Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Ikponmwosa Osakioduwa is actually his real name. But over the years this young man, born on May 21st 1979, has warmed his way into becoming one of Nigeria’s top on air-Personalities. A two-time winner of the Redstrat’s Future Awards as Presenter of the Year, the middle child of 5 children born to retired Brigadier-General Samuel Oviawe and Mrs. Felicia Oviawe, IK as he is now called, carved an interesting image for himself when he interrupted a radio station on frequency 93.7fm and introduced himself as “Wild Child”. So his fans on radio simply know him as Wild Child (until the change of identity) on his Rhythm Dance Party show which he hosts every Monday, Tuesday and Friday 7.30pm-9pm. But on Television as MNET Studio 53 presenter and on stage as an MC, he is known as IK. The dawn of 2009 saw Ikponmwosa saying goodbye to Wild Child and rebranding himself into one personality- IK. Some speculate that the change of identity came with his new responsibility as a married man. However, in this interview with Jennifer Ehidiamen, IK talk more about himself, his passion and how he discovered his competitive advantage in the media.
How long have you been working in the media?
For about seven years now.
How do you combine radio, TV and stage presenting (as an MC)?
When people ask me what I do for a living I tell them I speak for a living. I do not tell them I am a radio or TV presenter. What I do on TV and what I do on stage are not too different. On radio, you are a lot bolder because nobody can see you and you just imagine your listeners are enjoying it. But on stage, it is slightly different because if you suck, you see it on the people’s expressions. People love confidence; people will appreciate you for your confidence.
Can you tell us about your childhood?
We lived in the U.K for a few years but I grew up mostly in Nigeria. My Dad was in the army so we used to travel a lot and lived basically everywhere in Nigeria. He was always on transfer or on course somewhere. Eventually, it helped me accept different kinds of people. But, unfortunately, I don’t speak any Nigerian languages because we never lived anywhere long enough to learn. My parents are from Edo State but they speak different languages so we all grew up speaking English.
What about your education?
I studied Economics at the University of Lagos. I had no idea of what I wanted to be or do afterwards but studied Economics because it just seemed nice. I started out doing Sociology but after my first year I decided there were too many books to read and not enough calculations in there. So I quit and turned into an economist. And that was fun for a while. Then, after that, I was going to do my Masters in Communications, somewhere in Baltimore but everything was pretty tied up. Then, suddenly I realized I have seen too many people go through the motion of doing school and come back to take the 9am-5pm job. I just felt irritated. I didn’t want to be like everyone else. I wanted to do something I love.
Ever done a 9-5?
I had worked in advertising for about a year after school. But during my final year in school I was in radio already but I left after graduating to do advertising. I discovered that although it was fun, I’ll rather be doing something more of my personality. So, instead of going into the dogmatism, that is following the routine of everyone else, I decided to do something I really liked. So I went into the media and, since, I have been doing that!
Is there anything in your background that informed your decision to go into the media?
While I was in school, apart from the fact that I was studying Economics, there was nothing about me that defined me as an Economist. I was more of the “loud mouth” kind of person, the guy in class that makes all the noise. I got involved in an organization called the Rock Foundation and found myself doing all the publicity for them. I thought up all these crazy publicity ideas for the school charity and concerts and also MCed at their concert. I developed a flare or love for the microphone… that is the only thing I would say started my love for radio.
Any regrets about the profession so far?
I am not the person who regrets stuff easily. If I were going to say that I have any regrets I would say not committing earlier to radio or entertainment. Maybe if I got involved earlier as a younger kid I would have been more developed. But at the same time I recognize that the fact that I wasn’t in it earlier gave me the time to hone my skills a lot better. Once the media light hits you, it exposes you good and bad. If it hits you too early, it could destroy your career. It is like giving birth to a premature baby. A baby is a blessing but a pre-mature baby is a struggle. If I got into the media too early, maybe it would have destroyed me.
What are some of the challenges you have faced since your adventure in the media?
Keeping to me. People always place a demand on you to be what they want you to be. I’m different. I like to do me. I don’t apologize for who I am. I don’t like soccer, and I am not going to like it because people want me to. You find that generally there is that pressure from people you relate to. Because of the way the name “Wild Child” sounds, people always want you to remain in that crazy state all the time. They try to stereotype you.
And how are you dealing with such stereotype?
By standing my ground. Because I don’t speak any Nigerian languages, I am every finicky about the way people speak English. When I first came into the media, people tended to pressure me to water down my English but it is the only language I speak thus it is my business to speak it properly. Some people approach me to do advert for them in pidgin and when I decline they try to pressure me. But I always stand my ground and say this is who I am, I am not going to change it.
Tell us about life as a son of a Brigadier-General.
Quite interesting, I didn’t tell you my dad’s rank. Yeah, he retired as a Brigadier-General. That was nice. We enjoyed the benefits. It made certain things easier but it also made things pretty difficult. Like there was a time a ban on traveling was placed on army officers’ children. I couldn’t school abroad because my dad was in the Army. To even get my mum to travel for medical reasons was hard. There were blessings that came with being a son of a Brigadier-General; there were troubles as well. The troubles included not seeing my dad often because he was always on transfer. We couldn’t keep up with the lifestyle of traveling back and forth to different states and countries so we settled down somewhere. We stopped at Kaduna for a while and afterwards moved to Lagos. I remember one day my dad came home and asked me, “Why did you drop Physics?” and I said, “I dropped it over a year and half ago but you haven’t been around so you wouldn’t know.” So, there was also that pressure of growing up and becoming my own man without much influence from him at some point because he was working very hard.
Any favorite childhood memory?
It might be when I was around six years old in Kaduna and my dad and mum were in town. They used to make out time for us to go out as a family. I think those years were the defining moments for my family, and we were all very close.
What are your thoughts on the Nigerian Media?
The Nigerian media is only just learning freedom since democracy is just having its hold now. And through that freedom is coming true expression. You find initiators now have the freedom to be critical, they now have the boldness to be blunt about things that need to be addressed. With that boldness and that audacity that comes with democracy you find that there is freedom of expression which breeds creativity. So creativity is now coming into the print media, multi-media and all other forms of media. With that creativity has come appreciation for the media. The money is being earned in the media in reference to the way people pay for entertainment etc.
Despite these positive changes in the media, you will agree there is need for improvement. If you were to ameliorate the system, what would you do?
I would invest a lot more. I would raise the bar for terrestrial TV broadcast. You find very few stations have content that they produce; most of them rely on independent producers. If I had the resources I will invest in TV stations and develop contents. On radio, I will completely increase the price of advertising to reduce the no. of adverts on radio stations. There are way too many adverts on radio and it is killing the stations. Everybody is tuning off and listening to their ipods. For the print media, I would lift the standards of editors, if I could, so that there will be more creativity and so that print media and the broadcast media will move away from its archaic style of presentation to conversational presentation. Young people do not read newspapers or watch the news because of unfriendly style of presentation in Nigeria. With regards to entertainment, I would lift the bars so that we can separate the boys from the men because there are too many people in the industry who shouldn’t be in it.
Who are some of the people you look up to as mentors in the industry?
Will Smith. I love Will Smith because he has proven that you can be taken seriously even if you are goofy. He is appreciated by the public because of who he is. I guess he is similar to who I am. I also love Ben Bruce, not because he is my boss but because Nigeria today is enjoying the dream that he pursued when he wasn’t fashionable. When he started out doing beauty pageant and bringing artistes to Nigeria he really wasn’t the happening person. He built the Cinema when it was long a forgotten thing in Nigeria and started the radio station at a time government owned most radio stations, so was when he built the TV stations. But now, Silverbird is doing very well in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt… and they just bought Nu Metro in Kenya and they are moving all over the world.
You have been working in the media for seven years, what has been your most significant achievement?
When I first came to radio, my Boss then said to me, “We like your idea but nobody is going to accept it. This is Nigeria. It is not going to work. You can’t really call yourself “Wild Child” on radio…” I did a demo telling him how my show is going to be but he laughed and told me it is not going to work. I think my greatest achievement is getting Nigeria to appreciate who I was without having to modify myself to suit other people’s impression. Getting listeners to be honest with me, to call me and make confessions was not really fashionable. It was not really popular when I started. As arrogant as it might sound, I think I brought a level of freedom to the style of presentation on radio in Nigeria.
I won the awards twice- 2006 and 2007, as the presenter of the year. They called me and said to me “You are one of the reasons why we have decided that one person can’t win it three times in a roll”. I liked it. It is always a good feeling to be appreciated by people who listen to you and be nominated for such awards.
With such good looks, how do you cope with your female fans?
I do not cope with female fans, I enjoy them. It is a lovely feeling to be appreciated. I enjoy everyone who appreciates me. Everyone in the entertainment business have a love for attention. We come into the business, not necessarily for the attention, but it is part of it. When it becomes too heavy, that is when it becomes a problem. I am too young to be dodging right now from attention. I am not struggling with female fans. I recognize the fact that they pay my bills, so I owe it to them to be nice when they call me in public and say to me “Hey! Let us take a picture.”
What is your most embarrassing moment with any female fans?
I was at The Palms the other day when a chic walked up to me and said, “Hey, wait a second. I just want to touch your butt.” And she smacked it and walked off. I don’t have a problem with it.
And your wife…?
She understands. I think she understands that she enjoys the things she enjoys because I can afford them. And I can afford them because people like that price me high.
For how long have you been married?
Since October last year. I tried my best to keep it low key but still about 1,000 showed up.
Has being married changed anything about you?
Why would I have to change because I am married? People assume so but not much has changed about who I am. It makes you a little bit more focused and prudent about how you spend money. Before marriage, I spent money a lot foolishly because I am not responsible for anyone but not any more. I think that is one of the significant changes that happened to me-I became more focused and responsible for others. Other than that my personality hasn’t changed one bit because she knew who I was before we got married.
Tell us about your wife
I call her Vitamin O. O being the first letter of her name and because she makes me go “O” every time we are together. She is very nice, accommodating, friendly, passionate and a happy person. So, she is able to live with me. She is not jealous. When she sees me kissing and hugging other ladies she doesn’t worry. She is able to keep up with my life style. She lets me do me. She is not trying to force me into a different mode now that we are married. You know some women do that to you; they are fine while you are dating but as soon as you get married they try to change you.
Describe Wild Child in one word.
So what is so wild about Wild Child?
You might have heard but I’ve actually rebranded. So I don’t go by the name Wild Child anymore, I just go by IK.
Why did you rebrand?
Several reasons, really, after much deliberation I changed it. But the core reason was that it wasn’t a brand I could develop much further. It gathered popularity in Lagos but I had started doing some work outside of Lagos- in South Africa and America, and I discovered that I couldn’t use the name there because somebody has the right to the name Wild Child. All the various modifications I could have used for the name were used as well. So you find everything I do with MNET I’m IK because I can’t use Wild Child. If I have to start using two brands that wouldn’t be too good- IK outside Nigeria, Wild Child in Nigeria, because some people who know you on radio won’t know you as the same person who is on TV. So I decided to merge the brand and go by the name IK Osakioduwa and that is something my kids can use when they grow up.
Do you miss the name “Wild Child”?
Yes, sometimes. Because it really is the definition of my personality, not in terms of how people think it is crazy but in terms of Wild in the context of freedom. How animals that live free in the wild are called wild animals. I like the concept of living free. And the “Child” is just the innocence of it all. When he is falling and grabs the closest person, it is without shame or inhibition. That is how I live my life; if I need help during a crisis I’m going to grab the closest person that can help me stand.
What is your philosophy of life?
Do you and I will do me. Be yourself and I‘ll be myself. That means no matter how much I like you I will not try to be you. No matter how right you feel you are by what you are doing, I’ll not try to do what you are doing. Your personality is your personality. If you look at your thumbprint, that thumbprint can identify you in six billion people thus; I believe personally that everything you touch should bear a witness to the fact that you touched them. In order words, there should be a difference when you are done so that when you leave, people can bear witness that you were there. We have too many “Yes Men” in the world today. Too many people saying yes to one Oga or the other, too many people just following their father’s footstep of going to school and coming out to do 9am-5pm job. Nobody is creative anymore.
If you were to pick between radio, TV and Stage presentation, what will it be?
If I was going to pick, it is going to be TV because there is more money in TV. But really I wouldn’t pick one. I love interacting with large crowds as an MC, I like being on radio because the level of stupidity you can display on radio is phenomenal. I like being on radio because you don’t have to be serious at all- I have a rule on my show and that is no news, no information, strict entertainment. So, even if we were talking about something heavy like somebody popular died, we will talk about it but won’t dwell forever on it. Sometimes I don’t want to be on stage, I just want to do radio, other times I want to be on TV and have the cameras on me…
Any words of wisdom you would like your fans to commit to heart?
Do you. There is something spectacular, special and unique about you. If you take out time to study yourself, to look at what makes you different, you will discover something special about yourself and the moment you discover it and you pay attention to it people will be willing to pay you millions for it. Just to experience that unique factor. So, do you. For some people, it is something as simple as a smile, for other people their personality or a skill they have developed from the course they studied. So, don’t try to be somebody else, just do you.
Posted by Jennifer Ehidiamen at 12:38 PM