Ronke Giwa-Onafuwa is a household name on radio. When she is not on radio, she is either writing a new book, producing content or influencing on social media. She spoke recently to ROTIMI IGE about her recent exploits and plans for 2023.
You stayed over 10 years working with one radio station rather than move around like some other media staff do. Why?
I did not think I would spend over a decade at Splash FM. I came to serve the mandatory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in Ibadan and was supposed to go back to Lagos after one year. My father even got me a job at a TV station in Lagos and wasn’t really happy I chose to stay in Ibadan. However, when he saw how well I was doing, he was proud of me. I stayed because I saw that it was a place where I could grow; remember I had no prior radio experience before Splash FM. Chief Adebayo Akande saw something in me and always encouraged me. When I told him my father was insisting I return to Lagos, he promised my parents he would pay me well and I would be fine. I don’t believe in jumping from one place to another just for the sake of it. How would an employer trust you when you don’t seem stable? It makes you seem flaky when you have so many short stints at so many companies. I also don’t believe in staying in the same place just for the sake of it; Some organisations are toxic and for your own mental health and growth, you should not stay there.
You have literally dropped the mic after 13 years of broadcasting. What informed your decision to do so?
I wouldn’t say I have completely dropped the mic.I think broadcasters are like lawyers, You never really retire; and just like lawyers never stop being lawyers, broadcasters can never stop being broadcasters either. Your mic may transition from being inside a radio station to being on Youtube or some other platform. The possibilities are endless.
Is this a retirement from radio or a temporary break?
This is definitely a break. It was important for me to take this break to find myself again. When you have worked in the same space and done the same thing for 13 years, sometimes you may start to second guess yourself and even feel stuck. I was definitely feeling stuck and I know there’s more to me than what I was doing. This is not a retirement; you will still hear my voice.
What is your biggest takeaway from an illustrious career in broadcasting?
Passion is the door and consistency is key. One thing I tell newcomers in the media industry is that your career is like a seed; you have to consistently nurture your skill, keep evolving and staying visible in order to have a lasting career. Sometimes it’s fun and sometimes it’s not. If you have a passion for radio, consistency establishes you as a force to reckon with.
The radio landscape has undergone many changes since your debut, due to social media and other advancements in technology. Do you consider these changes good for both broadcasters and their audience?
Absolutely! The only thing that’s constant is change.
So much has changed since I became a broadcaster 13 years ago and I am glad I embraced the change head-on because it worked for me. Then, most people looked to radio and TV to get news, now, people look to blogs; so much so that some media houses even get their news from blogs too. This is the sad part about social media for me. However, there are other benefits to the changes that have occurred in recent times. For one, social media has now bridged the gap between radio and TV; Most radio stations are also streaming online and can reach more listeners. Social media has also created new stars; The Vloggers and influencers who are on platforms like Youtube and Instagram. Veteran practitioners who fail to embrace technological advancements will sadly be left behind.
What advice would Ronnie G give to aspiring or new entrants into the radio industry?
Be sure this is what you want to do and be in it for the long run. Also, be visible. Just because you are good doesn’t mean you will get the recognition you deserve. Do great work, put your work out, beyond your radio station and tell your story using social media.
You have done multiple editions of ‘Who’s That Girl’ and ‘Talk Mummy’, the female-centred programmes you started. Do you have anything in the pipeline regarding those two?
Yes, One of the reasons I have also taken a break is to focus on these two initiatives; ‘Talk Mummy’ is my initiative to support and empower mothers while ‘Who’s That Girl’ is my initiative to mentor and empower girls. I will be focusing on them during my break which means we will be doing workshops, seminars and all kinds of events to continue our work to impact women.
With the launch of ‘Lara’s Lessons’ last year, you can also boast of being a published author. What led to your foray into the writing world?
My desire to mentor girls led to me writing ‘Lara’s Lessons’ and it is one of my greatest achievements of 2022. Lara’s lessons is a book that contains nine life lessons I believe every young person (boy or girl) should know. I also wrote it in fiction style in order to make it more interesting to read. It’s an interesting story about a young girl called Lara and the mistakes and discoveries she made as an adolescent.
There appears to be a common theme of female empowerment and community in your ventures. Is it a deliberate one?
Yes and no. Sometimes I find myself doing certain things and it is women that are drawn to those things. There are also times I do deliberately go out of my way to empower women and girls because I can relate to them better. I am also a mother of three girls. I guess God always knew what he was doing.
What does 2023 look like for Ronke Giwa-Onafuwa?
Very busy! I actually have a new book coming out this year. It’s for children and the first of a series called ‘Lulu Learns’ (Life lessons for children).
I will also be spending time mentoring and being mentored, Taking courses to expand my knowledge, consulting for young media outfits etc. God help me. I am still here and very present on social media @RonkeGiwa1 for those who miss me.