Agatha Amata Signs Out In Style

By August 19, 2017Features

The Headliner was able to get an exclusive interview with the bold and delectable Agatha Amata who hosted the Inside Out with Agatha for 20 years. She has now successfully passed the baton to the younger generation to take the show to the next level of progress.

We hope you enjoy the read just like we enjoyed the interview.

Do not forget to leave your thoughts and comments on some of the issues raised.

Thank you.

THE HEADLINER:

You just concluded “The Search” reality show to pick the new host for your show. How was that experience?

AGATHA:

(Smiles) It was hectic. It was demanding but was fun at the same time. I’ve never been part of any reality show. I have never been really interested in the reality show business but what was fascinating for me was to be able to see in my lifetime that I had actually impacted people. These were people willing to go through the whole process just to become the host of a TV show I started. It was very humbling.

THE HEADLINER

You have shared your journey on so many media platforms and a lot of people now know some of those stories. However, I’ve never heard a particular question- who was/were your mentor/mentors? Did you have any? Or did you learn on the job?

 AGATHA:

The answer to that is yes and no. I’m not the kind of person that looks up to just anyone. First of all, I have to like it and if I like it, I look for people who have done it before me and see what I like or don’t like about what they do. So, I have always been a fan of talk shows and incidentally, before I even knew about Oprah, there were older ones that I liked. I really liked Sally Jessy Raphael. I also liked Ricky Lake.

They were Americans. They were quite a few of them I admired who never made it as big as Oprah. I particularly liked Ricky Lake because she was very vocal. Oprah was simply the most popular out of them all. I was addicted to talking shows so I then thought if they could achieve this, why can’t I? If you call them mentors in that light, maybe. I primarily started the talk show because I wanted a media platform where people could air their views without taking into consideration my own part. I liked to talk and wanted to be able to have a platform where people could talk.

THE HEADLINER

What is that thing you took away from this 20-year Inside Out journey that you believe will affect the next 20 years of your life?

 AGATHA:

For the rest of my life, I will take away the fact that I am fortunate to be where I am. What Inside-Out showed me was that no matter where you find yourself, there are people who are worse off. It also taught me that it is good to be real. I also learned that giving is a privilege. My value system completely changed and I realized that material things don’t count. Those were essential lessons for me.

THE HEADLINER

Speaking about values, do you think the new host will maintain those values that have become a core part of the show?

AGATHA:

Well, I can’t even claim that as at the time I started, I had formed the kind of values I have now. I guess in life, you go through a process and with every process, you get more refined. When the idea of the reality show came, I wanted to be sure of something. The fact that they had their heads in the right place and it wasn’t about money.

The first way for us to weed out the unserious contestants was to let them know upfront that there was no cash prize and that this show was all about service. If people decide to show up in spite of that, at least that will be a good place to start.

If you check all the people who do talk shows that are human angle oriented, they are grounded; even Oprah who is rich is very grounded. What I’ve found that is that you cannot host a programme like Inside Out that touches on everyday issues, value systems and shows you the essence of life and still remain the same. You can’t! It will affect you. It will change your thought process. So I think if they come with the right values at the base of it all, as they go on, the rest of it will be added on. I’m really not expecting the host to learn everything in one day or have it all together. I didn’t get it in one day so I can’t ask that of anybody but if the base is solid, the rest of it will come.

THE HEADLINER

As a media entrepreneur, how have you managed to combine both roles well? (As a TV host and as CEO of Rave TV and Trend FM)

 AGATHA:

(Sighs!) It’s hectic. Starting two businesses almost simultaneously takes its toll on you anyway. When you add that with presenting, that’s a lot of work. It hasn’t been easy and I guess the only thing I have going for me is the fact that I like every aspect of what I do. So no matter how difficult it becomes, the point is, will I rather be doing anything else? If the answer is no, then I have to find a way to juggle it all together and make it work. I think that is what has kept me going. The fact that I love what I do. I wasn’t forced to do it. I decided to do it and I have a choice of leaving it if I want to. So, that sorts of help.

 THE HEADLINER

Do you see a future for young people who are passionate about using the media to make a difference and also make a living like you have done? Because it seems people are more concerned about the glitz and glamour.

 AGATHA:

This is such a good question! You know, I had a meeting yesterday with some of the search reality show contestants who have now become staff about their programme ideas. One of the things I’ve found out about young people who want to come into the media industry is, they don’t care to learn the business, they learn the glamour. If you can’t turn all the glamour into business, you are wasting your time. I say to people, anything you do that can’t earn you money is a hobby. The point is, they want to be on TV and they think it is easy to be on TV so they waste so much time on the front and no substance. Some people think they have the best programme ideas in the whole world (laughs). First of all, no idea is new on planet earth. You don’t have any idea that someone hasn’t done or thought of before. What is different is the way you decide to bring it to bear. After you’ve even brought it to bear, how does it make money to sustain itself? Even if it’s the best idea, if it cannot sustain itself, then you are wasting your time and other peoples time. I always say to anybody that brings a programme to me. Where is the naira in this? Because if there are no means of sustenance, I’m not going to waste my time. You must not just have a brilliant idea; you must know how to keep it going. If you cannot bring that along with your show, then you are wasting my time. Who is going to be paying for it?

Most of the time, that is where the problem is as it concerns young people that are interested in media. The back end is what keeps the front end.

 THE HEADLINER

So, what’s the next step for you after this entire 20-year legacy? Do you have something planned out or are you just going to flow with the tide or just face RAVE TV and Trend FM?

 AGATHA:

I’ve never been idle. In fact, right now I have my hands full. One thing is my mentoring, which I am passionate about, and my empowerment outreaches are not stopping. I had an NGO that was known as FESECA but has now been transformed to the IOWA Foundation (Inside Out With Agatha Foundation) and we are going to be doing a lot more of what I love doing without being on TV which is empowering women and mentorship for young people. The second one as you have said is my new babies- RAVE TV and TREND FM that are not fully grounded yet. I’d like to get it to a place where I don’t need to be in any one of these companies for them to function. That is my dream. I’m glad I’ve been able to do that with Inside Out now. I don’t want to wait for 20 years to do the same with RAVE TV AND TREND FM. They must be able to stand without me in a couple of years. The third is am I going to go back on TV? The truth is I have absolutely no idea. That’s really not a consideration for me right now but what I’ve learned is that whatever plans I have, somehow God makes it bigger than I can think or imagine. So, it’s basically as he leads me. I’ve always said if I want to go back on TV, I don’t want to be tied to one location, I don’t want it to be studio based. I want to be able to do it from anywhere I find myself in the world and I want it to be impactful. What it is, I have no idea. I just have that guideline. I don’t know when it’s going to be; I don’t know what it’s going to be about. Let’s just wait and see. Those are my guiding principles if you ask me what next.

THE HEADLINER

As a media business owner, what are the pros and cons? Is it all-frustrating? Are there no gains? Would relocation be better for someone who has a dream to own a media business?

 AGATHA:

Media in Nigeria is good. Media can be very lucrative if you are focused and you don’t concentrate only on the front end like I said earlier. You must actually have a plan for the back end, which is the business part. The back end is where there is a deficiency the way I see it. A lot of people don’t bother to learn about it. The biggest problem any business faces in Nigeria is power. The fact that there’s no power means that as a business, you have to somehow generate yours. Now here’s what that has done to for the advertising space, Electronic media takes a back seat. People are now doing more online and maybe radio if you say electronic. This is because TV is not guaranteed. Even though I have to provide my own power to run my station or programme, I’m still not guaranteed viewership because there’s still no power. So advertising revenues are shifting from TV to online and radio and all forms of new media. All the media avenues that are not subject to the power. So what that has done for me as a TV broadcast owner is, my revenue allocation has dropped but my cost of production is increasing. The second big problem is, there are no facts or figures guiding anything. Anyone who tells you ten million people are watching my programmes is basically on assumptions. It’s not based on any fact or data. We are not digital. Even the ratings that they use here are not particularly correct. So a rating agency comes to a house, and depending on who they meet at home, they will get a figure. For example, if they meet my son at home, he is going to say maybe Trace TV and Super Sport whereas if they meet me, I would probably say CNN and Channels. If they met my daughter, she will probably say E. If they meet my housekeeper at home, she will say Africa Magic. That is the basis for which they draw their conclusions. So they come to a house, it is the person they meet at home that determines what the whole family watches. When I get into my house, when I turn on the TV, I can tell you the last person who was in the living room. It’s not like America where if they tell you one billion people watched the Super Bowl, you can actually measure it because they are digital. We don’t have any such data. So advertising wise, we are beggars because we don’t have facts. It’s not based on some kind of emotional convincing. We have been saying we will go digital for years but we haven’t. Even when we decide to go digital, what are the figures? Are there any plans to get it done properly? Those are the biggest problems for me. We have the population to drive advertising. TV and radio can be more lucrative if it is fact based. That way, I can prove to advertisers through figures and the demography of people that watch. Data makes it difficult to operate in Nigeria. If we can finally go digital, content can become the king like it is everywhere based on facts and data not suppositions and figures in the air. Life will be a lot easier and people can concentrate on producing content that can stand its own because you then know that content is what will drive your advertising not who you know, the connection you have as it is currently or how much you can beg.

THE HEADLINER

So, is there really hope?

AGATHA:

There is a lot of hope. All I’m saying is it could be better just like every other thing in Nigeria. With the population we have and what is available here, Nigerians really don’t need outsiders to grow their businesses. We have the population like an America or China to grow our own businesses. However, the point is, we are not properly structured. So yes, we are making money but compared to what people who know what they are doing are making, we are not making money. We can sustain ourselves and all of that but we shouldn’t just be in business for sustenance, we should be able to build business empires if things are done the way it should be done.

THE HEADLINER

How about our content? Do we have good content in Nigeria?

 AGATHA:

Let me tell me something. Nigerians love Nigerian content if it is properly done and put on their faces.

The 8pm-9pm belt on NTA in those days were sponsored belts. Programmes like Checkmate, Ripples, and Supple Blues were watched by a lot of people even though it was locally produced. Recently, you have Super Story, Tinsel, and Battleground. These are good programmes produced by Nigerians for Nigerians. At the times those content were shown on TV, you don’t find Nigerians watching any other thing.

The problem there is, people that fund such content are corporate entities. As an individual, you don’t have the manpower and the financial muscle to pull off something like that. The reason is back to what I said initially. There is no structure. There is no guarantee that when I spend all that money producing, that there will be a brand to fund it and air it. I don’t have such money to invest in such a production.

Even the corporate entities that were major sponsors are now struggling. It’s not the priority. What you see now is a lot of individuals struggling with their own space to become relevant as opposed to working professionally. The movie and the music industries are a good example. They are at least making some headway, which is helping them improve the content they churn out. As there is more structure, it can only get better. If you can watch Nigerian content all over Africa, that tells you that all we lack is proper funding.

THE HEADLINER

One major advice for that young person out there reading this.

AGATHA:

First of all, find what you are passionate about. Find the money in it before you think of the extras.

THE HEADLINER

Thank you for your time.

AGATHA:

It was my pleasure.

Credits:

  • Photograph – Yetunde Babaeko for Camara Studios
  • Design – The BrandMASTER.com

 

 

 

 

 

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