The name Funke Moore rings a bell in broadcast journalism in Nigeria. For 35 years, the former general manager of Eko FM and later, Lagos State Television was on top of her game in a highly competitive domain. The ace broadcaster has been a positive influence to many she came across and several others that she might never have come across. The delectable mother of two takes Omolabake Fasogbon through her enduring and exciting moments of life both on the field and home front as well as her next line of action after a short break
Just as expected, this personality is not making the present moment of her life dull in anyway. After 35 years of having had to heed to the becks and calls of a pay master, she is cooling off without reservation, at least for now, before she sets out on a new mission. Away, from acting to directives and later calling the shots, “Life could be this, and tantalizing”, was the impression on her face as she sips her drink and maintains a reclining position on her bouncing sofa, while savouring her favourite sounds and lyrics on the television.
She recalls: “It’s been an interesting and tough 35 years, but I cherish those moments, I must confess. I remember I became interested in the job by the inspiring column I read on pages of newspaper as well as the contents and colour on the screen. I found the profession interesting and glamorous, not just that, I saw journalist as agents of change and development in the society and I felt I could also make impact. I might be wrong and might have made a better choice, I don’t really know, but journalism was all that I wanted to practice. I consulted some professionals on the field whose advice led me to the right path. So, the journey started officially. At Times journalism institute, known as Daily Times of Nigeria training centre, I studied newspaper reporting for one year. I proceeded to journalism school in Ogba for two years, and later went to the Lagos State University (LASU), to study English Literature. I purposely didn’t register to study Mass Communication because I already had journalism experience.
“I needed the language skills and I knew that I could learn further on the job. I later proceeded to the University of Lagos, where I also studied English Literature for my second degree. I am at present working towards enrolling for PhD. Lest I forget, I practiced briefly with the defunct Daily Times and Evening Times before I eventually moved to LTV where I started as a reporter/sub editor.”
Quite expectedly, she encountered some rough edges on the way, but she managed them well, knowing that it was her cross. Reminiscing those times, she narrates patiently: “I started working at age 20 and I got married that same year. That means I was working, going to school and attending to marital demands. But then, I scaled through. As a matter of fact, I look back now and still marvel I was able to conquer those times, hence, I keep on telling young women that come my way that they don’t have excuse for failure. Although while at the helms at LTV and Eko FM, I tried to consider women because of their multiple roles and at the same time, encourage them to be hardworking. I recall that the only challenge that hooked me then was in the area of finance even though, I still don’t have enough now”, she chuckled.
Wasn’t your salary and husband support sufficient? the reporter asked. She responded: “I needed money to adequately take care of my children. I wanted them to attend private university because of frequent ASUU strikes but could not afford it. Maybe, I would have had enough to attend to my multiple needs if my husband and I didn’t live apart, then, I could enjoy the luxury of his presence to task him more.”
More inquisitive about this icon was how she was able to live her life and nurtured her children to greatness ever since she lost her better half about two decades ago. Surprisingly, she has lived without a man since she was 28 years. “My husband died some years back in Montego Bay, Jamaica, but before he died, we were already separated, although not legally. But since then, I’ve not really had cause to remarry, that’s why I’m still addressed as ‘Moore’ till date”.
Back to the career lane, the grand mother of three thought of some exciting moments at work as those days when they had to work with caution during the military era for fear of torture and dismissal. She also found the first day she read the news on TV quite interesting and memorable. “I remember those days, during the military rule, where we had to be careful about what we dished out to the public. At times, you will want to throw some principles of the profession overboard for fear of the paramount ruler.
“Then, if you want to start claiming objectivity and other principles of the profession, you are on your own o! I can still remember one or two of my colleagues who were fired and detained over a story that didn’t go down well with the government. Also unforgettable were those days we had to confine ourselves to the office anytime there were coups. The first day that I read the news was also worth sharing. Like I told you, as a reporter, I was only expected to file in my report and at times, do a stand up. Stand up wasn’t really frightful as one can retake several times and later edit unwanted aspects. This very day, the scheduled newscaster didn’t show up for the 2 o’clock news, so, a colleague walked up to me and encouraged me to take up the task. That was how I tied the head gear and headed straight to the studio to read the news I didn’t prepare for. I read it and it was good except for few diction errors which later drove me to FRCN training school for a basic announcer course. Thereafter, I started producing and presenting programme.”
The high point of Funke’s career was rising to the prestigious rank of the General Manager of both LTV and Eko FM and later retired as a Director in the Ministry of Information and Strategy. As the General Manager of LTV, the grandmother of three made indelible mark in the state-owned station with a lot of accomplishments. Underground research carried out by this reporter point to the fact that she was one of the best staff the corporation ever had. Curiously, despite the accolades, this celebrated journalist noted that occupying the apex office in LSBC was also the lowest point of her career.
“When I joined the corporation, I didn’t ever think of getting to the top, but you know, as I get older in age and on the job, I began to develop ambitions for greater things. As envisioned, I saw myself on the seat, but believe me, I wish I was never there.” She refused to reveal her reason despite much pressure but rather went sober and emotional. In this mood, she managed to utter some words: “I wish I had left the system like 10 years ago to pursue other dreams, perhaps, my journey would have been different. Sometimes, I regret why I stayed so long and didn’t heed to my children’s advice to leave and explore new areas. You know, I started on Federal level 6 and it took me so many years to get to the top, level 17 precisely, whereas some people joined the service and were taken on level 16 and even 17. It’s been a long journey. I am simply sad about the way I exited, but I don’t want to talk about it.”
Now sounding more alive and encouraging, she said: “I wouldn’t say I regretted really, but even if I did, it’s too late to regret. Notwithstanding, I enjoyed my job. You know how vibrant journalism is; no two days were alike for me. The year kept on moving and before I knew it, I had spent 30 years and more, I’ve been through so many management and governments. I was there during the military era and the transition to civilian government. I was able to cover Governor Tinubu briefly during his first term; it was really exciting away from the military experience.”
When questioned about what she missed most in her former office especially in the news room, sounding reluctant to talk about her former office, she replied, “Nothing”. “You mean nothing”? The reporter questioned further, she managed to reply: “Well, I’ve left the newsroom a long time ago, but I miss the rush for the headline, getting exciting story, attending editorial meeting and all that, but I didn’t really miss them because I did those things for so long. As the General Manager, I didn’t’ miss anything, in fact, it was the most stressful period of my life.”
Offering a clue about the future, she enthused: “It’s not too late to explore new areas. I’m just 55 going on 56, I intend to pursue a new line of action as soon as possible but at present, I am into politics but not vying for any political seat.”
Away from low moment, she’s got several reasons to overlook her trials, “as long as one is alive, the best is yet to come. So far, my happiest moments were when I had my children and grand-children. I’m happy about the fact that I became a grandmother at 46 and we are all alive and in good health. For me, every day is worth celebrating.”
The Epe born retiree described her growing up as not being eventful but full of life. “My dad died when I was four and half, therefore, I had to live with my mum and other relatives. Funnily enough, despite the fact that I was almost five when my father died, I can’t remember any memory of him. But growing up in Mushin was rather engaging and interesting. I didn’t miss the child’s game on the street, the didactic tales we were engaged with under the tree, I also remember the tyre race on the street and many more. I also learnt a lot of lessons from reading books, which my children learnt from cartoons.”
Asked about how growing up in one of the most rugged areas of Lagos has influenced her moral, she said: “Oh! Spare me the stereotype. I lived in Mushin and that doesn’t make me a rogue or uncultured. A lot of us who grew up there are doing very fine and living a decent life. Growing up in Mushin has only helped me to identify the other part of life that I might not have had the knowledge elsewhere. Indeed, it has helped me to live my life with caution. For instance, as a young child, I knew drug was bad because I saw the effect on people in that environment, so I wouldn’t taste it, I also learnt a lot of dubious practices that I could never fall for them.”
In her 55 years of existence, the media guru has learnt a lot of things which perhaps are beyond her age. She shared some of the lessons with the reporter. “I’ve learnt to be kind always to people and to give people benefits of doubts. I’ve learnt never to crucify people before hearing their sides on issues. I’ve also learnt to love others as myself because doing so will prevent me from hurting others.”