Top Radio Station Owner Rip Daniels Programmed Himself for Success
Top Radio Station Owner Rip Daniels
Programmed Himself for Success, Independence
By Earnest McBride
Jackson Advocate Contributing Writer
Published in the October 2-8, 2003 edition of the Jackson Advocate, Jackson, Mississippi. Posted by permission.
Biloxi -- Radio station WJZD stands at the top of the broadcasting field in the Gulfport-Biloxi area, the second largest market in the state.
Thanks to owner Rip Daniels, veteran of 30 years in radio, the FM news-talk-music outlet has consistently held on to the number one or number two position in the important Gulport-Biloxi market since finding its
identity and niche soon after coming under Daniels' ownership in 1993.
Daniels is on the air every day hosting It’s A New Day, the two-hour call-in program that is the most popular talk show on the Gulf Coast. His innovative American Blues Network has been such a success that it won the Network of the Year honors in August from the International Black Broadcasters
"I applied for this station in 1987," Daniels said during a remote broadcast from the offices of the Jackson Advocate in mid September. "I kept on bidding for it until I won out in 1993."
Daniels has become widely known and respected for his outspokenness against adoption of the Mississippi state flag that carries a portion of the Confederate Stars and Bars in its design.
So adamant is Daniels opposed to the flag being the symbol that purportedly defines the soul and spirit of all Mississippians that he even climbed a flag pole in Biloxi to bring down a Confederate flag displayed there in a public park.
"It's a personal thing with me," Daniels says. "My great-great grandfather fought in the Civil War at Vicksburg. Not only is the flag historically inaccurate, but it's also an insult to the 200,000 African American soldiers who fought against it and were victorious. For their descendants to be forced to acknowledge and salute that same flag is a cruel twist of history. It will never be my flag. I don't care what somebody puts in their own yard. It might be good for me so I can know who my enemies are. But it can never represent me. And that's the arrogance in the flag vote of two years ago. There's nothing there but sheer arrogance born out of ignorance. The result has been the same as if the flag that those who were fighting against African American freedom had been successful in the war."
Daniels feels that the paucity of black-owned all over the state is an anomaly. He grew up in a different world, he says.
"I was reared in an environment in Biloxi and Gulfport where finding African American owned businesses was very easy. I remember a different Lynch Street and Farish Street in Jackson. I remember walking to Birdland and thinking to myself: 'here's a restaurant for us, owned by us, attended to by us. I grew up around people there on Main Street in Biloxi who had ownership. The whole idea of ownership was something I had good examples of."
In addition to "JZ 94.5", the 50-year-old Daniels --whose given name is Stanley-- also owns Daniels Real Estate Company and the American Blues Network, a satellite feed system to over 40 different markets in North America and beyond.
"The American Blues Network is targeted to listeners who crave the raw rhythmic beats and soul-wrenching lyrics of real rhythm and blues, Daniels says. "It’s a healthy mix that runs the gamut from traditional bluesmen like Muddy Waters to the contemporary sounds of artists like Mel Waiters."
"I uplink to a satellite," he says of the music network. "I lease space on a galaxy board satellite. And I compete with ABC and other major networks. I can send my signal from Mexico City to Quebec, Canada. At this time, we have 40 affiliates. And we've been called the fastest growing 24-hour network in
Married and the father of three grown children, Daniels has worked at nearly every radio station along the Gulf Coast. He is a veteran of some memorable years spent at WJMI and WOKJ in Jackson. A college dropout from Florida's Eckerd College, Daniels is still studying intermittently at the University
of Southern Mississippi, but he doesn't regret having forsaken the business degree he was pursuing in the Florida school.
"I left Eckerd College early because I discovered to my surprise that many of those who were in business got there by working from the bottom to the top," Daniels recalled. "My father was a cement finisher, who considered himself an independent contractor. Although he might have had a supervisor on one job or the other, the reality was that he chose where he went to work every day. So my whole pursuit as a man was to be independent. That doesn't mean I had to be on top. That means that being a lowly contractor was enough as long as I was independent and not working for someone else as opposed to working for myself."
Daniels takes a profound stand over proper recognition of the Black Civil War soldiers and sailors who willingly fought to free themselves and their brothers and sisters from slavery.
He maintains constant contact with Bennie McRae, Jr., website manager of the "Lest We Forget" repository of documents and records from all phases of black history, one of the most comprehensive
sites on the Internet.
"There is a new pro-Confederate movement developing in the South," Daniels says. "What happened at Vicksburg over the dedication of the monument two weeks ago is a prime example of that movement. Neither the Park Service nor the local historians want to recognize the African Americans as willing
agents in their own liberation and not just dependent on others to free them. The point will come, however, that people of good will and in the spirit of freedom will decide that we're not going to just sit down and take it anymore. That's when we will come into the full measure of respect and recognition that those great American fighting men deserve."