During one of my many rants and fire-side discussions with my colleagues at work sometimes back about the Media generally and the Broadcast Media in particular, we swayed into the dichotomy between print and broadcast journalists.
And I remember having the same discussion last year as well when I was invited by a circle of colleagues in journalism to deliver a presentation on the topic; ‘The Salient Attributes of an OAP’ at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife.
I went a step further to discuss the Foundation of Broadcast Journalism, the Evolution of the Broadcast Industry, the Stages Involved in Producing Amazing Broadcast Content and of course those attributes that makes you stand out as an OAP.
After the presentation, a colleague and friend, Kabir Adejumo who reports for Premium Times – an amazing journalist by the way – asked me a question that actually got me thinking.
I can’t remember the exact words he used but it was something along the lines of why broadcast journalists have decided to be carried away by the glitz and glamour that comes with being heard on Radio and shining your face on Television while abandoning the basic essence of the profession.
He opined that broadcast journalists these days are paying nothing more than lip service to the calling. They don’t do intelligence reporting anymore and will more often than not, turn blind eyes to a lot of news stories that involves conducting investigations unless a brown envelope is attached somehow. In essence, his position was that OAPs are more of entertainers than journalists in the true sense of the word.
Well, I had to refute his allegations to some extent. But that didn’t stop me from taking some quiet moments after the event to sit down and think through the truth in what he said. You know what? The truth is that what he said to a very large extent is true.
And I for one think that the problem he expressed including the fact that some OAPs will rather anchor entertainment shows or nothing; that they will rather gist about Wizkid and Davido plus a little bit of Bobrisky on air; that they rely solely on some loose information found on Instablog9ja or some other lousy gossip blog; I think that these problems are not just problems of today. They’ve started several years back but we all didn’t just pay attention to it.
However, this particular piece off his Osagie’s Playlist column was written when he was with TheNet.NG. It was titled ‘Nigerian Media Needs To Have a Firm Grip‘. The piece summarily expressed Osagie’s disenchantment with the way Beat FM’s Tolu ‘Toolz’ Oniru handled the first few episodes of the second season of Ndani TV’s ‘The Juice’.
Osagie decried how Toolz gave 2Face, Davido, Iyanya just a surface treatment of the controversial issues surrounding these music superstars at the time. You can read the article here.
Now, that piece was published almost five years ago precisely on April 23rd, 2014. And it is appalling that the situation hasn’t changed since then. In any case, it’s only getting worse.
The least a lot of people know about Radio is that it serves as a platform to inform, educate and entertain. I don’t think that the fact that ‘entertain’ comes last in that sequence is by mere coincidence. A lot of OAPs seem to have forgotten that by sitting behind the MIC with fingers operating the console, there is a huge responsibility on you to fulfill. Providing the right kind of information is the number one on that bucket list of responsibility.
I actually don’t care what kind of show you handle. Politics, Business, Lifestyle, Health, Human Angle, Sport and even Entertainment shows. In the spirit of making sure that your show is as lively as possible, you still hold that responsibility of treating the issues at hand dead-on and passing across the right kind of information.
The Politics, Lifestyle and Talk Radio stations do not seem to suffer much from this problem. But these Entertainment stations are found guilty to the last letter. You’ll listen to QOTD (Question of The Day) segment of some Radio shows especially on the Evening Belt and the kind of questions the Radio Hosts will be asking their listeners are better left for Batta Box or Gboah TV.
And I for one think that the factors below are some of the prime contributors to the rise of this problem;
i. When Radio Station Started Looking for OAPs Rather Than Broadcast Journalists
The Radio stations are huge contributors to this problem. See, I sincerely don’t know how this magic works. But I do know that the term journalist carries a certain feeling of responsibility to the public on the shoulder of the bearer. How many of your favorite OAPs can be referred to as journalists? How many of them are even comfortable referring to themselves as journalists?
Boring as it may sound compared to the fanciful OAP tag that we all carry around but all Radio Hosts should be Broadcast Journalists before becoming an On Air Personality. As a matter of fact, I strongly believe that OAP is a status that you attain in the broadcast journalism profession and not a position to be applied for when looking for jobs.
At the end of the day, you start asking yourself for what the end result is. Is it the fancy that comes along with the tag or being professional in the discharge of your duty as Radio Hosts? You listen to some shows on Radio and say to yourself; ‘man, you guys need to do better’. Why? This is because the mentality of being a journalist who must churn out quality and factual information every time to the public has been watered down over time.
And when Radio stations put out vacancy saying they are looking for OAPs. It brings to question, the ethical and professional prescription of such Radio stations. Yes, they all do it but it is totally wrong.
The consciousness that you are a journalist on a broadcast platform sends some vibes to you about staying true to the dictates of the job. What we all are doing today is ‘showboating, fanfare-ism and sadly a minute of professionalism’ in Osagie’s words.
2. We are not in the Entertainment Industry, We are in the Media
Okay, this point reminds me of a particular incidence that happened during a live TV show. I’ll rather not mention the channel, the show and the people involved. It was on the 32nd birthday of the Host of the show – a smart and fashionable man by the way. The producers of the Show in the spirit of celebrating the man decided to put him on the hot seat. So they brought in a popular female Radio OAP to take over the show and ask the man some sets of mean questions just like he does to his guests too.
Among the questions that were asked was if the man has ever dated anyone in the industry. And when he asked, ‘‘What industry now?’’, the female OAP replied ‘‘the Entertainment Industry’’. So he rightly answered ‘‘No’’. She asked him if he was sure and he replied in the affirmative. So she propped further by naming someone – a TV Host with Ebony Life TV – who the man has actually dated in the past. And he replied, ‘‘Yes?’’
So she queried him on why he answered otherwise before. And he rightly replied that, that person is in the Media not the Entertainment industry.
Now, this might sound trivial but it truly reflects the state of mind of so many Radio Hosts and TV Hosts in this country. See, the fact that you have a lot to do with people in the entertainment industry does not necessarily translate to you being in the entertainment industry. You meet pop stars and Nollywood actors every day and you interview them, cool! You take over the Red Carpet and do all of these things, great! But it doesn’t shift the industry that you operate in away from the Media.
We’ve seen a lot of Radio Hosts and TV Hosts who actually made that transition successfully from being on Radio and TV to being Entertainers. We know a lot of Radio Hosts and TV Hosts who are actually multi-potentials.
VJ Adams is a VJ on Television, he’s a Radio Host, he’s a Rapper and he’s done a bit of acting, awesome! Nancy Isime has won a beauty pageant even before replacing Toke Makinwa on Hip TV’s ‘Trending’, yet she is still acting, perfect! Do2Dtun is perhaps the greatest Hypeman on the Nigerian soil. He released his song ‘Energy Gad’ featuring Vector few days ago. He is a dancer/choreographer yet remains true to his calling on Radio.
We know that there is a thin line between the Media and the Entertainment industry. Sometimes, that thing line even fade away and we overlap. That’s why Falz can be on MTV Base and On The Couch with LJS. That’s why a lot of comedians can be employed to run the Evening Belt of so many Radio stations. It’s fine. They are entertainers.
But for you as a Radio Hosts, what is more important is to reckon with the fact that whenever you are on Radio or TV as the case maybe, you’re a journalist not an entertainer! You might leave the studio and jump on the stage to entertain people but when you are on Radio or TV, you’re not in the Entertainment industry; you’re in the Media. And you sure can check up the responsibility of the Fourth Estate of the Realm.
3. The Pseudo-Celebrity Status that OAPs Have Claimed
Most of the time, I think the problem is that with the aid of social media and the habitual image making that comes with being in the Media, a lot of OAPs have become ‘accidental celebrities’. With several thousands of followers and likes on their social media pages, the glitz and glamour part of the industry is taking the place of the fundamental responsibility that is expected of them.
Listen to a lot of personality interviews on Radio and watch them on TV. All you get to see is the TV Host competing with the guests on who is more stylish on set. Radio Hosts pampering their celebrity guests who are supposed to be drilled on what the public actually wants to know. I mean, what is the essence of personality interviews if not that.
But a lot of OAPs basically think that they’ve grown so big in the media, that they are now considered celebrities themselves. Therefore, they need to pamper fellow celebrities and thread carefully while interviewing them. Come on, I don’t think Wendy Williams will do that. I don’t think CThaGod will do that. I don’t think Oprah Winfrey will do that.
Eventually, these kinds of interview come off as a total wash out. There is nothing to make the news. There is nothing for the fans to hold on to. Interviews are not meant to be always rosy. And with OAPs assuming the status of being celebrities, true journalistic work on Radio is being sent to the graveyard.
Well, this is the truth and until we accept it, the broadcast industry will keep getting kicked off the table whenever the discussion about ethical journalism arises. Yes, we have a handful of awesome broadcast journalists who are putting in a lot of work in this regard. But how many presenters such as the ones we have on Channels TV are there? How many Sharoon Ijasan do we have? How many Edmund Obilo do we have? The case of TV is even better, Radio is worse.
And for the next superstar Radio Hosts. You need to understand that the funfare-ism, glitz and glamour is part of the broadcast industry but it is not the fundamental reason why you are here.
It saddens that a lot of people venturing into the field of broadcast journalism these days are interested more in the glamour than the actual profession. Fine, if you’re good, you’re good and you will be duly rewarded for that.
But for you to be an OAP without being able to conduct proper research and present facts with accurate journalistic measures is uncalled for. You see the so called ‘Radio Goddess’, ‘Empress of Radio’, ‘Radio Diva’ etc. who do not understand the elements of news writing neither do they understand what scripting for Radio is all about.
Unfortunately, this is exactly what we are witnessing. And this is why we command less respect in comparison to print journalists from people who understand the craft.
There is a need to rejig the system. You can be creative, sound interesting to listen to or watch but when you don’t practice ethical journalism, there’s always a limit to how far you can go. The thing is if you want to go far with broadcast journalism – and by far, I mean attaining international standard – there is a need to start on a solid launch-pad. The kind that is fueled by knowledge about the demands of the job and filled with a constant reminder of the ethics of the job within the space of being creative and expressive.
The baseline is that you have to be a journalist before you become a broadcaster and ‘On Air Personality’ is a status you attain while in the line of this profession and not a job you apply for. So get your buckles on and fill yourself with as much knowledge about Radio as you can. Then start the journey of becoming the next Radio superstar.
Talent is pretty much important but expertise and staying true to the demands of the profession is ‘importanter’ if I may use that.
Yes, a lot of ‘yes ma’ and ‘yes sir’ is going on. Kissing the asses is very rife. Nevertheless, we need to raise the standard. Shout-out to Osagie Alonge. Shout-out to Charles Novia.
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