* University don calls it ‘Media Convergence’
The competition for radio attention is getting hotter in Port Harcourt where there are over 13 stations, but Nig Info 92.3 at AIM Plaza is tearing ahead. It has unveiled a studio system that would allow listeners to hear and see at the same time. A university lecturer calls it experiment in ‘media convergence’. The experiment may however threaten broadcasters that do not possess great looks and may cause de-emphasis on voice but looks too.
blazing aheadis a very strong radio station almost controlling the audio news flow in the Garden City and beyond. It seems to drag leadership status with Rhythm which stole it from Radio Rivers FM, the rave in eastern Nigeria decades ago. Leadership truly changes hands.
Last week, media gurus were brought into a mini-conference hall at the corporate headquarters of Nig Info 92.3 AIM Plaza, KM 16 East-West Road (Chioba) to unveil the audio-visual studio from where voice and vision broadcasting will beam to the south-south and east daily. Apart from Nig Info, the plaza houses Cool FM, Wazobia and the cable television station.
The Head of Station, the easy-going but strictly focused Blessing Olomu took the crowded audience through a verbal journey to the new feat and later took them on a physical but brief tour of the new studio. She has one word for the dazzling colours of the studio, ‘splendid’. So it was.
This may not be new in the western world or even in Lagos but it sure is the first in the south-south and east of Nigeria. Many guests continually used the word, innovative. The technology deployed for the rollout allows listeners view the station while also hearing. Listeners would have the pleasure to watch their favourite presenters such as everybody’s lover Kofi Bartels, robust Dayo Ekusakin, peaceful Joy Eberebe, sure voice Enoh Ogbevire, Sam Chinedu, Gabriella, Jude Omamegbe, bold voice Eric Boroni, and Denise Dennis. The ‘Sports Gang’ members including Chuma, Ngozi Ezeuduma, and Carl Orakwe who thrill football lovers every match day would now be seen haggling and fighting to be heard as sports always is. Some have left but listeners would have seen the likes of Yop Wrang Pam, Daniel Braide, Milliscent Nwoka (nee Maduagu), Maryann OKon, Adoara Okoli, and Terdo Agbenyi and former newscasters such as the late Jude Ikegwuonu, Sheriff Quadri, and stable voice Ima Akpabio.
That Nig Info 92.3 became the first to launch this innovation in the oil region was pointed out as evidence of leadership drive of the station that pioneered interactive broadcasting which allowed callers to be part of broadcast schedules. A city editor present remarked that this helped to tone down tension in the region as citizens found space to air their minds and grievances. Some said it also helped to make government accountable to the ordinary people as officials daily listen to the citizens uncensored. At elections, balance played useful roles. It helps much in the feedback mechanism in the communication loop.
Audio-visual studios allow listeners to view what goes on in the studio, live, and it allows audio adverts to run. It allows for cut-line or bar messages that can scroll along. It helps the listener to understand the news flow better. Yours sincerely however pointed out that while slay queen AOPs will gloat over the visual concert and enhance their slaying personifications and external worth, those regarded as ‘wowo’ presenters may have a setback. This could mean that those presenters that are not presentable but who have great voice without great looks may not be considered for employment when studios go visual; except balance is introduced. Also, AOPs may no longer speak with robust vehemence because their cover is blown. They may begin to mellow down for fear of mob action on the streets and in dark alleys.
What however seemed to concern academics in the audience such as Ebenezer Umor of RSU who stood in for his HOD, Richard Amadi PhD, is what he called the reality of media convergence. In print, as pointed out by this writer, there is the tabloid and there is the broadsheet, but a mix later occurred as some newspapers combine both features to run as hybrid. This convergence affected style and tone. Now, such convergence is coming to the electronic media; radio and TV coming together. This may affect tone, too. Television writers write less because camera would tell more. Will radio follow suit?
Umor said his department has developed the syllabus for electronic broadcast journalism to be a separate course of study outside the main body, Mass Communication, as recently approved by the NUC. So, innovation is here with us.
Revenue wise, Olomu (HOS) said more is expected; from more listening audience, adverts from audio ads, streaming revenue, etc. We hope the increase justifies the investment. The technology is facebook-enabled for now. Data will burn faster but usefully, we gathered.
Will others copy? Of course! Some GMs present indicated interest to study and review. What seems important, according to Olalekan Ige of Independent Monitor, is the readiness to innovate all the time and move on as competitors come into the room. Such is the media world, because it’s a showbiz and naked dance where nothing is hidden. Competitors and copy-cats would hardly wait to barge in.
So, it’s huge congrats to the Nig Info family and the investors behind them. They have brought more independence in radio journalism even if not many smile at them. Balance has been their key. The editorial board has so far ensured this, not because they do not have those reporters that prefer to be partisan but the editorial policy of balance neutralises that reality. If a reporter knows that his editors will insist on balance, he knows he can’t play deep in the midfield of partisan politics. The other sides must be allowed to have a say into every story or soon after. That is the hallmark of the free press; that is the Nig Info essence, beyond the dazzling colours we saw.