Femi Adefila is the Chief Executive Officer of RAVE 91.7 FM in Osogbo, the Osun state capital. In this interview, he talks about the journey of the radio station in the last 365 days, ownership of the radio and sundry issues. Excerpts:
How has the journey been in the last one year?
Well, I want to say to God be the glory, indeed great has been His faithfulness, he’s been a very good God. A year ago, we started with a definite vision and the vision is to change the broadcast landscape in Osun state and its environs. We came on board with a definite objective to be apolitical and to feed the people with the news that is not tainted with all manners of subjectivity, to be on the side of the people in strict compliance with the ethics of the profession. I am happy to report that God has been good; our apolitical stand is paying off. We are happy that a year after Rave FM is now a household name is Osun state and beyond. We have won awards, we have had nominations. Six months into our existence, we had about five nominations on a very popular award platform. I want to thank God that I am blessed with a set of young professionals who are assisting to bring the dream to reality. They keyed into my vision and they are manifesting it in concrete terms.If you do a critical analysis of the content we are pushing in programming, news and current affairs, entertainment there is no doubt that we are the leading radio station in Osun state today and that is a fact that nobody can dispute. We are not just saying it, it is what is happening, take a drive round Osun state wherever you go, the feedback has been awesome. You see, by my antecedents, some people felt that perhaps, Femi had worked for about 10 years with politicians from a particular political party, that it is likely Femi tilts the interest of the station to that of the political party but we have come to prove them wrong that indeed we are not for any political party and we are not here to serve any political interest. The only interest we here to serve is the interest of the people and the interest of the profession.
With many stations and more to come, do you feel threatened?
No, I don’t feel threatened at all it’s a matter of knowing what you are doing; competition is healthy for the industry. I am of the opinion that we even need more radio stations if we are serious about deepening our democratic culture. The more, the merrier. Like the Yoruba will say, the sky is big enough to accommodate as many birds as possible, birds of all shades and colour. You have so many birds in the sky but the eagle is different so it’s just a matter of what you chose to be. We have so many birds but Rave FM has chosen to be the eagle, to soar high, to mount on wings and to fly high. Democracy is about communication, it is about information, it is about giving people access to government, it is about the people and radio is key, it’s germane, it’s strategic to bring this about. What is important is your ideology, what purpose are you in the business to achieve, are you in the business to pursue a narrow agenda? Are you in the business for a definite political agenda? It is what brings you into the system that will determine how long you will last in the business. Our own interest is to serve the interest of journalism and broadcasting, to adhere to the ethics of the profession and of course to be different, to be the diamond, biggest star in the horizon and of course like I had said to be the eagle amongst the birds. So we are not threatened.
What do you have to say about the rumour that you are just a surrogate owner of the station?
Thank you very much. I have had insinuations from so many quarters, some say it’s owned by Her Excellency, Erelu Olusola Obada, some say it’s owned by Dr Doyin Okupe, some say I’m a surrogate for Asiwaju Dr Yemi Farounbi. Let me say this emphatically, none of these three individuals own a single share in Rave 91.7 FM. To the glory of God, my family and I own Rave FM 100%. I’m not surprised that rumour has gone so viral, people are of the opinion that how can a journalist like Femi Adefila own a venture of this nature. They sit down in their closets and conclude on who they feel should be the rightful owner. And you cannot blame them, every radio station around is owned by one big politician or the other. So there is a mindset on who should own a venture like Rave 91.7 FM but I’m happy to disappoint them that this is a different ball game entirely.In this instance, I am a surrogate for the Lord Almighty. Erelu Obada and Dr Yemi Farounbi are benefactors that I’m eternally indebted to.They are like ladders that the Lord used for me to see windows of opportunities and I own them a debt of gratitude for life.
What informed your decision to set up Rave FM in Osogbo, why not Abujaor Ora Igbomina, your hometown?
Osogbo because I have so much sentimental attachment to Osogbo. 1992, I came to serve in Oshogbo, I got retained after meritorious service as the best youth corps member in my set. I met my beautiful wife Bimbo here; I had all my kids here. So Osogbo is like my Shiloh. God has been very awesome to me and my enterprises in Osogbo. So why not Osogbo? Though having a venture like this in Osogbo has its own challenges. We are far from where the media booty is shared which is Lagos. We are just eating the crumbs that fall from the table. But when you talk of security, power supply before it became erratic of recent, you talk of serenity, Osogbo has got potentials. Don’t forget the fact I’m from Osun state and somebody has to develop this state. It comes at a cost but it is the goal that is very important. So being in Osogbo, honestly I feel fulfilled.
How easy has it been especially with Osun being in dire strait economically?
Hmmnn… It’s been a challenge, I must confess to you. The economic situation in Osun is very challenging and it is not in Osun alone. It is a phase in our national life, we are in recession, and I pray we don’t go into depression. So what is happening in Osun is happening everywhere but because Osun has salary issue, there is no money in people’s pocket and of course people are groaning. But let me say this you know i have a lot of confidence and I believe in Governor Aregbesola. I tell people and they find it strange when i tell them. I love what the man is doing in terms of trying to rebrand Osun. I am an apostle of aesthetics; I love to enhance the aesthetics value of wherever I am.
How would you describe your relationship with the Governor?
It is very cordial, despite the fact that we have been subjecting his administration’s plans, policies, actions and inactions to very critical debate which politicians don’t ordinarily like. Most politicians prefer when you white wash their sepulchre and praise them to high heavens, you engage in superfluous public relations for them, you call them giants when they actually dwarfs and you turn a blind eye to their misdeeds. In the case of Governor Aregbesola and his government, they have been very tolerant and I commend them for their tolerance.
How do you create balance and objectivity in your reportage and at what cost?
Yes it has been at a cost but it has also been rewarding. At a cost because there are patronages that ordinarily if you want to be pedestrian and patronizing you will get. The reward is credibility; we are building a credible medium that can earn the respect of everybody regardless of their social status. Our dream is to build a medium that its word can be taken to the bank, that will rise above primordial sentiments be it in politics, socially related issues and economy. I see hope that it is achievable if we remain stoic and committed to the ideals that we have set for ourselves.
What were the high and low points you had in the last year?
The commissioning was very nice, it was a great beginning, it was a fantastic day when we had, the governor, my mentors and benefactors were here in their numbers. It was a very good day in my life and I celebrate God for that. My friends, church members and relations were here in good number. It was awesome. Our take off was swift. Our programs continue to resonate well with listeners. From our Morning Rave to FrankTalk, AtotoArere, Aroko Oro, Demo Sports, IgbimoAjoro, Rave Lounge, Sports, Ravers Show amongst others, the reception has been good.
The low point has been the headaches that epileptic power supply brings. It’s a pain in the flesh. In it all we thank God, storms will come but we are ready for the challenges.
What are your plans and projections? What should we expect by the time Rave FM is two?
Expect a radio station that will be a phenomenon in the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Expect a radio station that will continue to be a reference point in broadcasting in Nigeria. Expect a radio station where what you hear on it is the truth and nothing but the truth. Expect a radio station that’s going to be a platform for all people of shades of opinions and ideas. Expect a radio station that will stand out of the crowd, out of the pack. That will be the eagle amongst the birds. That will continue to fly high. Expect a radio station that will continue to adhere strictly to the ethics of the profession. Expect a radio station that will continue to educate, inform and entertain. A station that whatever you hear from it is the gospel truth. Politic is coming, that will not be politically aligned with any political party but be on the side of the people and of the truth.
That is what you should expect, a station that will never go off air, a station that will continue to uphold the tenets of the profession, that will continue to parade the best of voices, the best of professionals, the best of talents. That is the platform we are creating, that is the platform we have created and that is the platform we would continue to do everything to sustain. So that Rave FM will continue to be a reference point in the comity of radio stations in Nigeria, not only in Osun state.
We chose the youths deliberately not only do they own today, they own tomorrow. That is why we have chosen the youths as demography that we are targeting and continue to do everything. We are youths oriented, youth eccentric. We have bright minds, I’m proud of everybody that works with me. They carry themselves with dignity, with honour and hold their own wherever they go.