- GM, Sir AYOOLA MARTINS Tells City People
Sir Ayoola Martins is one of the long-serving General Managers in Ondo/Ekiti State as far as radio and television stations are concerned. His wealth of experience in broadcasting has made him a force to reckon with in the industry. The station, which will be celebrating its 10th anniversary started its test transmission on 21st August, 2008, and 4 days later, it was named Adaba Fm and the late Ayo Omostosho was named the pioneer Head of Programmes. He anchored the first interview on air on the station. The station has emerged the leading radio station in Ondo State and its environs, it is a subsidiary of the Continental Broadcasting Service Ltd, from 21st to 25th August, 2018, this first private radio station in Ondo and Ekiti States, will be celebrating its 10 anniversary in grand style. City People’s ADEOLA SHITTU was at the Ilara Mokin office of the station when its GM spoke on the journey so far. Below excerpts.
Let me start by congratulating you and this station ahead of the 10th anniversary. Adaba 88.9FM will be celebrating its 10th year of existence come 20th of August, 2018, how does this make you feel?
It is a thing of joy for me personally that a station that was established precisely on 21st of August, 2008, will be celebrating its 10th anniversary in a state like Ondo State. A lot has happened in the last 10 years and yet Adaba is still waxing stronger every day. Whereas there are some people or organisations that would be established and die even before their first anniversary not to talk of forth anniversary.
The station is 10 years old and its contributions to the lives of people in Ondo, Ekiti and everywhere its signal reaches and is heard. Adaba Fm is the first private radio station in both Ondo/Ekiti States, before its inception, all we knew and heard were government-controled media organisations and you would agree with me that information from government-owned radio stations are always one-way traffic and there is not any form of feedback from the people. So, the coming of Adaba Fm as a private station totally helped the broadcasting sector in both Ekiti and Ondo States, because we now give the people opportunity for feedback.
It’s not new that government-owned radio or television stations are more of propaganda outfits of the government of the day. So, this station came at a time our people wanted to hear the true version of the story, which we have been giving them. Where I am happy to be part of the success story. Though, I joined them 2 years after its inception as the General Manager and to God be the glory, it has been waxing stronger everyday going by the perspective and the opinion of people outside there, you know we cannot be blowing our trumpet, but from the feedback we are getting from the advertising agencies, we have every cause to be proud of this station and celebrate the tenth anniversary.
What has been the secret of Adaba in the last 10 years that makes the station keep surging ahead?
Do we really have a secret? Rather I will say it has been the grace of God, you see, one thing that is very important in any organisation is having the right people at the helm of affairs, be it business in the private or public sector and you have the right people directing the affairs of the enterprise, automatically the productivity will grow with the blessing of God. I want to tell you categorically that it still amazes me because when you consider the equipment, the personnel and even the environment we are operating from, the question is how were we able to cope because looking around us, we have better government-established stations that are better funded in terms of salaries and grants to run them, but I will say Adaba has received special favour from God. Again, in the last 10 years, though it is not our power or might, but rather the grace of God. We at Adaba, have not recorded any bad incident in any form, though there are minor things that happened, but for the past 10 years, we have recorded only one death and the death was of an elderly person. Then the content of what you give out is another important factor.
This is a station that is opened to everybody, without giving undue preference to one person or group. I am not saying that we don’t have a favourite, but the point is that, this place is seen as a melting point for everyone. Here at Adaba, we don’t have permanent friends neither do we have permanent enemies. So, our doors are opened to everybody. So, we make the people our centre of attraction, as we speak Adaba has grown to a stage, that if, we report news people believe it’s true, that is a high level of trust that we have cultivated among the people and we are not willing to disappoint them.
Another factor is that the station is blessed with dedicated officers or better say dedicated members of staff. If you have people who are dedicated and ready to give their totality, I could recall during our trying period that we had issues with the past administration even our workers’ freedom was not sure, but yet they were always proud to say they work with Adaba, so when you have this kind of people surrounding you, then the sky is your limit.
Another thing is providing quality leadership in terms of staff welfare, you see in all factors of production, the human element is very important because you can have the best of materials, the best of equipment, if the human factor is not well taken care of, you are just wasting your time, so welfare of my staffers is my number one priority and it’s not negotiable. We have a staff bungalow for those who work late at night, so in a nutshell our staff safety is very important to us. So, these are the basic things that have been keeping us growing.
So sir, briefly tell us what has been your impact as the GM of this station in last 8yrs?
Well, I believe this question should be directed at my staffers because I cannot be blowing my trumpet or judging myself, but I believe in the last 8 years, my impact is felt not only by my staffers, but by our audiences out there. Like I said, my staffers’ welfare is my priority because I am an apostle of welfarism and I make them feel comfortable, though I might not be able to provide all they need, but I try my best and I also encourage them. Though, I am a disciplinarian, there is no dispute about that, I don’t condone nonsense from my staffers, but at the same time, what is due to you will be given to you. I reward excellence and I punish poor productivity. There is no way you would not be rewarded, I don’t have favourite among them and I always tell them there is no favourite, but whoever is able to give me a good result is my favourite, if you do it today you are my favourite, if you fail to do it tomorrow you become another thing. So, I keep everybody on his/her toes of performances.
As one of the long- serving Radio station GMs in Ondo/Ekiti States, how have you been able to cope with the challenges and at the same time achieve a lot?
First of all, I will give all glory and honours to God, because the Bible says: “except God built the house all that labour do it in vain” I will say I received favour of God and probably owing to my little experience because all my life I have been in broadcasting and I have served in various departments, talk of finance, as an administrator, news & current affairs, it’s only engineering department I will say I don’t know much about and that doesn’t mean anybody can cheat me in that department. So, I have that experience, having served in government broadcasting corporation for almost 25 years or more and when I took over the positions, I trained and brought in my worthy experience, which I was able to use in managing both human and other resources of the station because you can’t buy experience and that has been a sort of motivation that has been propeling me in the last couple of years.
For instance, if any news person is writing wrong news, I will tell you categorically that what you are you writing is not correct and this is how you should do it. And if I send a reporter to an assignment and he is coming back without writing the story very well, I will write it the way it should be or if my presenter is mispronouncing words, it’s easy for me to handle and manage those things. Going by my experience and background in government broadcasting merged with that of private sector at Adaba FM. Again, I have free autonomy of power quote and unquote, not really free autonomy, what that means is that, I have a free hand to run the system. The management body didn’t sit on my neck and you can only get the best from somebody when you allow that person to perform his or her work, in that aspect, I will use this medium to appreciate the management for its trust in me. I am not saying that there is no control, but it is minimal and it is a matter of policy, so today running the station is left to me and probably that is why we have been able to achieve the little we have recorded because this is my territory, which I am use to, you can’t just bring a template of broadcasting in Lagos and say you are going to establish it here in Ondo or Ekiti State and you think it is going to work, because it’s the environment that will determine whatever is going to happen. So, I will say we have been making progress and at the same time overcoming our challenges.
So, in a nutshell, are you saying in the last ten years the station has been able to cope with challenges?
Yes, the challenges of the station are many, but they are not beyond redemption. In fact, when we look at the history of the station in the history of human existence on a scale of preference and we will say to God glory to your name. Our pluses are better than our minuses, if we go by the level of our acceptability, the level of ratings and the level of market we have, we thank God, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have challenges, one of our challenges, though not a major one, is that before the coming of other private radio stations in Ondo state and probably in Ekiti State, we were enjoying a monopoly of the business, which we enjoyed for a very long time, but never the less and with all sense of honesty, we are there. They, other private radio stations are still following us, no matter what, because we have established that link and if we don’t derange from those things that endear us to the public, Adaba would continue to fly. There are lot of challenges, some are beyond us. We have the issue of road that leads to the station, it’s so bad, we are the one that did the little we could do, though we all remember a period that a government came and barricaded us and locked us up inside this place, but we overcame them, I believe there is some things the state government could do for us because this is the first private radio station in Ondo State and as at the time we came, the site was a thick forest we were the only one, but today we see some houses springing up, so if the government is able to get the road done for us, it would open the place up more, because what you see here, we did it by ourselves.
But many see Adaba fm as an APC Radio station because it is owned by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, how have you been able to balance your reports on other political parties to avoid bias?
I have answered the question, on several occasions and like I said earlier, we at Adaba fm, we are opened to everybody, either the station is owned by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu or not, but the fact remains that Asiwaju is a businessman and one of the reasons he established this station is not political, but for community service. Let me give you one or two instances, in year 2012 during the governorship election in this state, he paid for his advert. There is evidence and receipt to that effect. And he has been doing that for long. This station is not a political station and from the start, our motto or slogan has been “make it available to everybody” irrespective of political aspiration, irrespective of your feelings or whatever it is and that has been the strength of the station because PDP, APC, ACN, LP will come and that is the essence of running a radio station when your doors are opened to all. In a nutshell, this station is not tied to any political party, though, we might have interest in some, remember we are all political animals, but the question is you draw the lines between politics and business, if we have been attached to one political party, by now this station would not be celebrating 10th anniversary, it would have die a natural death a long time before now.
Two months back, precisely 1st of May, marked your 8 years as the G.M of Adaba fm. Aside from that, in Ondo State today, you are the longest-serving G.M of a Radio station even T.V station, how does this make you feel?
In all things, I want to appreciate God Almighty for his wisdom and the support I receive from my staffers who believe in me because if I had not performed or probably the station is not growing, we wouldn’t have anything to celebrate today. But the fact that my employers had put more efforts in ensuring that they make progress and probably my little effort added to theirs, have made positive effect. I am celebrating today because Adaba Fm is progressing.