“MY ROMANCE WITH RADIO STARTED AT 8.” ONYEKACHI ALU, PRINCIPAL PRESENTER AT RADIO NIGERIA, VOICE FM

His baritone voice beams across the airwaves on the frequency of Radio Nigeria Voice FM, nearly every day.  When his is not anchoring Voice FM’s Breakfast Show, Morning Cruise, he is on Love Lane in the evening lending his audience a shoulder to lean on to the  Love Lane family or moderating the station’s flagship programme, VoiceConnect. His broadcasting career span over a decade and his is not showing any sign of tiredness.

 

For this week’s edition of  Career People, Brojid World Editor, Joseph Dinwoke, chats with broadcaster with  unusual penchant for music and literature,     Onyekachi Alu. He shares how he started, how life prepared him for broadcasting, what it takes to do exploits on radio and secrets for successful broadcasting career.

 

Relax for a surge of inspiration from his lifestyle.

 

Thanks for joining me on this week’s edition of Career people on Brojid World. Let’s meet you.

Let me start by saying that the pleasure is mine to be on Brojid World. I am Onyekachi Alu.  I am an on air personality and compeer. I also do a bit of script writing.

When did you get into radio? When did you romance with radio start?

 

My romance with radio started much earlier before I got into radio. Romance started as child of 8 because I happened to come from a family of three – all boys – and I am the last. And there is a wide gap between my immediate elder brother and myself. And so, they were already grown when I was born. They used to listen to programmes on radio and with time I took after them.

Then, I knew that at a particular time and at a particular frequency, certain radio programme is on air. So, even while I was doing dishes in the kitchen, one ear is with the radio or whatever it was. It used to be daddy’s big box, Philips.

But being a radio person; working on radio started much later. I have been on radio for 10 years now.

How did you get into radio 10 years ago?

Let’s say the truth. I think I was looking for a greener pasture. I have worked in a lot places before coming to radio.  I have for other government owned establishments at state and federal level. I worked in Ebonyi state government and NYSC.

So, I came into radio because I am looking for where the pay pack can take me home.

So, it wasn’t passion like many people say?

 

Yes. It wasn’t passion!

You were looking for where the pasture is greener with your degree in mass communication?

 

No. I didn’t study mass comm. I studied English Literature at Ahmed Bello University, Zaria.

 

So, how did you move into radio from English Literature?

I guess it’s about you getting into a system and adapting to it. Right from time, members of my peer group and family can attest to the fact that I like talking and public speeches. When I came to radio, I just needed to adjust and learn the ropes since I already have a flair for talking.

Aside the natural flair for speaking, are there other things you did to prepare yourself for your job on radio and excel at it?

I didn’t really have to do it. It had been done unconsciously. Knowledge of history, pop culture, current affairs, being an avid reader and having a very keen eye for observation and a good memory that I remember dates, person’s names and even their middle names were preparation done unconsciously. So, it’s like using a residual knowledge to solve a contemporary problem.

You have been a broadcaster for 10 years and have mentored other broadcasters.  What do you think it takes to excel in radio?

 

They are not too many. One is creativity. Research is also crucial. You must know what’s trending. You can’t come to the point where you claim to know it all. You can’t afford to lag behind.

You must have a versatile mind. You must purge your mind of every form of prejudice. Be it social, religious or cultural. Whatever prejudice around you, purge yourself of them. You are now a child of the universe; no longer belong to your clan where you come from.

The moment you open your mind that way, it wouldn’t matter who your guest on radio is gona be. Just sit tight and ask those questions that are pertinent. You will try to extract from them that which they wants to hid for the benefit of the listener.

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It takes care and wisdom for you to remain neutral as a moderator – not protecting the resource person or being against the caller. Don’t forget that the sole aim of the programme is for the listener to get the most of entertainment, information and education from the programme.

You are a moderator of Radio Nigeria Voice FM flagship programme, Voice Connect. What does it take to do a good job of  moderating?

Most programmes demands that you remove yourself from it and appear as much neutral as possible. It also means that your views must represent different shades of opinion of your listeners. It’s not about your knowledge of the subject; it’s about how they can gain the most from the discussion you are moderating. As a moderator, you are not there to celebrate shared knowledge between you and the guest; but to enlighten the listener.

You are supposed to ask those pertinent questions your listeners want to ask if they were on the programme with you. The programme is more important than you. You are just a vehicle driving the programme.

Go straight to the point ask short questions that will elicit long answers; instead of long question that will elicit short answers.

Be neutral; don’t take sides. When calls starts coming in from callers, manage the calls well. They are all entitled to their own opinion as long as they don’t malign the issues being discussed as well and the personalities that are your quest.

It takes care and wisdom for you to remain neutral as a moderator – not protecting the resource person or being against the caller. Don’t forget that the sole aim of the programme is for the listener to get the most of entertainment, information and education from the programme.

Away from Voice Connect, you present relationship programme, Love lane, drive time programme, Morning Cruise and produce other programme drama programmes on Voice FM. In these programmes, you kind of have different personalities. How do you take on different personalities at different times?

You see I do not have a multi personality disorder. Neither do I have a spilt personality

(General laughter)

The thing is that these programmes have their synopsis. By synopsis I mean a short guide that to a large extent, moderates, conditions and defines my approach to these programmes. It’s still Me, Myself And I (MMI).  I haven’t changed.

(General laughter)

The thing is that when it’s Voice Connect, I know that it is grade A programme. I understand that its prime time; its serious topical issues. I do not bring comedy into it. If there will be jokes, it will come from my resource persons. If it’s embodied with light hearted issues, it will lead to the programme losing its substance and I am conscious of that.

brojid-com-onyekachi-alu-with-ekene-odigwe

When it comes to the breakfast show, you know it should be chit chat, savvy and breezy. The tempo has to rise gradually and pick at midday. That’s a breakfast show. And that’s when I become Me Myself And I. and I am  always privileged to be in the cockpit with either a beautiful lady or a guy who is in tune with entertainment, looking dapper all the time. I am talking about Kay or Amy on the safest bird in the sky, Flight V967 (Morning Cruise).

Then on Love lane, you know it’s therapeutic. It’s where broken hearts come to lean on. At that point, I have to be a shoulder for someone to lean on.

Has it ever happened that you finished presenting a programme and you found that there things you didn’t do well?

Yea! You see perfection does not exist in this industry.  You can never be at the peak. If you think before you talk, that’s your thought comes before your words, you will be able to even correct your mistakes on air with very few of the listeners understanding that there was a blunder.

Your knowledge of music and musicians is above the normal. It’s evident when you present Music Nigeriana. You know history behind songs and even genres of music. How did you come about this wealth of knowledge of music and musicians?

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I don’t know everything; I just know a little. But how do I come about the knowledge I have? Interest! Like I told you, most of the tools that I need to excel in this industry, I picked them up unconsciously without knowing that I will ever be here. In daddy’s house, he has this turn table and LPs. That’s what they used to call it. Those days in the evening, my dad used to listen to music a lot and he instructs me to load the LP and spin for it to play. His favourite was Victor Uwaifo.

That was how my interest in music started and was sustained. You see, in those LPs, there used to be some pieces of paper where they write songs, producers and other people who are involved in the music production. From there I started following music beyond the songs to every other person involved in its production.

Your broadcasting experience cuts across generations. Do you think radio broadcasting is getting better or worse?

 

I like to think it’s getting better. But let me also say that the emergence of social media has produced very lazy broadcasters. Whatever we see on social media, we copy down; taking it as news without verifying the source. This has resulted to mis-educating the public.

Another problem we have here is the influx of people into the field, not because they have a flair for the industry but simply because they are searching for job.

Before now, it used to be a calling and you posses some requites talents that you need to thrive here. Now, we have people who are here because someone gave them a letter after realising that they have been at home several years after the mandatory National Youth Service Corps.

Another problem we have is infiltration of phone in. Phone in programme is being abused in most stations especially privately owned stations.

Who is your broadcasting role model?

He was born Lawrence Harvey Zeiger. He lives as Larry King because he is a king. 1200 interviews and I am just warming up.

 

Away from radio, who is Onykachi Alu?

He is a husband, brother, married to Florence…

 

Nightingale?

No no. My own Florence. Nkemjika and by the grace of God we are blessed with 7 children.

Please inspire an African!

Don’t lose your roots. Believe in yourself. Sieve virtually every western belief that comes to you in the form of education. Don’t forget who you are and where you are coming from. Be rest assured that with God on your side you will get to where you are destined to be. Think Africa first, think the world next!

***

You can listen to Onyechachi(MMI) on Radio Nigeria 96.7 VoiceFM

Morning Cruise I   8.00AM I Love Lane I 8.30PM Tuesday and Thursday I    Voice Connect I Sunday 11.00am


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Joseph Dinwoke

Chief Content Officer at Brojid World
Joseph 'Brojid' Dinwoke, Radio producer/OAP at Radio Nigeria Voice96.7FM, and publicist, is the curator of Brojid.com. At Brojid World, he creates contents and provides training, mentoring, coaching and inspiration for peak performance in your life and work through blog posts, podcasts, books and training. You can follow him on social media by clicking on any of these social media icons. To get his daily inspirational and insightful broadcast on WhatsApp, connect with him with: 0810 550 4664

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