Broadcast journalist turned politician and now, media mogul, Senator Chris Anyanwu represented the Imo East Senatorial District for two consecutive terms between 2007 and 2015. Mrs. Anyanwu who owns Spectrum Broadcast Nigeria Limited, owners of Hot FM chain of radio stations was recently in Asaba for the commissioning of her latest radio station during which time she took time to speak on issues of national concern. Excerpts:
What is your assessment of the Buhari’s administration fight against corruption?
I think the idea of anti-corruption is very good. I think we got a little bit too extreme in our carelessness; in our practices, so there is need to apply breaks on what we do in the system and no society can survive in a situation where people can do anything and get away with anything. Corruption is everywhere and everybody is corrupt. So what he is doing is necessary, but he has to really make sure that his application is pure as he intended.
What is your take on the continued detention of Nnamdi Kanu?
I think this is a democracy and we do have a constitution; we have laws and whatever the law says should be applied. If the law says after a while, you should give a bail then it has to apply to him. I don’t think any special laws should be applied to deal with him.
Freedom of expression
This is why we talk about freedom of expression, when people don’t have an outlet for expressing their own opinion they do so through very violent means and all that. It is necessary to tolerate people with different views and argue sensibly and that’s what democracy is all about. Argue with people, reason with people, negotiate with them and you have better outcome that way rather than taking exception to people with different views.
I think that we should take a very close look on what is going on with that particular issue and make sure that it is handled in a better way. I think it could be handled in a better way.
As a follow up to that; what is your take on the Biafra agitation?
Everybody is silent on it I think you want me to be the only one to talk, abi? (laughs).
You are the big masquerade behind Hot FM chain of Radio stations; what is the idea behind this?
The idea is to have a chain, a national chain that delivers timely, dependable, objective news. In any society where people do not have a platform to ventilate their views and emotions, they are bottled up and those bottled up feelings find expression in violent forms. So in a way, what we are doing is to make democracy have meaning; to make people speak up on virtually everything happening around them, giving ideas, giving solutions, speaking to their leaders, saying what they need.
On the other side, it is a service also to government because by listening in they can weigh the feelings of the people on what they want to do. If they have a programme for instance for youths, by listening in, you can find out whether the programme is going down well with your target or not. So these are some of the important services that the radio and our radio in particular give.
What informed your decision to go into radio broadcasting?
Radio, well, despite the popularity of social media and others, I feel that radio continues to be the most popular, the most far reaching medium. People are saying that the newspaper is threatened, even television is threatened but radio must continue to be popular because no matter where you are, no matter how remote, whether you have infrastructure or not, whether you are rich or poor, there is some radio reaching you and speaking to your needs and I think that at this point in Nigeria’s development, radio continues to be a very potent if not the most potent force.
How well is your station competing with other radio stations in the country?
You know we are a big player in the Nigeria radio system. And by quality, any Hot FM you have is totally automated, totally digitalized, what Hot FM has is the best standard in any radio station anywhere in the world, to start with.
And the quality of our programming is tops and so in ratings you see Hot FM being rated one two in all the markets, the one in Imo is the best in all of the South-East and now South-South, we expect that this one will take the market.
The market here is a little bit more congested but we are ready for a very robust engagement with the listening public and we will fight for the market because we are more experienced. Hot FM is perhaps one of the top two or three best branded radio stations in the country. It is the most professional. When you hear Hot FM, you go to Los Angeles it is the same thing, the branding, the professionalism, the class, is the same thing. We are very comfortable but we continue to push up our game.
You say you are one of the oldest in the country, what year did you actually commence broadcasting?
We are not one of the oldest, Ray Power came before us, Cool FM came before us, a lot of people came before us, and the sports stations came before us. It is not how old you are, it is how well you start and your stay in power in the game and I think that we have had good staying power. We started ten years ago but you know that my foray in politics also distracted us a little bit. But they have been able to sustain the standard and they have been doing very well.
What is that thing that gives your station cutting edge over others?
Is the professionalism, the attitude, Hot FM has an attitude. You have to have an attitude. Everybody plays music but our own attitude is different, it is really hot. You can have three stations but when you listen to Hot FM you can say the name makes a meaning. The first target audience is people 18 to 40 years, that is the primary target and the Nigerian youths love Hot FM and Hot FM does everything to embrace them and give them what they want.
Now that you are coming to Delta, what is your intended reach in terms of geographical coverage?
We call it Twin City Radio Hot 96.5. This is a very big market; the Asaba/Onitsha metropolis. We foresee a twin city sometime in the future and we are servicing Asaba/Onitsha and the adjourning areas and that is a massive market in itself with a massive population in Onitsha joining with Asaba; we think that we have a good target market here.