Kenny Ogungbe is 60. That is Big News. For those who don’t know Baba Keke, he is an ace broadcaster and co-owner of Kennis Music. At 60, he looks so young that most people didn’t believe he was marching up to his golden jubilee. The music producer who has produced many artistes of note and made a profound impact On-Air broadcasting, has marked his Diamond Jubilee. The man, who has walked the entertainment path from presenting programes on radio, has gone ahead to set up own Radio/Television stations. Read his resolve to deliver more as he does not yet feel accomplished or fulfilled.
He was our guest on City People TV Instagram Live Chat during which he talked about his life at 60.
How has it been since the lockdown. How have you been coping?
Covid-19 is a global pandemonium. Being a broadcaster, I work every minute, Monday to Friday. I drive to Arepo from Ajao Estate. Since Covid-19 started, I have been broadcasting from my home. We are broadcasting live from Ajao Estate to Arepo. Usually, we have co-hosts, Ife Ajagbe, Edua Joseph and others. They are also broadcasting from home. Thank God for technology of today that allows that to be done. People don’t really know because everything is perfect. Every business was affected, but God has been faithful.
The advertisement got reduced. The only advert we see is on Covid-19, infomercial to tell people how to stay safe, and very few products, like Glo. But thank God things are moving up now. So, apart from slow business, which is a global issue, whereby some countries are even going into recession, but we thank God.
Did you ever think you will go through something like this at the beginning of the year?
Not at all, it’s still a mystery that no Pastor or Imam can ever unravel. If anybody said, this year we were going to have 6 months vacation, I would say that person is a genius, but nobody, nobody told us we were going to experience this kind of situation. It was a big shock to everybody.
How do you feel turning 60?
Actually, people don’t really know my age. I have seen people asking me “when are you celebrating your 50th birthday”? I have heard people saying that “Oh Kenny Ogungbe is 40 something”. I never celebrated my 50th birthday neither celebrate my 40th birthday, so, you can not really tell until yesterday morning when my sister, Kenny Saint Brown, was greeting me on her Instagram page. She wrote “happy N60th birthday to my brother Kenny Ogungbe, I said “oh KSB has told everybody my age (laugh). Immediately after that, a lot of people now started twitting, re-twiting happy 60th birthday.
She told me how some of her friends were amazed when they heard I was 60. (Laugh). To God be the glory.
How does it makes you feel?
I feel the same, I feel great. I felt the bomb when I heard so many beautiful thing people were saying about me. How I have affected their lives. People whom I don’t even know, like people who are working with me, the management of music. I have about 7 persons working with me and all 7 of them are abroad. The likes of Godwin Indidi, he worked with me for over 12/13 years, he now lives in Houston, Emmanuel also lives in America. I have people in the UK and South Africa. One of them came, the one in Nigeria, Banji Adelana.
He came yesterday and again saying all those things. I felt so humbled. It was so good being eulogised by people you don’t think you have touched their lives, while I am still alive. These were the people who we have worked together for almost 10 years I felt very good and I, of course, I give God the praise.
Do you feel fulfilled, looking back?
Fulfilment is something relative in this our world. Till now, Dangote is still looking for money, Otedola is also still working, Adenuga is still running Glo. I’m not fulfilled yet but I see the way I touch people’s lives. The way I have been able to deal with people who I don’t even remember. Ambrose Somide actually started the surprise for me yesterday and I remember what he said. I was wondering when my brother said in my bedroom where we stream that he wants to receive a phone call, because I am the one who receives phone calls. He doesn’t receive phone call, and I sensed something was probably going on. After the phone call, he now said “welcome the Dr” lo and behold the Dr. started eulogising me. I couldn’t quickly get it because he was talking slowly, not the way he talks on radio, until he started eulogising me the way I usually talked about my Oriki on Faaji FM. I said that is Olutayo Somide.
Tears almost came out of my eyes. The celebration was just too much for me because I didn’t plan to do anything. That was how the celebration started with some other side attractions.
Let’s talk about Kennis 104 FM. What is your view of how far the station has grown?
Kennis 104 FM is almost the last baby in the radio stations stable in Lagos. Gone are those days when Ray Power was the first independent radio, after that from all what we did by bringing back Nigeria’s music, by allowing Nigerian music to be loved. And people associating with Ray Power FM, and our input in the acceptability of our ideas towards Nigerian music. At that particular time, we grew the acceptance level of the Nigerian music genre to the point that it became accepted all over. And again, we were thinking of getting a radio station that will base only on Nigerian music, while we were thinking that, another radio station came up and they were playing Nigerian music only. The likes of Naija FM, Wazobia FM, Faaji FM, they don’t play any foreign music, nothing but Nigerian music back to back. That was my initial move, that this is what a radio station should sound like in Nigeria. Then came Nigezie, which plays Nigerian and African videos the way we were thinking. But in this scenerio, where competition is very fierce. You have to be able to look at what you are designing, so what you are designing will be able to do well with the competitiveness in the market. And that is why we play Nigerian music. We also play foreign music and, of course, we also play old music to put everything in a basket, so that people could have varieties. It’s been over 3 years that we came on board and to God be the glory, and with our experience in the business, in management, in production, in marketing and experience in Engineering, the whole work is going on well and people love the station.
And you know when you say Kennis, what comes to your mind is music.
That statement was brought on Kennis FM by our first female OAP on Kennis FM.
So, we are a music station and, of course, we give information in the morning; information from the newspapers review to Kennis Sport, to entertainment news from all over the world, and again Mitchel Obi, ace sport caster, is also with us. Then, we also broadcast live from Accra, Ghana every morning with our studio in Accra, Ghana. We have an international broadcaster, Smile Baba. He broadcasts with us every morning Monday to Friday 9:30 and then 2 O’clock every Saturday. After that, we now have the platform where ID comes on and we take phone calls. The morning time is a basket of information and music.
Between quarter to 8 in the morning that is when we have our long stretch of music. We make sure people enjoy good music while going to work. Usually, other stations do news at 8 O’clock, if they don’t do news, they do sport or current affairs programmes, but we decided to let people enjoy music for 45 mins, from 7:45 to 8.30 and it has worked for us. So, that is the way we have been running the station and to God be the glory.
What would you call the biggest challenge you seem to have faced in the last 3 years when you started Kennis 104 FM?
The biggest challenge is electricity. In Nigeria, electricity is the major challenge of every businessman. We have equipment that is designed for 24 hours and we are running a broadcast, you cannot keep saying “sorry for the break-in transmission, it was owing to failure” that’s the statement that has been on for the past 30 to 40 years and Nigerians are tired of hearing that. If we have the issue of electricity solved, we would be the best in business and again for us to stop the problem of electricity, we have to get generator and if you get the generator, you have to buy diesel. For the past 3 days, there was no light, and again if there is no light, you can’t tell anybody, you just have to be on-air and again. When power supply goes off the transmitter goes off, you come back to apologise, but you can’t be apologising every time.
So, what we do is to use the ups that will be able to carry the transmitter for at least, 5 minutes before the engineer puts on the generator. That is how we have been doing it. Apart from NEPA, I don’t have issue with staff because they are well trained, well cultured and well mannered. I have worked with very fantastic people. Then, on the issue of advert, Covid-19 brought a very huge gap in advertisement flow, not just Kennis FM, but to everybody.
Would you say you have been able to achieve your play professionally?
Professionally, I want my TV station to be watched in Lagos. I have a TV station that is beaming currently in Abuja, Jos, Kaduna, Enugu, Ilorin and Osogbo, but not in Lagos. It’s also an entertainment station. It is on the digital switch over platform, free TV. Once it gets to Lagos, we can now see how we can get more people involved, about being informed, being entertained. I am so deeply into broadcasting currently because of the stations that I have, compared to when I was producing 2/3/4 artistes per year. And I am happy. To God be the glory. Music is something that you do that will last almost 50 to 100 years, there is no retirement.
Also, I would love the TV station to be watched outside Nigeria.