Originally written for eVent! magazine [ep] on July 8th, 2005.
Dan Freeman is a man on a mission. When I meet him in his hotel to interview him he seems to know everyone there. He chats easily everyone in the lobby from the woman behind the front desk to fellow guests, doing his best to make a connection with everyone he meets.
“We’re doing a thing called the hundred thousand handshakes,” he explains later, “I talked to the Mayor and the Mayor said he’d give me the key to the city and possibly free parking tickets if I got a hundred thousand signatures. So we’re going around and shaking everyone’s hand. I think it’s a great way to meet people and get them to listen to your show and say hi and say I’m a real human being and I’m a regular guy just like everyone else.”
The show is the new morning show on SUN FM which Freeman hosts under the name, which he is known by nationally, Tarzan Dan. After successful stints on radio stations in Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto along with eight years as the host of The Hit List the music video program for the youth network YTV, Tarzan Dan is happy to be giving Kelowna’s radio waves a shot in the arm.
It might seem odd, a national media figure like Tarzan Dan coming to Kelowna where we are more accustomed to seeing personalities leave for bigger markets. For Freeman though coming to Kelowna was an easy decision.
“It gave me the chance to do mornings and it gave me the chance to live in a beautiful part of Canada,” he says. To him it was more of a lifestyle choice than about a career choice. “It was a chance to do what I love, doing it well in a market that’s competitive and at the same time getting to love where I live.”
He is also excited about his new co-host, Susan Knight. “They (SUN FM) asked me who I wanted for my co-host and I said Susan Knight. She’s amazing, she came from Victoria and she was the number one afternoon person in Victoria.”
Tarzan Dan believes that the pair has already developed a unique on air chemistry, “It’s two friends on the radio and that’s something. It’s a way of looking at life with a lighter side.”
Freeman is also excited about music, loving a wide variety of groups and genres. “Except for polka music, I don’t think I own any of that,” he points out, losing SUN FM the polka audience for good.
Even when I cast my own cynical view on the state of the music industry, pointing out that music video channel Much Music now seems more interested in showing people pimping their cars than music videos.
It is not, Tarzan Dan argues, about getting away from music, but rather about how music integrates into our lives, “Music has always been about what we do in our lives and it gives us benchmarks. Like you’re dating someone at a particular time when a song is a hit and that brings back an instant memory.”
Asked about how it’s possible to keep a morning show fresh, Tarzan Dan says it was all about keeping it real, “You talk about real life, talk about things that happened or happened to you. You talk about entertainment, you talk about things that are pertinent to the audience that’s listening.”
“They say entertainment is far more entertaining when it’s real because you can’t make it up,” he says. He gets excited again and goes into a story that I can see him using on the air one day. He does that from time to time during the interview, a natural performer he seems to have an endless supply of fascinating or quirky stores to relate.
It’s an important part of what he sees himself brining to SUN FM. “You’ve got to be able to connect,” he says, “Have I transitioned as an announcer? One hundred percent. When I was in Calgary and Vancouver I was this wild and crazy guy, in Toronto in the beginning I was nuts. That was the style of radio and it got people to listen and it got people to say, ‘Oh that’s Tarzan Dan he’s the nutbar.’ Now because the name is there and people are aware of it I can back it off and because time has changed and music has changed.”
“You talk about things that are pertinent to the audience that’s listening,” he says, explaining how success in radio is all about connecting to an audience.
The interview ends and I thank him for his time, soon we’re both back in the lobby and back to shaking hands. Connecting.