Sundays with Dan Foster

By Simbo Olorunfemi June 28, 2020

Sundays with Dan Foster

I give myself away
so you can use me
I surrender all to you
everything I give to you
withholding nothing, withholding nothing
I give myself away
so you can use me
I give myself away…
— William McDowell

There was just something different about Cool FM when it came on the scene in the late 90s. While the affectation of the airwaves with ‘Americanism’ had been on the upward swing, even if it was gradual, it made a definitive surge onto the Nigerian radio with the advent of private broadcasting, suffocating the air with all versions of fakes and fabricated accents. But Cool FM came, not pretending to be anything else, but largely foreign in orientation, style and delivery. Though there was Murray-Bruce’s Rhythm FM which came with more music, less talk, but Cool FM was not quite patterned after it. Cool FM differentiated itself simply by being cool.

So I decided we needed to know who was behind Cool FM. Rarzack and myself were at Etim Inyang crescent and before long we were face to face with the Moussallis – Amir and Saada. One -Iraqi-Nigerian, the other Lebanese-American. One an Engineer, the other an Architect. We left there, not just with a good story, cake from Chocolat Royale, but a relationship, especially with Chris Ubosi, the General Manager of the radio station who Amir introduced to me. Chris Ubosi made a huge success of the enterprise, before going on to set up Classic FM and his other 13 radio stations in Nigeria and abroad.

Cool FM had a clear idea of it wanted to be and did not spare any expense at making that happen. It must have been a huge leap bringing in an expatriate, but Cool FM did. First, there was this American who did not last too long. Then came in Dan Foster. Dan has told how Chris reached out to him and how he had actually mistook Victoria Island for Virgin island, where he had been before.

By some twist of fate, Dan Foster would find himself in Nigeria and find a home here, becoming Nigerian, when all that some of the Nigerians who fell in love with him was to be American. Dan Foster would eventually take to the radio, like a fish in water. He took ownership, with his charm and authenticity. He had the word for every occasion and had the music to go with it. A lot about his life was in the open – his love for family. His Dad, Joshua, the son in America, Daniella and the other two children from his Nigerian wife.

Dan redefined the morning hours on radio and even the business model, in part, making the personality bigger than the station, that positively impacting on the remuneration package for Radio personalities. He would eventually leave Cool FM for Inspiration FM, then City FM and lastly to rejoin Chris Ubosi at Classic FM/Lagos Talks.

While much has been said of the ‘Big Dawg’ with the focus on the on-air-personality of Dan and his life as a celebrity. Little mention, if any, has been made of the Sunday Dan Foster. For there was more to the man than the effervescent of piloting the morning drive during the week. Dan Foster was a man of faith and he was as excited to share that aspect of his life.

The morning belt on Sundays was just there until Dan Foster took hold of it, right from his days at Cool FM. He designed the hours to deliver a choice of gospel music which took listeners on heartfelt praise and worship, spicing it with messages from TD Jakes, Myles Munroe and Joel Osteen, carefully chosen to minister and inspire. Dan was the ultimate worship leader and such was the impact of his sessions that you will find people on their drive to Church, not wanting to step down from the car to go into church. But Dan would always discourage that.

A lot of the music he played was on regular rotation and at times he was not in the studio, the music would be played, but even before any announcement, it was easy to tell when Dan was not around. Such was the force of his impact that as he moved from one station to the other, the ones he left still felt the need to keep to his Sunday template. A dash around these stations will often find them playing the same music he would play, even playing back messages from men Dan Foster would always play. The idea of the gospel concert he started as “Praise Jam” at Cool FM would get replicated in different names and forms at the other stations.

Even as a friend of the house at Cool, I never did sit down with Dan. I thought about an interview with him for Africa Enterprise a number of times, especially when we had Chris Ubosi on our cover, but never got round to doing it, often dashing in and out on my visits to the studio at Lagos Talks.

Too late now. Dan Foster has gone home. Sundays on radio would no longer be the same. At first, I listened to him on my way to Church. Then, he became a regular on Sundays when not in Church. Even when out of town, all one needs on Sundays was to locate him via the internet.

The lyrics above is from the song – “Withholding nothing” by William McDowell, one of the regulars by Dan Foster, the worship leader. Sundays on the radio will no longer be the same without Dan Foster.

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