one of them. I mean, after they learn that I've been seeing (and genuinely loving) both of them.

Would both of them leave? Would either of them stay? Will my child and I be forever alone?

If I get rid of the baby (even typing those words makes me shudder), then there is no dilemma, at least not right now. But what about the future?


I think I know exactly when I conceived. Approximately eight weeks ago, to use the ob-gyn's language, I had an unusual weekend.

Now, as risky, dangerous and possibly ho-ish as it is to be in love with and carrying on full-blown relationships with two men, I never, ever slept with them within the same twenty-four-hour period.

I mean,a woman has to have some standards, right? But it was Valentine's Day, and that was the first time I let my guard down.

Is it divinely ordained? Is it the end of life as I know it? What will this do to my professional reputation? My career? How can I go from a highly respected expert, national figure and spokesperson to a potential candidate for Jerry Springer or Montel or Maury:Who is the father of this ho's baby anyway?

So you see, my sistah, I was obviously not cut out for this life of duplicity and deceit. Sperm hit egg and bam! Pow! Simone has to face the possibility of life off the fence.

Joy, I guess you can see why you're the only one I can possibly confide in about My Dilemma.

So now that I've told you more than I'd ever planned to, please help me as you've helped so many others.

Please offer the light of clarity to guide me through this dark and foggy situation.

I have only one month before my to-have-or-not-to-have option expires, as abortions are not normally performed after the first trimester.

I am pregnant.

I love two men.

One black. One white. Each a part of me, and vice versa. I cannot choose between the halves of myself. I will not choose one love over the other.

Help me, Joy! My very sanity and the life of my child hang in the balance of your response to me.

Thank you in advance for your kind consideration of this request.


Simone Forrester

Founding President


Seattle, WA

Meet the Author

Essence bestselling author Donna Hill began her career in 1987 with short stories and her first novel was published in 1990. She now has more than seventy published titles to her credit, and three of her novels have been adapted for television. Donna has been featured in Essence, the New York Daily News, USA TODAY, Black Enterprise and other publications.
Donna lives in Brooklyn, NY with her family.

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On the Line 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I must admit I was pleasantly surprised that Mrs. Hill was able to pull this novel together with 18 different authors. You know what they say about too many hands in the pot! But this book was 'off da hook.'~~~~~~~Joy Newhouse a radio talk show host exposes and pokes fun at other people's drama on her live show for all to hear. While of course keeping her drama-filled life secret. She shares letters, emails, and on the air calls about any and everything you could possibly imagine. Joy pulls no punches and definitely keeps it real. This novel will take you on an emotional roller coaster ride! The letters and callers topics ranged from hilarious, sad, romantic, mysterious, scary and of course totally nuts, but there was something for everyone.~~~~~~~Unfortunately Joy's luck runs out when she gets a call that causes quite a bit of controversy with the new station manager and the board of directors, it immediately brings her radio talk show to an abrupt end. But she's not ready to give up the spotlight, so her best friend Macy comes up with the idea of writing a tell-all book about all the callers and all the letters she's received over the years. Can she be as big a success on paper as she was on the air?!! You'll have to read the novel to find out. A page-turner, with quite a few twists and some unexpected turns. You will not be disappointed! Kudos to Mrs. Hill and all the other featured authors for pulling this novel together.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was fast pace, funny, and touching. I could not put it down, there was a different feel with each letter, never a dull moment. Very clever of Ms. Hill to use so many different authors.
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nina gay More than 1 year ago
loved this book thats all
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This was one of my first reads by Donna Hill! I was surprised how good it was! Have purchased other books by her on my NOOK!!!
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