Chris Ubosi…………They call him The King of Radio, and when you own four of the best Broadcast Houses in Nigeria with branches overseas, then you are certainly Broadcast Royalty.
He is the C.E.O of Megalectrics Limited, Owners of Beat Fm, Naija Fm, Classic Fm, and Lagos Talks Fm.
Born in Nsukka and raised in Lagos, he obtained his first degree in Qunatity Surveying from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, and his Msc in Project Management from the University of Lagos.
With over 25years experience in the broadcast industry, he is one of the pioneers of Private Broadcasting and New Media in Nigeria.
I had the honor of conducting an interview with him for Afrobeat360 and certainly gained a valuable insight into the life of this great man.
Join us, as we wall you through a glimpse of the life of Chris Ubosi- An ICON in the radio sphere and beyond.
Do tell us a little about Chris Ubosi the family man.
Family is very important to me. I can say that I take my job as a father seriously and I find it quite daunting sometimes. Honestly, trying to balance being a ‘cool dad’ and a proper Nigerian dad isn’t an easy task. But then, with three incredibly beautiful kids and an amazing wife, I must say every day I learn…Everyday I am grateful for the gift of us…the gift of family.
What made you make the decision to go into Broadcasting and how prepared were you for this unique work environment?
Did I really make the decision? I think for me it was more like the job found me. I have always loved entertainment but delving into broadcasting was different. I wasn’t out looking for a job in broadcasting… But in retrospect… It was one of the best decisions because in broadcasting, working with such amazing talents, I have found a home.
What kind of Challenges did you face in the setting up of not just one, but several radio stations? And what are the challenges you still face running these stations in Nigeria?
The Megalectrics family as you know has 4 major brands (The Beat Fm, Classic Fm, Naija Fm and Lagos talks Fm) and with each brand comes a whole different level of everything. A different level of talent management, a different level of human relations, content strategy…you name it. What works for Beat never does work for Classic and Lagos talks cannot be handled like Naija FM. Beat is urban and pop culture centric, Classic is classy, mature, elitist. Then Lagos talks is the voice on the street…talk about all things Lagos…it’s politics, it’s people etc and of course Naija FM is as indigenous as it gets.
The biggest challenge setting up for me was ‘Quality of Service’ and I’d tell you why…because whether you know this or not, broadcasting is all about service. Service to your audience, service to your clients and advertisers, service even to your environment and so it was for me all about providing unbeatable services for all the fore mentioned.
Speaking about the current challenges, every business in Nigeria definitely undergoes some challenges I like to call Naija based challenges like… ‘Electricity (which we depend on our 24 hours service delivery)’ and then you have Government policies and the Economic imbalance, lack of trained staff etc. But then we constantly are in a race with ourselves to keep raising the bar, keep getting better, stay ahead and never conform with the norm and that for me is the only worthy challenge. Also, we try not to see these things as challenges really, but as hurdles that we have to overcome.
With so many businesses on your plate, do you still take a hands-on approach when it comes to your radio stations or have you delegated to the extent that you just get progress reports from your Heads of station?
What do you think? Of course at this stage, I have an amazing team that works perfectly without supervision but then we did not attain this level of success without team work…so here, it is all hands on deck.
And surely with over 400 mails every day, at least 6 Zoom meetings ( in this corona times) and nonstop phone calls…daily before the clock hits 6pm, I guess you have your answer right there. In a nut shell it is a mix…hands-on when need be and of course some level of delegation.
With the high quality of On Air Personalities (OAPs) working for you, one question aspiring radio presenters would certainly like to know the answer to is, what are the qualities you look out for when hiring OAPs to work in your Radio stations?
Basically talent, passion, knowledge of industry matters, charisma and the willingness to work hard, and respect the brand. (rather than trying to singularly use the platform for your personal growth)
As widely travelled as you are, which country has the best radio presentation format for you?
I am going to be very bias here, London does it for me always.
What kind of music do you like listening to? And what is your favorite track playing on the airwaves at the moment?
Afrobeats has come to stay in our hearts and minds for a long time and mine is not an exception. My favorite track? Now this is hard…with great albums all flooding the airwaves I really cannot make a pick… where do I start from?
Your unique position in the Entertainment industry surely means that at one point or the other you are interacting with some of the biggest music stars the country has ever produced. Can you tell us about the most memorable encounter you have had with a Nigerian artist?
I have been in this for quite a while, I have seen Mega Stars rise from nothing, and have interacted with them all through. It is difficult to recall one particular incident, as you can imagine. But safe to say, I have had quite a few of them.
So much has changed all over the world with the advent of the Coronavirus Pandemic and a lot of businesses have been forced to engage in alternative ways to go about their processes. How has it affected you personally, and also what impact has it had on the way you manage your media ventures?
Personally it has affected my social life…just as it has for everyone else…but then the only constant thing in life is change. Luckily we have been at the forefront of digitization and so I would say we were kind of prepared and what you see now is creative strategizing to ensure those whom we are here to serve are prepared as well. We have always been nimble, and are glad we were able to adapt quickly.
What government policy changes do you feel can currently be made to increase the growth of the radio sector in Nigeria given the current Covid-19 climate?
There should be a huge collaborative effort right now between the Nigerian government, the media and the technological sector.
I would say now more than ever we need to embrace technology and a proper and credible audience measurement agency.
The digitization policy needs to be sped up as this has the potential to open up radio even more into DAB, DAB+, etc.
A working collection agency to collect royalties for all creatives and a transparent distribution model.
Less interference in News media organizations from the government in power.
Afrobeats as a genre has never been more popular in the world than now, with Nigerian Artists consistently making good music and the media houses providing the vital support in pushing the music out. Was there a conscious effort by your radio stations to support and increase the airplay of this genre
or had it simply become a genre that could not be afforded anything less than one’s full attention?
Afrobeats like I mentioned earlier has come to stay. It came with a bang! So loud that it could not but be noticed. But again as a local business, we did our bit in ensuring we gave maximum support to the sound. From event headliners, collaborations, airplays, interviews, we always give maximum level of support in ways we can.
A lot of talented rising music artists usually find it difficult to get airplay for their songs on Radio. Is there any clear directive from you to your staff to provide opportunities for those ones that show potential for creating good music?
Oh! in as much as I have read about this being an issue, I can proudly say that as an organization we are all about supporting talents and we have never been anything but supportive. So as long as you have a great song, the name on the label doesn’t matter. To buttress this, we have a couple of shows on the airwaves to support fresh beats and sounds.
Burnaboy recently dropped his Album “Twice As Tall” to worldwide acclaim.
In your opinion, how well has he done as an artist since he burst onto the Nigerian music scene with his song “Abeg Abeg Abeg”?
Burna boy is a clear case of consistency, hard work, intelligence and of course Grace. He has constantly showed himself not just as a great but talented artiste. One that is creative and smart enough to break into the industry with sounds that we all love and embrace. I feel like saying ‘Burna boy has done well’ kind of downplays how amazingly well he has done and at a time like this, with all going on in the world, artistes like Burna boy just makes this the perfect time to be Nigerian.
With the passion you have shown for music, and with the vast resources and knowledge at your disposal, is it inconceivable to see you adding a Music Label to your portfolio in the nearest future?
To be fair, I would say No. But as they say, never say NEVER. I go wherever this passion leads me. We never know what the future holds.
Finally, with all the success you have achieved in your lifetime, what would you consider to be your most fulfilling achievement?
This is not me trying to be cheesy or anything but then my most fulfilling achievement can be found in my amazing wife and my 3 wonderful kids.
How Adorable! Right?
And that’s it on the life of the Radio King, Beautiful People.
We promised to give you so many ‘behind the scenes’ in our Boss Series, and we are so glad to have Chris Ubos as the pioneer here.
More To Come!