Rhythm 93.7 FM’s Onome Oyaide A.K.A “Big Tyme” literally spent the bulk of his formative years criss-crossing the globe and building a professional career in Rugby; a dream that was abruptly crushed by a career ending injury he sustained in a casual soccer game. In this interview with our Correspondent, FRANCIS OGBONNA, he gave a peek into his life; his dreams, past and present; family and other issues. Excerpts…
Can we meet you?
Yeah. My name is Onome Joshua Oyaide; also know as “Big Tyme”. Anything else you want from me, blood type; blood group; account number (he laughs).
Yes tell us a little bit about yourself for example what was growing up like?
Okay! I was born in the late 70s, the middle child in a family of 5. I have lived in so many places; my father was a civil servant, first with the Ministry of Agriculture. I was born in Benin and shortly after that, precisely a year later we moved to Lagos. I lived in Lagos till about 1984/85 when we went back to Benin for another year and returned back to Lagos again. In 1989 my Dad left the ministry and from Lagos we moved to Italy, I was enrolled in a boarding house in England, while living in Italy, so I used to go back and forth Italy during holidays…after a while the family moved to Zambia, because my dada worked with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), I think that was in 1997. I studied for a year there at the University in Zambia and then moved to the United State where I was inn Different Colleges until I came back to Nigeria in 2003. In 2004 I got a job here in Silverbird’s Rhythm 93.7 and I have been here ever since.
How did you get into Rhythm?
It was a long process for me to get this job. I wasn’t really trying to be a radio presenter, when I came back home, I am an Economist by training, so I was just trying to look for something I could do while trying to look for a professional job. Silverbird TV was just starting up at that time, so I auditioned to be a presenter at that time, but that really didn’t work out and Jacob Akinyemi Johnson (JAJ) saw a bunch of my auditions; judged all my auditions and realize that the TV thing wasn’t going to materialize immediately and then suggested I that I came on radio, that was in 2004…so that is my story.
What actually informed your permanent switch from Economics to Broadcasting?
Hardship! (He Laughed again), money no dey and them no dey hire economist like that. Okay seriously now, it’s not as if I am not using my professional qualifications. I actually studied international relations and Public relations as well and I run a Public relations outfit (Swagcraft) along side my job here as an OAP.
I read your profile a bit and discovered you were involved o whole lot in sports?
Yeah I was! My father was a very avid athlete himself when he was younger, so he exposed I and my siblings to a whole lot of sporting activities and opportunities and when I was in England, that was where I kind of discovered I had some kind of affinity for a few sports and the kinds of schools I went to, high profiled schools, of course paid for by the United Nations were school that sports and other extra-curricular activities were really encouraged…so I did very well in a few sports, I was even team Captain of most of the sports I participated in. I played Cricket; Hockey; was involved in track and fields; squash; badminton; tennis and Rugby. I actually played Rugby internationally for England Junior “under 16”. I played soccer as well.
Since you had that kind of affinity for sports why didn’t you just focus and build a career in one of those sports?
I got injured, when I was playing Rugby internationally…to cut a long story short, I had a career ending injury, crucial ligament damage during the final selection process. Though I was selected afterwards due to my past performances, but couldn’t do much. The saddest thing was that my school was protecting me and exempting me from all other activities, because that was the first time that anybody from that school was going to represent the country. So there was a lot of efforts made on the part of my professors; lecturers and teachers so I can get into national team, but unfortunately on the eve of the final selection day, I went to play football with my boys in the park and damaged my ligaments. All the same I was selected based on my previous performance, I trained with the team; played with the team and even scored a few points for the team, however after that I couldn’t perform as I used to. The knee required surgery which I never really went through with.
Why didn’t you go for the surgery?
It was a long story…I was a lot younger when it happed, I was a lot younger when it happed, I was about 15, 16 years and at about time, I had a relative who had just gone under the knife for a routine procedure and she passed away from anesthesia, so it was always at the back of my mind that what if I went under the knife and don’t wake up? So I just kept pushing it off saying okay next year I will do it and next year has turned to like 20 years now.
What did it feel like having injuries just before the day of the final selection?
I felt like I had disappointed myself. I felt bad for all the people that made so much effort for me to be on National team…do you know that the selection process took up to three years. Three years of going to matches every weekend. My coaches and professors would take time out, leave their families and drive me around town. It wasn’t just in one place; we drove all over the country; we drove up north, to Scotland from my school and I wasn’t paying any of the bills, it wasn’t paying any of the bills, it was teachers and coaches who believed in my abilities they take time out of their busy schedule. See I was a young kid and so I didn’t realize the sacrifice they were making. It dawned on me only when I got closer to the time of selection and I was in the hospital, all in clutches and the coaches and teachers were coming in and telling me “but we told you not to play football?
Would you say radio then was a relief?
I would say yes, because of my kind of personality. You know as a middle child and you know there is something called the “middle child syndrome”. See if you are the first child you get all the respect and the initial love and bond you get from your parents are very strong. If you are the last child everyone gives you all the attention because you are the baby, but if you are in the middle you don’t get any attention so you end up being the one looking for attention…radio filled in that vacuum.
If you were not doing radio, what would you have been doing?
That’s so hard to say. However my passion lies with sport, so if I wasn’t doing radio in general, I would probably be doing something PR related, but if I was still on radio and I wasn’t doing this particular show, I would probably be doing something on sports or news, because I am a news oriented person. I watch news all the time and am interested in what is going on around the world, current affairs…
Why did you return home?
Hmmm, seriously, I was never comfortable living abroad, from when I was a very young man, living abroad never really felt like home. For one, we didn’t really stay in one place long enough for me to call each place home.
Why was that so?
It may have been some kind of a mental block that I had. I just never felt comfortable with so many people from different background, man I had friends from all over the world, but living abroad never felt like home until I came back home. I never really wanted to stay abroad, so when we had some family issues and needed to come home, I felt it was the best decision we ever made.
What was the nature of that family issue; can you share it with us?
Well they are not serious anymore. My mum was diagnosed with a terminal illness in 2000 and they only gave her about a year to live, so they decided that I come home, so I could spend whatever number of years she had left in getting to know her, but she is still alive today and here with us. But you see that doctor no just try.
Where was the diagnosis done?
In South Africa and was confirmed in the US and Canada.
What was the said ailment?
It was blood pressure related; organ failure and all kinds of stuff, but she’s fine and still with us.
Would you say a miracle happened?
Yes of course! Miracles happen everyday and I believe a miracle happened in her own instance. My mum is a very religious person, like most mothers in Nigeria.
What was your highest moment on radio?
A lot of high profiled interview that I have conducted with people I have idolized and respected in their chosen fields of endeavour.
A couple of rappers like Talib Kwali, known to other rappers, meeting some high profiled people … (he paused a little), now this isn’t “Wash” (hype) what I am about to say right now, but being able to sit down with Ben Murray-Bruce in his house and just have a general conversation can almost be a life changing experience fro some one who doesn’t know the man. It is just the way he expresses himself, the way he relays what he wants to convey and the kind of ides he has. He wouldn’t have achieved what he had if he is not the kind of person he is…I think it is the “middle child” syndrome thing at work here too. He is the kind of person that if you have an idea and tell it to him, he is a straight person and will give it to you, telling you if he will invest or not in it. He is a nice philanthropist. So that has been some of my high moments.
So what was your lowest point or moment?
Doing this job?
Probably loosing this job! I have lost it before due to some internal wrangling, so I lost my job. So I guess based on merit and a few other things I got reinstated. But for the 2 or 3 years I was away, thinking that I wasn’t going to do this anymore and looking for an alternative path to take was pretty low for me.
What is the future of radio?
Well apart from younger people, the future of radio, with the level and type of innovations around now, there is this fear that radio itself might just die. As it is now we are looking at the death of Television and by Television I mean TV as a unit. Let me UK as an example, in every borough or every street you find somebody broadcasting legal or not, it is happens and you almost can’t do without it because when you have got that community connection you really can’t do without your community radio so to speak. So the terrestrial stuff might still be here, but when I talk of death of TV as a unit, now we have flat screens and very soon you are going to be able to run it on your computer monitor and at the end of the day I bet you would be listening to radio from the computer, we are actually almost there already. So now there are a lot of ways information are being disseminated, so if radio wants to stay alive it must be incorporated into the media.
Are you married?
Yes I am married and have two kids.
How do you handle your female admirers?
I don’t! I just avoid them (he laughs) as much as possible , I find it easier that way, though you get one or two of them stalking you, but its nothing that a matured man can’t handle, so if you are a dedicated and matured father, there is no way you won’t be able to handle that. It’s not a problem, its ok and it comes with job.
What would be your advice to OAP prospect?
Frankly, my advice would be to be as open-minded as possible and honest to yourself and the people you intend reaching. Because the listeners sometimes may be very fickle, but I can tell you that they are not foolish. Radio is not always about the way you speak; your ascent, but about the quality of things you say.
Thank you very much for your time.
Thank you too.