By Anote Ajeluorou and Gbenga Salau
Radio One 103.5FM, one of the 40 Frequency Modulated stations under Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), based in Lagos last week celebrated its first anniversary of being an all-news, all talk and all-sports format station with a lecture that had the gathering of many veteran broadcasters who had worked with the station while it was called Radio Nigeria 2 (RN2).
While many of the guests, especially the veterans took time to talk about the good old days, there were also kind words for the new station and its managers, as many commended the team leading the station for truly living up to its mandate of an all-news, all talk and all-sports radio station.
Chairman of Channels Television, Mr. John Momoh, who delivered the lecture, noted that professional journalists would continue to be relevant in the oldest means of mass communication, radio, in spite of the huge new challenges technology is bringing forth. He advised them to come to terms with technology to enhance content.
According to him, new tools and practices are changing the ways that journalists are producing information which is also redefining the place of professional journalism in a new world information system. After listing a series of digital radio platforms, ChannelTV boss argued that digital and analog radio would continue to grow in harmony for certain reasons.
According to him, “While there may be some concern about the damaging consequences of these trends for the quality of journalism and the professional survival of journalist, I believe very strongly that the current developments may in fact be paving the way toward better journalism and more independent journalists”.
He also stated that with technology which is changing the environment in which the professional journalists now operate, “new facts are being uncovered daily, more audience feedback is being integrated; more voices are being heard; more diverse perspectives on the same news subject are being presented”.
“With digital environment more stories available, more archived materials are available and searchable for longer periods of time; more men and women of power are being watched more closely; and more people are engaged more actively with the changes around them-by taking photos or making podcasts of key moments, by commenting on blogs, or by sharing the stories that matter to them”.
“Today, journalism seems to be more alive than ever and going through a multiplication of both forms and content at amazing speed”.
Momoh observed that although radio had been threatened by new and emerging technologies, but it seems somewhat resilient to change even though things are changing.
“From the dots-and-dashes of wireless telegraphy in the late 19th century and on to the algorithm-driven, personalised music stations we see, strewn across the web today, ‘radio’ as a concept has evolved for sure. But what does the future hold for the age-old medium? Put more succinctly, what is the relevance of radio, more so an ‘All News’ station in a digital age?
“For sure, radio isn’t what it used to be. That old battery-powered work-of-art that sits on your bathroom window sill may be what immediately comes to mind in terms of ‘radio’, but it’s now so much more than that. The lines where radio and music-listening meet have blurred, making it difficult to distinguish what’s what.
“In the analog days, it was easier to differentiate ‘radio’ from someone listening to music, say, on their record player. But now, with Spotify, Pandora, podcasting and all the rest, the waters have muddied”.
A professor of Mass Communication, Ralph Akinfeleye, who applauded the speaker for his erudite discussion of the issue, called on the Federal Government to ensure continued training and retraining of FRCN staff, as it would be a misnomer to have digital equipment managed by analogue staff.
Before the lecture by Momoh, there was a panel discussion of veteran and retired FRCN staff with root in Radio One. The panel members were Mr. Soni Irabor (MD, Inspiration FM), Mrs. Stella Awani and Mrs. Regina Anajemba. Each spoke on how they joined FRCN and their experiences while there. Awani was a major point of discussion as many who passed through her, including members of the panel and the guest lecturer of the day, highlighted the drilling they went through under her watch, as a speech lecturer at FRCN training school. And she lived up to her billing, when she took everyone back to the classroom with her brief phonetic lecture while giving the correct pronunciation of some troublesome words.
General Manager of Radio One 103.5FM, Mrs. Funke Treasure-Durodola, thanked everyone who had in one way helped to grow the station. According to her, the switch-over to an all-news, all talk and all-sports format in the last twelve months had been a successful attempt with the station at the forefront of the reportage of human angle stories. She, however, stated that as in any change project, the switch-over had its challenges, particularly for marketers, advertisers, independent producers and members of staff because changing the location and character of a general interest station with content that had 80 per cent religious propgrammes and appealed mainly to Yoruba extraction was a tough call.
Treasure-Durodola said adjustment became necessary in order to shed some weights, “A major change was the adoption of English as language of broadcast.” She also said that with the changes, the unique selling point for the station is its all news slant which stands it out from other similar stations based in Lagos.
“Radio One is arguably the oldest radio station in Nigeria, her historical antecedents speak for itself. However, my focus today is on the milestones the station has recorded since its switch-over to an all-news, all talk and all-sports format on August 4, 2014.
“As we celebrate our first anniversary, we recognize the fact that we have only just begun. The best is yet to come. We are equally not oblivious of the fierce competition from other private radio stations in Lagos. What is worth celebrating is the fact that despite the limited resources and constant regulations by our mother organisation, Radio Nigeria, we have risen from obscurity to prominence within so short a time”.
Director, Lagos Operation of FRCN, Mr. Ken Ike Okere, thanked Momoh for accepting to deliver the lecture, adding that the lecture is planned to be an annual event. According to him, many of the FM stations of FRCN are technology driven and are run with a business orientation mindset. Okeke said the mandate he was given when he was appointed was to transform the Lagos operation and when he gave Treasure-Durodola and her team the marching order to work in line with the new philosophy in three month and they delivered. He thanked them for helping him to transform the station, describing her and her team as fantastic.
Some Nigerians were given awards for helping to place the station in the heart of the people. Some of the awardees were John Momoh, Prof. Edamisan Temiye, Dr. Tunji Mabawondu, and Prelate of the Methodist Church, Dr. Samuel Uche.
Apart from an array of professional broadcasters, there were mass communication students drawn from schools in Lagos. One of them, Adesola Olayinka, a student of Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ) commended the organisers of the lecture because it was an enlightening forum for her besides giving her the opportunity of meeting veterans in the broadcasting industry. She described her experience as an awesome privilege, saying that as an aspiring broadcaster, she has been challenged to work to be the best, especially seeing that the revered broadcasters have made a positive impact in the country.
Some of the dignitaries present at the forum were the Speaker of the Lagos State House Assembly, represented by Hon. Tunde Buraimoh; former Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Alhaja Sinatu Ojikutu; Mr. Patrick Oke; former Minister of Finance, Dr. Kalu Idika Kalu.