Why we are pioneering visual radio in Nigeria — Chris Anyanwu

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By Emmanuel Aziken & Gbenga Oke

It was like a return to familiar grounds for Senator Chris Anyanwu, the award-winning broadcast journalist turned politician and now media entrepreneur. Senator Anyanwu and her Son, Ndu Scott during their visit to Vanguard Headquarters Mrs. Anyanwu whose carriage and commanding commentaries on the intricacies of the oil industry captivated television audiences in the early eighties had in later years established herself as a print journalist cum publisher before berthing in the political terrain. But when she navigated through the tough Lagos traffic to the corporate office of Vanguard Media Limited penultimate Wednesday, Mrs. Anyanwu came wearing a totally different cap. This time as a media entrepreneur. As founder of one of the country’s leading radio networks, Spectrum Broadcasting, she came to herald the establishment of Hot FM, 93.3 in Lagos. After establishing Hot 98.3 FM Abuja; Hot 99.5 FM Owerri, and Hot 96.5 FM in Asaba, the company is set to launch Hot 93.3 FM Lagos. Ahead of the launch this Thursday, she called on her friends in the industry to intimate them of her initiative. On her visit to Vanguard, she was received by the publisher, Mr. Sam Amuka, editor, Eze Anaba, deputy editor, Kunle Adekoya and senior editorial officers of the newspaper. Senator Anyanwu who was escorted by the Managing Director of Spectrum Broadcasting, Mr. Ndu Scott Anyanwu and consultant, Mr. Emma Onuoha said: “In 2004, we got our first licence for a radio station and we set up Hot FM in Abuja and it took off in 2005, the next we set up was in Imo State, it is like giving back to where I come from and I set up what is called the People’s Radio.  We have since also set up one in the South-South and last year, we were asked to set up one in Lagos which we wholeheartedly welcome and now we are about launching off and I felt there is no way we will take off at the market without letting the media know and my colleagues know what we are about doing; that Hot FM which has one in the North-Central, one in the South-East and one in the South-South has finally arrived in Lagos.” Giving details of the unique offerings of the station, Scott said: “The dial is 93.3 FM and what we are trying to do with the station is a contemporary beat station and with a special focus on music, lifestyle. We are trying to focus on the demographics of ages of 24 to 35 years. “We are looking for young entrepreneurs, young professionals. So we are focusing on these demographics to listen to us. We have a new system which is a unique selling point and it is a visual radio. “We notice that in Nigeria, there is a huge web penetration and we decided to develop something called visual radio. If you come to the station and we are interviewing you, people at home can see you online and hear you on the radio. So it streams visual and does audio. It operates like a normal radio we know in Nigeria but the difference is the visuals. “You can see the personality in the studio and also see the music playing and if we have interviews, you can see through visuals and also online. So this is the element we are coming in with because we feel the market is very saturated with all manner of things and there is need to do things differently. “Also, we are going to give all manner of visual contents, audio contents like a podcast that they can engage in on social media and online. That is essentially what 93.3 FM is all about.” Talking on how the company has prepared for the Lagos market, Senator Anyanwu said: “We realised that most Lagosians spend much time commuting because of the kind of hold-ups in Lagos. Lagosians do not have enough sit down time. The demographics are upwardly mobile, graduates, professionals, young business people and so we have structured something that is media-on- the-go. “People will be able to get their news in short script, they will also get interviews and they will get great music. Our music will be unique and they will get a lot of visuals such that if they stay just five minutes on the radio, they will learn something. It will be a mix of entertainment and knowledgeable Radio show. This is the first visual radio in Nigeria.” On the intonations of the anchors, she said:“Hot FM is a brand and we have been around for 13 years but unfortunately, not in Lagos. Hot FM is a professional radio station, it’s probably the best private station and it is built along the standard professionals in the United States and we have maintained our standard. “We don’t do those over exaggerated stuff, probably you have those presenters in the new stations but not at Hot FM. We are very professional. We are not just in the market, we study the market and get people’s opinion on it and we get their reactions, the studies are intensive. “We learned from these people that Lagosians don’t like exaggerated intonations while other markets tolerate them better. In Abuja, they tolerate exaggerated accent more. If you hear anybody speak American accent on our station, it has to be real and not fake. “We are trying as much as possible to keep to the findings of our study. I want to assure you that from Hot FM, it will be highly professional.” Giving more insights on the technical unassailability of his staff, Scott said: “Before we put any of our presenters on Radio, before we even began to hire them, we had them do demos and sent it to a focused group of about 10 to 12 people. We asked them to please make their comments on the programme and the presenters. The demo is about 15 minutes and they can tell us what they figured out in the demo, they will tell us where the weakness of the presenter is or whether it’s perfect and whether the presenter fits that programme or not. “So these help us make our decisions because what we think is good might not be appropriate for the audience.” Giving more details on how the visual radio would operate, Scott said: “You go on the website, there is live stream audio and there is a live stream video, we are going to push all of that on the 13th. On the live stream video, you will be able to see what is being played by the radio station, you can see as you are listening. You need to have data to be able to stream, streaming through Facebook or Instagram handle or you can just decide to listen to just radio. It is more than just radio and we are going to run for 24 hours.” On the choice of music Senator Anyanwu said: “What we do is to give varieties. There is something called Electronic Dance Music, EDM, they are very trendy now and we will play that a lot. We have partners who do electronic dance events, we are partnering with those groups. We are also partnering with DJs from US and the UK. If we have events, we bring them down and those are the kind of things we are doing.”

Vanguard

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The Institute for Media and Society is an independent, non-governmental organization based in Nigeria. The institute was established in April 2000. In establishing the organization, we considered and were convinced of such issues as: the inter-relationship between the well-being of a society and its media as well as between the state of the media and the responsiveness and growth of societal institutions. the institutionalization of democracy and development in Nigeria being nourished by a free and pluralistic media structure, culture and environment.

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