Monday, 20 April 2009


MATILDA Shulaa Ogunleye is one of the presenters of Flava, a syndicated radio show on Abuja’s Kapital FM, a station under Radio Nigeria. Matilda shares her experiences as a radio presenter!

What excites you about radio?
The fact that I can reach out to so many different people at the same time, help change their views about some certain issues, entertain them as well as be there for them without necessarily knowing them individually.
Is this what you’ve always wanted to do?
Well, I was never one of those kids who wanted to become a Doctor or Lawyer but never did I also think I’d work on radio.
Did your family give support when you started?
Not really. My father didn’t like the fact that I left my course of study, Economics; my mother thought it wasn’t a job for a young girl like me but my brothers thought it was cool!
To what extent did your childhood influence the kind of person you are today?
My father sure instilled the word discipline in us kids but my Mom’s caring and generous nature was a greater influence. Also, growing up in a house with two brothers and several male cousins taught me to be tough and independent.
How did you start and what did you do to get to where you are today?
It started for me at the NYSC orientation camp, I joined the orientation broadcasting service where I read camp news, took vox-pop, made announcements and initiated some ideas that helped make camp more lively and interactive. When I was posted to a radio house for my primary assignment, I learnt all I could on the job, read books, listened to a lot of more experienced broadcasters, did some training and here I am.
What would you say are the advantages of radio?
First, and foremost, my privacy! Unlike some TV presenters, who get easily noticed and more often than not have to “represent” even when they’d rather be themselves, I can afford to sit amongst my critics and fans without them having an inkling as to who I am. Moreover, I still fit go buka!
This anonymity so many radio presenters say they enjoy, how far do they really enjoy this? Don’t you sometimes want to be noticed?
I can’t speak for the others but I know I enjoy it. Of course, there are times I crave some sort of preferential treatment — I mean, who doesn’t? When little voice in my head screams “do u know who I am? Notice me for a min or two!” But then again, I think to myself, “what makes me so spectacular that I should not be treated like others?”
You never feel that TV would have been a better medium to get things done?
No one can deny the power of the medium called television. Most people are inspired by TV personalities or others they see on the screens because it lends a particular credibility to them and their work et al because they can influence a good number of the public. So, I guess if I were on TV, I could get people to do stuff easily, but then again, that is not a guarantee.
You also present a show on HIV/AIDS, why?
Well, aside from the fact someone has to do it, the message and information about HIV when it was first discovered was scary and very misleading. Also, it was not made readily available for most people who needed it, especially the youth, who are most vulnerable to the virus. The youth, as most people know, don’t like being talked at; they prefer to be talked with; hence my being paired with Okechukwu (the male presenter) for the show.
How has presenting this show affected your life?
It’s changed my perception on a lot of things and different people’s attitudes. I’ve made new friends, travelled to a lot of places and most importantly I am reminded of little things I should be grateful for, especially when people tell me how the programme has either helped them or a friend of theirs.
As a young female on radio, is it a plus or minus?
Minus ke? My dear, it’s a really big plus on my part and on the show’s part.
What are the challenges you face on the job generally?
Getting resource persons could be hard but often convincing people to talk freely can be more difficult; you have to make them comfortable and accept you as a friend; if not, they won’t bring out the best in them. Programme planning is another Herculean part of the job, and I have to keep striving to improve myself.
You think radio is easy?
I wish it were that easy, but there’s more to it than meets the eyes or rather, the ears in this case. There’s more to radio, like production and research and knowing what you go there to say, or else you make a fool of yourself on air... it isn’t so easy
You must have your share of crazy studio moments?
A lot! Like me having a bad hair day, my being dressed like I’m just taking a stroll down the road or me dancing my swagger-dance when I’m really feeling a particular song.
What has been your most embarrassing time on radio?
Ah! Once I was in the studio and I thought I had put off the live microphone and I started gisting with my friend, and I even made a grammatical error!
The best show you ever had?
Every time I think I’ve had my best show, another one sure beats that. But the show done in the Ghetto happens to be one of the most memorable so far.
What would make you give up radio?
Hmm, let me see...can you ask me this question again when eventually I leave radio? I will have the answer by then.
What’s the audience like in Abuja?
Abuja has a very diverse audience; you have those with great scholar minds; the upwardly mobile young people (hope I got that phrase right, I’ve been waiting to use that for a while!), the deeply-rooted cultural people amongst others; so satisfying such an audience is quite challenging but equally interesting.
Does being a presenter in Abuja limit you in any way?
Not at all. I may not be popular in Lagos, which is seen as the nerve of entertainment, or in Port Harcourt; but also how many of them Lagos presenters can be at home in Abuja?
Have you been on any other station outside Abuja?
I’ve been on Grace FM Lokoja, Joy FM Otukpo, Cosmo FM Enugu, Gold FM Ilesha among others — as a guest presenter.
What’s next for you?
Right now, I’m pursuing a Post-graduate Diploma, after which I hope to move on to the next level; either designing or producing my own programmes, which may not be limited to radio.
Why are you back to school?
To improve myself and get the qualification needed to achieve my life-long goals.
If you had to come back to the world again, would you choose to be Nigerian?
Definitely, it goes without saying.
Favourite colour: Purple tops the list but I also like blue as well as brown.
Food: Amala and Okro soup.
Place: My room.
Fantasy? There’s the dream-date with William Smith (sorry, Jada!) and wanting to own a home on the hilltop of an exquisite island.
Fashion item: Flat slip-ons.
Person: My mother.


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