David Preston Daniell was born on November 21, 1937 in Beaumont, Texas to Wilson Forrest Daniell and Alice Edna Prater. He died January 26, 2021 at 2:10 a.m. of Covid related pneumonia. After three sisters, he was the long hoped-for son. David had two passions that he dedicated his life to, the first claim on his life belonged to his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and his second passion was radio. David always said radio was an “intimate” medium and because of that was a powerful vehicle for sharing the good news about a very personal Savior.
David grew up in Houston, Texas and accepted Christ as his Savior when he was 10 years old in his home church, West University Baptist. As a youth he also made public to his church that God was calling him to be a missionary.
His passion for radio began at an early age. When he was only six years old, he would put a broom stick in the ground for a microphone and pretend to announce programs. As a kid he loved to play sand lot baseball and was also active in scouting. He once won $150 as the outstanding scout of his troop. He started throwing newspapers at an early age from the back or his sister’s Model T Ford. The next year his dad wrote a letter to a judge and convinced him to give David a permit for a “hardship” driver’s license at age 14 so he could throw his paper route.
While still in high school, David finally got on radio! As president of the Future Farmers of America for Southeast Texas he recorded their news and sent it to a radio station. After that he became a regular. Quiet and soft-spoken, David projected a different personality on the air. He had a confident, exciting and authoritative voice and the radio stations loved it! His grandkids liked to ask him do his “radio voice“ pretending he was announcing.
David graduated from Lamar High School and went to study at Texas A&M where he played trumpet in the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Marching Band his freshman year in the Corps. At Texas A&M he announced for WTAW (Watch The Aggies Win) and was the announcer for the football games for Paul “Bear” Bryant. He was one of the early television announcers for KBTX in Bryan, Texas, while still a student. On weekends he traveled to Houston to work as an announcer for KTHT radio.
After graduating from Texas A&M with a degree in journalism and English in 1959, KTHT asked him if he would go to their station KRYS in Corpus Christi where they needed a rock ‘n roll disc jockey. David believed God was instrumental in moving him to Corpus Christi so he could meet his future wife, Lorna Chilton, also a mission volunteer. They married in 1960 and moved to Fort Worth, Texas to attend Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary to prepare for appointment as missionaries. After graduating with his master’s degree, he continued studies in theology for two more years while working full time for WBAP Radio/TV, He wrote and broadcast the news in Fort Worth for WBAP for four years and occasionally anchored the weekend news on television.
David had the early morning shift and ended with the noon news before Paul Harvey’s national news came on. Paul Harvey once came to the station and asked David if he could tell him any local jokes that were going around. He told him he wasn’t any good with jokes but suggested he go talk to the janitor. He and this janitor were the only ones at the station at 4:00 a.m. and they had become fast friends. That day Paul Harvey told one of his stories on the air.
David was the reporter for WBAP at the Fort Worth breakfast the morning President Kennedy was assassinated later in Dallas. David was holding a microphone with a handle on it pointed at the President when one of the president’s security men told him it looked like a gun and to not point it at the president or someone might mistakenly shoot him. As he was returning to the station it was announced the president had been shot. As a shocked nation tuned in to constant TV and radio news, he worked long hours and days writing and announcing the grim events. It was jarring.
Having finished seminary, David and his wife, Lorna, were appointed by the Foreign Mission Board (now the International Mission Board) to Mexico in 1966. He was appointed as a Media Specialist. Later the IMB asked him to be the media consultant also for Central America.
After a year studying Spanish at the “Instituto Lingüístico de Idiomas” in San José, Costa Rica, he arrived in Mexico City in 1968 with his family just as the Olympics were getting started. Daughter, Rebecca was 4 months old and son, Forrest was 4 years old.
David was finally doing what he was prepared and trained to do–and had dreamed of doing for so many years–sharing the Good News using radio. After getting a studio set up above the Baptist Book Store in downtown Mexico City, he began producing programs in Spanish. He organized the media department for the Mexican Baptist Convention and ultimately moved it to the newly relocated seminary in the suburb of Lomas Verdes. He formed and directed the non-profit “Medios Educativos, A.C.” The new studios included a large recording studio, two control rooms and offices. From there, over the years David wrote and produced many hundreds of radio programs that were broadcast in Mexico and later in Central America. They included: “¿Sabía Usted?”, “Tia Sofía,” “Grábate en el Corazón”, “Joyas”, “Intriga en la Corte”, “De Hoy en Adelante”, “La Dimensión Humana” andothers. When listeners wrote in requesting a free offer, they were also sent a Bible course offered by correspondence. Programs included Bible dramas, Bible studies, doctrinal spots, and videos about cholera and alcoholism. For the seminary he taught future pastors a class on how to use the media effectively and produced videos of professors teaching classes at the “Seminario Teológico Bautista Mexicano” for use in extension classes.
In 1976 the IMB asked David to write the adult Mission Study book featuring student work in Mexico. The “Jesus Movement” was in full swing and coffee houses were popular. He named the book “Stronger than Mushrooms”
declaring Jesus is more powerful than getting high on drugs.
In 1987, David was sent “on loan” from Mexico for a year to help the Guatemalan Mission set up the first Foreign Mission Board funded radio station in this hemisphere. Radio K’ekchi went on the air from Fray Bartolomé de la Casas in Alta Verapaz in March 1988. Then came “Radio Bautista” in Managua, Nicaragua. And others followed, broadcasting in many indigenous Mayan dialects: K’ekchi, Quiché, Tzutujil, Kaqchikel, Pocomchi, Mam, K’anjobal, and in Honduras, Caribbean dailects, Garífuna and Mísquito.
When Mexico banned Christian radio and TV programs, David’s fellow missionaries feared he would switch to another country, but David just found a new way to use radio. He produced spots with jingles and bought time advertising Family Life Conferences which he organized. Choirs were brought down from the U.S. to participate. These conferences attracted even professionals and resulted in many conversions and three new churches being formed.
Upon retirement in 2003, David formed “Missionary Broadcasting, Inc”. a non-profit which allowed him to continue to help struggling Christian stations in Mexico, Central and South America and Texas. He worked with 23 radio stations to provide them with programming materials and enlisted and accompanied volunteer engineers to go repair or replace equipment, to repair and strengthen towers, and to teach computer skills. In 2013 a new station was launched in Suriname (in northern South America) broadcasting in Javanese and Dutch. In 2019, Francisco Pinochet worked with Missionary Broadcasting to launch “Radio Solo Uno” which streams 24/7 on the internet and reaches Spanish speakers all over the world. Tom DuFresne, a radio engineer and pilot from San Angelo, TX with a long history of mission trips with David called recently to say David’s programs are currently being broadcast on 60 stations he works with in Venezuela, Peru and Nicaragua. Tom called to offer condolences but also said, “I just want you to know that David’s still spreading the Good News on radio.”
David was preceded in death by his parents, Alice and Forrest Daniell of Houston, TX and his three sisters: Lola Kelley, Fran Riley and Pat Nagel. He is survived by his wife of over 60 years, Lorna (Chilton) Daniell, and their two children and seven grandchildren: Son, Forrest Daniell and his wife, Emma from Daphne, AL and their four children, Ethan, Josiah, Emalyn and Judson. Daughter, Rebecca (Daniell) Knight from Boone, NC and her three children, Benjamin, Gabrielle and Stephen, along with many nieces, nephews and cousins.
There will be a memorial service to celebrate his life on Sunday, February 28, 2021 at 2:00 p.m.at Dayspring Baptist at 2200 Cody Road, Mobile, AL 36695. Visitation will begin at 1:00 p.m. There will be a graveside service in Houston, Texas at the Forest Park Lawndale Cemetery where he will be interred next to his parents in the Daniell family plot at a later date.
Memorial donations can be made to Missionary Broadcasting, Inc., (tax-deductible), 7401 Wesley Ct., Mobile, AL 36695