Dan Foster made me fall in love with radio all over again. It’s as simple as that.
And I’m pretty sure it’s the same for most radio listeners in the Lagos area.
When Foster arrived Nigeria from Washington DC in 2000 to take up a job at Cool FM, Nigerian radio was really boring. There was another American who preceded him at Cool FM (can’t remember his name now), but this other American had a short stint in Nigeria and it looked like he couldn’t wait to pack his bags and flee.
Foster was different. He made Nigeria his home. He loved it here, in spite of all our flaws and foibles. He wanted so badly to be Nigerian.
So, he mangled Nigerian words and laughed at himself for trying. He had a thing for the word ‘Ikebe’ and couldn’t wait to drop that on air. He would go on and on about how he loved Nigerian delicacies.
He would try again and again to flow in Nigerian pidgin, but never quite got it right. But that didn’t matter to Foster, because the next day, he would be mangling those pidgin words and Nigerian languages in your ears all over again.
He made Cool FM really cool with his prank shows (Cool Candid phone), his early morning drive-time shows and his captivating baritone drawl.
By the time he left Cool FM in 2009, Foster had amassed an army of radio listeners ready to follow him everywhere.
I was one of those.
So we followed Dan Foster, the Big Dawg, to the newly established Inspiration FM. When he left Inspiration for City FM in 2014, we moved with him. When he left City for Classic 97.3 FM in 2016 (where he was at until his death), there we were.
There are two eras of radio in Nigeria. Before and after Dan Foster.
The After Dan Foster Radio era is the pretty digitized one with cool jams, super cool On Air Personalities (OAPs), the contrived accents we love to hate, the drive-time traffic talking heads, the pop culture heads and Payola of cours
Foster’s Praise Jams every Sunday and his late night old school jams on Classic FM defined the man we had all come to love.
Perhaps it was thanks to Foster that OAPs became bigger earners and celebrities. He put OAPs on the map and forced us all to take notice of the city’s now jammed and interesting airwaves and the personalities behind the mics.
He made us laugh so hard while listening to the radio and made Lagos traffic that bit bearable with an infectious energy.
Through the years, Foster was also a judge on Idols West Africa and Nigeria’s Got Talent. He had become one of us.
I ran into him at shows and events and he was always that cool, unassuming, jocular, energetic fellow. Dan Foster would walk into a dark room and light up the place with his out-sized persona and self deprecating humour.
He’s gone now and we thank him for all he’s done for contemporary Nigerian radio. We really will miss him.