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Q: Ekiti is the only state in the South West that did not have a private radio station until now. How does that make you feel as a son of the soil yourself?
A: I think it’s pleasantly surprising though sadly I think it also mirrors how we Ekitis perceive our state. We have bought too deep into the narratives of those outsiders who may or may not know a thing about Ekiti, choosing instead to believe that ours is some back water society with zero development and zero social life. That’s simply not true! I stand to be corrected but I fervently believe that aside Lagos and Ibadan, there is no other location in the Southwest of Nigeria that has seen the kind of development in terms of urban settlements and infrastructure that Ado-Ekiti the state capital has seen since the state’s creation in 1996. Yes, it’s not an economic powerhouse in the same sense as the likes of Ibadan but strategic investments by key investors have kept up the frenzy of commerce over the years, making it a fairly virile economy. For me, there is no better place to site a startup in Southwest Nigeria right now.
And then, accepting to take up this responsibility at this time gives me the feeling that I am being part of something in my home state that I can truly be proud of some day.
Q: You were appointed General Manager of Voice 89.9 FM. What should the audience in Ekiti and environs expect that they don’t get in other stations?
A: Firstly, we’re looking to put in place a truly professional and independent commercial broadcaster that is never going to be any one person’s mouthpiece. At our first planning session, everyone agreed that it was only fitting that the first private radio station in Ekiti is neither Federal nor state government controlled but one that would truly be the people’s heritage, hence the payoff “…the people’s voice” and the station’s name ‘Voice FM’. So, I think Ekitis should brace up for a new broadcasting experience that allows for every shade of opinion and one that is driven by a team of young, smart professionals devoid of the overtly acquiescent attributes of the traditional past.
Q:The problem with many broadcasting stations is partisanship. How does this station hope to maintain its neutrality in politics?
A: Well, for me the best way to not be partisan, is to do politics with everybody in equal measure! Do you have something to say and you can deliver same without sounding uncouth and vile? We will hand you a microphone. Politics soaks down into the fabrics of everything in this part of the world and we just cannot afford to stand aloof. So, as far as political exposures are concerned, all are welcome.
Q:In all your years as a broadcaster/ radio personality, what do you think have been the most critical challenges facing radio stations in this part of the country?
A: Oh, they’re quite many. Loss of focus; inability to retain the best talents; cost of powering the stations when you have to rely on generators; unskilled interference by the actual owners in the running of the stations; poor quality programming; lack of innovative leadership and then the one that I consider most damaging: broadcasting stations turning into retirement homes rather than a competitive system where only fresh and interesting ideas should find their ways to the microphones. I honestly think handing a broadcaster a 35- year carte blanche is wrong. It kills their creative spirits.
Q: How do you hope to surmount these challenges at Voice 89.9 FM?
A: Innovative planning. Evolving a leadership team that is always brainstorming, innovating and thinking outside the box. I work for a board of directors that is solidly behind our methods. So, I’m very optimistic.
Q: How many hours of broadcasting daily should listeners expect?
A: Well, we’re looking at taking things gradually because of power/electricity issues, so we are on the air from 5.00am to 12.00am for now. Eventually our end game is to make Voice FM a round-the-clock station.
Q: Does Voice 89.9 FM have a particular focus/orientation which would guide its programming?
A: Yes, it does. We’re looking to make this a very fluid concept but more importantly we want to grow a radio station that answers to every need of the listener. The primary location may be in Ado Ekiti but we want to make this as mobile as technology would allow. It’s a broadcaster that has the listener as the centerpiece of its ideology. In execution, we’re going to sound fun, youthful, and appealing to both the upwardly mobile and grassroots listeners.
Then, we want to make sure our sound has an earthy feel to it that is real and not some abstract construct where presenters want to sound more American than those in New York and all the while ‘murdering’ local Nigerian names with reckless abandon.
Q:You have been a consistent voice on radio in the Southwest for many years now. Many of your peers chose to go to Lagos which is without a doubt the centre of everything entertainment. Is there any particular reason you prefer to stay around here?
A: Comparatively, things are cheaper, simpler and warmer here especially when coupled with a pervading earthy sense of community. There’s really nothing like it. Everyone knows everyone and I particularly love that air of predictability that attends life here. One can almost always predict how long it would take to drive from one point to another without the stress that is a fact of life on Lagos roads. And then professionally I think there’s a lot more ground to cover here than in Lagos where the space is already too saturated by players. Besides, technology makes things a lot easier now. Online streaming puts you on the map for a global audience and it really doesn’t matter where your transmitters are located on earth. Concepts can be borrowed and replicated; VIPs can be reached and leveraged for premium content no matter where you are especially if you have the right tools. And for the right amount, any professional can be persuaded to work for you. So why bother?
Q: Since take off, how has your station been received?
A: Like I say to my colleagues in the profession here, we are not competing with anyone but the glory of God, Voice 89.9FM is the biggest thing happening in Ekiti state right this moment. The people have truly been awesome.
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