Ify Onyegbule is one of the very good broadcasters in the industry. She has paid her dues. She has served in various capacities in many TV and Radio stations. In this interview with City People Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE, across Nigeria. she opens up on her life as a Broadcaster.
How have you found your career in Broadcasting? How many years now?
Hmmmmm…its been 17 long and fruitful years. There have been ups and downs and my story gladdens my heart because there is joy in doing something that you truly love!
My journey stared in a place called DBN, those days on Awolowo Road as a reporter! I was excited with this job not because I was going to earn some stipend for doing my work but because I was open to learning something new after my training at Alliance Francaise in Ikoyi and fresh from NYSC in Jos Plateau State. I did the job for 3 months and moved on to what was then and still known as Cool FM also as a correspondent. Just so I don’t bore you with his my journey, I will try to cut it short by touching on the few places I have been in the last 17years.
I moved from Cool FM to Metro FM at the Broadcasting House Ikoyi, Lagos where I will say I cut my teeth in broadcasting, that was the place that taught me most of what I know today on the job. From Metro I had stints in Treasure FM Port Harcourt, Capital FM Abuja and the Network Service of Radio Nigeria also in Abuja. When I left Radio Nigeria I pitched my tent with Radio and TV Continental where I anchored a number of A list programmes before resigning from my job in 2011 to set up my Trueline Productions which is also into the production and packaging of content for radio and TV.
In the course of this, there were short stints with a couple of Radio and TV stations in Lagos where we provided content for the Morning show on these platforms. I would say it has been a jolly ride and I am grateful that I am on this journey!
How did you start your career in Broadcasting?
From age 15, I knew I was going to be a broadcaster because I come from a family where parents encourage you to read the newspapers, listen to radio and watch television, especially the news on TV so I got used to watching the likes of Bimbo Oloyede, Sienne All Well Brown, Ruth Benemasia, Julie Coker and so many others on TV, remember the days when transmission starts at 4, my father will make sure that I watch the news at 9 and in my own free time I had this small radio in my room so I was always listening and wondering how these people talked from a small or big box, that piqued my interest and I started to read out to myself and mimic what they were doing.
It will be nice to say here that my father always wanted me to be a lawyer so we had this conflict because if he wants something, no one can change that position but I was a little rebel, I never wanted to hear about it, he just wanted me to be a lawyer and I had my eyes on the microphone. At some point, he let me be and the rest they say is history but you know what, I contemplating going back to the classroom to read Law.
Where have you worked because I know you have run a few stations ?
As I said earlier, I worked in a good number of places and each place gave me something to walk away with. DBN, Cool FM, Radio Nigeria’s Metro FM, Treasure FM, Capital FM, Radio Continental, MiTV and Rainbow (just for the morning shows on freelance) then I moved on to Rockcity FM, Abeokuta as Station Manager of the 1st Independent Radio Station in Ogun State.
It was such a delight to be part of the team on Rockcity FM because together we came up with a blend that held people spellbound in the city and you were just stuck on the station because it provided you what you wanted when and exactly how you wanted it in concept and delivery! The listeners always wanted to be part of the show, people appreciated the efforts we put into our jobs and it was such a warm relationship between our station at that time and the people making up our audience.
What do you do now? It seems you started a new station in PH?
Presently I am running my NGO, Women Awareness for Sustainable Empowerment Initiative (WASEI) with a special focus on vulnerable women and girls in rural areas and sometimes in the cities also. I started publishing a magazine Woman of Substance Nigeria in 2012 (which was an offshoot of a TV programme with same name) so I had to go back full time into it and we are online now on www.womanofsubstance.org where we get to tell women stories and report issues in the polity. In all, we have interviewed over 1,000 women in the course of our programme on TV and the Magazine so these are the 2 key things that have my full attention after I left Wave FM in Port Harcourt.
Did I start a new station in Port Harcourt? No, it was a station that had been in existence for over 3years and they needed to repackage it and a rebranding was conceptualized, my former boss (in Radio Continental) Mr Femi Sowoolu was saddled with the responsibility of creating something new for this station so he felt the need to have me on his team and that’s how I found myself in Port Harcourt as the General Manager of Wave 91.7FM.
It was a good experience, that side of the country because all along I had plied my trade in the south west except for when I went to Port Harcourt in 2006 for 4 months on some kind of Announcer exchange. The stint in Port Harcourt was a good one and as always there is something to learn and imbibe when you are done with your work.
How do you see the broadcast industry today with the proliferation of radio stations?
The proliferation came as a blessing because it meant more jobs and a whole new world of opportunities but along the line, things went haywire, caution thrown the wind and the job became an all comers affair! Im sure what we see today is not what was envisaged when RDS came alive in 1932 up until 1950 and all the way to the period of 1976 with the radio stations of the FRCN, then in 1991 when NBC was born, that was the era that witness the birth of private radio stations in Nigeria. You know the monopoly of Government in the area of the media was broken that period as private citizens latched onto the opportunity to set up radio stations, I really wont want to bore you with history but then the period paved the way for what was to come.
The hype was there with the only station that kickstarted the move and there was poaching from the government stations so content and professionalism was still rife at that time. When so many others joined the fray, a lot of things were watered down and many other things were taken on which characterizes what you and I hear today on air and watch on television.
I am a child of the old school, I was trained by the old school, the old school hands helped hone my skills and I dare say that the old school is still the best school because people took time to learn how peoples names were pronounced, how names of places were called and they went further to provide good content unlike what is obtainable today in a lot of radio stations.
Yes this is a new age and the times are truly different but my great grand father’s name if that’s what some people still bear cannot change because it still means the same thing!
In essence what I am trying to say is that the basics of broadcasting may not change much because the duty is to do the right thing and that is not evident in a lot of radio stations today. I don’t want to go into names but these stations know themselves. I share with you, someone I worked with and I was to monitor content that goes out on air and a particular programme had been running on the station with a lot of unpardonable mistakes, when I brought it up, I was told that the person had paid so the programme can as well go on air!
I was shocked so the narratives when it comes to content and delivery, is not something to cheer about but is the cash coming in? Yes for a lot of stations because some of those things many professionals will call anomalies on the job is what advertisers want to hear! I used to do some voice overs and when I get the script, I pronounce the word the way it should be pronounced and the producer says “please call it this way because that’s what the people want” so where do we go from here? You either call it like that, pocket your pay and go or you forgo the job and carry your professionalism on the head and walk with an empty pocket.
The story is endless, ownership and control are two things you can never separate so its either you do as oga likes it or you dust your butt and walk away! Many people today get jobs in broadcasting because they know the owner, many times as a manager you cannot say NO, but I remember as a manager, a letter came from one paramount ruler and my boss sent it down to me with the bearer, I auditioned this person and wrote my report.
The fellow was not a material for the job and I gave reasons in that report with a clause that the person could get the job if boss wants to hire the person but would never hold me responsible for whatever went wrong afterwards so it was a no no and it goes to show that sometimes the owners know when things are not right and they want to know if you can put your foot down. How do we move from where we are so that we can do it right, it is simply going back to the basics, getting appropriate training for the job, its about sounding right while on air, many have no idea how they sound on air and in a bid to speak with an accent they mispronounce people’s name and the names of things and places.
I think that in broadcasting from what I have seen and experienced with the people who mentored me, emphasis should be on identifying and developing talent, training and retraining of personnel and for those who employ hands, you don’t need to recruit a rookie or a gree horn to man positions where experience should speak, they need to de-emphasis on paper qualifications because many just go to acquire it by all means and cannot defend it while on air, on the other hand it is important to get formal education so you know whats right from whats wrong!.
Experience makes a lot of sense on the job and should not be thrown to the dogs, that’s why you see that people like Mr Jones Usen and Femi Sowoolu who are masters of the game still train many while they still present programmes on air. I am happy when I see Mrs Oloyede Bimbo read the news on Channels or when Mr Soni Irabor presents his show on Radio, the list of these experienced hands can go on and on and people who want to learn, take time to listen to them. We can and will get there if we elect to do the right thing!