Daniel Guaqueta, 29, is a young man with an achievable goal that he's passionate about—to enlighten Jacksonians to the city's cultural diversity.
Born in Hattiesburg to a Mississippi woman and a Colombian man—South America, that is—Guaqueta grew up in both cultures, ignited by their realities that made him the adult he is. He came to Jackson to stay almost 10 months ago, armed with a communications degree from the University of Southern Mississippi and 10 years experience in radio—a part of that as world music director at WUSM.
Drawn to Jackson's WLEZ 103.7 FM, Guaqueta volunteered there, knowing that ultimately he wanted to be a part of it. "I loved what the station is doing for the community, actually localizing its approach," he told me, going on intently, "and I would love for greater Jackson to acknowledge its cultural diversity because that creates opportunities for commerce, for tourism." His experience proved a natural fit at WLEZ, and on June 16 his world music show "Mundo Melodia" premiered and continues Saturdays, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
"I'm always looking for a story, for people who want to contribute to the show," Guaqueta said, eyes lighting up at the possibilities. That's because he knows how Jacksonians support new things. And he wants "Mundo Melodia" to bridge any exisiting cultural gaps. "People can see that they're going to benefit from the show and, more than anything else, their children will benefit, which to me is the key."
Proudly, he explained that the show now has two underwriters—New Vibrations and Rainbow Co-op. "I can't say enough good about their business ethics," he said, and he's looking for more like them. Guaqueta quickly listed upcoming local guests, all with ties to international music—West African drumming, Egyptian belly dancing, Australian didgeridoo.
Sitting across the table from Guaqueta, I could easily have been distracted from what he was saying by his smoldering good looks, but there was no escaping his intensity, the depth of his belief in "Mundo Melodia" and what it can mean to Jackson.
"One thing I truly believe is that you can't live your life going to places that will give you immediate results. You have to do it for yourself; you have to contribute," he passionately explained. "Why go to New York to do a world music show? Do it here and have an impact, make changes."