Beat FM OAP Osikhena Dirisu Anslem mostly called by his radio name Osi Suave is Popularly known for his hilarious jokes and twitter bants but little is known of Osi’s life outside radio and his interest in politics.
Interviewed on Vibe.ng, Osi talks about his love for the radio, how he started, the feedback from his book, what inspired the book, his involvement in politics and what motivated it. In this interview, you get to meet Osi Suave in all shades.
Some people think you are Igbo because of the Osi, has anyone ever asked about it?
Yeah, I get that every time. My full name is Osikhena but a lot of people can’t pronounce it so it is easier to go with Osi. Some still spell it Ossy but it is spelt Osi which is like the short form of my name.
You do not seem to like your middle name a lot, why?
No, I don’t because everybody in my house has a very fun English name. My dad is Andrew, my mom is Marie, my sister is Amanda, my brother is Anderson, my other brother is Andrew and I am Anslem for some funny reason. I don’t just like it.
What part of your career did you decide to go with Suave?
It’s not like I decided to go with it, when I was in the University I used to do this magazine called “Suave magazine”, so people just attached it to my name and it stuck. So that was it more or less.
Talk us through your journey into radio
Growing up, I used to listen to the radio a lot and for the music, I used to be that guy in secondary school that people will come to ask what song was playing on the radio and if I knew the artist. Radios were illegal in my secondary school, so we used to sneak and listen. That was how it started and after secondary school, into the university, I decided to give it a shot and Rhythm opened in Benin so it was an opportunity. I was on a Saturday show called “Sold out” and I was on that for 2years. Then I came to Lagos, NYSC was at Rhythm in Lagos, then there was an opportunity for me to move to Beat FM after NYSC and I think Beat FM has been like 7years now.
Why Beat FM?
Beat FM is like the No1 urban radio station in the country, the crowd they cater to, the music they play, the people I work with and I think Beat FM has the most experienced group of broadcasters. So it is like an ideal opportunity for me to work with an amazing set of people and learn from them at the same time. So why not Beat FM?
Would you say digital media is a threat to traditional media?
I would say traditional media needs to evolve in that space as well. Digital media is now able to bring information closer to people, people do not have to go on TV or radio to know what’s happening, they just have to go on different sites to get updates, so now radio stations need to make provisions for people that are too busy and cannot listen, that is why we have podcast. People can decide to listen to an old post, we have a website and you can listen live from wherever. I think as we have the technology or as the media space evolves, all the players in that space need to also evolve.
What are the challenges you face daily as a broadcaster?
The fact that people want us to talk about what everyone is talking about, forgetting the fact that we have employers, clients, advertisers and listeners. So we always have to find a way to balance everything. The job of a broadcaster, first of all, is to be objective and to be able to constantly strike a balance so that everyone involved or listening would be satisfied. Besides that, the pressure to constantly evolve. You are on the radio so you have to know something about everything when talking about things, you have to come from a broad point of view. Research about things, read about things, so that leads to constantly being on your toes and at the top of your game.
What was the first foundation base in regards to your book?
When I ran my magazine in school, I used to almost write everything. It was like 70/80 pages and I used to write the whole thing, I used to come to Lagos to do all the interviews and it was weird because we had to write it out by hand. They were laptops but people would write by hand and get other people to type it out for them. I won’t say I am a professional writer but I just know how to express myself in words. So I tweet a lot, I see it as my mini diary. I think about two years back, I started tweeting trends every Thursday and I noticed people liked it and looked forward to it and I thought, why don’t I put it in a book? So I started, I stopped, I started again and stop. Because I need to be in a certain headspace to write properly. I got into a relationship and I thought there was no need to write because I felt I was in a great place and the booked mostly talked about past relationships. It wasn’t a great place so I kind of shelved it, then she broke up and I think that was the wake up I needed. So I used all that anger and emptiness to say, you know what? Let me just finish this.
Has any of the girls featured in the book called?
Oh yes, the problem right now is that there would be a problem if you are not telling the truth, and the thing about relationships is that there are always two sides. So I can say from this perspective and you might see from your own side. So I am telling my side of the story, but I have to take time carefully to make sure there was no slander, nobody was insulting anyone, it was more or less of me taking the blame as well. So yeah, a couple calls. So far, so good.
What issue stands out on twitter for you and why?
To be honest, I’ve stopped keeping tabs. But I think the one that really stood out for me was when we just started doing radio, when we started Beat FM and we started this “now playing”, and like I said before, we had to figure out a way to evolve and move with time, as regards to how the digital space evolves as well and when we would trend, it was a big deal at that time. I’m always quoted at context a lot of time because I might say something and mean something but you might hear it and understand it the other way, it has happened severally and to be honest yeah? I used to care before but not anymore because it is just a bunch of strangers trying to tell you how to live your life. I have a whole lot going on for me in real life than to focus on what people have to say on twitter, so I don’t pay it any mind.
Would you say bad publicity amounts to good publicity anyway?
Well, people say that so I guess. Then again, I’m not the one that goes out to look for publicity. I like to live my life as low-key as possible and when people say I’m popular or I am a celeb, I don’t really see myself as that. I just try to put my best foot forward first.
What is your stand on the “Nigerian OAPs have foreign accent” thing?
Well, the problem right now is that I do not know when speaking properly means you have an accent. Plus, a lot of OAPs were born and brought up abroad then decided to move back to Nigeria and it is weird when people think when you have an accent, you have a level of intelligence. At the end of the day, you should just be concise, speak and communicate clearly to the people you are trying to create a relationship with. So, it is just about your pronunciation, you tenses and at the end of the day it is called OAP, so it is about who you try to portray, the personality you try to portray.
You’ve been very involved in politics, how far have you gone and what informed your choice into politics?
Well, I believe everyone should be involved in politics because that is how you shape the future, that is how you elevate the conversations and that is how you put the right people in place. We don’t have to leave a set of people in politics. What drives politics and what drives society is policy. Policy, infrastructure and building institutions. I think it was where I use to live, we use to have a bad case of flooding. I found myself running around and reaching out to people, we had to dig the gutters, got a pumping machine to redirect the water and we had a local government chairman as well as an assemblyman in the community. We were doing what the government was supposed to do, I believe that when you are enough, you should have basic empathy and further down the road, there was this guy who was in the house of rep, in the morning he comes out with his convoy and drove through the flood because he had an SUV and he wasn’t bothered. I think that was one of the motivations. So, I think people should get involved, get into offices and make people feel like they have a voice, it might just start to change society.
Is there a process that governs what gets played and what doesn’t get played on the radio?
Like for where I work, there is something called the music committee, they sit down, listen and decide which song goes on. We also have concessions called fresh beat, it’s for upcoming artists, songs get played on a playlist and the listeners’ vote. The highest voted songs get playlisted.
Tell us about Osi by 2020, will there be more books?
Well, 2020 is two years so let’s see. I like to live a day at a time. About books, let’s see how well this one goes first. It has been doing well so far but let’s see