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Through all the drama, her radio show, "The Wendy Williams Experience," garnered 12 million listeners and she eventually was offered a chance to host her own television show.
For Williams, she knew she had to trade in her brash shock-jock shtick to show a more sensitive side -- while having the same backbone. It was a tough transition for Williams to differentiate her radio and TV persona, until she left radio in 2009.
"It was a little bit difficult for her going back and forth," says Lonnie Burstein, the executive vice president of programming and production for Debmar-Mercury, which syndicates and produces "The Wendy Williams Show."
"She would say, `Is that not good for TV?'" Burstein continues. "I think that part was harder for her. Now with radio in the rearview mirror, I think it's been fairly seamless."
In the past few years, Williams said she's been able to mature as a host through her lifestyle of being a mother to her 10-year-old son and as a wife. She also says having less talk time on television than she had as a radio DJ has contributed to her reformed image.
"With growth and age, there comes maturity and how you conduct yourself," Williams says. "For most people, if you put a microphone in front of their face for five hours a day, six days a week for 23 years, they're bound to ... someone off."
Burstein says Williams' growth as an interviewer was one reason the show became the first to land an in-person interview with legendary Aretha Franklin after the Queen of Soul's undisclosed surgery. The interview aired earlier this month.
"Aretha is a fan of Wendy," Burstein said. "She appreciated the maturation of Wendy. But it came with a lot of hard work. As we went into this two years ago, we knew moments like this would happen. ... I think others see that as well. That she's different."
For Williams, she hopes to continue to create her own lane as a host, like Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres.
"There's room for all of us," she said. "I'm just glad to be here. I hope to be here until I'm ready to go."
ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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