The last few years have heralded the rise of pop radio culture in Enugu, and certain voices over the airwaves stand out above the rest. One such voice belongs to Osarogie Ogbomnwan, a.k.a Radio’s Big Brother. You probably recognize his distinctive baritone from his early days giving the News With Reviews on Solid Fm, or more recently doing the early morning PrimeTime Press on Urban Radio 94.5 Fm. If none of these ring a bell, kindly relocate from that rock you live under
Click 042’s Ijeoma Ossi caught up with Big Brother late last week at Urban Radio in Independence Layout. First impressions: there’s more to this dark, good-looking presenter than meets the eye. His grip is firm, his eyes are serious even when he’s making you laugh, and his speech is refreshingly blunt. “This is the first time I’ve ever done this,” he confesses. So we decide to start off easy…
Where are you from and where did you grow up?
I’m from Edo State, and about 80% of my growing up was in Benin. I did primary school, secondary school and about three years of university all in Benin.
So what did you study those first three years?
Medical Laboratory Sciences. Until the department had some issues with the National Universities Council (NUC). Some universities weren’t accredited, so they transferred everyone in those universities to about seven other schools with accreditation. I was sent to UNEC, and eventually finished there.
From Med-Lab to radio presenting…that’s quite a leap.
Well this will sound very clichéd, but I started loving radio since I was in JS2. I went to stay with my brother in Lagos for a short holiday. Back then Dan Foster had just come into Nigeria on Cool Fm. He was the most amazing thing that happened to me during that period, listening to him every morning. Eventually when I got back to Benin I started connecting wires, because I wanted to get Cool Fm in Benin. The signal was too faint so I gave up after a while.
At first I didn’t think of radio as something I really could do (for a living); I thought it was just a hobby. Then I got to a point where I was in Enugu and I wasn’t doing anything. I had just graduated and wasn’t really feeling the Med-Lab scene. Mentally I couldn’t see myself doing a 9-to-5 job, going to the office in the morning, come back in the evening, wearing a lab coat etc. So I asked someone day what I could do with my voice, and I was advised to go to a radio station and see if I could do voice-overs for them. A friend gave me a contact-Ola Mbadiwe, formerly of FRCN, so I called her and asked if I could do voice-overs. She called me back some nights later around 2am! Then she says, ‘There’s a new radio station opening up, you should try it out.’ That was Solid Fm. So I went there, auditioned for them succesfully, and started to believe that this just might be what I was meant to do. This is what I do with the least amount of stress. I can literally do this in my sleep.
What were the high points and low points of your career?
The high point for me is every morning that I have a good show. I’ve also met a lot of people I wouldn’t normally have met; celebs, politicians, doctors, engineers, fascinating people. The low points were in the beginning, when I wasn’t sure what I wanted to be. People often say be yourself, but what if you’re a boring person? You can’t put that self on radio. So I went through phases trying to find myself. It was really disappointing having a bad show and I would get very depressed. I was also having that career battle with my parents, who weren’t too keen on my chosen path. My mom was scared for me and I really wanted to please her even if it meant getting a government job. So those were really low times.
Wow, you’ve really come a long way. What would you tell your younger self?
I would say…Don’t be afraid. I didn’t start many things early enough because I had a lot of fears. I would tell myself to stop being afraid and stop being lazy about risk.
What’s the target for your career?
I definitely don’t see myself doing radio forever. I’m passionate about a lot of things, like photography. I want to be behind really big media events, something as big as bringing Coldplay to Nigeria, organizing massive concerts, and generally becoming a household name in the media industry.
And you’re taking steps towards that goal?
Yeah, step by step. I’m making as many connections as I can and trying to gather as much experience as I can. Basically I want to be known as the person who made the show happen, not the one advertising it on the radio for them.
How do you like Enugu?
I like the fact that there’s no traffic, and that everywhere is like five minutes away. Plus there are a lot of pretty girls here, so many. Lord have mercy! But there are really interesting people here; some of my best friends in the world, I met here in Enugu.
What I don’t like about Enugu is the mentality; I see a lot of domestic violence against women and I just don’t understand it. There’s also the problem of introducing new ideas to Enugu. I feel like the only things that really sell here are food, alcohol and sex. If you don’t offer any of that, they’re not interested; look what happened to the cinema. Asides that I think it’s an interesting town.
Back to you then; what’s a typical day like for you?
My alarm rings at 4am; I ignore it. Then I wake up around 4:25 and spend the next few minutes trying to figure out where I am and asking myself do I really need this job, can’t I just sleep? I’m at work by 5:15, I go on air at 5:30 and get off at 11am. I spend the rest of the day either pursuing office stuff, trying to get through guests I need to interview, tracking people down for adverts etc. A regular day ends at 2pm, then I go home to catch up the sleep I missed. After that I’m out of the house by 7:30pm, because for some reason I just can’t stay indoors indefinitely. Usually I head out to Extreme Lounge.
So you’ve already mentioned photography as a hobby. Do you have any others?
Yeah, I love cooking. I’m very good at it too, though I don’t have time to cook as much as I want. I like photography because I like to tell stories; I want to either tell your own story or help you imagine someone else’s. There are so many different people with different stories, and I’m always curious about those back stories. That’s what I try to capture with pictures.
Now to the inevitable question: is there anyone special?
Yes, there is. I don’t really like to publicize my relationships with PDA and all that.
We understand completely. Last question: what’s on your bucket list?
I want to know myself 100%. I want to know the reason why I’m here, my purpose, how much longer before I get there, and so on. I want to make my parents happy for the rest of their lives. I want to travel the world, go to Malta, Kenya, even Saudi Arabia- I want to go everywhere.