While some require studio magic to get an audible tune, multiple award-winning radio presenter, Ronke Giwa is set to go live without requiring T-Pain’s autotune.
Listening to the tape of the interview over again, I realized that her voice is not the only thing that is amazing about Splash FM’s on-air personality; she also has big dreams, rich history and philanthropic heart, even though hell could be let lose if anyone plays with her money.
We spoke on a number of issues. On broadcasting related topics, she was quite oratory while on some personal matters such as her experience growing up as a girl in Nigeria and singing at events in London, she was sombre as she went into a trance and reminisced as if I wasn’t even in the studio with her.
She has a voice, but more importantly, she has a message to pass across. This is Ronnie G.
What is your view about the average Ibadan listener?
Ibadan listeners are diverse and are the most intelligent. In other cities you can get away with shallow and fluffy stuffs like asking do you want rice or plantain. In Ibadan, the listeners task you.
When people think of Ibadan outside the city, they think of people who are still in the bush. What they fail to realize is that there are lots of professors and other learned people in Ibadan.
How did you survive the beating season when journalists were getting thoroughly beaten in media houses?
We were smart; we took down Splash FM’s paraphernalia. Even during the fuel subsidy protests, it was a scary experience. I was living close to Adenike Adewuyi and on our way to work in the morning, we faced thugs who just smoked Igbo (hemp) and the stench was very strong; the experience was scary. But that is the nature of our job and we must come to work. It was scarier for us as ladies and I pray not to be in situation where I will be beaten up or in any form of trouble.
What keeps you in Splash FM even with the strong competition from other privately owned stations?
I am excited with the competition. At Splash FM, we don’t want to be champions because there is no competition; we want to be the best in the midst of competition.
I want to say that Splash FM is still the best in spite of the advent of the additional 2 or 3 private radio stations. We give the best and we task ourselves, even off air. The work we do behind the scene is more than what we do on air.
So, as long as Splash FM keeps doing the best and the station remains the best, I will be here.
Edmund Obilo is known for politics while Tunde Olawuwo is known for sports; you are however having a touch of everything. What genre can you best be identified with?
I am multidimensional even though you won’t see me on hardcore political program like Edmund or sports show like Tunde. But I like to know a little about everything. I’m more of a personality kind of presenter; I just go on air, express my true self and update people about different happenings.
I’m browsing genres but more importantly, I’m me. I’m real, real enough to come on my show. I’m relate-able and I’ve heard it from many people. And I believe people should know something about everything, that’s what I do.
How do you separate fallacies from facts on your show since you are suggesting knowing something about everything?
I believe you should have an idea. I didn’t know anything about cars when we started auto clinic, but I’ll invite mechanics. I ask questions as a layman.
When we go to pharmacies, we go because we trust them. When some makes a wrong statement, people do call to dispel such fallacies and we do further research.
Nigerian journalists are scared to put their guests on the spot like we see their colleagues do on international cable channels like CNN, BBC and Al Jazeera. What do you think is responsible for this?
A lot of Nigerian journalists have low self esteem and some of them are not paid well. If you don’t have money, you cannot sit in front of the president and ask serious questions.
Apart from money, you need backing from your station. Stations need to treat their journalists who are their image very well because if they don’t, people will disrespect them on the streets. As journalists, you also need to have a good self esteem which gives you confidence that allows you to demand answers to questions.
What of the quest for brown envelopes from VIPs by the journalists?
If you know you are going to demand money from the person you are interviewing and he doesn’t want you to ask questions about his corrupt practices. If you are hungry you will keep quiet and go for the money.
Tell us about the Who’s That Girl initiative you are promoting
It is my pet project and we are launching it on December 15, 2013. It is for all girls, ladies generally. Many ladies especially teens need guidance. They follow wrong paths and act wrongly because they don’t people to guide them through.
Who’s That Girl is created as a platform where girls can come and ask questions. They will also be able to interact with people who will inspire them and help them avoid makin
g serious mistakes.
As ladies, we are not like boys who can say “we don’t care.” When girls have mindset issues with self esteem, it can affect them.
Some Nigerian mothers also don’t talk to their children about issues such as sex. Ladies need education; we need to let them know what is wrong and what is right.
At Who’s That Girl, they will be able to interact with each other and learn new skills like etiquettes and hygiene. It is my way of giving back to the society.
You studied both within and outside Nigeria. Where did you discover yourself?
I discovered myself when I left Nigeria. When I was here, I felt so frustrated and I needed to just leave the country. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. But outside Nigeria, I was with the right people at the place and time.
It could happen to anyone in Nigeria and you don’t have to travel out to discover yourself. But it was the right thing for me at that time.
Even as a guy, I know that it’s an open truth that ladies don’t open to each other. How will Who’s That Girl help address that?
Ladies don’t open up, especially when they feel like they can’t trust you. We ladies have sixth sense, we are able to identify people with ulterior motives. But I do get lots of mentorship requests but I cannot be everyone’s mentor. It is an emotional thing to be a mentor.
People relate to me because they like I’m not the average authority because young people don’t like authority – principal or teacher. I come across as cool; some many ladies can relate and talk to. With the event, I’m trying to create a center point, a place where ladies can come and refer them to people who can help them.
Who are the facilitators?
We will have mental wellness experts, a gynecologist and women who under 30 years old. They will be individuals that the ladies can relate to and we plan to have the event every two months.
Why not get celebrities involved?
Many of our celebrities are not good role models while many are focused on making money and not charity. The money I’m getting is from charitable people who believe in the dream.
A lot of celebrities want money but I cannot afford to pay someone #500,000 to come and inspire people. I know that is what they do, it’s their job and I don’t fault them for wanting money.
We are involving experts in the medicine, especially mental health and gynecology; we are also involving worthy though relatively unpopular role models.
The celebrities could help in mobilizing more people to the event. Since you are not involving them, what is your strategy to get more ladies to attend?
Some people have told me that I’m enough as a celebrity and role model. If I say come and hang out with Ronke Giwa, those who want to come will come. So I don’t need a bigger celebrity in Ibadan, I think I’m enough as a celebrity.
Who are your role models in Ibadan?
Mostly people I work with – Edmund Obilo, Adenike Adewuyi (she inspire me so much with her efficiency) who by the way will be at the event.
Splash FM’s website has been the same for years. What are you doing to change this?
We are actually working on our website right now; the new one will go live before the end of December. We recently had an elaborate photo shoot.
How is the station embracing more technology tools?
We do live Skype calls for people who live abroad and I think we are currently the only radio station that is doing Skype calls. People we’ve interviewed using Skype were impressed.
We also use all social media platforms because we realize that is where people are these days. If you don’t know how to use social media, you might as well just pack up.
Our YouTube channel is coming. Immediately after a show, you will be able to watch live recorded videos on the website.
Splash FM is going in a new dimension now. We were the first to start using Twitter in Ibadan; we will also be the first to start putting up live videos of studio interviews on our website. We are always thinking of new ways to get outside the box.
We are not only interested in staying ahead in Ibadan; we also want to compete with other stations outside Ibadan and even beyond Nigeria.
As a person, I hate being compared; I’m not a local champion. I love what I do and I’m very passionate about it so I want to compete with the very best.
What is next for you?
Who’s That Girl is taking a huge part of my mind. If I can pull it off as I want to, I will be relieved and glad. I also want to do TV in addition to my ob of course. I want to make Who’s That Girl a brand of its own.
You sound like someone who likes money a lot
[Cuts in] Yes I like money, everybody here knows. I don’t play with my money. If you want to see me angry, please make my day and play with my money.
I like money but I know where I make money and where I give back. Who’s That Girl is a way of giving back.
Can you say you are living as a celebrity in the city?
I can walk around without people recognizing me. In fact I still eat Boli (roasted plantain). I want a balanced life. I still ride bikes though not on the highway. I can also go around on the Ajumose bus without anyone recognizing me.
Apart from yourself, who else do you listen to on radio?
Edmund Obilo, Don T, Toyin Adepoju, Jacobs Adeyemi and other Splash FM presenters because we are the best.
Who do aspire to be like?
I love Mo Abudu because she pioneered Ebony Life TV. For presentation, I love Funmi Iyanda.
If you weren’t a broadcaster what would have been your career?
I’ll be singing. I’m a singer and everyone is saying I should do some music. If I’m not on air, I will be singing or working as a counselor.
Are you really pursuing a career in music?
I’ve stopped pursuing it; maybe I will pursue it sometime though. I went to music school. In school, I had a band that was performing at shows in London. But when I started working at Splash FM, I fell in love with broadcasting.