From radio presenter to broadcast trainer: Fola Folayan wants to raise the bar for broadcast journalism in Nigeria
For thirteen years, Fola Folayan worked as a radio host in Nigeria; fulfill various roles as a content producer, presenter and news anchor in various media organizations across the country. But she wanted more.
She wanted to develop talent for the broadcast industry and, in her own words, “raise a generation of professionals capable of operating in a rapidly changing media landscape.”
The 21st century is already seeing fundamental changes in broadcasting. The public is no longer limited to listening to the radio at the times and places dictated by the broadcasters, or on the radio “sets”.
According to Fola Folayan, broadcasting in the 21st century has evolved with digital technology, and this evolution has resulted in changes in programming, content, broadcast and audience engagement. Nigerian audiovisual media are also rapidly embracing the digital space through online radio platforms, podcasts and V-logs; and that’s why she founded the Broadcast Radio Master Class (BRMC) to prepare broadcast professionals to deal with these changes.
“Our mission at BRMC is to expose our students to the opportunities available on digital platforms and to teach how broadcasters can diversify to become entrepreneurs, seeking to develop the next innovative sites, products or services.
The BRMC training program is designed to prepare our students for the realities of today’s media industry. Each course has been carefully selected and prepared by experienced broadcasters, to provide not only theoretical knowledge, but also hands-on experience of real-life broadcast situations. said Fola.
Media training with impact
In August 2015, Fola Folayan launched the Broadcast Radio Master Class (BRMC) as a one-day workshop and networking event for aspiring broadcasters and media enthusiasts.
The first workshop took place in the conference room of the Best Western Hotel Island Hotel in Victoria Island Lagos. Speakers came from major Lagos radio stations and the event had a turnout of 200 people. Similar events took place in 2016 and 2017; it had become evident that there was a knowledge gap in the broadcasting industry that needed to be addressed.
BRMC then expanded the program and developed a weekend-only class to accommodate a number of students.
In 2019, an average of 30 students registered per session and 3 sessions were held per year.
Over the past 3 years, BRMC has successfully trained over 400 aspiring presenters and helped facilitate internships and employment for some of these interns. It has become one of the best training centers for audiovisual journalists in the country; offering courses like content research, story telling and digital surveys.
Before BRMC, there were hardly any private institutions catering to the specific needs of broadcasters and often taking a head start in broadcasting, involving either an internship at a radio station or training with the Nigerian Institute. journalism.
BRMC uses a mentor-apprentice learning model. Classes are flexible and are modified to fit the schedule of enrolled students who are sometimes people with day jobs outside of the media space. At the end of the course, students receive a certificate and are linked with partner media organizations for an internship program of at least two weeks.
From radio presenter to media trainer
Folayan first thought of The Radio Master Class when she was a host at the Nigerian Social and Political News and Discussion Station; 99.3 Nigeria Info FM where she pioneered radio. According to her; it was an avenue to “accommodate all those who kept asking me for opportunities to sit with me in the studio, do an internship or help them get started.” I thought the best way to help is to create a platform where they can learn the basics and through that learning be exposed to the opportunities they are looking for ”.
The one-day seminars were popular and successful; Judging by the number of people who signed up each time it took place, but according to Folayan, they weren’t enough. She realized that if she is serious about making a lasting impact in the broadcast industry, a more deliberate and structured learning platform needs to be created.
“The global media landscape is changing very rapidly and unfortunately our schools do not produce graduate students in journalism / communication who are able to integrate and function optimally in this new landscape. ” She said.
“I engaged and interacted with mass communication graduates from several public universities across the country and it became very clear that an incredibly high percentage of these graduates cannot be directly absorbed by media organizations. . They are simply not prepared with the skills required. Sure, they know all the definitions in the manual, but they have no idea how to get the job done. Many of them have never even been in a radio or television studio in their four years of studying mass communication, ”Folayan added.
It was while reflecting on this that she decided to create a learning program based on the practical realities of daily broadcasting in Nigeria. Working with colleagues Nelly Kalu (a seasoned facilitator, fact-checker and media researcher) and Tony Onwechekwa (a media content producer), the courses were designed to teach BRMC students the specific skills they would have. need to be effective broadcasters.
“People sometimes call BRMC to ask for voiceover lessons and other speaking related lessons and I’m always very quick to point out that we don’t teach that. While these courses are excellent and very useful, at BRMC our priority is the most professional and efficient content and delivery of that content. BRMC for now, is not the place to learn to speak English from the Queen; This is where you learn to generate ideas, work on those ideas, and convey them in smart and engaging radio conversations. That’s why our curriculum includes courses such as show preparation, content research, interview skills, and storytelling, ”said Folayan.
Folayan has big dreams for BRMC. Earlier in the year, the organization worked with the Goethe Institute on their LABO Radio project at secondary schools in Ogun and Lagos State, teaching the basics of broadcasting to upper secondary students in the part of the Goethe program. Fola says the experience opened her eyes to the possibilities of reviving press clubs in high schools across the state and even around the country.
“When I was a teenager, the press club saved me. This is where I learned what the news was about and where I started learning to read the news and write reports to read about the congregation, ” she recalls. “Press clubs can still do a world of good. Young adults can learn to channel their natural curiosity into collecting productive information, research, writing, and public speaking skills can be nurtured, and career paths can be shaped early on. I look forward to this next phase of the BRMC project, ”she enthuses.
Although BRMC is a social enterprise, funding projects like mentorship events and scholarships has not been a walk in the park. Fola Folayan heads what she described as “a small team of contract instructors and independent staff”. According to her, BRMC has not been able to secure any major development or sponsorship grants, but she is not discouraged as she hopes to continue contributing to the growth of the Nigerian audiovisual industry through the work of BRMC. .
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