What He Told City People
Ace broadcaster, Prince Bisi Olatilo is in a happy mood right now. His programme, The Bisi Olatilo Show is 20 and he is celebrating it next month. A few days back, the multilingual broadcaster spoke to City People Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE about how the programme became a global brand as many Nigerians in the diaspora are hooked on it.
Let me start by congratulating you on your forthcoming celebration. How does it make you feel?
I feel happy. I can’t believe we are 20 years, undivided and unbroken. Bisi Olatilo Show (BOS) has been turned into a global brand by God’s Grace. Do you know that abroad, it is like a movement? People go out of their way to watch out for the programme. Those who reside in Nigeria, but go on holiday abroad say they watch it abroad. There are so many stations showing it. Back home here, people tell me they watch BOS show religiously. The young ones tell me they have been watching me right from when they were growing up. Some will say I grew up watching BOS. I never knew we could make such an impact honestly. My table here is littered with different kinds of awards, mostly from abroad. I have many at home as well. I can’t remember any time we have missed going on the air. Even when this premises where we are was engulfed by fire twice, we still came out. I remember we have had such an unpleasant moment twice. In 2006 and 2015. The whole place went up in flames and the entire place went into rubbles, but we still broadcast. It shows God has a hand in all these. It’s 20 years now.
What has all of these taken from you in terms of energy, time?
To answer this I will need to go back to my antecedent. How did I actually start life myself? I started Broadcasting 45 years ago and my entire life has revolved around it; around Radio & Television, along the line, we have forayed into magazine production.
The training that I got, made me an all-round broadcast journalist. That has helped me a lot. Because of the kind of training I got, I am hands-on. Nothing goes out of here without me looking at it. As you know, I have read the news before, maybe the longest-running for almost 20 years unbroken before I disengaged of course. I have done all kinds of programme. Remember that before I left radio, I was the pioneer head of Radio Nigeria 3, (the indigenous language service of Radio Nigeria). I have also done programming before then at Radio Oyo days in those days when we were growing up, in 1974/1975. We had this programme we called Wazobia. I was into the pidgin aspect. I was doing the 3 aspects of Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa. I had Tonia Ogunbo who pared me. It was called the Wazobia Request then. You can imagine as far back as that time. So, there is nothing in Broadcasting that I have not been able to do. The all-round training that we got at FRCN helps a lot. No matter how many degrees you come with, you must go through what we call The Radio Nigeria 3 laboratory where all the qualities that you have, which are not quite straight, will be straightened out, in terms of elocution, ethos and other aspects.
In my own aspect, I am also lucky to have gone through all aspects of training in broadcasting like Presentation, Production and Football commentating. There was a time in my career I did all these. All these prepared me for my present role and I am enjoying all these. My background in all these helped. I thank God that we are very happy to have done this. We started it for passion sake, not necessarily for money. We went out of our way because we just love what we were doing. I am talking about the likes of John Momoh of Channels, Manny Onumonu, Soni Irabor (who was my senior and teacher in the laboratory then), Patrick Oke, Osaze Iyamu. We all grew up about the same time and we just liked what we were doing at that time and we went for it. Thank God today, we are still standing and counting.
Will you say that Passion played a key role in your career?
Oh yes, I say that everywhere. When I have the opportunity to talk to those I work with, I say that to them. I always tell them that this business that we are in, is all about knowing people and the goodwill that you amass from it. It is much more than money. The kind of things that we can get away with, as Broadcasters and Journalists, ordinary people can’t do that. What other people spend millions of naira to buy, we just get it for the asking, by the nature of the talent that we have and the way we display it. I say to them all the time please hang on to this. Quite a lot of people still refer to my days of news reading. I don’t know what they say they find about it. They say there is a way that I read the news that captures their attention; they want to listen to it. In fact, the young man whose voice you hear these days on the commentaries that you hear on BOS Show, Lekan Ahmed has a very interesting story. His parents are from different parts of Nigeria. I think his father is Ibo, his mother is Hausa. He came to me on his own. And he said he has been aping me almost figuratively from the womb, that he just wanted to read like me and work like me, that I should just take him under my wings. He said please, he wants to be mentored. And I am happy that God has brought our paths to cross. He is improving by the day and that is helping both of us. It is beneficial to both of us. He loves what he does.
I have received commendations from very prominent people who complain about their wives fixation on the BOS Show. That is the magic of the programme. It’s the power of the programme. Chief Makanjuola told me about how his wife is locked on the programme. So, also DIG Lakanu (rtd) told me about his wife’s love for BOS Show. That’s the kind of comments I get all the time. The women love the BOS Show. It’s the women that start watching because of the nature of what we broadcast and it spreads like a virus, and the husbands also catch up on it and before you know it, the whole family becomes hooked on it and it becomes a family thing. We thank God for that.