Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

A 12-Step Meeting On the Air: An Interview with Denise McIntee

denise1.jpgIn April I had the privilege of being interviewed on “Steppin’ Out Radio” by WABC-TV Sports Anchor and Reporter Scott Clark. Producer Denise McIntee formed her company, Powerful Radio Productions, to communicate true stories of inspiration and recovery from substance abuse. Denise lives in Sparkill, New York with her twin daughters, Danielle and Dominique, and her husband Mike who works for the Late Show with David Letterman.To find out more about her work visit or


Question: How is Steppin’ Out like a 12-step meeting anywhere in the world?

steppin out radio-1.jpg

Denise: Steppin’ Out is like a 12 step meeting anywhere in the world because we tell the true stories from real people who have overcome their problems and who unselfishly and freely share with our audience their experience, strength and hope in how they were able to achieve success. You can walk into a 12 step meeting in Manhattan…. or Madrid…. and you will hear the same stories of experience, strength and hope!


Question: What lead you to start the show?   

Denise: My background was in talk radio. I had worked for 17 years at WABC Radio in New York with all the great talkradio hosts; and I loved it. When I left WABC after having twin daughters, I decided to go back to school to get my masters degree in clinical social work. One of the courses I had to take was entitled “women in alcoholism”. As part of my coursework, I had to attend A.A. meetings and I went to several of them over an entire summer. 

I fell in love with the people, their stories, the honesty, the humor, and the fact that everyone was truly “rooting” for the success of others. I knew radio would be a perfect medium to bring these stories to those who could not get to a meeting since radio is free, available to everyone, and radio is one medium that could keep everyone’s anonymity if they so choose. I also fell in love with the concept of the 12 steps and the fellowship of the people who attend the meetings. 


I wish everyone could learn the 12 steps, have a sponsor (someone to help them sort through their issues), and attend a fellowship with others who have walked in their shoes and are interested in sharing what they were so freely given. I also sensed a true sense of spirituality and peace in those rooms, and let’s be honest. All of us could benefit from a close connection with our higher power and feelings of peace and serenity.

Question: If you had to name the three most powerful shows you’ve produced, which ones would they be? (My feelings will not be hurt if mine isn’t included).

Denise: The truth is all of the stories are “powerful” in one way or another. Some are more dramatic than others. Or more humorous than others. And, many are more compelling than others. But each and every story is powerful in their own way. What makes a story powerful is the raw honesty and expression of deep feelings that 99.9% of our speakers convey to the audience. True honesty and expression of feelings is not something we often hear in our day-to-day lives. 


But some of the most powerful stories are those from parents who have lost children and are able to not only go on, but find a true sense of peace and purpose in their loss. And, on the flip side, some of the most powerful stories are from those who have been abused, and I mean truly abused by their parents, and have been able to not only move on from their horrific experiences, but learn to thrive from them, and are able to use their experiences to help others.

Question: On a personal level, how did you pull yourself out of a depression when your twins were born?

Denise: When my twins were born, I was not depressed, thank God, because I had grappled with infertility for many years, and despite having a high risk pregnancy, and being on bed rest for almost 7 months ( and many IVF attempts) I was THRILLED to have twins. However, when my twins were 1 1/2 years old my dad died from lung cancer at 67 years old, and a year later my mom died at 65 from emphysema. It was then I got depressed (or was grieving) from their sudden loss. I worked through my depression by going to a grief support group and by walking a lot, and talking to others who had gone through the same loss. It took awhile but I finally pulled out of my “funk” and tried to focus on what I had instead of what I had lost. Not always easy, but an important factor to focus on.


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  • nancy a

    Al-Anon Family Groups are for the families of AA members. It’s also a twelve step program and it has saved my sanity and my marriage. I’ve learned to love and respect my alcoholic. Try one of their meetings you’ll hear stories to complete the circle. Thanks nancy

  • Marc Handelman, PhD

    Psychotherapy can be helpful. Twelve-step programs and psychotherapy are not mutually exclusive. Rather, they can reinforce each other and provide help for you as a whole person. While there is some overlap, and there are some differences between the two, the differences are not in conflict. In fact, they can provide synergy to promote your overall welfare spiritually, emotionally, socially, and physically.?

  • Flagrante Delicto

    I have successfully abstained from alcohol use by using the AVRT, Addiction Voice/Rational Theropy method. It works just fine for me.

  • Red

    Thank you for your comment Dr. Handelman. So many psychotherapists wind up doing more harm than good by thinking they can “cure” an alcoholic or addict by use of therapy. Sure, that may work for an extremely small number of people who can abstain from their substance of choice; but, the success of 12-step programs is without parallel. They understand that there is no “cure” for the diseases of alcoholism and addiction. The Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous, agrees that we should not discount our friends in medicine, religion and psychology, for they have much to offer. (paraphrase)

  • stonewall

    I quit drinking by shooting heroin. Worked pretty good, not a drink of alcohol in 23 years now.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Sally

    I’m surprised to ‘search’ and find so little available between Al Anon and bipolar discussions. Anyway, Al Anon is proving so helpful to me…so much I’ve found to take into my head for bipolar times. I wonder (try not to worry and fear)…will my next bipolar episode be different somehow because of my (new) time in Al Anon? Here I must go to my Higher Power…

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