- * Originally wanted to be lawyer and film actor
- * Why he left Brila Group
- * Still misses Chief Larry Izamoje
- * Enumerate 3 factors needed to became a successful sports broadcaster
- * Why sports company was named '27 July Limited'
For many, going to school or work was not complete without listening to Brila Sports programme on Ogun State Broadcasting Corporation (OGBC) and Cool FM in late ‘90s. If one missed the OGBC version, one can easily look forward to the Cool FM version which was just about 30 minutes difference. Popularly called ‘Sports Machine,’ the programme was co-anchored by two sports broadcasting legends – Dr. Larry Echejile (now Larry Izamoje) and Abimbola Adeola otherwise known as the Top Striker. Although it was a 15-minute programme, you can be sure it would cover every sporting event that a day before or over the weekend.
A survey conducted in the South West even revealed that between 1999 and 2004, Brila was the foremost and most listened-to programme on the airwaves. That depicts how dynamic it was!
Making of The Dream Team
While the latter (Adeola) has a swashbuckling and adrenalin-pumping approach to his delivery, the former was modest and provided indepth background with quality country music to further drive home the point. As that went on, other versatile radio presenters like Yemi Fagbolagun and Tony Obot joined the team.
The union was like a marriage made in heaven until Brila FM, an exclusive sports radio and Africa premier sports broadcasting studio, came on board to accommodate other segments like interviews, vox pop, player score cards, sports drive, fans assembly and the likes. While Izamoje assumed the post of managing director, Adeola became the general manager. The dynamic radio broadcasting station grew steadily and opened up 4 other radio stations in major cities across Nigeria, including Abuja and Port Harcourt.
In 2008, the Top Striker decided to part way with Izamoje to pursue his dream of becoming an entrepreneur like his former boss. Thus both parties were compelled to go their different ways to further their career calling. In truth, many (including this writer) did not really think he could recover so soon from such heart-rending break-up.
Ten years down the lane, it is amazing to see how Bimbo Adeola (also christened as ‘Oga Bee’ by his fans) has come after picking up pieces of what remained of his career at Brila FM. He still has that adrenalin-pumping and morale boosting control over the airwaves. He has made a massive impact with daily sports diets across the country on 16 stations nationwide. The popular ones among them are Soccer Expo, Game Show, This is Football and Mega Sports which currently aired on Star FM 101.5. In one of the recent surveys carried out on most listened-to sports programmes on radio in the country, it ranks among the Top 5. Apparently, it is one of those early morning programmes sports lovers look forward to.
How did he do it?
In this interesting interview with Adebayo Folorunsho-Francis, the sports analyst who cuts the image of an American music rapper opened up on a whole lot of issues ranging from humble beginning to his break-up with Brila FM and he came up with the concept of Mega Sports.
Tell us a bit about yourself, especially your upbringing and educational background
I came from a humble background. Although I was born in Lagos, I hail from Ondo State. I bagged my first degree in Political Science at the Ondo State University, Ado-Ekiti (now University of Ado-Ekiti) and Master in Public and International Affairs at the University of Lagos (UNILAG).
As kids, we tend to have childhood fantasies. Did you actually dream at a point that you will become a sports pundit?
I actually wanted to become a lawyer, actor and broadcaster. God made me one out of the three but I never thought it would be in sports.
Were there moments you regret not taking up football or any other sport as a career?
Never! But maybe outside sports though.
When some of my friends were getting employed in oil companies and banks, earning big and I was just being paid 'peanuts.' Who doesn't want to earn well? (laughs)
Who were your role models before veering into sports reporting?
Nobody actually! But let me just say I respected those already in the trade.
Over time, we know you are bound to have one. Have they changed or you probably have new ones as you progressed?
I just wanted to do my thing because sports wasn't even thought about ab initio because I started out in Clapperboard TV as an entertainment / kiddies / youth programmes production before I got the opportunity to go on air.
You have been in the sports business for long. If serious investors seek your counsel on areas to invest in Nigerian sports business, what niches would you suggest?
I am sure you expect me to say football but no! We have tennis, basketball, volleyball and even handball. These are sports that have been neglected for so along but they have the potential of giving any brand a great mileage. You need to see basketball games being played in Kano and the crowd that throng the venue. Put in good sponsorship and you'll see returns.
To become an accomplished sports broadcaster and entrepreneur like yourself, what advice will you give young people looking up to you?
Just three things - Work hard, work hard and work hard! Unfortunately, the new ones are not ready to do that. It is all about money right now and it is sad.
You were once an integral part of Brila FM from inception until fans woke one day to hear you had left. What happened?
Stagnant pool stinks, so it goes with me. I had to plough my own land too and God made it happen.
In retrospect, can you confidently say your decision to leave the organisation you co-pioneered was a good one?
Yes, it has been okay so far and I give God the praise.
Were there times you miss your former boss, Dr. Larry Izamoje?
Of course! This was a man I spent nine years of my life working with.
What lesson did you take away from your split?
To keep at what I was doing. Not waiting for salary at the end of the month makes it more challenging and God had been faithful.
In floating your outfit (can’t recollect the name at the moment), will you say your name and pedigree worked for you?
27 July Limited is our company's name. Like the Bible says, a man's gift will make room for him and I can say that God has been there all the way. I appreciate those who have the confidence that I can always deliver.
Are there areas of improvement for today’s sports broadcasting?
Hard work pays no matter how you look at it. The elevator to success has crashed, they should take the stairs. There are no quick fixes in life. You must take the pain for the gain to come.
Why chose a strange name as 27 July Limited for a business?
It represents my son's birthday
Finally, if you were not to be a Nigerian, what nationality would you have opted for and why?
None! Nigeria over and over again...