Talking to us today on Nikkyosblog is a veteran and a mogul in the Media industry. I grew up watching her programmes so she is a role model for me.
Adesuwa Onyenokwe is unequivocally a seasoned journalist who has founded several media outlets. She is a motivational speaker, an elocution trainer and the editor-in-chief of Today’s Woman Magazine.
Please hop on the ride as she takes us through her extensive experience in life and in the media industry.
1. As a media luminary and with over 30 years exploits in the media industry, how would you describe the evolvement of media in our society over time since you began till date?
A luminary is someone who shines light, and my career in the past three decades; clearly shines some light on the evolution of media in our society!
I have traversed three platforms of mass communication, broadcast, print and now digital. It is a privilege to have had the good fortune of doing this, and it is so because of a common denominator: the inherent desire I have to share information. With television it came as an accident, when during youth service I experienced being a presenter, and became hooked. With print it was a desire for self-expression and expansion to reach a specific target more enduringly that I started Today’s woman magazine. Then, in the last 3 years or so, it has become inevitable that we transit to the digital space. The beauty of that space is that it has democratized info sharing but it also has its disadvantages, misuse and irresponsibility in newsbreak and personality defamation.
2. What was it like growing up as a little girl in a family of eleven?
Fun actually. Within our large family, I had a ready pool of playmates that I fought with on occasion but with whom some really fond memories were made and life lessons learnt about the value of large families. For example, that I couldn’t have everything I wanted, and had to share literally everything, taught me the virtues of humility, gratitude and hope amongst others.
3. Have you always dreamt of broadcast journalism as a profession?
Not directly but I always knew I would be a communications professional. I wasn’t even ten years old when I realised I like to communicate, which then was just talking and giving updates within the family. I first thought I might be a teacher, but a chance into the world of television and advertising made me enthralled by the whole idea of condensing information for mass communication. I went on to study Dramatic Arts and Language Arts as 1st and 2nd degrees respectively. Youth service in Sokoto exposed me to working in television and I began to lean in that direction, eventually starting off in the Bendel Broadcasting service as a reporter/newscaster. Marriage brought me to Lagos and NTA from where I retired at age 35 to start life as an independent content producer.
4. You had fifteen years of experience working with the NTA, how was this pivotal in making you reach out for the best in you?
My time at the NTA was one in which I traversed the country covering and reporting on myriad social interest stories. That opened my eyes to the need for a space for more intense and direct communication for the womenfolk. When you build up one woman many are lifted with her, and best place to start is by building her self worth and confidence. Reading and watching the successes of others like you, can be encouraging, as you learn that many things are possible if you just try. I decided to reach into my interviewing skills and come up with a platform to engage women, getting them to tell their stories to inspire others. It started first as a TV show, became a lifestyle magazine that was in print, which has now gone digital and is available to download all over the world at www.twmagazine.net. Within the next couple of months, a proper app will make it even more accessible.
5. Have you had mentors and how have they motivated you?
I have always made it a point of duty to be open to learn from anyone and everyone, because no one has monopoly of knowledge. To that extent, when I find you do something right I seek to emulate rather than idolise. I find that when people speak of mentorship, they are thinking of role modelling someone they view as an idol. Having said that, there are quite a few women who have influenced me and from whom I have learnt. They include but is not exclusive to, Siene Allwell-Brown, on the job presentation side and Mother Theresa on the spiritual side. Professionalism, humility and boundless selfless service are some key attributes I picked from them.
6. Is there such a thing like ‘a complete woman’ and how would you describe her?
Sure there is such a thing. To be complete means to have ‘it’ all in. The ‘it’ here implies a total control of mind, body and soul wherein lies the understanding that it is never over till it is over. A complete woman is the one that is confident, comfortable in whom she is: a work in progress. So she is not hard on herself but remains open to constantly learning, as she continues to evolve.
7. What inspired you to start your programmes ‘Newsline’, ‘Seriously Speaking’ and ‘Today’s Women’?
You may please take them one at a time if there isn’t a common reason.
Getting on the Newsline team as a reporter with the Nigerian Television Authority NTA was an internal posting, after being on the social service desk for a few years covering human-interest stories.
The first programme I ever produced as an independent, was Today’s Woman With Adesuwa, first transmitted on NTA 2 Channel 5 then the Network Service of the NTA. It all began as the need arose for me to work flexi time and also create content to inspire, motivate and empower women. With Seriously speaking, after a number of years off line as an interviewer and an anchor, (since I went into publishing), the production outfit, Ultima studios reached out offering a partnership to get back on that track. I accepted and we reached out to Channels TV to get on board to transmit. This lasted for over 4 years until we went on a hiatus in 2018 due to budget constraints. And all parties were getting busier on other projects. For me focus was redirected to taking my magazine on line, developing my counselling and communications training, and a digital platform to push my audio-visual work on TW You Tube page. My personal one, adesuwaonyenokwe.com is in the works.
8. What’s a typical day for you like?
Pre Covid 19 pandemic, it would be a daily departure from home around 9am for office work, primarily administration; a break for meetings when I have them and a visit to take in some spiritual ‘food’ by attending mass as often as I can. Work often ended around 5pm. The lockdown as a result of the pandemic made my team and I stay in contact electronically, while the few business meetings were via zoom and other such platforms. We were able to produce one edition. Post Covid, I do not see myself doing more than 3 days of physical presence at the office. I have learnt to work efficiently on line and physical meetings would only be when absolutely necessary!
9. As a CEO Universal Communications, a publisher and editor-in-chief of TW Media Development Concepts, what have been the challenges in your journey as an entrepreneur?
Each decade and stage of growth came with its peculiar challenge. It began with Universal Communication, which was set up while I was still a reporter at NTA. It was to allow me express myself as a documentary producer which was then my side hustle. Then, the challenge was time, because obviously I could only do that outside of my day job, so I hired an assistant to make it work.
After I disengaged from NTA, I then had a platform to produce the first TV show, Today’s Woman With Adesuwa. The biggest challenge then was marketing. Most advertisers didn’t quite like what they thought was a narrow market, but we were able to convince them to see it as a niche, one speaking specifically to women, who were and are the major purchase decision makers in homes.
TW Media came on as a baby of Universal Communication really because there was need to extend into publishing; because other people came on board, we needed to have a limited liability vehicle. Today, we are in transition to bring all our activities under one umbrella as Unicomm Group, as we wind down TW Media
10. How have you been able to manage and balance your busy schedules with other life responsibilities?
For many mothers, balancing is a ‘mad’ act of juggling, peppered by a lot of guilt tripping! I have stayed sane primarily by prioritising, getting a good support system, mindful that I may fail at some things, but being ever ready to begin again.
11. Due to your passion for youth and women development, do you have intentions of starting an NGO to that effect in the future?
Interesting that you asked that! I had set the machinery in motion to begin a foundation about 8 years ago called TWF, Today’s Woman Foundation but we never took it forward. However, just recently, with the outbreak of Covid 19 and seeing the number of mothers without support, I had a conversation with a friend of mine about this and we decided that we should set up an NGO to support destitute mothers, single or married. Mothers are at the core of the nurture of families and if we do not protect them, the future is jeopardised. All mothers are important, but those on the streets often have no one to support them, which is why I am looking at taking that on.
12. Are there still projects and dreams you have in mind of accomplishing?
Absolutely! The day you stop aspiring is the day you die I believe. Aspirations make us set goals and work towards them. I may not be as fast as I’d like at implementation, but I don’t let that stop me. So, yes I do have dreams on queue. Owning a broadcast outlet for family and lifestyle content is one of them. Now I am certain it will be hosted on line, dishing out interesting yet wholesome content produced by a bank of independent producers.
13. What’s your word of advice for the girls, women and people reading?
Love yourself. Then you will be able to love God and others.
Nikkyosblog specially appreciates Adesuwa Onyenokwe for her time and for sharing a lot with us in this session.
You can follow her on Instagram @adesuwaonyenokwe
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