Ebony skinned Adedoja Allen is the new MD/CEO of City FM, the radio station that prides itself as being ‘For Tomorrow’s People’. Married to Akinsola and blessed with two boys, she spent a cool afternoon with YES INTERNATIONAL! Magazine’s AZUH ARINZE at the pent house of Eleganza Plaza, on Billings Way, Oregun Industrial Area, Oregun, Lagos, days back.
Can we meet you?
My name, as you know, is Adedoja Allen. I went to the University of Ibadan. I read Mathematics. I came out with a 2:1. I served at Shell Petroleum Development Company, that’s SPDC, Marina and then I went on straight to do my Master’s in the U.K. I went to Aston University in Birminghan, that’s outside London. I did my Master’s in Business and Information Technology and when I finished, I started my career in Accounts with BBC London. I left BBC and went to another company called Ferrero UK. They make the Roches, the chocolates. They are a confectionery company and they have a name in the confectionery industry. And then I went on to work as the management accountant at a telecoms company called Greenland Interactive. I got married in the U.K and then I decided to relocate to Nigeria. I got head-hunted from the U.K back to Nigeria by a company called ARM, investment managers, in Ikoyi. I worked in the funds/accounts department and then I became the head of the unit and I resigned from there to take up this employment.
Tell us about your family.
Okay! I got married to my lovely husband as I call him – Akinsola Allen. I met him in the U.K. He’s been living in the U.K all his life and we got married in 2004. We have two lovely boys – Akinbowale and Akinwunmi. Now, we’ve both relocated to Nigeria.
What exactly are you doing at City FM, what is your mission at City FM?
When I came in, what the Board of Directors asked me to put on my laps, is to reposition this station and generate revenue for them. They want me to grow the station, reposition the station as a top radio station in Lagos and expand to other cities in Nigeria and by the grace of God, even have a connection with a radio station abroad.
So, how far have you gone with that assignment?
I’ve been here for 3 months. I started by rebranding the image of the station, the logo, you know, general rebranding of the station. So, we’ve managed to rebrand, we’ve changed the logo, we’ve changed the station identity, we’ve changed the slogan; we managed to change all that. We have also changed the programmes, we’ve changed the music, we have gotten new, extra presenters, new hands, we are planning a launching of the station at the Oriental hotel and the aim of the launching is to create awareness, because what I’ve realized that we lack is awareness. So, one of the marketing strategies that I am adopting is to create awareness for the station by getting people together, the relevant bodies in the media, entertainment and showcase our programmes, promote ourselves, sell ourselves, tell them what we are, who we are and what we have to offer and then for them to buy.
When is the launching coming up?
It’s in June, but we haven’t fixed a date yet.
Why would anyone leave a station that he’s already in love with for City FM?
Because City FM has a new flavor, we are a youth-oriented station, our presenters are young and we are creative. You need to tune in to the station to listen to it. For example, you need to listen to our morning belt. It’s a flavor of comedy; different types of arts. It’s one presenter presenting himself as four or five different persons in that space of four hours. So, you should tune in to the station and listen to us. We play good music, we have good programmes, we have good sports programmes. Generally, like I said, we are rebranding. So, when you tune in to City FM everyday, you are going to get a new flavor everyday.
Which of your programmes would you recommend to a first timer?
All the programmes are interesting, but obviously, it depends on the type of radio listener you are. If you are a morning person, as some people do say that they like to listen to radio on their way to the office, then I would ask you to listen to it in the morning on your way to work…
What programme specifically?
It’s called The City Bright Plus Show. It starts by 6 O’clock and ends by 10 O’clock. We start by giving you a wake up call, just to pamper you, get off the bed, start your day on a lighter note and the rest of it. Make your prayers and then we get into the day, you listen to the news, no, there’s a morning devotion first. There’s a holiday aspect which tells you about good holiday places to visit around the world. Even in Nigeria. Then we move on to newspaper headlines, then sports, then we have health tips. Like I’d said, the presenter poses as different characters. There are two or three different comedy parts in the morning. There’s a game show part that comes in maybe three times before it finishes. We call it Five Questions. It allows you to win money. You can call in every hour from that 6 O’clock till 10 O’clock when the presenter finishes. I mean, you just have to listen to it. I’m sure that when you listen to it, you will find it interesting, because I myself I look forward to it every morning on my way to work.
What has been your greatest achievement in the last three months?
In the last three months, I have achieved to a large extent some of my goals. I’ve started to reposition the organization and I have seen impact. When I took over in February, people didn’t know City FM. Today we have increased our listenership base, we have increased our facebook followers and our twitter followers. We have managed to create awareness for the station. Now, quite a lot of people that said oh, we didn’t know City FM will no longer say that. Now, they know us and I can tell from our pockets, from our books. The revenue has gone up in the last three months.
What was the greatest challenge you met when you arrived here?
The greatest challenge that I met when I took over was low morale of the staffers because of the challenges of breaking into the industry. Obviously, it’s not an easy thing. When they are talking about the top radio stations and City FM is not counted as part of it. But yes, I mean, it’s a challenge that I know that we will surely overcome and we are on our way to overcoming it.
What gives us that unwavering belief that you are going to make it in your saturated market?
Well, God chose me to be in this position, I did not choose myself. I didn’t apply for the job, I just got called to interview for it and I was successful. So, I know that for God to have brought me this far, it’s very certain that He’s gonna back me up and ensure that I’m successful at it.
At end of your tenure as the MD of City FM, what legacy would you like to leave behind?
My integrity; I don’t joke with my integrity. Professionalism, hard work and success. A good name.
Besides City FM, which other stations do you listen to?
Oh, I listen to Classic FM; I like one or two of the presenters in Classic FM and I like the music because it’s targeted at my own demography. We, City FM, targets the youths, the 16 – 35. But Classic FM targets the upwardly mobile, maybe from 30 – 50; I don’t know the demography. But me, I listen to Classic FM. I’ve listened to Beat FM, I’ve listened to Wazobia FM.
The top three radio stations now, what edge do you think they have over you and what are you doing to level up with them?
I think they are doing what they are doing right. The likes of Cool FM, Beat FM, Naija FM, Classic FM, yeah, they are doing their stuffs obviously, but I’m going to give them a run for their money. I know that we will definitely be among the three top radio stations very shortly, by the grace of God.
Away from work, what do you do for relaxation?
Just hang out with my friends. I don’t watch movies, go to parties when there are parties, hang out with my friends and families. There’s even very little time to do that because I’m very busy, having one meeting or the other, even outside work. I have one meeting or the other just to ensure we get what we want. But the little time that I have, I try to spend with my family, my friends.
Who are the people you look up to?
Successful people in Nigeria and abroad. Anybody, I’m not gonna call names, but just anybody that is successful, be it a pastor, be it a political person, any form of leader that is successful, that has made a good name for him or herself. Those are the kind of people that I look up to. Or aspire to become like.
What are your strengths, what are your weaknesses?
My strength? I’m a goal-getter, I don’t take no for an answer. If I have a vision, I run with it and I ensure that I get what I’ve set ahead of me. My weakness? Hmm! I don’t know. I have weaknesses, but I can’t think of any now. But yes, they are there. If I try to do something and I’m not getting it done, it’s not coming forth, yes, the discouragement creeps in. But again when I seek strength from the Lord, I’m on my feet again.
Who is your closest friend and what does friendship mean to you?
My good friends that I chat with, that we really talk are Toyin Shofoluwe, Funmi Edgar, Lola Shanu. Those are my three buddies actually. We hang out, we do naughty stuffs together, we laugh, we fight, we gist, we share each other’s pains. In the last couple of years, we’ve all had challenges in one way or the other that we’ve been believing God for and somehow, we went through all together. Yes, they are my buddies.
What singular thing would you say has gotten you where you are today?
God! Believe you me, it’s the grace of God. Not meaning to sound religions, but I must definitely give honour to whom it is due. I’m a Christian, I’m a believer and I know that as I always call God, He’s the lifter of my head. He has been my strength, He has been my source, He has been my support, He has been my help. I’m not deserving of where I am today, I am not deserving to be the MD of any organization, because I’ve never been one before, but obviously, we all know that promotion comes from the Lord. He has found me worthy to be in this role and I owe Him all glory. He brought me this far. All glory to Him, it’s not by my power or by my might. It’s nothing about me, it’s all about Him.
NB: First published December 2013