Liane Hansen Explores her Passions in Retirement

LianeHansenThe following is a great story about Liane Hansen and how she has begun to explore her passions in retirement:

Liane Hansen had a very successful career with National Public Radio, winning both Emmy and Peabody awards. However, she got into the field somewhat by accident. Her first job out of college was as the secretary to the development director of WSKG, the public radio station in Binghamton, New York. Soon after being hired, the person hosting the morning show was unable to continue. Liane was asked by the general manager if she could step in because she had a great voice. She did even though she did not know the first thing about doing so. Her radio career was launched. Each step of the way after that was a similar experience. An opportunity was presented for which she did not appear to have the experience or credentials; she accepted the opportunity and learned what she needed to learn. She got the job of production assistant on All Things Considered and then was asked to host it because no one wanted to work Christmas. She agreed to host Fresh Air for Terry Gross while Terry was on vacation, and even her once dismissive critics were impressed. When she moved to D. C. to be with her husband, she became host of a classic music program called Performance Today, now on American Public Media. The final opportunity came in 1989 when news started happening faster and faster. Up until this time Weekend Edition Sunday had not been a live broadcast. But it was becoming harder and harder to be current and relevant without someone live. This is when Liane took over that show, evolved it, and grew it from a listening audience of 200,000 to over three million in 2011 when she retired. Without a doubt, one of Liane’s strengths is embracing an opportunity and then learning really fast.

In 2011, however, Liane took a step back to examine what she really wanted. She was just completing a divorce from her husband of many years. There was a lot of stress in her life: stress from the divorce, stress from the relentlessness of a weekly show, and stress from dealing with her depression disease. Liane was tired—tired of the stress, tired of going home to an empty house, tired of working all the time, and tired of D.C. So when her contract ended, she decided to retire and “follow her bliss” to see where it took her.

The first thing she did was move to Bethany Beach where she had a beach house. This place had always been a refuge for her, and she loved it. Now it would be her full-time home. This was an opportunity because she already had the house. But it was a “leap” as she did not know anyone at the beach.

Someone told her that the best way to meet people in a new town was to either go to church or go the local theater. The latter sounded really good because she had always enjoyed being a performer. As young as 5, she knew that she loved singing and dancing. She was active in the drama club in high school and took tap dancing in college. She began to go to auditions. True to form, she started learning again, too. She began taking classes at the local Clear Space Theatre Company. She was “following her bliss” to see where it took her. It took her to a host of opportunities—mostly to play characters over 50. She played Sister Margaretta and Frau Schmidt in the Sound of Music. She played the minister’s wife in La Cage aux Folles. She played Evangeline Harcourt in Anything Goes. She is having a “blast” with the “bliss.”

On the other hand, the pay was certainly not what she was earning at NPR. Nor was it enough to live on. So she had to look to another “bliss” as well. She loved fine dining herself and had always wondered if she would like the hospitality industry, so she decided to “leap” into that to see what she could learn. She found a fine dining restaurant that would “teach” her the ropes, and she is now working part time for them as a hostess. She also went to the local community college and got a tour guide certificate. She is conducting tours at Bethany Beach and is even developing a self-guided tour of the historical houses in the area.

In addition, she is speaking publicly about depression and the toll it can take. She wants to make it more acceptable to discuss. Her TEDx talk on this topic is entitled Reflections from a Functional Depressive and can be viewed at

She seems to have found her “bliss.” She loves all that she is doing. She has guaranteed sociability in each of these areas of work. Not only is the stress less, she is much less tired. She is making a huge contribution to the Bethany Beach area with her acting, her tour ideas, and her hospitality work. She is making a huge contribution to the world with her work in support of people with depression. And she reports that she can keep her depression at bay because she has work that she loves to do. Comparing how she felt 5 years ago with today is like comparing night to day.

Her advice to retirees? “Just follow your bliss and see what happens. Leap and the net will appear.”

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