Reggie McDaniel, R.I.P.: "Everything reaches a culmination. Even Lazarus died"

Radio personality Reggie McDaniel, who died Friday at age sixty, divided audiences simply by being himself. Some listeners loved his "Everyday People's Entertainment Guide" because of the way it rejected critical pretension, while others saw him as a throwback to an earlier generation of African-American showmanship -- one they were happy to leave in the past. But McDaniel didn't react to such criticism by dialing down his boisterousness. If anything, he turned it up.

No question that McDaniel was a straight shooter, as can be seen in a pair of Westword stories from a couple of years back.

As noted in the August 2008 post "The Mysterious Departure of KOA's Reggie McDaniel," the longtime regular on programs hosted by Mike Rosen and Dave Logan had been off the air for several weeks with no explanation. The reason, according to Clear Channel Denver program director Kris Olinger, who left her gig back in June under equally hush-hush circumstances, was that McDaniel had to "retire" in order to access 401(k) funds he needed to start a new business. She added that he might return once this goal was accomplished.

That's not the way he put it in a followup piece, "Reggie McDaniel Mystery Solved." According to McDaniel, he'd asked for raises over the course of several years without getting one -- and because his wages hadn't received a bump, he had come up with the plan involving his 401(k). But instead of actually leaving the radio game, he launched his own weekend program on KLZ/560 AM, a Christian broadcaster.

Regarding a possible KOA comeback, he said he would only consider one if he was offered more cash than he had been making. And although he loved KOA and the folks who worked there, he felt the time had come to move on. In his words, "Everything reaches a culmination. Even Lazarus died."

In the end, the KLZ program didn't generate the type of attention for McDaniel that his previous gigs on KOA, The Fox and Starz had done -- so he concentrated on his website, Recent reviews include Despicable Me, which he liked. As for Inception, he wrote this:

Great acting with outstanding special effects. This movie is, perhaps, the most confusing movie of the year. Leonardo DiCaprio assembles a team of thieves to steal secrets from people thoughts. I really liked this movie, but would only see it when I wanted to concentrate.

Those lines encapsulate McDaniel's approach to reviewing -- which didn't require people to concentrate.

McDaniel's funeral service will take place on Saturday at My Father's House, 14700 E. Mississippi Avenue. Look below to see a video of McDaniel in action:

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts