After a four-year absence, one of Long Island's best-known radio personalities will return to the airwaves Monday — on a show that will originate from New Jersey.
Known for decades as the voice of WALK, Mark Daniels said that he'll launch a new morning show on Teaneck, New Jersey-based WFDU/89.1 FM next week titled “Breakfast With Mark Daniels.”
The show will have a focus on popular music from the 1950s through the '80s, but also on Long Island current events, Daniels said in a phone interview Friday. “It's basically a walk down memory lane, with songs that you grew up with or bring back vivid memories [but] they've also said 'we'd love for you to talk about Long Island, and the things that are going on out there' because a lot of the listener base is in Nassau or western Suffolk. So it will absolutely be a Long Island show.”
Owned by Fairleigh Dickinson University, WFDU is staffed by volunteers, while Daniels says his role will be unpaid as well. The show will air Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 6 to 9 a.m.
Daniels, 67, was dropped by Farmingdale-based WALK/97.5 FM in November 2019, ending a morning drive run that began in 1986. Over almost that entire span Daniels' subject was Long Island — the fairs, restaurants, beaches, traffic along with anything (and everyone) else that made up its kaleidoscopic culture. His own family life in East Setauket (married, father of three) was part of the daily drill, too. As such, Daniels became a popular and familiar figure, as well as someone who survived on a medium that cycles through hosts as frequently as formats.
After he left, he launched a daily podcast, but ended that in 2020 because he couldn't find sponsorship, he said. After getting his real estate license, he became a broker based in Stony Brook as well as a real estate photographer.
Daniels said he picked up the WFDU signal on a recent drive home from New York City and “it just hooked me. From Astoria all the way back to Setauket, I'm praying the station doesn't fade out and when I got home I wrote an email saying 'I love you guys — I used to work in Long Island radio. Any way I could be a part of this?'”
WFDU's signal is broadcast from the Armstrong Tower overlooking the Hudson River in Alpine, New Jersey (the landmark 425-foot tower was built in 1938 by the inventor of FM radio, Edwin Howard Armstrong).
In 2015, the station sought to boost its signal strength, which the Federal Communications Commission allowed on the condition that the transmitter's directional antenna was pointed toward Long Island, said Duff Sheffield, station general manager. After the power upgrade went from 650 watts to 3,000 watts, “most of that was pointed in [Long Island's] direction,” he said. The signal can now be picked up as far east as Shirley, Sheffield said. For that reason, he asked Daniels to “lean into” Long Island-related content on his new show.
Daniels said: “I'll continue with my day job, absolutely, but I don't have anything going on between 6 and 9 a.m. [and] I wouldn't do this if I couldn't do it from my home studio. But this is a local station that's trying its best to spread roots to other places where they know they have a solid following and they've made it clear [Long Island] is part of their base.”