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

by Tope Adeboboye

Power of the radio

To the gangling man of words, the temporary closure of OGBC 2 was quite unexpected. “But you know the elite were used to seeing the radio operate in a particular way, which is doing the bidding of the government of the day. The newspapers earned their freedom being combative, right from the colonial days. And again, you have to be able to read in order for you to benefit from any information contained in newspapers. Radio doesn’t require that. So because of the awesome power of the radio, the British refused to have private radio in any of their colonies. And that situation persisted until Babangida came to break the jinx. To start a radio, all we need is little equipment and from where we are sitting now, we will be broadcasting to all the corners of the earth. Television requires much more human and material resources.”

Ekisola later quit his job at OGBC to become the pioneer GM of Ray Power radio, a brainchild of wealthy businessman, Dr Raymond Dokpesi who he met through Kenny Ogungbe.

“Kenny is Chief Dokpesi’s brother in-law. Kenny and I have been very close for a long time. When Kenny was living in the US, whenever he came to Nigeria, within 24 hours, he would be in Abeokuta to see me. Kenny is also part of the OGBC story. Even at that time, Kenny loved music so much, so I’m not surprised that he later set up Kennis music. As I said, when you love doing something, you no longer regard that thing as work. It becomes fun. So, there’s been some rumour that Babangida was trying to open up the space to allow private radio. And I think Kenny has been talking to Chief Dokpesi about it. So I was in Abeokuta when Kenny came to see me. He said, egbon, that thing we’ve been talking about, I think we will start soon. So come and meet Dr Raymond. I met Dr Dokpesi, we discussed and I went back to Abeokuta and got my people together. We wanted to do what no radio station had done before. We started brainstorming realizing that no radio station was running 24 hours. So I told him, Chairman, can we get a transmitter to run 24 hours? And he said, sure. That was how Ray Power started.”

Which of those places would he consider the most challenging? “Ray Power”, he promptly replies, dropping a grape into his mouth. “In fact, of all the places where I worked, it was the most challenging. When we started Ray Power, I think a lot of people did not expect us to survive. They were just waiting to see what would happen.”

Indeed, not long after the radio started, something did happen. Late dictator, General Sani Abacha had the station shut down for some time, dubbing it “illegal”. The management was however able to resolve the matter and the radio station came back on eight months later.

According to Ekisola, the team was passionately committed to the success of Ray Power. “We all carried blocks, including Dr. Dokpesi. Yes, this may surprise you. But Dr Dokpesi actually carried blocks. He is an unusual person. Having worked closely with him, I know he’s a visionary. An intuitive person. He has foresight. He saw the opportunity and took it. I learnt a lot working with him. And I don’t think it’s the money. I don’t think he’s making that much money from the place. So, at that time, all through the night, we would be there with those contractors doing the construction. We were passionate about the place. It was the first of its kind in Nigeria and we all regarded it as our baby. But you have to give Dokpesi the credit. If we have many Nigerians thinking like him, the country will start witnessing a big transformation.”

If Ekisola is this fond of Dokpesi, you wonder why he eventually dumped Ray Power. He pauses for a while, gazing at a place far beyond the present, a distant look on his face. From the barbecue grill where his two sons, Fela and Feyisola, tend the meat, a thick smoke curls up and evaporates into space as the pungent smell of roast beef assails the nose.

“At that point I had to leave Ray Power”, he says eventually. “At the time, I realized that certain things were not going as I thought. But we have since put all that behind us. We are very close now” he pauses a little. “Well, with the benefit of hindsight, now, at that time maybe I was just a little impatient and might have responded poorly. Maybe all that was needed was just for both of us to sit down and talk.”

Any regrets then? “Oh no! No regrets at all. If I had stayed, who knows what would have happened? Maybe I would have been dead by now. No, there are no regrets. I believe that I left Ray Power when it was time for me to leave.” And waxing philosophical, he adds: “For everybody in life, at some point, a man gets to his bus stop. And when you get to your bus stop, you have to leave.”

Thoughts on Nigerian media

Ekisola doesn’t anticipate much camaraderie between the Nigerian elite and the press in the foreseeable future. “As long as you have a good story, the press will always step on somebody’s toes. And the elite will be irritated”. But he says the situation is getting better now than in his days as a broadcaster. He also believes there’s press freedom in Nigeria to a reasonable extent. “We used to think the American press is free. But when you come here and listen to sanitized news, the news that they want you to hear, then you will discover the press is not as truly free as you had imagined.”

From the doorway, Ekisola’s wife, Adenike, who he introduces as “your fellow Ekiti-kete, a former high school vice Principal in Abeokuta, now a registered nurse”, beckons to the broadcaster to wrap up the discussion, as more guests arrive. He studies his watch and nods, his looks telling you to hurry up.

Some label the Nigerian press as “too combative”. Would he agree? “If they say the press is too combative, have they sat down to look at the circumstances of its birth? The Nigerian press was born as an insurgent, and that is how it’s going to be. And indeed, the press is not combative. But you see, when you see somebody holding a red cup, and you are told not to say it, then you will want to ask, why shouldn’t I say it?”

How would he react to the sedition charges slammed on two reporters by the federal government? “I have been reading the news, but I don’t really know the details. I believe the government is just trying to flex some muscles. I believe they will do away with that case at the right time.”

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Segun Adeyi August 22, 2011 - 12:27 pm

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

My favourite DJ…Allllllllllleeeeeeeeeeeeeex Condi !

Segun Adeyi August 22, 2011 - 12:24 pm

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 !

Nicholas Awoyera February 13, 2011 - 12:33 am

I want Sesan to contact me. It has been a long time I spoke with me even during the days of my favorite DJ, Alex Conde.

Olowu September 4, 2010 - 11:36 am


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…………

mike July 23, 2010 - 4:28 pm

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

Mike Taiwo September 15, 2006 - 10:37 am

"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

SMJ August 21, 2006 - 3:04 am

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.

Femi Olawole August 19, 2006 - 6:14 pm

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!!


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