For five days, I have exercised utmost restraint on this subject – an issue that has tormented me for days. In my rating of General Ibrahim Babangida’s achievements in his eight years as Military President, the Liberalisation of Ownership of the Media (RADIO) ranks next to the Construction of The Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos.
In spite of the fact that the first beneficiary of the policy is one of their friends, Dr. Raymond Dokpesi, with the establishment of Ray Power FM, Abuja – first privately owned radio station on Nigeria – under the umbrella of Daar Communications Ltd, I still wonder what informed General Babangida’s action.
Conscious of the Power of Radio as a potent channel of communication – the reach, the spontaneity and consummate impact, his letting go of government monopoly of ownership of such vital tool, pivotal in military coup architecture and execution, still agitates my mind. Why he did, is a question I desire to ask him, in the event of an opportunity to meet him.
Remember, the Ikoyi, Lagos National Headquarters of Radio Nigeria?
I remember vividly the Martial Music signature tune and the Fellow Nigerians salutation on the National Network of Radio Nigeria, usually broadcast from the Ikoyi studio, in the wake of a military coup, in years gone by.
It was at the Ikoyi Broadcasting House that then Colonel Ibrahim Babangida disarmed Lt. Colonel Bukar Sukar Dimka to foil the Friday, 13 February 1976 military coup that claimed the life of General Murtala Muhammed, Head of State.
It was also from the Ikoyi Broadcasting House that the announcement of the Gideon Orka’s coup attempt of Monday, 22 April 1990, that rattled General Babangida, was made.
Whatever inspired General Babangida to consent to Private Ownership of Broadcast Media in Nigeria, believably, had a touch of providence.
The proliferation of privately owned radio and television stations, on the positive side, has created job opportunities for hundreds, even thousands.
Notably, in this our ancient city of Ibadan alone, the count is in the neighborhood of 30 FM stations.
On the negative side however, sadly, professionalism has nosedived. Quality of presentation has also been on the decline. Broadcasting has become that of anything goes. A profession for all comers.
Some of the new generation presenters, who now wear the tag: On Air Personality – are so conceited with overblown opinion of themselves.
Performance of most of the presenters, who see themselves as superstars, is only passable.
Imagine a presenter, analyst or commentator, a staff of a radio station, saying on air that he does not care, whatever anyone listening out there, feels about his views or position on issues.
So egoistic, not realising that talking down to the listener is rude, uncivilised and, above all, unprofessional.
As I stated earlier, it is with moderated reluctance that I resolved to do this.
I was piqued by the reaction of one of the top/star presenters on Fresh FM, 105.9, Ibadan, Tope Edwards Esq, to the comment by a caller on his programme last Tuesday, May 19, morning,
He did not take kindly to the personal opinion of the listener who felt that he and the analyst on the beat, that morning – Emma Jimoh, were always too critical and hard on the Federal Government, in their commentaries.
The anchor man, who, from his tone was undisguisedly irritated, asked the caller, what he does for a living.
The caller, who rightly felt insulted, refused to answer the question.
Tope said if the caller was not a journalist, he had no right or qualification to challenge his professional competence or teach him how to do his job…
When he was signing off on the programme, that morning, he also took a swipe at the caller based on the assumption that the man, in his comments, alluded he might be doing a hatchet job on the programme for a pay-master’s ‘ISE OBO T’OBO JE’ Tope concluded.
I am of the opinion that the conduct of the anchor-man, in that instance, was not the best. The listener that phoned in has the right to his opinion. The moderator, by virtue of his position, is expected to be tolerant, impartial and not impervious to criticism or seemingly unpleasant or uncomplementary remarks/observations of the listener, no matter how distasteful.
The listener, is the customer, who is presumed to be right…albeit, always.
A listener does not have to be a trained journalist, a trained broadcaster, to make observations on aired programmes or the conduct of the presenter/commentator.
The ‘New Era’ or ‘New Generation’ On-Air-Personalities, should appreciate the fact that they are only privileged to be behind the microphone to reach the ears of hundreds and thousands. It is not that they are wiser, better, more exposed or more knowledgeable than hundreds and thousands of heads outside there, listening to them.
Criticism is cheap. It is also easy to postulate, articulate and pontificate.
Our ‘modern day radical, firebrand broadcasters’ should not wear the toga of the proverbial killer who does not take kindly to the parade of lethal weapons in his vicinity.
They should be receptive to criticisms. No one is infallible. Perfection belongs to God alone.