Lumena Café in the morning is typically cold. The tranquil ambience is perfect for a light-hearted chat. On one of such mornings, during the wet September of 2019, Lerin Nicodemus and I occupied two of the seats in the coffee shop. We (almost) had the entire room to ourselves but we chose to sit close to the broad see-through glass of the Cafe, through which we watched the activities in Victoria Island pick up after a heavy pour down, as we discussed her.
Lerin is the happy, hippy female voice that greets early risers during the ”Morning Drive” show on Rhythm FM Lagos. A mass of Lagosians tune in for a daily dose of the positive vibe that Lerin exudes on the show, which she describes as ”companionship designed to keep the listeners excited about the day.” It is the perfect day starter for city people like Austin who listens during his ride to work. He told me, ”I tune in to the show on my way to work. It sort of completes my mornings.”
The evidence of Lerin’s warming effect is there – in her friendly demeanor and her contagious smiles. ”I love to laugh. I don’t consider myself a standup comedian but I love to make people laugh”, she said. There is actually no lie in it; Lerin loves laughing. She laughed as she discussed the happenstance that led her to radio show hosting. She laughed as she narrated her grim ordeal in the hands of a supposed Samaritan who would not keep his hands to himself even after she rejected his help out of suspicion. Even when I asked her, ”demonstrate to me how you do it (make people smile).” She simply reminded me that she is not Bovi, again, smiling as she uttered her words.
Most people have come to realize that ”have fun on the job” is often just a wishful statement, particularly in Nigeria where the labour market is an undefined place crowded with people finding anything at all to call a job. In all this, Miss Nicodemus enjoys the uncommon experience of fun on her job; her three years of radio experience brings her more fulfilment than the four ”long, hard” years plus the months of strike, which she spent studying Accounting in Niger Delta University. ”I feel time literally stops when I’m in the studio”, she told me.
Once Lerin is on air, and she has the ears of her audience, days become nights, and nights turn into mornings. She is raw, free energy that is never depleted, plus she’s eloquent and vast with knowledge – current and historical affairs. During our chat, Lerin theorized the outlandishness of her surname and why it is a thing for natives of her state – Bayelsa. ”I think when the Portuguese or British came to Nigeria at first, they went to the brass area where there is oil and stuff. I think the cultural exchange that happened there has something to do with the names.” ”I know of a man called Valentine, his wife’s name is Esther, and they named their child, Christmas.”
At this point, Lerin had successfully brought out the laugher in me. I was laughing hard and I wasn’t even at AY Live. This is one of the qualities that has been working for Lerin since her nascent days at Radio Nigeria, and even now that she is the ”tiny talker” on one of the leading stations in the country. Our chat of about an hour seemed like a few minutes of gists and bants. In between, Lerin repeatedly mentioned her mom, who initially rejected the idea of singing and acting for a career, and was unsure about radio show hosting, but is now her ”number one cheerleader.” The two possible turning points for her mom, as Lerin said, happened, either “when I sent her the first significant money after I got the radio gig” or “when she realized that this is talent and I was able to get this without the certificate I went to study for in school.”
The best and the worst have happened in Lerin’s career but the ambition and passion has not diminished one bit. If anything, she has added more along the way as she eyes the entrepreneurial road that would see her own a creative agency that would serve as a platform for her many dreams of singing, hosting shows on television, advertising and more. But it is one step of growth at a time for this dream-chaser. ”The journey has been interesting. Now, I just want to enjoy the process of creating so I don’t look back and regret missing out on all the incredible things along the way.” “I’m just working on getting better while I’m having fun.”
This article was written by Ibironke Oluwatobi. He tweets via: @ibironketweets