By Charles Kalu
To many people, the man, Jonathan James Lyamgohn (mostly known as King-James) is one thing or the other to everyone however, he is radio in human form. With a dossier of work and new projects that transcend Nigeria’s leading broadcast station brands, King-James has been linked with the founding or running of atleast 50 radio stations in Nigeria and Africa in a career that has spanned about 28 years.
Some of the radio stations that King-James (also called KJ) has been connected with over the years include; Cool FM, Kiss FM, Nigeria Info, Radio Nigeria (FRCN), Wazobia FM, Soundcity (Nigeria & Kenya), WE-FM, Urban96 FM, Correct FM, Access24 , Hot FM, NRJ Radio Kenya, Heart & Soul Zimbabwe, KSMC, Vision FM, NN24 and to name some more.
These years of working in broadcasting have seen Jonathan grow from his first start as a radio errand boy who would just hang around the radio station since his debut live appearance in 1991, to when he was first hired as a presenter in 1996. Ever since that day when he presented his first live radio show, there has been no looking back for him over the years until his last role as the Executive Director for Group 8 Ltd, owners of several of Nigeria’s leading television and Radio brands, with headquarters in Lagos, where he helped pioneered the Group’s radio business.
In a recent conversation with members of the media, Jonathan shared his thoughts about this year’s world radio day and his latest project of setting up a new radio station in Lagos, Nigeria.
Details of the interview below:
WORLD RADIO DAY 2024, WHAT IS THE MESSAGE THIS YEAR?
For me, the message each year is always in the answer to the question, what can radio do better this year? I say do better because radio’s recipe for its continued survival and relevance has been its ability to adapt and to leverage. So, as a practitioner in the field of radio and broadcasting in general, the question is always personal to ensure that I play my part in ensuring that we keep our audiences well rewarded for trusting us with their time each time they are tuned in or listening to us on demand. Nothing is more heart breaking than a listener who is disappointed because we have failed to make their time spent listening to us worth the while.
This year as has been set by UNESCO, the UN body which leads in setting the discuss for World Radio Day across the world, the theme is very apt and deliberate to take us all back to why our first love was created…”RADIO: A CENTURY INFORMING, ENTERTAINING and EDUCATING”. This 2024 theme for the world radio day shines full headlights on Radio’s remarkable drive over the past years since its inception, but also calls attention to a still relevant present while nudging us to be reminded of the promise of a dynamic future.
While it is rarely said and to some it can even be considered contentious, I do believe that radio is the bedrock upon which mass media entertainment has been built upon. For those who are familiar with a little history, you will be able to track the boom of contemporary mass entertainment to be connected with the boom that radio contributed. The growth in commercial music, commercial comedy, drama and so on .
The good news is that while time and change have always thought they are the only constant, I think unbeknownst to them, radio is also a constant change. Today in 2024, radio has morphed from that box we traditionally knew into a medium which comes as an app on your phone, as a click on on your computer, as a voice assistant around your house via smart speakers and still on the dial in your car or at your. However it is still as always, a friend within your ears’ reach. That is the marvel called radio!
WHY HAVE YOU DECIDED TO START A STATION NOW
The why is multi faceted quite frankly. It is a dream that has been happening for several nights over several years and I guess in the end I had to just give in and let it come alive. I can recall how from my earliest days after getting into radio in my home city of Kaduna at the time, I would stay up imagining what joy I can bring to the city someday if I can only just own one station that will bring the people happiness. This was what led me to developing capacity in helping to start new radio stations over the years.
Years later having seen the trouble involved I said no I will never own one on my own, but then, those dreams will always wake up me up at night. So perhaps this my attempt at trying to see if I can now be allowed to end to go back to sleep (he laughs). However, I must say, the journey through life has eventually led me right to this moment and thanks to God’s providence and the generosity of my legion of friends who keep cheering me on (and I guess hoping I don’t go crazy if I don’t do this…).
My answer will be why not Lagos?
The city has been tremendously good to me and has given me wings to fly over the various occasions I have lived in it in the past several years. I love the people and am madly in love with the city.
Even as a child, I had always wanted to come live in Lagos. We have a joke in my house and with my friends where I am often referred to as the “BIG CITY KID” and always in love with the bustling life of a big city. Lagos is the best city to do radio in Nigeria and Lagos loves and depends on radio. So you see why the question for me is, why not Lagos?
For the love I have for Lagos and for the love Lagos has shown me, I feel a sense of pride and responsibility to continue to play my part in placing the city on the map of global best practice as far as radio is concerned.
WITH SOO MANY RADIO STATIONS IN LAGOS,WHAT WILL YOU DO DIFFERENTLY?
You can imagine how many times we have had to ask ourselves that question right from the beginning right? This was such a big part of our thought process such that we commissioned a research to help us investigate the thinking and also give us insight into what is to be expected and to identify where the opportunity for a focus audience is. The results came in and we were able to filter and identify the niche we intend to be taking care of. We will be playing in the entertainment radio programming space and we have identified an audience category that is being catered to in a general manner but we intend to pay them more attention and to be the leaders in that space. We have identified what we believe they like and we have curated those things identified such that it will be fit for their radio appetite and provide them a fixed address for their radio dials or wherever they consume radio from. We intend to connect directly with the heart of today’s socio and psychographic demographic that is captured in the contemporary family spectrum as it relates to music appetite and consumption pattern. It will be interesting, upbeat, positive and inspiring in various ways.
WHAT ARE THE OPPORTUNITIES THAT NIGERIA AND NIGERIANS CAN TAP FROM IN RADIO
We can publish a whole book this night if we go down that road given the layers upon layers that exist to in the value chain associated with that question.
I will however stick with the side which has to do with the creation of various points of touch which can also shape the macro economics of Nigeria.
I do believe that for the growth already recorded courtesy of liberalisation which has led to the proliferation of the stations across the country, Nigeria can fully do a review of the benefits of partnering to build original parts for the audio business (of which radio is one of). This will naturally contribute to the nation’s GDP as we have well over 500 stations which are a golden market. Then you can add the market which will accrue via the African free trade agreement which then makes the entire region a market.
Doing the above will then require the further development offer local talents in electrical electronics and the associated fields which will in turn make us prime for exports in goods and talent. The benefits are enormous to enumerate as long as we can fully plan and execute.
We also have the untapped market waiting in the digital terrestrial radio space via the many formats of frequency utilisation in the DAB, DAB+, etc which nation’s in Europe and other continents have continued to develop. This allows for the eventual freeing up of the spectrum that can be commercially exploited for the development of the sector while quality and access in improved up. There is no better way to kill several with one stone than that.
WHAT IS THE NAME OF THE RADIO STATION
We have decided to call the station “JUSMEN”. So it will be generally known and referred to as “Radio Jusmen”.
The word Jusmen loosely means “my mind is at rest” or “peace of mind”. It is the one thing we hope we can help the listener find when we come on air. We also decided to call it that as part of our decision to pursue originality in brand creation and trusting that it will be a name that will stick and make for easy recall.
The Jusmen brand also intends to always be synonymous with bringing lots of fun times and great shared moments by all who encounter it.
WHEN SHOULD WE EXPECT YOUR NEW RADIO STATION
We are working behind the scenes to put finishings to all the fine details that shape a distinct radio station. This we believe will not be taking longer than a few more weeks from now and we will be letting Lagos and the world into our little world of audio creativity and entertainment freedom, which will bring smiles to the faces of whoever comes in contact and gets to listen to the station.
WHAT WILL YOU LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED FOR SOMEDAY
I will like to be remembered for being that one Nigerian and African whose time here was very focused on the one thing he loved soo much…RADIO. Furthermore, that during his journey, he played a role in its evolution and the handing over to another generation that continued to spread its magic for many more generations to come.
I am very clear about what my life’s mission is…to harness the potentials that exist in PEOPLE, TECHNOLOGY and creation of POSSIBILITIES that are fired up by PASSION for meaningful IMPACT. These five things are what I am hoping will be on my epitaph if I am able to earn the right to be so described by the time I am done right here.