Thursday, 1st June 2023

‘Right from age 15, I knew I was going to end up a journalist’

By Esther Ijewere
08 August 2020   |   2:02 am
Someone once said, “Setting goals is turning the invisible into the visible.” Being totally in love with your goals is one of the most beautiful things any human can do for his/her self.

Ify Onyegbule

Someone once said, “Setting goals is turning the invisible into the visible.” Being totally in love with your goals is one of the most beautiful things any human can do for his/her self. Ify Onyegbule is one woman, who loves her dream and allowed her passion shine through unapologetically. With a career spanning over 20 years, she has become a major player in her Industry, and a voice to reckon with.

Trained as an Investigative Journalist at the RNTC, Ify is a presentation coach, social critic, publisher, author and activist on women issues. With experience spanning 20 years across different Radio and TV stations in Nigeria. She branched out in 2011 and established her own outfit, Trueline Productions, a Media Organisation responsible for providing content for both radio and TV stations.

She devotes her spare time to discussions and analysis on radio and television stations, talking with young people in higher institutions, giving speeches, anchoring corporate events, attending conferences and seminars aimed at impacting lives. Ify loves spending time also with abandoned children at various orphanages and widows, through her yearly Widows Outreach.

She currently hosts the Daily Report on Star 101.5FM, a programme she created with colleague, Charles Kalu and she also contributes to the website Her new book, How Did We Get Here, was launched online on May 27 this year, May 27. The book is an experiential/instructional book about the 25 mistakes that every radio presenter must avoid. She shares her Inspiring story in this exclusive Interview.

Childhood Influence
I Knew right from age 15 that I was going to end up as a Journalist and I knew that someday I was going to speak into the microphone just like those I watched and listen to while growing up in Surulere, Lagos Nigeria. I come from a family where parents encouraged you to read the newspapers, listen to radio and watch television, especially the news on TV. So, I got used to watching the likes of Bimbo Oloyede (Roberts at that time), Sienne Allwell Brown, Ruth Benemasia, Julie Coker and so many others on TV. Remember the days when transmission started at 4; my father will make sure that I watched the news at 9 and in my own free time, I had this small radio in my room, so I was always listening and wondering how these people talked from a small or big box. That piqued my interest and I started to read out to myself and mimic what they were doing and that was it. Yes, I had a childhood that was influenced by the things around me and I agree it prepared me for all that I am doing today.

The Journey so far
It’s been a wonderful ride for me, even with the ups and downs of the profession. My journey stared as a reporter in a place called DBN those days on Awolowo Road, Ikoyi. I was very excited with this job not because I was going to earn some stipend for doing my work, but because I was open to learning something new after my training at Alliance Francaise in Ikoyi and fresh from NYSC in Jos, Plateau State.

I did the job for three months and moved on to Cool FM as a correspondent. I moved from Cool FM to Metro FM at the Broadcasting House Ikoyi, Lagos, where I will say I cut my teeth in broadcasting; that was the place that taught me most of what I know today on the job. From Metro, I had stints in Treasure FM Port Harcourt and moved on to other Radio and Tv Stations.

20 Years In the Media Industry and Impact on My Personal Growth
In simple terms, it’s not about the number of years but the events that characterize these years. I have grown organically from stage 1 all the way to where I am now, so I have learned patience, perseverance, tolerance, loyalty and office politics; these have positively affected my approach to life.

Inspiration behind my fast-selling book, How Did We Get Here?
How Did We Get Here is simply an experiential and instructional material with broadcast journalists and especially radio presenters as the primary target. Everyday, we are confronted with various challenges on the job as Duty Continuity Announcers, Presenters or On Air Personalities (as they are called today). Sometimes, we are confused about what to do in various circumstances and when we take that step or make that move, it may be that something has gone wrong with that one move then we find out that we have flouted a rule or the station’s regulations and we incur the wrath of our employers and sometimes it’s a SACK. The book contains some of the mistakes I made as a regular presenter at the various places I have worked and some others mistakes I saw people make in the course of their jobs so basically it is just a guide to help presenters avoid the mines in the field as they settle into the game of presentation or production.

About Women Awareness for Sustainable Empowerment Initiative (WASEI)
I recently started to focus a lot of attention on widows, because I became a widow in 2018. However, my NGO, Women Awareness for Sustainable Empowerment Initiative (WASEI), was launched in 2008 and we were mostly about creating awareness and providing empowerment for women. Yes, we had some activities for widows, but it was not a major thing for the NGO. As the years progressed, I found that these groups of women are amongst the vulnerable, so we started to pay measurable attention. But things changed and became specific when I found myself in that category of persons and I felt there was the need to use my voice and my platform to project the issues and engineer change no matter how small it is.

Challenges of being a presenter
There are challenges in different professions and as a presenter, I had my fair share of challenges and I chose to step over them and not allow these to draw me back. Our kind of job is something that takes all of you, so those around you must be willing to not be a stumbling block in your career. I was out of the house most of the time; I remember there was a time I didn’t go to church for close to 4years because I was running the Sunday shift at the radio station and that was the job. I had to do it and I loved it because I could share scriptures with my audience in the course of the programme. Even when I became a manager, it had its own challenge also; working in a place that runs a 24hour schedule. I had my staff calling me at any time for one thing or the other and my husband just couldn’t understand why I couldn’t switch off my phone. I had to make him understand that there were persons, who could want to reach me even when I am not at work.

Our job is very peculiar with its fair share of challenges, but I have been able to manage. I will not consider myself a philanthropist per-se because I don’t even have the money to reach out to people, as I would love to. But from the little that I have, I try to meet a need or two from time to time, but I have also found out that people reach out to me to help give money out to people, who need it. So, yes from time to time, I raise requests on my social media handles and well-meaning individuals send in their little token that is shared amongst persons in need. Through this, I have met many persons who really need help to get by in life. It gives me joy to touch the lives of those in need.

Three women who inspire you to be better and why
Reverend Dele George of the Little Saints Orphanage has always been an Inspiration for me. The admiration started from the day I went to interview her and she told me her story about how she started taking care of motherless babies; it blew me away because it simply opened my eyes to the fact that even with your own biological children, it takes nothing away from you to look after other children who don’t have a home or parents of their own. So, I had to follow her work and I am still following.

Another woman is Mrs. Bimbo Oloyede, the veteran broadcaster… there’s something about her; she’s very professional, calm and always ready to listen to you and act if she has to do anything about your matter or request.

My greatest inspiration is my mother; kind, tolerant, full of wisdom, patient, loving and very intelligent in her thinking. Sometimes, I wish I was half of what my mother is and I love her to bits!

Key nuggets for aspiring OAP’s who are still trying to find their voice in the Industry
These are some of the things I share with young and aspiring Presenters just so they prepare their minds for the job.

“If you mess up, your fans may lose respect for you in a heartbeat; you may not get the roles you want anymore and someone can replace you”

“Self-branding, like fame, just doesn’t happen overnight; it is a well-calculated, well-planned effort”
“Seek knowledge because it helps you to blend-in during conversations with other people”
“As a young presenter you have to grow on the job and your station is the platform you need to carve a niche for yourself”
 “To stay afloat, presenters had to be creative and come up with original content”

Being a Woman of Rubies
Now, this is a tricky one; I know Ruby is a very precious Gem, so I am thinking it is left for people, who have had dealings with you or interacted with you to determine how precious you are or why you should be a Woman of Rubies. But I know I have been an inspiration to many, but I always prefer that my work or actions speak for me.

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