|Posted by Admin on April 4, 2017 at 6:15 AM|
Progress Radio FM, the first privately-owned radio station in Gombe State, was established by a broadcaster, Alhaji Ibrahim Biu, who is its Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer. In this interview, he explained the reason behind setting up the station, challenges faced since its official commissioning on February 8, 2016 among others.
CEO MD Progress Radio FM Gombe
Alhaji Ibrahim Dan Madamin Biu
What informed the name Progress Radio?
It was five years ago that I decided to set up a radio station in the North-Eastern part of Nigeria being that I am a radio person for the past 30 years. I strongly believed that there was need to have a media outfit from this part of the country, to empower our youths and enlighten the citizens in politics, economic development and agriculture, because if we don’t do that, the North-East will continue to be backwards. I considered this very important. I decided to name it ‘Progress’ because we should progress from where we are to where we should be.
The geo-political zone is blessed with abundant land and intellectuals. If we continue to be backwards, definitely we will be moving into darkness that could be worse than Boko Haram. I strongly believed that with a media outfit like Progress Radio, we can go higher and higher. The station is on air for only a year but has impacted tremendously on the people in the area of education, women empowerment, youth empowerment and politics.
We are currently facing economic recession in the country. How were able to run the station despite the recession?
Unfortunately, we came at the time when the economy of the country is in a bad shape. But with determination and commitment, we are able to move on. It is not easy to pay salary, electricity bills, to fuel our generator, but we thank God we are still moving.
Yes there are adverts but the economy of the North-East is in a bad shape. You can’t compare it with Kano, Kaduna or Lagos. The little we got from adverts, we use to buy diesel daily. We are spending at least N20, 000 daily on diesel, because we cannot rely on the public electricity supply. It is very painful to me if we go off air even for a minute, so we make sure our generator it is always ready. In the area of adverts is not much but we are working hard and moving on.
How do you come up with your programmes?
I have worked in the radio industry for over 30 years. I have worked with DW Hausa and VOA Hausa as a broadcaster and editor and after putting all these working experience, I came back to Nigeria and worked in the public service. I was head of the Public Relations Unit of the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC), during which I worked with so many media organisations. So I put up years of my experience in these places and came up with the quality programmes that will educate and entertain the audience.
Also, before we came on air, we spent two months on test transmission. We will just assume that we are on air and listen to ourselves, criticize ourselves and make corrections. So the two months gave us the opportunity to rectify our problems and mistakes.
How was the journey since commissioning the station in February 2016?
The journey was rough but interesting. The good side is that we have listeners from all over the zone. Also 80 per cent of our programmes are call-in to let our listeners participate and be involved. We want the audience to be part of what we are doing, so that when there is a mistake, they would draw out attention to them.
Our major challenge in the last one year is that we don’t get a lot of advertisements. Also whenever people come to place advert, they ask for discounts. Also people thought it is a government-owned station. So they want to come and place advert or run programme for free. Unlike public-owned media organisations where government paid salaries and the management run the stations, here we pay our staff as well as run the station.
What is the relationship between the station and the state government?
The relationship is cordial. I have been saying it that the state governor, Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo, is very supportive and realized that the station is helping in the development of the state. If I may quote him, he said ‘When I joined politics, I knew that I can be praised and can be criticized.’ But I assure all politicians in the state irrespective of party affiliations, that in that the station we will always allow room for constructive criticisms. We cannot allow someone to come to the station and insult people just because of politics.
Which programme do you think sells the station more?
We have so many programmes, especially current affairs. We have ‘Tumbin Giwa,’ where we discuss issues around the globe. There is ‘Kowa Ya Debo Da Zafi’ which is a political programme which I learnt many people liked because it gives the politician the opportunity to showcase their programmes and other activities. But we always emphasized that whoever comes should outline his agenda not just criticize their opponents. We always encourage people to discuss issues not just mere politicking. So, I can say ‘Tumbin Giwa’ is our best programme.
Apart from English and Hausa which other language do you broadcast in?
When we started the radio station, what was on my mind was how to reach out on everybody. In the North-East, we have over 50 languages, but most people speak Hausa, so we said 80 per cent of our programmes will be in Hausa. But we also have other people who are residing in the state and cannot speak Hausa, so we decided that 15 per cent of our programmes should be in English. Also in our host state, Fulfulde is widely spoken, so we decided to give five per cent to Fulfulde. So with these three languages we believe we can cover the entire zone and attract listeners.
Where do you see Progress FM in the next five years?
We are trying to go into television because in the whole North-East I think there is only one home-based private owned TV station, the Gotel TV in Yola, Adamawa State. So, the National Broadcasting Commission, (NBC), is encouraging me to apply for a TV license but we are in the period of economic recession. So, for now, we are focusing to get Progress FM on a solid foundation. But in the future we are planning to open a TV station and put it on a high standard.