Government should allow journalists liberty to do their jobs without fear and intimidation
Ify Onyegbule Anderson is renowned broadcaster, motivational speaker, presentation coach, media/social critic, publisher, author and activist on women issues. Her experience spans 18 years across different radio and TV stations in Nigeria. She devotes her spare time to talking with young people in higher institutions, giving speeches, compering corporate events, attending conferences and seminars aimed at impacting lives. In this interview with GERALDINE AKUTU, she shares her journey into broadcasting and proffers solutions to the myriads of challenges facing broadcasting in Nigeria over the years.
What inspired you to go into broadcast journalism and how long have you known you wanted that?
This question keeps coming each time I am faced with an interview, well, it is just something that awoke in me as a little girl listening to radio and watching television, so hearing people talk and actually seeing them talk on TV, moved me to work on that thing inside, some call it talent and the rest today is history.
I have been doing this for almost 20 years and I knew right from age 15 that I was going to end up in Journalism.
I come from a family where parents encourage 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, Sienne Allwell Brown, Ruth Benemasia, Julie Coker and so many others on TV, remember the days when transmission starts at 4, my father will make sure that I watch 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.
Tell us about your broadcasting career. How is it unfolding?
My journey stared in a place called DBN, those days on Awolowo Road as a reporter.
I was 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 3 months and moved on to what was then and still known as Cool FM also 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, Capital FM Abuja and the Network Service of Radio Nigeria also in Abuja. When I left Radio Nigeria I pitched my tent with Radio and TV Continental where I anchored a number of A-list programmes before resigning from my job in 2011 to set up my Trueline Productions which is also into the production and packaging of content for radio and TV.
In the course of this, there were short stints with a couple of Radio and TV stations in Lagos where we provided content for the Morning show on these platforms.
In all of these 18 years, I have managed 2 Radio Stations, one in Abeokuta, Ogun State and the other in Port Harcourt, River state.
What has changed when you started and now?
There weren’t too many stations when I started and you had a clear cut idea about what you wanted and there were good role models to help mold you and help you walk your chosen path.
The opportunities were there for you to try your hands or voice out and the professionals then will tell you exactly the true picture about your intentions to pursue a career in Journalism but today, the reverse is the case, it has become an all comers affair and if you know the owner of a station and you can speak passable English then you are good to go on air, something that is doing more harm to the profession.
Do you think Nigerian women are proving their mettle in broadcasting?
Of course they are, if you want names I can give you – Chris Anyanwu set the pace when she set up a radio station, Toun Okewale –Sonaiya took it a step further by setting up a Radio that particularly targets women, that’s new and a very welcoming idea and if you listen to the station they truly deal with all issues because you can’t talk about women and not touch on what affects the men and others around her.
Talk about Namure Eidiomoya in AIT, Funke Treasure Durodola, Cordelia Okpei, Ngozi Alaegbu, Maupe Ogun-Yusuf, Claire Abdulrasaq, and some other women who are holding their own in various capacities in the broadcast journalism profession.
That said, more needs to be done, the very senior women who are blazing the trail need to take other young women under their wings and help them chart a successful course on the job.
In retrospect, what do you know now that you wish you knew?
Test all waters before taking a sip vis a vis my sojourn in journalism and stints with a couple of organisations.
On a basic level, what skills does your job demand?
Interest in reaching out to people, drive to achieve that interest, it could be getting trained to acquire that skill that would power your interest, you need the passion and that zeal that wakes you up every morning to pursue your interest and your goal is simply to achieve that which you have set out to do! You have to be intelligent, spontaneous and inquisitive.
What do you enjoy most about your career?
Keeping people informed and helping them stay abreast of happenings.
What are the drawbacks about your job?
Making very hard choices, meeting tough deadlines and having to stretch yourself beyond limits at other times because the “show must go on”
What are top challenges facing broadcast journalism over the decades?
Intimidation, humiliation, ownership and control where people get to do the bidding of their paymasters. The practitioners who are facing financial challenges sometime resort to uncomplimentary things just to keep body and soul together.
What is the way forward?
Owners should find better ways to run the business, pay staff salaries, train and retrain members of staff and reward them when they do a good job. Government should allow journalists the liberty to do their jobs without fear and intimidation.
What are you doing on Radio presently?
I host a programme The Daily Report on Star FM 101.5 radio station where we discuss issues of National and global relevance 7pm every weeknight.
It is very interactive and the issues are always hot and on the front burner. Radio is my first love and will always be because it reaches as far as anyone can think of.