The Nigerian entertainment and media industry is complex in a peculiar way. However, the radio industry is a different kind of complex, particularly for those who are not on the inside. While the entertainment sector in general is growing into international stature and the radio industry remains an influential part of this process, there’s little evidence of growth in terms of emergence of new radio faves. One of the unicorns in the industry in recent times is Seyebomi Ademuyiwa Adeniran Ogunsanya – the one people call – Sheye Banks, and sometimes, “the Alte OAP.”
Sheye Banks is many things in one: an on-air personality, a video jockey, an event host, a voice-over artist, a podcaster, an artist, a multimedia entrepreneur and a former talent manager. All these: one man. Sheye Banks has been in and around the entertainment space since around 2010, when he found interest in radio broadcasting during his trip to the hospital for a relative, in the UK. “My passion for radio started when I was in this hospital. I saw somebody speaking at the community radio at the hospital, and that was when it just triggered in me”, he told me.
After the experience, Sheye returned to Nigeria with a new goal. “I came back to Nigeria and was angry because a lot of people don’t support good music on the radio. I felt like I can talk like these guys. Then, I felt radio presenting was just about talking but later realized that it’s not only about talking, but it’s also about knowing what you are saying”, he said. “I was young and angry, and just wanted to do something. So, I got on the radio, but it took a long time for me to get on the mic.”
Ironically, Sheye Banks was studying Mathematics and Statistics in the University of Lagos at the time. You’d expect him to be practicing and perfecting his knowledge of Mathematical Induction but Sheye was more into the campus radio, Unilag FM, gig that he got at the time. This, he did before leaving Lagos to join Kiss FM, Abuja. He moved to the Lagos arm of the station after a while and this is where he took the inch and pushed it into a race of a mile. He is at Sound City Radio now, flourishing like a fine flower.
“Thank God we don’t look like what we have been through.” He didn’t use this exact words but he inferred it in his long narration about the challenges of industry politics and underpayment. It took Sheye three long years of swimming the troubled waters before he got the chance to sit before the mic and speak. “I say this to a lot of senior colleagues in the industry who say that a lot of OAPs do not know what they are doing on the radio, I put it to them that how many young people have they put on”, he let the pain burst.
Indeed, every now and then, stories of industry politicking in the radio space seeps through the cracks in the wall to the public ear. Sheye confirmed these rumors. He said, “the industry used to be thing of ‘I am a god, people out there are listening to me.’” “But right now the industry is evolving and opportunities can now be taken, based on merit.” He opened up further, “it took me three years to get my voice heard and I know all of the godfatherism and other things I had to face getting in the media.” “Eventually, I got my first shot. I’d say the experience drove me and even gave me that consistent passion for continuing and getting what I wanted.”
“There are times when people displace you. It is a journey and sometimes you have to keep pushing with a lot of strength. Just take whatever comes and make sure you bounce back from that and don’t let your background put your back on the ground.” Sheye still has the never-back-down spirit of his early career days even now that he is a recognized name. “I wasn’t getting paid much at first. There was a time when I moved to Abuja, I was working two jobs; as a marketing executive and my radio gig at Kiss FM Abuja. Before then, while at Unilag FM, I was doing events. I was making music and was also a publicist. I did PR for a couple of brands, barbing salons, and companies that needed PR. That was just what was keeping me going. And my family was also supportive.”
Sheye’s resolve is made of steel and copper, and he had a family to lean on but these didn’t stop him from wanting to quit a few times when the heat of the industry got to him. He told me, “before joining Sound City, I was actually at a point in my life where I felt like, ’you know what let’s give room for other people to get on the mic.’” And before that, I had trained some people. I was going to take a break from radio to do some other things with my life; try to learn more and grow more because I felt like I wasn’t growing. But this came. It has been in the works for a long time. The opportunity came and it was perfect. It was right for me. It is the right platform for me to stay consistent at what I do.”
Pieces of the puzzle started to form just at the tipping point. Sheye said, “I was looking at the work I was putting in. It felt like nothing was coming out of it. Senior colleagues abused me. I was underpaid. I was nursing the feeling of needing more. I felt undervalued and it made me a little insecure. I had to tell myself that I’m better than that. I had to work on myself, pick myself up and got back up.”
Sheye’s study kit did not include books or manuals but listening to the likes of Sway, Charlemagne, Funmi Iyanda, Mo Abudu, Olisa Adibua. “I didn’t get the chance to learn from them directly. I had to learn off the internet and do researches on my own. I just had to learn myself by watching other people indirectly”, he said. The careers of some of his idols have inspired him to look beyond the sessions on-air to dream of becoming one of the leading CEOs in West Africa. Sheye Banks is serious about impacting lives with his brand and vision. He told me, “It is about reaching out. It is about helping people and making sure people are happy and feel inspired by my journey.”
This article was written by Ibironke Oluwatobi. He tweets via: @ibironketweets