Lack of competition made one TV station to win best news station for 13 years —Adeleru-Balogun, OAP

Tolulope Adeleru-Balogun is an On-Air-Personality (OAP) with Nigerian Info 99.3, where she has now spent six years. Having practised broadcasting for over a decade, the delectable and award-winning broadcaster speaks with Newton-Ray Ukwuoma about her professional journey and successes.Excerpts:
How was your first day on air?

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It was in the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) Ogbomosho as an intern. I had to read the news at 7pm but I was so nervous and I did not even know how many mistakes I made that night (laughs). From NTA Ogbomosho, I went to serve in Abuja with St. Crowther Radio. So, it was my friend that told me to go for a broadcasting competition, which I won. The day I finished service was the day I started my official job at Cool FM Abuja.

I was there for few months after which I moved to ITV Abuja where I worked for about a year before moving to NN24 working for three years. It was really a learning curve experience for me. I now moved to Nigeria Info where I have been for six years. I started with Nigeria Info, the 1st talk radio. I will be seven years with them in November.

You won the ELOY Broadcaster of The Year 2013. How did you feel?

I was surprised when I won the Broadcaster of the Year because I was up against well-known broadcasters. I think I deserved it.

What did you give up to get to where you are now?

It is a sacrifice of time. That’s probably all I can say because I like my privacy.

Are there things people don’t know about you?

Of course, yes.

Give us three.

People don’t know that I am a good archer. I can clean a rifle and put it together. Secondly, people don’t know I am a horrible dancer (laughs). People don’t know that I am always scared of not being successful.

Did you school in Nigeria?

Yes. I got my first degree here, studied Mass Communication. After attending high school in the United States, I came back to Nigeria and I applied for law in a Nigerian university but I was admitted to study Mass Communication at Bowen University in Iwo.

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What is your position in your family?

I am the youngest of four children, all girls. I was born and raised partly in Ogbomosho, Oyo State. My dad is a Reverend and a Doctor, while my mum is a teacher. She teaches Home Economics. I grew up in the church and in the kitchen and with my three older sisters.

With older sisters, how was growing up?

It was fun. My immediate elder sister is 8 years older than me. So, as you can imagine I was the baby of the family. We went on holidays together and I go to party with my sisters. The first five years of my life, I stayed in Nigeria after which my family moved to the United States and that was where I spent the rest of my life till I came back to Nigeria between 2002 and 2003. My family is quite cool because it was fun.

Who taught you most of the things you know?

My dad. I learnt most of the things I know from him, at least he started the education. For instance, the things my dad did when I was younger helped and prepared me for broadcasting. When he was taking me to school, we had to listen to the news. My dad also made me read the newspapers out loud to him because I used to talk very fast when I was younger but he would make me repeat myself until I slow down. I feel like my dad is one of the reasons why I am doing what I am doing now. Whether he knew it or not, he was preparing me.  I have been blessed to have numerous opportunities to be trained. I have trained with CNN, Aljazeera and BBC. I had a three-week fellowship with CNN. One of the things that helped me is constant training.

How is working with Nigeria Info?

It is challenging, it is fantastic because no day is ever the same. There is always something different, there is always an update. We joke among ourselves because there is a lot of perception from different people. We talk about things that revolve around politics.

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How do you cope with the morning programmes?

I have been doing Morning Cross Fire since I started with Nigeria Info. It is a premium programme running from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. daily. On the
morning issue, we talk politics, entertainment, social and everything concerning Nigeria. I make sure everything is good from ‘Rise to Wisdom’ to ’All Issues’. I have interviewed many people. I have interviewed Alhaji Lai Mohammed. I have interviewed Dakuku Peterside. I interviewed Richard Quest when he came to Nigeria. I had an interesting interview with Asari Dokubo to name a few.
But how do you connect with your listeners?

The station does outside broadcasting where we literally take what is happening in the studio to the streets. We have been doing that for about two years now but I am not too active on the social media. I am not one of the well-known faces in broadcasting and that is fine with me. Because of what the social media is like now.

Do you have role models?

I have to say my number one role model is my mother and my family in general. My family has always worked very hard for everything we have gotten. The media mogul, Oprah Winfrey is my role model. She is a good role model because she is someone that has been in the media and her name and reputation speaks for her even though she doesn’t own a TV or radio station. One of my mentors is Khadijat Akanbi. She is the very first person I worked with. She mentored me and I am looking forward to mentoring young people coming into broadcasting.

How do you cope with your marriage and career?

The work is not hard. One of the best things is that I married my man. My husband is very supportive. I thank God my husband fully supports me. My husband’s name is Rotimi Balogun and he is a Sales Trainer and Expert. We have been married for four years now. Sometimes when I don’t want to do things, he pushes me to do them and even to make contact with people. I have never had to doubt that he is in support of my career. I have a great nanny, she is fantastic and I have a child that is stress-free. My in-laws are fantastic too. I work from Monday – Saturday but I am encouraging my intern to take over Saturdays so we can build the next generation of broadcasters.

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Are there things you want to do that you haven’t done?

I want to travel. I want to go to Jamaica and Dubai again. I want to go Bungee jumping and horse riding. I want to meet Oprah Winfrey. I want to write a book.I want to go back to television broadcasting and I think the sector is growing but there should be more competition. I don’t think there is competition in the industry presently when only one channel is the best for the past thirteen years for TV news channel. Competition is great for everyone. It keeps you on your toes.

What are your thoughts about the media industry?

We have to grow.  I attended BBC training not long ago and it gave me more hunger and ideas to succeed. The media industry is trying and we have come a long way but there is so much more for us to do. When the BBC trainer was talking, I was like wow, we are very unprofessional if we look at the way we do things in Nigeria, and it will be classed as unprofessional in other places. So, I think we need more professionalism. The industry needs training, managers of broadcast stations need to expose their staff to training but even if the companies don’t do the training, individuals should train themselves. It helps the quality of your production.

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