Interviews & Profiles

A Day with Olusesan Ekisola, Raypower FM's Pioneer GM

Early days

For the man who began an exciting career in broadcasting as a station manager in 1973, journalism has for long been a family passion. “My mum is a journalist,” he tells you. “As Lara Morel, she worked with the then Daily Service, the Daily Times at its Kakawa facilities, and she was editor of Woman’s World. My late uncle, Chief Bisi Onabanjo, former governor of Ogun State, was a journalist. So that might give you an idea of where I was coming from.”

Ekisola developed an interest in broadcasting early in life. He remembers with some nostalgia how in his elementary days he used to read to himself, mimicking the voices of popular on-air personalities of that era.

Ibadan

Eventually, the decision to become a broadcaster wasn’t without some pecuniary motive. Hear him: “I remember that my mum came back from France in 1973, and decided she wasn’t going to stay in the rough and tumble of Lagos. She wanted a quiet place. So she went to Ibadan and ended up at Radio Nigeria, Ibadan where she began presenting a woman’s programme, Homemakers. After my school days, I began work in one of the Federal ministries while my mum was in France. But the pay wasn’t too fantastic. I also wanted to work in the bank, but I couldn’t get in there, even though I had good grades and all that. But then, radio was also paying good salary. That was how I became a studio manager at Radio Nigeria, Ibadan where I met the likes of Yanju Adegbite, where we worked under the late Chief Ishola Folorunsho our then State Controller.”

Another great name he became acquainted with in Ibadan is that world renowned Nigerian writer, the late Amos Tutuola, who earned global acclaim with his classic, The Palmwine Drinkard.

“There are other great names in Radio Nigeria at that time. Some of these included Wale Falope, Araba Vincent, Kehinde Okusanya, Mrs. Sola Longe Oyetunde, Chief Adisa Balogun, Ms. Sola Stavely, Alhaja Bisi Kasumu, Kayode Oni, Tolu Fatoyinbo (Ta-Fat), Mathew Oyibo, Oyewole Olowomojuore, the highly talented Agboade Okedeji – a Yoruba news translator, Alhaji Egberoungbe in Department of Religion, Lekan Ladele in Drama Department and so many more,” he says.

What was the feeling like on his first day on air? “It was wonderful,” he intones. “I remember I recorded it and I would play it back a million times. But after a while, it became a part of you and you wanted more than that. You now started thinking of how to leave something in the hearts of people, something for people to remember you by. Radio Nigeria was a station that instilled discipline in you.”

After the regions were discarded and new states created, government workers were asked to proceed to their home states. Ekisola had to relocate to Abeokuta, capital of Ogun State, where a new radio station had just been started. Initially, though, it wasn’t a trip he really hungered for.

“Although I’m from Ijebu-Ode, I was a Lagos boy, born and buttered in Lagos. Coming to Ibadan was for a reason. Now leaving Ibadan for a totally new place like Abeokuta was going to be earthshaking. It wasn’t a place I would rather go if I had a choice. In fact, I stayed put in Ibadan, working as a freelance presenter. Then one day in Dugbe, I saw Chief Tunde Elegbede who later became the General Manager of OGBC. He called me and said, ‘Sesan, what’s your problem? They are waiting for you in Abeokuta.’ That was how I left.”

Abeokuta

Once in Abeokuta, Ekisola discovered that though the ancient rocky refuge of the Egba people wore a rustic face, it wasn’t the outmoded, stone-age village he had anticipated. On the contrary, he discovered a city rich in culture and history, full of sophisticated yet hospitable dwellers. And he fell in love. “On the surface, it wasn’t developed, but it was well-developed culturally, and the people were sophisticated. Remember that at a point, the judiciary was dominated by the Egba people.”

As he speaks, the house phone wouldn’t just stop ringing. He picks it up eventually and speaks briefly into the mouthpiece while you sip your mountain dew. He then explains that he’s hosting friends to a barbecue today, and the calls are from those seeking directions. You peep through the window and the weather outside seems blissful. And as if reading your mind, your host suggests that you relocate to the backyard, where the sun mildly shines upon the well nurtured lawns. The plastic chairs form a circle underneath a canopy on the grasses. A bowl of grapes and cherries sit on the floor. And to your right, a couple of youngsters busy themselves playing tennis.

You ask Ekisola, how, as a young presenter, he was able to cope with fame at that time.

“What the people knew was the name, not the face”, he tells you. “And one thing my mum kept emphasizing to me was that fame is good. But that you have to cherish it, defend it and protect it. Don’t just be jumping all over the place because very soon, you will become a nuisance all over town. So I had that at the back of my mind. I could stand in the market and no one would know who I was. And when my late uncle Chief Onabanjo became the Governor and he was trying to set up Ogun State Television, OGTV, he called me and offered me a position. But I told him I would rather stick with radio,” he says, throwing some cherries into his mouth.

“One thing that gave me away, to some extent, was that I had the only red Volkswagen Beetle in Abeokuta,” he chuckles. “Yes, there was fame all right. My name was everywhere. I had a very popular show. But I wasn’t the only one. There were other great people that I worked with. There were veteran radio and television icons like the late Otunba Yomi Onabolu,Chief Kunle Olasope, and the late Tunji Marquis of WNTV/WNBS fame, Seun Oyefeso, Willy Thomas, the late Felix Femi Fashina, Femi Sowoolu and many unsung but highly productive colleagues like the late S. Ade Ogunnusi. A lot of these names that you hear now, many of them passed through OGBC. People like John Momoh, Lola Fani-Kayode, Dele Alake, Eugenia Abu, Kenny Ogungbe, Peter Okodua, Segun Shy-shy Shyllon, the late Chief Toba Opaleye and many others.” As he mentions Toba, Ekisola’s voice falters, his cheerful brow wearing a melancholic mien. He shakes his head sadly. “May Toba’s soul rest in peace,” he prays. “Toba is someone who modernized the Yoruba language in a way that was fascinating. His shows were absolutely incredible. I went to see him in the hospital earlier in the year when I went home. He had emaciated so badly. I couldn’t believe that was the same Toba that I used to know. May his soul rest in peace.” Amen, you respond.

It’s amazing how this man can swing from mood to mood with considerable ease. “Abeokuta became my home,” he continues. “Up till now, I haven’t even left Abeokuta because most of my stuff is in Abeokuta. I’m accepted in Abeokuta. In fact, a lot of people believe I’m from Abeokuta. I was at an occasion in Washington D

C, and this musician was playing. And as soon as he saw me, he said, Ekisola, their son under the Olumo Rock. So all the Egba high chiefs and the immediate past Alake of Egbaland, they all accepted me as a son.”

OGBC 2 days

Ekisola became head of the newly created OGBC 2 when the F.M. station was carved out of OGBC. “Most of those guys were green at that time. But they took up the challenge. Initially, I was scared. There was Radio Nigeria 2 in Lagos, and then there was Radio Rivers. These were F.M. stations that were all over town at that time. So nobody gave us any chance. But with the dedication of the team, we were able to surpass expectations. Looking back now, I think the location of the station also helped us. Abeokuta was close to all the major cities around, Ibadan, Lagos, Benin. We were able to reach the power brokers.”

Indeed, during the tempestuous days of the June 12 political imbroglio, OGBC 2 became an effective medium for the opposition, eventually resulting in the sealing off of the station by gun-toting policemen sent by then dictator, General Ibrahim Babangida. Reflecting on those turbulent times, Ekisola says the fact that the central figure, late Bashorun MKO Abiola was an Ogun State indigene probably gave an emotional tinge to the June 12 affair. “There was a tremendous emotional attachment to Abiola being a son of the soil. If it was another radio station, maybe nobody would have paid us any attention.”

Looking back, Ekisola says working at OGBC was fun. “We were committed to its success. There were days we would stay in the studio all night. Some times, my wife used to bring my food at 2:00 am. But we didn’t regard it as work. We were simply having fun. And Ogun State radio became a household name all over Nigeria”

8 Comments

  1. Where is Alex Conde please ? These guys need good recognition NOW !!!

    My favourite DJ…Allllllllllleeeeeeeeeeeeeex Condi !

    Reply
  2. I won LOADS of records too on that same saturday morning program “Write it With Music”. I still have most of those vinyls in my bedroom in Oyo. Sesan was such a HIGHLY TALENTED radio presenter. I think he should be a consultant to State / Federal Government on the establishment of radio communications infrastructures. Yeah, I went on to study in Rivers State, and Radio Rivers FM was phenomenal. OGBC gave them a great run for their money however !

    Reply
  3. Ekiiiiiiiiiiiiii,

    I am sure you know who will pronounce your name like that, out of Chicago.

    I am very proud of you Eki and I thank God for your life.

    This was very interesting reading to me. It is early 6am Saturday morning and I just googled your name and this article, I mean three of them just showed up, and they were like sweet early morning coffee to me….They woke me up men…………

    Reply
  4. On Sesan’s program on OGBC, more than 30 years ago, I used to win records with “Write it with Music”…

    I still emember Sesan as being a highly talented presenter. Those were the days of Alex Conde

    Reply
  5. "Sir Eki" as we used to call him, Sesan Ekisola was two years my senior at "JOGS", Ijebu-Ode Grammar school. All I remembered of him before listening to his voice on OGBC FM2 was how during "literary and debating" he and other seniors would play different roles on what they would like to be when they become men. I am not sure, but I think his role then was that of a night soil man "Agbe po" which was very hillarious. I could hear him say, "when I become a man, a night soil man will I be". Today he isn't a night soil man but a man with a wealth of knowledge and ready to expand on whatever his horizon. This I believe he earned while passing through JOGS. I live in Lakeville, also a surburb of Minneapolis and I have encountered the veteran on many ocassions. I also want to advice brothers and sisters back home to think twice and listen before embarking on relocating abroad, not just the US. It isn't what you think. i have been there and I can relate to it.

    UP JOGS!!! Non Nobis Domine

    Reply
  6. Very refreshing. Olu–sesan…Ekisoola. Hmm OGBC news. Gone are those days at the University of Agriculture Abeokuta (UNAAB). Under the tree (Abegi) at the Isabo campus, you listen to the golden voice of Sesan Ekisola and others. Isabo area of Abeokuta city became a bubling part of the town with students from Lagos, Ibadan, east, and the north.

    Truly, Sesan Ekisola is one of those that make undergraduate life easy for those of us who like to listen to music. We study listen to Sesan's voice at the UNAAB Annex and at the main campus. When you hear the jingle that says "Olusesan Ekisola" in a feminine voice, be read to enjoy music whether you are at home or at the pepper soup joint at Onikolobo.

    When we left Nigeria, some of us still ask about him and heard that he was with Ray Power.When we visit, we change the station to hear Sesan.

    It's a surprise to hear that he finally joined us here in the United States, but we wish him all the best. Minneapolis will not be a good place for people of your caliber, New York or California will be a great place to live. There are more opportunities for people like you, all you need is to do some research and link with the right people.

    You are a great person and please we want to hear that voice again. Good luck and this is a nice piece.

    Reply
  7. I must say…at last…this is a wonderful article. I had been wondering when someone would write about or do an interview about this great communicator. Having known his professional antecedents, I was not surprised at all by his down-to-earth responses to questions and his philosophical attitudes to life. I was especially grateful for the candid advises he gave to those at home who see America as another paradise that they must come to at all costs—including quiting good jobs or prospects in Nigeria.

    And to the writer, thanks for a good job…please keep it up! You see…there are some of us Nigerians in the diasporas who are fed up with the daily menu of political articles and other balderdash that fill up the many Nigerian-oriented web sites these days. Most times, one can only wonder what's going on with those commentators going by their choices of articles and comments. We need something as refreshing as this article/interview…more so of a man with the type of experience as Olusesan Ekisola.

    Again, please keep it up!!

    Reply

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