I Left Cool FM Because I Wanted To Grow -Dan Foster
Daniel Foster was born in Washington DC, U.S.A. He was raised by his father (his mother having died when he was 10 years old), before moving to Baltimore, where he lived with his grandmother, Nana.
While in Baltimore, Dan had a stint with the Marines and attended Morgan State University, where he studied broadcasting and drama.
He began working with some radio stations in the U.S., including Mix FM and Morning Radio, before he got a deal with the Nigeria-based Cool FM in 2000. He became an instant hit with everybody looking forward to the 'Big Dog' every morning on radio. Foster won several awards for his exploits and even had a cameo appearance in a Nigerian movie -Face of a Liar.
Recently, however, the rumour mill went into
overdrive with the news that the famous broadcaster had been deported because of certain immigration problems.
Reporter, Gbenga Bada, met the father of two, 11-year-old Joshua, from a previous marriage and four-month-old Danielle, from his current wife, recently and they spoke about life as a presenter, love for broadcasting and the rumoured deportation.
What has been happening to you in recent time?
Nothing extraordinary. I have been cool and just returned from a trip to the United States where my family lives. I have been there for a while now, and was stunned to hear the rumours about my deportation.
What do you think was responsible for the deportation insinuation?
Well, I think it could just be 'bad belly' because the radio broadcast is now becoming a competitive market. All I could say is that it is 'bad belly' and the competitive market. So, the radio market is getting competitive about who is where or who is not. Would new radio stations make it or not? I think it's just weird for anyone to write such things in their papers without getting the facts right or writing stories from a particular quarter without confirming it; and it could be from someone with bad intentions. One of the things I read was that I was deported and was never coming back! I think that was really false and people should be more responsible when writing anything in newspapers.
Where do you think the whole rumour emanated from?
I think the media should be more responsible for whatever they do. I don't know who is responsible, but I think the media should be more responsible, factual and accurate in their work.
It was alleged that Amine Mousalli, your former boss at Cool FM was responsible for your alleged deportation because you left the radio station.
That's so wrong, they don't even have any proof of that allegation. If it was Cool FM, or the boss, the writer of the story still has no solid proof, and I would be so angry with the magazine they should not write such rumours without a proof. Besides, they need to quote someone as actually saying something, because without any quote, there's no proof of anyone being responsible for the allegation. I don't know if Cool FM has a hand in it but how certain is the newspaper?
If you weren't deported, what kept you back in the U.S. for those weeks around Easter?
I went home on vacation after being away for six years and I don't think that is too bad. I mean a brother needs a vacation! I have not seen my son, my father, sisters and brothers in the last six years, and finding time out to go have some fun with them isn't something too much. I was having fun with my family and we had a very large cookout in my sister's house in the U.S. All my relations were there to mark the occasion. I also took time out to rejuvenate since I have not been able to do that for six years.
Why did you choose the Easter period for your vacation?
Well, I was supposed to go for vacation last December with my family, but I couldn't because that was when Inspiration FM started and my input was needed to manage the Praise Jam, which was one of our best programmes and which drew a lot of people. It was so demanding that I had to cancel my vacation and face my job because it is what I love doing. However, during the Easter, when I thought I was going to handle the Praise Jam again, I was given a break and I decided to go spend some weeks with my family. Aside these, my family (wife and daughter) need the green card and I needed to help them facilitate that before taking them over to the United States. And during the two weeks I stayed in the U.S. all hell broke loose (with story of deportation)!
What was your initial reaction when you heard the story?
I felt really bad because it was just damaging and false. I know the market is getting competitive but the writer and magazine should have done more findings before publishing false stories. Immediately I was told, I gathered all my family pictures during the Easter party at my sister's house and every little detail and snapshot and I posted them on facebook and other websites. While the allegations went on, my pictures were on the Internet and sponsors, clients and friends kept calling everyone to confirm the authenticity of the story and I tried calming everyone down, but it didn't just work and many waited till I returned to Nigeria. All I'm going to say is that I am back from my vacation.
What is the relationship between you and your former employer, bearing in mind that he facilitated your coming to Nigeria many years back?
The relationship is business; it's professional. I've moved on and they wish me well. I still have a lot of friends at Cool FM. There are people I trained and love a lot over there and that's for life! I left a legacy there. There's no bad blood between my ex-employer and me, it's all about business, professionalism and you know, we've got a radio to run.
Can you state in specific terms, your reason for leaving Cool FM for Inspiration FM?
I want to grow; to be able to set up a new radio station, a more inspirational radio station, which is something I have always wanted to do, and it's something like running my own radio station one day after working for like 10 years for other people. It was time for a brother to grow up and the offer came to a brother to set up some other radio station, and that was really interesting for me to do. It's like a dream and I had to leave to follow my dream and that's why I appreciate the start, because I got trained in setting up Cool FM and doing things regarding programming, and now I got to spread my wings and train other presenters. Inspiration FM came as another great opportunity to show that I can do it and that we can do it together.
Many view Inspiration FM as religious or Christian radio station. What can you say about that?
Well, learning how to set up a radio station for me has been creatively challenging and I love it. The team at Inspiration FM has been able to do it in less than four months. We have people listening to us and feeding us with its impact, and I thank God we started when we did on December 7, 2008 with Praise Jam. People started feeling the power of inspiration immediately we started. We do a lot of public relations; lifting people up, inspiring them to do more and achieve the best. What we have are programming elements that are not with other radio stations. We do what others don't do because we are a family oriented radio station.
In terms of being a gospel or Christian oriented radio station, I would like to say we are simply and totally inspirational and we do Muslim programmes. What we do is lift and inspire people, we are not religious oriented and like I have said, we are simply a family oriented radio station. We are a positive inspirational radio station that lifts everyone up and has something for everyone around. Maybe because of our Sunday praise program, people tend to see Inspiration FM as religious, but it's just a Christian programme which people love and promote. You can be inspirational without necessarily been religious. It's basically about you been inspirational and helping people positively and preaching positive messages to uplift people, and help them do more in life.
You had a son before remarrying last year, are there any possibilities of your son joining you here in Nigeria?
Well, his mother is in the U.S. My son is 11-years-old, he has a sister and they are really close. He's doing great things in school, developing his skills in maths and I realise he is going to be smarter and intelligent than I am. His mother and I are separated, so she lets him see me whenever he wants to. He's so much joy to me and the only regret I have is not seeing him grow. I missed his growing up days as a child because I was here doing what I got to do. I'm entitled to see him whenever he wants, but he is staying with his mother at the moment. But I still communicate with him so much. He was here last year and he is coming back in summer.
You started working in Nigeria in 2000 with Cool FM. Despite having a blossoming career in the U.S., why did you choose to work in Nigeria?
Well, I like to think it was God because I'm following a dream. I came from Morning Radio in the U.S., and there was a job offer on the Internet with a radio station in Nigeria on a two years contract. I went for it and the Island also fascinated me. I was used to the Virgin Islands in the U.S., but in Nigeria, it was Victoria Island and it sounded interesting even though the U.S. Embassy has Nigeria on the list of countries that aren't safe for American citizens. It was so negative and crazy but I came by faith and I saw the sophistication of the equipments that Cool FM had. The boss told me that if I wasn't down with it, I could leave after one month and the U.S. Embassy also told me the same thing, but I blended in. I was enthusiastic, happy and went to work like I was expected to, professionally. There is nothing like doing what you like to do and doing it right, while also getting paid for it. It was a dream come true for me, because it was what I had always wanted. A lot of people get paid for doing something they don't really love doing.
Since you have worked in the American broadcast terrain and also in Nigeria, can you compare the two? Is there any possibility of your relocating to the U.S. with your family?
I love what I am doing here and this is my home. I have a lovely child and new family here in Nigeria. I got married last August and I am happy. I got married to a beautiful and adoring Nigerian lady from Orlu, Imo State in the Eastern part of the country. I have learnt how to say "igbo kwenu," and we have a daughter. So, this is home. I love the radio station; I want to build more radio stations and would help facilitate any of my family members in the U.S. to visit Nigeria if they choose to. I mean, a lot of Nigerians live in the U.S., why can't some brothers in the U.S. come live in Nigeria and make it their home. As much as many Nigerians want to leave Nigeria to the U.S. to make it, I am telling them that they can also stay in Nigeria and make it here. But if you think you want to carry the spirit to the U.S. or some other countries and make it, it's good and I say "wellu wellu" for you! In a nutshell, I don't intend to leave the shores of Nigeria because I have integrated fully into the country and the system, and don't intend to leave. Moreover, my family here are so important and I can't afford to leave them for anything.
Tell us a little about your extended family?
Well I am the son of a widowed father. He is 75 years old and so cool. He still has earrings on his ears. He has a Cadillac 2009 model car, which he likes a lot. He is so cool and loves every of his children. Nana, my grandmother I lived with in the U.S. died at the age of 99. She had 12 children, of which my father is the last. She has three other sisters alive. I have sisters and brothers and they love me a great deal. I have also got a son, Joshua, who is 11 years old and stays in the U.S. with his mother, who also has a six-year-old daughter, but we are separated. I have great family members who love me as much as I love them. I can't afford to leave them if not for the job that I so much love and I have got to do.
You got married last August, what is marriage like for you?
I love it, I want more children and I got to stay healthy to be able to raise them. I have got a very large family, my grandmother had 12 children and my father is the twelfth, my father had lesser and it's always good having a family reunion. It feels really good to be married, it's keeping me in check and balanced, and I need that family balance because its God ordained.
So, there are possibilities of having more children like your grandmother.
I'm in my 40s. Hell no! My grandmother had her first child when she was 13. I am in my 40s and I can't just handle that. But maybe three more children would do for me.