Home Culture Here comes Family FM… Rockcity FM, Sweet FM listen up!

Here comes Family FM… Rockcity FM, Sweet FM listen up!


The broadcasting scene in Ogun State is warming up for real action. And it can fuel the drive of the state at full throttle to secure its spot as Nigeria’s number one investment destination, which a Federal Office of  Statistics survey says it is.

The monopoly of the state-owned Ogun State Broadcasting Corporation has somewhat come to an end.

Not to take anything away from OGBC, it has delivered excellent broadcasting for 39 years, especially through its radio channels. Up till now,  it controls the largest revenue available to Ogun State from the national advertising budget. Just listen to OGBC and OGBC 2 radio stations for a few hours and you will be in no doubt after counting the commercials and paid announcements and sponsorships while other stations keep appealing for advertiser’s attention.

But that scenario isn’t going to last for longer yet. OGBC cannot continue to  rely on old glory. Its heyday peaked in the early 90s when it was a must-listen-to, even in Lagos, because of its very imaginative programming, unmatched clarity of reception and creative broadcasters, all of which it cannot claim to possess now.

Names of broadcasters of that time spring up in the mind instantly – Olusesan Ekisola, Aderinola Aladeselu, Toba Opaleye, Ambrose Somide, Segun Shylon, Toun Okewale, Peter Okoduwa, etc.They groomed a crop of younger men and women who left OGBC withsome of them to start Raypower when privately funded broadcasting began in 1994. Raypower was the first.

Rockcity 101.9 FM, the pioneer independent radio station in Ogun State, is just eight years old but its impact is appreciable.

Now comes Family 88.5FM to join Rockcity and Sweet 107.1 FM. Reference to them as independent is only to differentiate them from State-controlled OGBC and its type, which hardly give expression to news and views unfavourable to government.

Listeners have been having exciting opportunities to voice alternative opinions on Rockcity such that some senior government officials accuse the station of working against government interest. Yet, some listeners insist that the station only fosters government’s concerns because of its balancing of views and reports. That is a big thumbs up for Rockcity, at the headship of which are distinguished journalists such as Niran Malaolu, Tokunbo Oloruntola and Dele Ayodo. They give the young team they lead thorough professional direction. It might not take Rockcity 39 years to arrive at the privileged position OGBC now occupies in revenue attraction. It might not even take another 10 years because of the station’s ambitious and innovative tendencies.

Family FM is a different proposition altogether. It promises a larger dosage of Yoruba language programming than any of the older stations, even while offering pidgin and English language shows. But its She  Una  Dey isn’t much distinguishable from Rockcity‘s Who Dey House.

Family programme makers should realize that the competitive edge is better achieved with marked difference.

There is yet to emerge, though, an all-Yoruba language station. And that is baffling, given its socio-economic potential. Sheer haunch will suggest that the majority of Ogun State’s four million population speaks Yoruba. The bulk of that comprises market women and men, taxi drivers, okada riders, food vendors and artisans – people who ply the streets day-by-day, keeping the micro-economy system going. This is the most visible social group of all – the one that votes government in or out of office. Neither business nor government can afford to ignore it. Yet it is a grossly neglected group in the scheme of broadcasting.

This segment has been treated up till now as a fringe audience by OGBC, with Yoruba programmes only tucked in here and there within a largely English language broasdcasting structure.  Rockcity, too, only has a sprinkling of Yoruba programming-Akaakatan, Gbangba Lawa, Akojopo Iroyin, Ikorita Ife.

But that audience perception isn’t exclusive to broadcast managers. Advertising agencies, who give stations business, traditionally look down on that audience group. Lack of audience surveys keeps agencies and advertisers relying on age-long perceptions that are sometimes inaccurate or obsolete.

In 1994 when a new entertainment show was seeking advertising support from agencies in Lagos, many agency media heads contended that NTA Ikeja Channel 7, where the show proposed to debut, was only a ‘local’ station viewed by market women and illiterates. That implies that such people were not on the radar of their audience target, which was ‘middle class’, the so-called upwardly-mobile class, undergraduates, etc, basically, people who spoke English and were westernized. The ad budget for this group is over-taxed and competition for it is choking because it is the audience everybody programmes for. Those agencies, too, thought it was the only important audience. But when that show became an instant hit from its maiden broadcast, those agencies ate their words. They practically begged to have advert spots on the show when advertisers were asking them to get their ads on to that show’s crowded commercial breaks. Market men and women, cab drivers, okada riders, food vendors and artisans spend appreciably, too. Their dominant population is a treasure trove. They use GSM phones as much as any other social group; they drink carbonated drinks and beverages, have children in schools, wear clothes and shoes, use detergents and medicines –  products that manufacturers want to sell.

The business wisdom to tap into the wealth existing out there also belongs to people within the group. They possess what Mark H. McCormack calls ‘street smarts’ and they’ve got more          ‘people sense’ than most corporate executives with strings of university degrees. Mark McCormack’s phrases, largely. When Factory packs of consumer products such as powdered milk, chocolate beverages and detergents became too expensive for the people it was market women who began to retail them in pieces of cellophane at affordable prices. Corporate decision makers only saw the wisdom then and seized the market by coming up with aesthetically packaged milk, detergent and chocolate in small sachets at prices for the people.

It was also these women who first bagged cold water in bread nylon wraps and sold it as “ ice water tutu re!”.  Then, small business investors got the idea to package “pure water” in better sachets and took the market away from the poor innovators.

Be assured that if those imaginative petty traders had the means to start a broadcasting station, they’d have shown Nigerian media chiefs how to profit by broadcasting to “the people” out there Until then, broadcast decision makers are likely to remain in their comfort zone. Alas! Noticed how DStv was jolted out of its complacency in the cable TV sector by Startimes and forced to answer with GOtv?.

Family FM arrives with a bang! With tightly-scheduled programming, unlike the equally-recently launched Sweet FM, a station smartly targeting a niche –  that of entrepreneurship and leadership. But Sweet had been airing more station promos than programmes, neglecting the fact that it is shows that get audiences to patronize stations and that promos are mere publicity for shows. The arrival of Family FM seems to have nudged it to more programming. Even Yoruba shows are now surfacing on it.

The station has yet little to offer in competitive terms besides its AM show, The Podium, ably captained by Victor Mark with a sharp mind and quick wit. Its other attraction, Gentlemen of the Press, anchored by Olaitan Bakare, is a lacklustre affair delivered in a lacklustre style. It is a far cry from Bakare’s sparkling showing when she paired Ambrose Somide on The Ultimate Morning Show  on Raypower to where she moved after her stint at Rockcity FM.

Rockcity still holds all the aces in AM programming, with its four-hour Daybreak Show, which features all sorts of national issues and resourceful personalities. It  has earned itself the patronage of a loyal audience of mostly intellectuals. The show is a veritable news generator for media correspondents worth their salt. OGBC’s  Morning Flight is no match, for sheer liveliness and freedom of expression. But Daybreak can’t match Morning Flight in commercial spots and paid announcements.

Family FM has a Yoruba answer to Daybreak in its AM show San-an Laarin. And it promises to trump anyone making pretensions to Yoruba language programming. Its Kerereeke ( 6:30-07:00AM) is just the Yoruba news and current affairs show to be with. It is  imaginative, innovative and snappy. Its audience patronage is so well-deserved. If it sustains its present tempo, flavor and fervor and builds upon them, Family FM  can comfortably command the advertising budget for that segment. This is an audience group that can be very loyal and passionate, if a broadcaster connects with it and sustains its trust.

Now that the radio stations in Abeokuta number six – including the on-today-off- tomorrow Paramount FM of the Federal Government –  the name of the game is niche broadcasting. It is only the keen-eared and sharp-minded that understand that game.

By the way, why isn’t there yet a women’s interest radio station? Just women matters! That’s for whoever is keen on locking up the ad revenue for household and  family products and services. Anyone out there with some guts and hunger for success? And fun? Or isn’t women’s company always fun?