Nothing marked him out from the throng of regular visitors to the THISDAY office. Again, that blanket concealment of identity that radio offers. You only hear their voice. Casually dressed in a black shirt and grey trousers, famous On Air Personality and Voice over Artiste, Ejike Dennis Ibedilo had no airs about him. For over two decades he striving in terrains that were as unrewarding as they were frustrating. His focus was on the sciences and not broadcasting or acting. He actually wanted to be a medical doctor.
A combination of human beings and circumstances, perhaps divinely orchestrated ordered his steps to his present vocations. Starting with a cousin of his who co-habited with the famous film-maker, and Chico Ejiro. Visiting with them gave him the opportunity to accompany them to movie locations. He was given small roles, at first. That spurred his interest in acting.
His road to self-discovery began at the National Stadium, Surulere during an MTN Gladiator show. A certain woman heard him on the phone. She asked if he was on radio. Of course, he was not on radio, at the time. He was a student of Physiology at the University of Lagos. What this lady said next set him thinking. ‘If you are not on a radio, then you are a waste. Go and listen to your voice and think about it.’
He would be told the same thing later in the day by his cousin and a certain Shadrack John who, incidentally, was a voice over artiste. Arranging for him to be heard at a studio was not a problem for Shadrack. Everyone including veterans at this studio at Eric Moore in Surulere was excited to meet him. They assured him that his voice texture would be a hit. He was on his way. The journey had started.
He continued his studies at Unilag but as a green horn he knew he needed training in his newfound vocation. Along the line, he met Frank Edoho who acknowledged that he had a good voice but needed training.
The Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) Training School at GRA-Ikeja, Lagos was where he went to learn the rudiments of broadcasting. One of the lecturers, Mr. Akioya took a liking to him and paid more than a passing attention to his growth.
Since his spirit connected with Broadcasting, he became very committed and willing to learn. This endeared him to the people he met on the way. For his internship, he was posted to Cool FM.
“On my first day at work, I met Freeze and he was nice to me. He asked me whether I would like to work at Cool FM. It sounded like a dream. My answer was ‘yes’. This was 2007. I was called to meet the Head of Production, Ibrahim Abubakar. Someone had just resigned and they wanted me to take over. It was like a divine arrangement and that day I had to go on air. It was my first time on air and Olisa, Freeze, Dan Foster and others encouraged me. It was overwhelming and felt like a rabbit on a headlamp. I was allowed to make mistakes and they corrected me.”
His romance with Cool FM only lasted for four years before he quit. While he wouldn’t want to go into details about what led to his sudden exit, he still considered his stay at the famous station as one of his best moments. “I was starting a family by the time I left the radio. My wife had a nine-to-five job in an oil and I ran a crazy shift on radio. It was two weeks to the birth of my first son and I quit Cool FM. whatever happened I love my employer but I had to leave in 2011. I decided to stay at home while my wife works so that the pressure would not be profound on the children. I became self-employed. The voice over and the movie roles were still coming and I also took care of the children. I had the first and second child and when we stabilized we knew how to manage ourselves.”
Speaking of his love for radio, Ibedilo said, “Every good broadcaster will tell you that he is like a soldier. Once a broadcaster always be a broadcaster. A broadcaster changes the mood, regulates the mood of the nation and knows the music to play to calm frustration nerves. I had an incidence where a man had been married for many years without a child. He had a quarrel with his wife and they were at the verge of breaking up. He listened to one of my night programmes and connected with the music I was playing that fateful night. A miracle happened that night because his wife got pregnant. The man called back three months after that it has been confirmed that his wife was pregnant. The baby boy was named after me, Ejike.”
Ibedilo is lucky to be reasonably rewarded from all his vocations. Acting was his first love and it gives him presence. As a Nollywood actor, he has featured in a lot of movies. Given a choice, however, he would choose On Air Personality (OAP) which has projected his name more.
Many would be surprised at what he considers his priceless possession. “My voice is my asset. This is a talent and it is difficult to put a price on a talent. I won’t do that.”
He tactfully skirted around the subject of his involvement in the recent Big Brother Naija. ”Everywhere I go that is what I hear o! People are stopping me asking whether it is true. I heard the same thing and I would like to say that it is flattering to be so talked about. The rumour was on the social media and went viral that I was the Big Brother Nigeria. I read, heard the same thing. I also read or heard that that the voice over was Frank Edoho, Yemi Blaq and at some point Segun Arinze was also mentioned. I think it is basically about those with fine voice gesture that were being speculated. But I am a fan of Big Brother and I feel honoured to be associated with it. I watched the show like everybody else and it was a great viewing experience for me. There were lot of things that were derived from the show: The Nigerian cultural heritage especially the day they dressed in Nigerian traditional attire. That really put us on the world map.”
Such is his love for his vocations that he would love to be remembered by them. “If I die today, I would like my epitaph to read, ‘Here lies a Nigerian broadcaster, actor, international voice artiste.’ It is flattering when you walk down the road and somebody says, ‘this voice sounds familiar.’”
For now, Ibedilo is tending to his young family, acting; while also working as a voice over artiste and master of ceremony. He still hopes and prays to go back to radio one day.