A popular former radio host with WKOR 94.9 FM, Scott Daniels Thursday takes a break in Mississippi Coffeehouse. Daniels, known as Scotty D, has been busy preparing to host a new television show for the My Mississippi (My MS) network. Photo by: Joe Ray Roberson
February 16, 2009
Fans across the country know him simply as Scotty D, but Scott Daniels is more than a radio and television personality; he''s also an activist, interested in giving back to the community he calls home.
Born in Jasper, Ala., Daniels, 44, began school in Fort Benning, Ga., where his stepfather was stationed with the United States military during the Vietnam War.
After his stepfather''s discharge, Daniels and his family moved to Dyersburg, Tenn., where his stepfather worked as editor of the local newspaper.
"Dyersburg was a small, rural town near the banks of the Mississippi River, best known as the soybean capital of the world," Daniels said, joking, "You haven''t lived until you have been to the Miss Soybean Pageant and Festival!"
Daniels graduated from high school in Birmingham, Ala., then served from 1982 to 1988 in the U.S. Army Reserve.
In the meantime, at the age of 13, he began his radio career, entering the television industry when he was 24 years old.
In 2003, Daniels'' younger brother died, at the age of 34; his mother earlier died at the age of 54.
"Having no close family allowed me the freedom to move about the country at will, following the elusive dream of radio/TV stardom," Daniels, a licensed Southern Baptist minister and an ordained non-denominational pastor, who no longer practices, said.
After helping to start a radio station in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Daniels came to Columbus where he, until recently, hosted a morning show on K94.9 with Christy B, another local radio host, who no longer works for the station.
How did you get started in the radio/televison/entertainment business? What drives you to seek the spotlight?
I got into radio quite by accident. I was an avid band member, playing the clarinet, saxophone, drums and started on the trumpet. I like to think I was talented and versatile, but not being great at any of them was probably closer to the truth. Every year, the local Dyersburg radio station donated a day to the band so that we could sell ads to raise money for our trips. There were five people to a (radio) shift on those days, four to read the live spots and one to be the DJ. Well, as was the norm, my parents were running late and by the time I got there, I had to be the DJ. Afterward, the owner -- a friend of my stepfather''s -- asked if I would like to learn to produce the high school basketball games, since I seemed to catch on to the technical end so naturally. However, it was almost two years before they let me talk on the air and when I did, it was the whiniest, most southern drawl in the world.
However, I kept working on it, reading everything out loud! Billboards, road signs, store signs, everything. ... I nearly drove my family insane.
But I finally began to find my own sound and delivery. My first major gig was in Detroit, (Mich.) doing nights on WLLZ-FM in 1984 and 1985. I have worked in small and medium markets across the South and Midwest, while paying my dues and finally moved into morning shows in Birmingham, Denver, Colo., Springfield, Mo., as well as afternoons in Tampa, Fla., and Chattanooga, Tenn.
Tell me some of the most memorable moments of your career.
My most memorable moments have been both good and bad. While chasing news, I have seen some things that no one should have to. I covered a school bus/train wreck, outside of Chattanooga, that still gives me nightmares, 10 years later. However, I have done some great stunts, as well. I have twice been suspended in a travel trailer, held up 70 feet in the air, for almost three weeks, while filling a trailer truck for Toys for Tots. I was buried alive in a glass box for almost five days, to raise money for a home for needy children. (And I was) put on a thousand-pound bull to see if I could hold on for eight seconds. As soon as the gate opened, I let go of the rope and tried to jump off, but the bull sent me about 200 feet in the air before I had the chance. Well, actually, it was about 10 feet, but it felt much higher and scarier when you''re upside down and screaming for your mother!
Tell me about your last position in Columbus, as co-host of the Scotty D and Christy B morning show. Why were you fired from the WKOR 94.9 FM radio station?
Corporate radio has made this business much different than it was when I got into it. Cumulus Broadcasting is the second largest radio company in the nation. Each genre of music they play has a national format director that has sole discretion for what music is played by their genre. In other words, the music played on K94.9 is the same playlist that is played for one of their country stations in New York. They have a zero-tolerance policy for playing unapproved music.
A local group, Crossin Dixon, who is signed by a national label announced that they were about to release their much-awaited CD. These guys are great friends of mine and their lead singer is literally like a younger brother to me. I was very excited to announce (their Starkville CD release party) to their many fans in this area; I played the latest single off the CD about to be released -- a song called "Old Bird Dog" -- right before I announced the news.
It was unapproved music. My national format director heard me play it via computer, and I was terminated in accordance with the zero-tolerance policy.
I have to admit to being completely guilty of the offense for which I was fired, but I also have to admit I wouldn''t change my decision at all.
These guys sacrificed for their music and careers for years and it was my turn to sacrifice, as well. I believe in each and every one of the members of Crossin Dixon and am proud that was the reason I was fired. I do want to make it very clear, though, that even though the local market manager had to do the deed, the decision (to fire me) came from (the) corporate (office) in Atlanta, Ga. Also, thanks to our supporters, listeners and advertisers, because the last ratings book we received (before being terminated) were some of the highest numbers that K94.9 had ever received.
Why is it important to you to stay in Columbus, instead of seeking a position in a larger radio or television market?
Due to the loss of so many of my close family members, it has been hard for me to find a place that feels like home. I have found that to a large degree here, with so many good friends, and that means more to me than the promise of more money in a larger market. Christy B and I still have work left undone here and look forward to getting to it.
What do you say to your fellow Columbians to encourage volunteerism?
It''s simple; just get involved with each other again! If you don''t know what to do, call the United Way and ask. Call the Salvation Army or Loaves and Fishes and help feed people hot meals. Become neighbors again. Know who lives next door or across the street or down the hall. See what you can do to help ease each other''s discomfort or pain. That''s when we will truly see the change that the Obama (presidential) campaign promised. Don''t wait for our government to do it. Let''s do it ourselves, one on one, and do it now, because there are no excuses not to.
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