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Radio Lagos’s omissions, commissions

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Radio Lagos is a public utility. Therefore, its performance must be constantly watched to ensure that efficiency prevails. This can be achieved by turning the search light on its commissions and omissions. When it was established during the tenure of the first civilian Governor of Lagos State, Alhaji Lateef ‘Kayode Jakande between 1979 and 1983, it was mandated to be financially self-supporting, and not to be exclusively dependent on the state government.

Ever since, the Radio Lagos has remained as expected. It is a unique radio station. The performance is excellent. It remains as an enviable darling of listeners. However, like any human organisation, it is not faultless. This is natural. The observation of this writer is that criticisms are accepted by the management in good faith, meaning that the secret of its success is in its obedience to suggestions. To its credit, the radio station has a listening management.

Before anything else, it must be pointed out. In the days of Radio Nigeria’s rediffusion box, and, indeed the trail-blazing Western Nigerian Broadcasting Service (later Corporation), it was part of their social services to announce time periodically-mostly hourly, half hourly, or every quarter-hour. A man on the street would ask: “Please, what is the time by your watch?” The other could politely respond: “Wait for the radio announcement of it. Mine is not radio time.” That is, the time was not correct. If it was correct, he would boast of it: “My wrist watch is radio time”. That is, it was dead accurate as it synchronized with radio time. Now-a-days, Radio Lagos cannot boast of such social service to its listeners, other than at six o’clock in the morning when it is about to broadcast the World News. This is undesirable. “My wrist watch is radio time”.

Radio Lagos operates round the clock. That is, diurnal and nocturnal services. This writer commends its broadcasters for their irregular sleep, albeit they work on day and night shifts. One may think that they deserve sleeping quarters in the premises. Night programmes are commendable, except that music preponderates too much over news, stories. There must be hourly broadcasts of new-stories, either local or foreign or an admixture of both. “Variety is the spice of life,” the saying goes. Listeners cannot live exclusively on the diet of music alone, but must also be fed with news-stories. The BBC and the Voice of America are examples of this. Why not Radio Lagos? The practice of inter-spersing news with adverts is deplorable; it disturbs listeners’ concentration, because listeners form the pictures in the minds. If the commercials come in, it is very galling. Inter-spersing news-stories with commercials is like hauling stones into pool of water to disturb its serenity.

In one of my pieces, on Radio Lagos, mention was made of “break in transmission.” What is meant by this is that in the course of newscasting, there is sudden break for an interval when a listener presumes the end of the news. An interlude of abhorrent murmurings is experienced. Thereafter, the news-caster resumes with one half of the sentences uncoordinated; consequently, the listeners cannot make head or tail of the narrations. The defect may be caused by technical hitch. Such interruption of rumbling from the studio inhibits smooth communication. A practical example of a “break in transmission” is this. Before a car gets under the Maryland, Lagos underpass, its radio is audible. But as soon as it gets there, the radio is silent, until, it moves out of the dark passage. At one time, Radio Lagos adjusted normally. However, lately the phenomenon reared its ugly head to listeners’ disgust. This must permanently stop.

There is also partiality in Radio Lagos‘s early morning devotional services. Nigerians’ entitlement to freedom of thought, conscience and religion is one of the Fundamental Rights, under Chapter IV, Section 38, of 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended). Whilst recognitions are given to other religious faiths, Yoruba indigenous faith is at a discount and, therefore, neglected every morning. For a very long time since the beginning of 2017, little or no attention is paid to our indigenous faith. Why must this be so? Yoruba indigenous faith played a cardinal role during the recent criminalities of Badoo and the kidnappers in Lagos State, particularly, Ikorodu and environs. Going into the details may not serve any purpose. The despicable episode has receded into the oblivion. If the Radio Lagos is truly the champion of our cultural heritage, why should the devotional service be consigned to near oblivion, whilst the other “imported” faiths are warmly embraced? Moreover, whenever it is featured in the morning, it is the modernized, diluted and revised version of the original tradition; a shadow of its former self. This is unfair from a radio station that claims to be a holder of our cultural heritage. Indeed, it is shameful. The USA, Europe and Saudi Arabia have brainwashed us into believing that our heritage is evil and barbaric. This most be rejected. There are moral values in our cultural heritage. It is not evil. Those countries in the Eastern World- China, Japan and Korea- cannot today become what they are, if their heritage is disdained to glorify foreign ones. Therefore, Radio Lagos must forthwith turn a new leaf. Ours are ours-“Ti wa ni tiwa” in the interest of progress.

The imo agba (Wisdom of elders) segment is commendable. The author of the narratives deserves a National Honour for her daily delivery. It is precise, standard Yoruba language and supported with practical evidence to drive home her point. She never lacks topic. She must keep up this resourcefulness. If this writer relishes the quality of her contribution every listener shares the same too. The six o’clock World news has two defects. Foreign news stories preponderate over the national items. These are never followed up to update the loyal listeners. For instance, the development in Spain is never heard of. There was a morning when the world news was skipped and unannounced; music was substituted. I cannot recollect the date, but it happened. My mistake was that I failed to note it down in writing. Secondly some news-casters’ quality of articulation affects communication. This writer was a student of phonetics under an English lady, to be able to distinguish between phoney from genuine phonetics. Also for clarity of words, a newscaster with husky voice and bleary eyes must not sit before the microphone. Poor recordings of programmes are also baneful. Older generation of good news-casters still abound in Radio Lagos. Whenever any of these takes up the mic in the studio, this writer recognises. It is invidious to mention names.

Newspapers review (Asayan inu iwe irohin) is of unique interest to most listeners. This is because it is assumed that it is a summary of the newspapers of the day. Indeed, it is, though it is never a perfect substitute for newspapers. Newspapers are permanent, whilst radio news are transitory.

The daily review has blemishes in delivery. The renderers of the extracts of news-stories are competent duo. They do it in Yoruba, laced with appropriate figurative expressions. But they over egg the pudding. The blemishes are the speedy-reading style of the senior partner who seems to be a onetime sports commentator, compared with the slowly-reading of the junior partner, plus the fact that they often repeat some of the items. By repeating the extracts, time is wasted and so, sometimes all the newspapers are not treated, more so as there are intervening commercials and sports news segments. One day, stories from The Guardian were inadvertently credited to The Vanguard. Further, it seems that preference is given to certain ‘papers and they fail to treat others. This is unfair. There must be equity, in coverage. That is why over-embellishments and repetitions must be avoided. Once a new-story is read in a newspaper, it must not be repeated in any other. Further, the principle of “First come, first serve” must be upheld strictly. There must not be sentiment. The Current Affairs Directorate still remains ever vibrant in its News Talk which is like newspaper Editorial. It is commendable as the topics are well researched and current. If the Radio Lagos is to remain as the trail blazer, it should adjust to the foregoing corrections.

Oshisada, a veteran journalist, wrote from Ikorodu, Lagos.


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