There is no denying the fact that Broadcasting is a noble profession. The radio or Television announcer, presenter, newscaster or any other ‘On Air Personality’ (OAP) is seen as an opinion leader, the Public Relations Officer of the station. The OAP is the only person that can enter your house without knocking on your door, the first to break the News to you, remind you about past events, soothes you with music and nice chit-chat with words of admonition to brighten your day
Unknown to him, he is also a teacher as millions of listeners learn a lot through the radio and television, and due to the transient nature of the spoken word, he cannot afford to make mistakes or misinform the listeners. A lot of harm would have been done even if the wrong piece of information is retracted. This is why the broadcaster must have a good educational background and be trained gradually and intensively to function effectively.
Training in Journalism is essential and can also be acquired on the job. He is supposed to know a little bit about everything, must be versatile and always read and research into important subjects. The broadcaster’s situation is similar to that of a lawyer who must not stop reading wide until he retires. For us in the Anglophone world, the traditional institution responsible for the training of broadcasters is the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) until The Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) established its own training Institute here in Lagos, Nigeria. The Nigerian Television Authority also has its own Television College in Jos. The two training institutes have produced the best hands who can stand their own anywhere in the world.
The deregulation of the broadcast industry no doubt brought about the proliferation of private radio and television stations across the nation. Contrary to expectation, the advent of private radio and television stations has not brought about an improvement in standards. It may be argued that the coming on board of more practitioners has overwhelmed the training facilities, but when there is a will there will always be a way. The major problem is that many of the stations are not owned by broadcasters.
The pioneer broadcasters were either caught napping or could not muster enough financial strength to establish stations. They do not have a Union to protect their profession. It is also inconceivable why non broadcasters should be allowed to own stations. It is doubtful if Lawyers, Accountants, Engineers and other professionals would allow such a thing to happen to their profession. Broadcasting is not like any other cash and carry business because education of the people, culture, orientation and opinion moulding are involved. It is better left to the experts. The difference therefore is very clear in the case of private radio and television stations owned or well run by professional broadcasters such as Channels television, Silverbird Television (STV) Brilla FM Radio Television Continental (TVC) and Radio Continental. Only the FRCN, NTA and a few States owned and Private stations have kept the standard high.
Mediocrity, politics, nepotism are the bane of the industry. Pretenders cannot run broadcasting. Training must start from the basics. If you go to FRCN (Radio Nigeria) or NTA with a Bsc or Phd in Mass Communication and you want to be a broadcaster, you will start as a trainee announcer and undergo courses at the training school regularly to reach the top.The failure to start from the basics is GATECRASHING and not BROADCASTING. Listen to John Momoh, Sunny Iraboh, Bisi Olatilo, Bimbo Oloyede, Julie Coker, Yanju Adegbite, Deola Alagbe or Anike Agbaje Williams (an octogenarian) speak on a wide range of Topics and you will understand the value of training. Or if you had met the late Ambassador Segun Olusola or Nkenna Ndaguba, you will know how deep the standard of broadcasting has fallen. Now try to correct some new generation broadcasters who commit blunders on air and they would tell you that you belong to the old school.
Many private operators have employed their family members, girlfriends’ cronies and lackeys to engage in sharp practices in broadcasting and secret selective payment of salaries first to family members who are less productive. A private station has not paid its staff eight months salary to date, the lapses and inadequacies are too many to state here. But words of admonition should be addressed to current or new generation of broadcasters.
The Profession should not be taken as a means to an end. And make sure you are trained before you become a star or else you may never be trained. For the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission, the regulatory body which celebrated its twenty years of existence recently, a lot has to be done. The buck stops at the table of the body whose independence raises a lot of questions. The Programmes Department should be manned by experts to oversee the training, retraining and development of OAPs. Round pegs should be in round holes and the welfare of broadcasters must be guaranteed.
Written by Kunle Job, a seasoned broadcaster
(culled from globalharmonymag.com)