‘MY FIRST JOB IS READING, EVERYTHING ELSE IS A HOBBY’ – BUCHI ONYEGBULE
Mr. Buchi Onyegbule is an on air personality, he presently anchors The Morning Mojo on WeFm Abuja, He is a voracious reader and a rational thinker.
He is a proof that the job of an on air personality transcends just having a sweet voice, which he no doubt has in abundance, but involves being knowledgeable and up to date with events happening locally and globally.
DA: At what point in your life did you realize/ decide to be a media personality? What shaped this decision?
Mr. Buchi: I didn’t consciously decide to become a media personality. I never used to listen to radio; I used to join the Hard Cover book show gang to review books on weekends, while keeping up with my consultancy business during the week.
Then a friend bullied me into meeting with the Head of Programs at WeFm, after convincing me I could do this gig. The rest, as they say, is history. I met Stanley Bentu in February 2017, and began working for WeFm one month later.
I think this is one of the cases I can say ‘just happened’.
DA: When you finally knew this was your path, what steps did you take?
Mr. Buchi: I didn’t really prepare for this job, because I was quite busy in the month leading to resumption, so I started quite green. Couldn’t do much more than just observe and learn on the job. I didn’t anchor any show for about 4 months though, because the station has a habit of keeping you at the backstage until they were convinced you were ready.
DA: You are highly knowledgeable about facts and figures, what is your reading habit like?
Mr. Buchi: I think my first job is reading, and every other thing is probably a hobby, I feel welded to books, articles and stories. It’s quite distracting though and almost everything comes second to my books. And about being knowledgeable, I believe that for a country as challenged with knowledge as our country is, it’s important that show anchors aren’t ignorant about events that shape the country.
The real value of a talk show OAP isn’t in his or her voice. It’s the capacity they display when conversations and this is important because it is easy for guests to misinform listeners.
There’s a lot of value placed on radio presenters and guests by the listening public. They’re likely to take whatever info they get there as gospel. Hence the presenter has to know things.
My MO for shows is that I regard my guests as facilitators of knowledge I already possess. So they aren’t coming to tell me much that’s new. Meaning, I strive to read and study to know enough so that I can follow the conversation, ask better questions, and contribute to the conversation. This ensures that the show is richer and people benefit positively from it.
DA: What major books/ Audios/ Mentors have shaped your mentality?
Mr. Buchi: I can’t really put my hands on books that shaped my life, but Ngugi’s Weep not child and ‘The River Between’, both of which I read as a kid, introduced me to the concept of injustice in the world, and how you can’t fight oppression with brute force alone. Knowledge is required. Hence I’ve always been subconsciously trying to learn more, to aid me upend institutions that are unjust and oppressive.
I absolutely wanted to go join the Mau Mau in Kenya when I first read Weep not Child. But not just to join them fight, because I also wanted to shake some sense into their heads, and show them a few things they could have done better, if they had more information.
DA: What do you do daily to develop yourself?
Mr. Buchi: I can’t really pin my hands on anything I consciously do to develop myself on a daily basis. But I strive to read something a day. Article, story, few pages of a book, etc.
DA: What do you suggest is responsible for the high unemployment/ unemployability rate in Nigeria?
Mr. Buchi: I think it’s a mix of factors, and most have been rehashed constantly by analysts. It’s a mix of selfish kleptomaniac leaders, coupled by a largely ignorant and welfare oriented citizenry who let them get away with blue murder.
Unemployability isn’t a bigger problem than unemployment. Unemployability is a product of the unemployment. If we fix unemployment, we will fix Unemployability.
DA: What steps would you advise anyone who aspires to be an OAP to take?
Mr. Buchi: I’d say, just read. Aside the usual – voice quality, composure, etc, I’d suggest we become more aware than we currently are. We currently struggle with capacity and knowledge, such that there’s an unfavorable image held by the general populace that OAPs in Nigeria are largely voice and nothing upstairs.
As much as its a media job, we can’t let it be just about the glitz and access to fancy events and other celebrities. There needs to be a new wave of smart On Air Personalities because our work is very important. We shape public opinions very much and it’s important we get it right.
A recent poll on radio listenership shows that Radio is still 50% of general public’s preference for information gathering while the rest of social media, world wide web, TV, vlogs, etc share the remaining 50% This is huge, and I’m not sure many recognize this. So awareness is very important for anyone who wants to do this job.
DA: What is your advice to youths generally?
Mr. Buchi: I’m not sure I’m the best person to advise the youth though, but I’d simply ask that we try to be a bit more empathetic. It’s always disappointing trawling through social media and seeing the slurs we throw at people of different religions and tribes.
We need to realize that most of our beliefs and tribal affiliations were largely not chosen, and we’re foisted on us and through any roll of the dice, we could have been on the other side.
No reason we should become tribal or religious militants based on choices we didn’t even make! So I’d love it if we empathized more, and fought less, rather, see our diversity as a huge unifying and building factor, rather than a divider. Only this mentality can build a nation.