Ensconced behind sound proof walls, their memorable voices travelling copious air miles and touching down softly through our sound speakers, radio presenters or on-air personalities, as is now the more fashionable term, are in the business of thankless jobs. Bar a few whose star has shone beyond the walls of a radio station (Think Tola ‘Toolz’, Dan Foster, Olisa Adibua) a large number of them are literally not heard nor “seen” beyond their allotted time on air, nor has their work gained much appreciation. AYODEJI ROTINWA and EROMO EGBEJULE profile a number of them …
OMALICHA – 93.7 Rhythm FM, Lagos
Starting out as a studio handyman at Brilla FM and Metro FM and with a stint at One Gospel TV, 93.7 Rhythm FM’s Omalicha has risen to become one of the most respected radio personalities in Lagos. Her uncanny ability to marry sometimes the most jarring vernacular with English, sometimes reminiscent of now iconic character created by Funke Akindele, Jenifa, has gained her a cult following among listeners to the station.
A reserved woman, after having shed her on-air persona, she is fluent in Yoruba, Igbo, Pidgin and English and attributes her accent variations to practising to deceive her parents whenever she had to come home late.
With a background in the choir, she confesses that she constantly sings in the shower but will probably never take up a singing career. She posits that Nigerian songs are currently doing better than foreign songs in the country, because “we’re making good music now.”
Possessing an imagination that takes supersonic flight from time to time, it is no surprise Anita Ifeoma Isedeh (as her birth certificate reportedly bears) is sometimes married to superstar Denzel Washington with four kids or to fast-spitting rapper Busta Rhymes – in her mind. The beauty of radio, Omalicha says, is in being able to connect with and influence people with her voice. And for four years now, she has been at the Seaside Station, connecting with millions of Lagosians via voice only.
SHINE – 96.79 Cool Fm, Lagos
A graduate of mass communication from Madonna University, Okija, Begho Amatosero, more popularly known by her alias, Shine, from Eko FM to Hot FM Abuja, Classic FM, City FM, Rainbow FM, Zoodrums Internet Radio and Cool FM, is quite the creative nomad with a capacity for innovations beyond broadcast media.
She is like the magician that pulls trick after trick out of his hat, as she regularly conjures different, avant-garde ideas. One of them is “Shine with the Stars”, an initiative for members of the public to spend time with their favourite celebrities, devoid of the barrier of screen or radio. Rapper cum label executive, Eldee and the Trybe Records crew, along with Kennis Music artistes have graced previous editions. “I’m a creative person and ideas are forever coming to me. It is my duty to birth them,” she says.
She has done voice-overs for several brands, including Dettol, Nokia and UNICEF. She is perhaps one of the most listened-to personalities on radio in Lagos. This feat has so far born fruit in form of pat-on-the-back awards namely the Dynamix All-Youth Award for Radio Personality of the Year and the Nigerian Radio Awards for Female Radio Personality of the Year, both in 2012.
She dreams of working with Ryan Seacrest, her mentor, someday.
4LAH – 99.3 Nigeria Info FM, Lagos
Fola Folayan describes herself as “just a regular girl who enjoys the company of good friends, loud music and computers.” Truth be told, she is more. She hosts a midnight show and runs “Dear Artiste” a tutelage platform that seeks to transform young artistes from diamonds in the rough, to coveted jewels in the display window of a luxury store. The platform has two annual events every year: the Open Mic Hangout and Battle of the Emcees.
Her love and passion for budding performers is impregnable and this comes gushing to the fore like a temperamental avalanche at the slightest provocation. She laments, “Unfortunately I don’t really get to play music from underground cats on my show as much as I would have loved to. That’s why I do all I can to support them and have created a platform where they can express their music.”
Long before her radio career kicked off in her sophomore year of studying Mass Communication at the University of Maiduguri, she had participated actively in NTA Ilorin’s “Children’s Arena”, as a nine-year old. It was during this stint, she fell madly, deeply and truly in love with broadcasting and according to her, it was written in the stars, that she spend the rest of her life in this union.
Having listened to and played thousands of Nigerian songs, and read and discarded even more press releases, she says the biggest undoing for a budding artiste is “make wrong assumptions, lack knowledge and lack the desire to seek knowledge of the industry he wants to enter.
She puts it bluntly: “Most upcoming artistes just want to be famous. Very few are truly passionate about the art. And ones who are passionate do not take the time to learn the business of the music.”
“Someone has to give them a chance,” she continues. “If I wasn’t given a chance, I won’t be here today. And the truth is, there’s a lot of talent unharnessed out there and no one cares enough to look closely. I’ve never been scared of going out on a limb. I believe everybody deserves an opportunity. So if society says no to them, I choose to say yes.”
OSI – 99.9 The Beat FM, Lagos
Osikhena Dirisu is largely regarded by Lagos’s youth (mostly ladies) as the king of radio, in Lagos, after midnight. He, over time, has been known to assuage the sonic yearnings of the said women who have, many a night, been embraced unwillingly by insomnia.
“It didn’t happen by chance,” he says of his recent status. “I have always wanted to be on radio.” Currently studying for a Master’s degree in political science at the University of Lagos after bagging a first degree in sociology and anthropology, Osi admits he might go into politics at 40. Politics and radio aside, this diminutive 25-year-old would have, in an alternate world, been into the murky waters of advertising and public relations. In the radio business, he names Ryan Seacrest, Olisa Adibua and IK “Wildchild” Osakioduwa as mentors.
When he isn’t busy keeping women busy, Osi is MC-ing an event or doing voiceovers. He also doubles as A&R for Mogul Music, a record label with acts like Taikoon and Sammy Gravano on its roster.
So, is it true what they say about his ability to select heart-warming music, the kind that has endeared the fairer sex to him and has them listening to the radio, all night long? “The station has a sound, which is tilted towards the UK urban sound, that’s my major focal point, then I work my way around what suits my personality. I’m a huge fan of Frank Ocean though, so I know when to kick in the slow music. Let me say I don’t get involved with my listeners, I keep them as very good friends,” he explains, laughing.
Kore Brown – 90.9 Top Radio, Lagos
At once eccentric and self-assured, Kore Brown is an enigma of sorts. As the other big name at 90.9 Top Radio besides Tosyn Bucknor, he tows the humble path, describing himself as “just the guy next door, someone you can relate with.”
While he may not be the Jack of many trades that Miss Bucknor is, the fact remains that they both draw from the same well of energy.
His sojourn into broadcast media (radio) began when, as a young boy, he began a committed relationship with his transistor radio and would cling to it all the time. As big brothers are wont to do, his helped his dream come to reality by introducing him to a friend. That friend was the then manager of Cool FM and his internship stint at the station was followed by a brief stop at Kiss Media.
While the entertainment industry has missed out on Kore Brown, the rapper, which is what he admits he would have become, if he were not on radio, the clean-shaven presenter says his life is still centred on music. “My entire world is built around radio. Music also goes along way with me though.”
With this perceived double-barrelled quality, he aims to gun down the competition en route to claiming the prized position of the country’s leading on-air personality.