The General Manger of frontline radio station, Max FM, a sister company of TVC, Marvin Martin Arimi, is an amiable and unassuming individual whose personality aptly describes popular saying that, men of substance are not known until they are scratched. Youthful Marvin is an embodiment of humility, brilliance and intelligence; yet, he subscribes to no air of arrogance but simply committed to his calling, radio consultancy and designation as man at the helm of affairs at Max FM, Lagos and Abuja.
In a recent interview session, Arimi fielded questions from Wole Adepoju. In this course, the dude, an interviewer’s delight takes us through how his love for radio started and why he opted to operate behind the scene, rather than being on the air. Also, he bares his professional knowledge of radio operations which include why professionalism is dwindling in radio broadcasting and the critical influence of advertisers in radio operations. In the same vein, he touches on advantages and disadvantages of influx of radio stations.
On a different note however, the wonderful family man who is married with a kid shares his thoughts on why marriages are fast breaking down. He reveals what has kept his marriage intact and how social media has impacted his life positively, as he met his wife through one of the platforms.
Can you introduce yourself in the way you deem best?
My name is Marvin Arimi, I am the acting General Manger of Max 102.3 and Max 90.9, Lagos and Abuja. I live in Lagos, married with a kid.
You must have passed through certain rudiments before getting to this point. How did radio start for you?
I had always wanted to be out there, and back then in school, I studied Mass Communication and I fell in love with radio more than Tv. After school, I tried to have stint at different places, doing radio before I moved to advertising. I did advertising for a while before I returned to radio in 2013 and I eventually joined Radio Continental and it later rebranded to Max Fm.
Did you at any time work as On Air Personality?
Yes, I did presentation briefly but I could say I am basically behind the scene guy. I started with production actually; I only had stint with presentation where I presented a couple of shows on radio, so it’s basically been production for me. I have always been a producer, behind the scene person, directing what is going on air.
What are the factors that make a good radio manager?
First of all, I think you need to be innovative, because radio has changed from what it used to be. If you are not innovative, you are going to be stucked. You also need to be open minded and ready to lean. In my own case, I am a team player, I carry my guys along. We work and have fun together. What we have in Max FM is a family culture and that has really helped. It is not just about the technical part of it but the other part is also important. People need to be happy and be in right frame of mind to deliver.
How would you compare the radio of then to what radio has become?
Radio has changed. Of course you talk about the Jaysen, it’s different from the millennial and all that. This generation of people doesn’t have patience; you have to give it to them as it comes. The time the older people had to go through the process and all of that is lacking here, and in order to keep up, you have to find the best way. This generation is more music inclined, interested more in entertainment than actual conversation. Even if you are in a station that is tilt towards conversation, it should be things that they like. The generation has changed, the equipment has changed. A lot of things now are automatic. We deal with digital, software.. Content too has also changed. The kind of things you talk about that will suit this generation are not the kind of things you talked about 10, 20 years ago. So moving with the time and knowing what the people you are servicing want is important. For example, we are a radio station that our targeted audience is 15-35 years, so we look for what they want to hear, what interests them. Before now, what we use to have was mass media where everyone was the target but it has now changed to a situation where you have to carve a niche and identify your audience. Let’s use this analogy. McDonalds for example, you will not go there and find Amala. Some people have Amala shops where they are making so much money but we don’t do Amala in McDonalds. If you want to buy Burger, Chicken, we are here for you. If you want to buy Amala, it could be lucrative but sorry ,we don’t get involved in that. So that is what radio has become now. People just stay on their niche, stay with your targeted audience and not worry about what other people are doing.
Influx of radio stations suggests it is more about economic gains than professionalism. For example, we now listen to presenters who appear not to know about broadcasting. What is your view?
Let me start like this. As a broadcaster, you went to broadcast school, you have been trained and been told everything you need to know before you get on the microphone but today, it has changed a little, because a lot of people on air these days are not broadcasters, even on the television. A lot of them have the voice, the attitude, the talent but the background is not there, so they have no idea of what you should not do or say on air. And unfortunately, a lot of the people that are trained do not have the talent. And now, everything has been commercialized. Advertisers control the media right now, whatever they want is what you give to them, otherwise, you will not be able to pay salaries or run the radio station or your media organization. The advertisers could just say, look at this person, he has a huge following and we can basically tie our brand to this person. Not necessarily if this person has a broadcast background. Does this person have a huge following? How will he bring attraction to our brand? Does the radio station have a huge following? If you have a radio station and you are saying all the right things, but you have just ten thousand listeners daily, there is no way you are going to get money. Advertisers don’t care what you say, they only care about the amount of people you have influence over and in turn translates in to sales for them, so that is the situation. The whole thing is changed and advertisers control the pace, so the only thing you can do is for you to find a balance. That is what lot of top radio stations are doing, finding the balance. Get people who are talented and also have a bit of the background. It is true one of the problems in the industry is lack of professionalism, but a station like Max FM, we send you for necessary trainings if you have the talent and even a bit of the background. We still send you for training to cover what the lapses might be.
Will it then be right to say the conduct of advertisers is costing radio or media generally its professionalism?
It is not them because we are all in this for a reason. Just as the broadcasters are in the business for something; advertisers are in the business for something as well. Advertisers have not said don’t get presenters that understand the job, what they are saying is, how can we leverage on your brand? So it’s you who needs to train your people and get to that level where they can strike a balance, that is, entertain the people and be mindful of the ethics and staying within the lines. Advertisers are not the ones who say the schools should not produce students who understand what is obtainable in the media now. Lot of the school curriculum for mass communication has been the same thing for ages. We have lot of these lecturers who worked with the Radio Nigeria in the 70s, 80s and they are teaching same format. Lot of them never worked in new generation radio stations, so they still teach what they knew from Radio Nigeria in the 70s. It is when these guys come from school that they realize that things have changed. So, it is not the advertisers, the schools have to get people who are in tune with what is in vogue or send the lecturers for trainings to keep up with the pace. School like NIJ (Nigeria Institute of Journalism) is doing that. There was a time they sent some lecturers down here to come and understudy how things are being done. If more schools do that, it will help the students get the jobs rather than having talented people from other fields to take the jobs.
What are disadvantages and advantages of having influx of radio stations like we seeing now?
Part of the disadvantages is that, the advertisers spread is not much and everyone scrambles for what is available. By this, having more radio station makes the competition more difficult. It also forces radio stations to go commercial in order to be considered. And I think that itself is taking the shine off the job, because if we have forty radio stations and what the advertisers are spending is small, it is not going to go round and when it happens like that, you are forced to do what others are doing if you have to. So basically, because there is no much money to spend in advertising, having more radio stations is more problem.
But then, the benefit is this. We have a lot of people in broadcasting schools, people doing mass communication, when they come out, where will they work if we don’t have enough radio stations, TV stations and other media houses, people will not get jobs. But again, how will they get their salaries if there are no adverts, so it’s a two way thing.
With the advent of online radio station, do you see radio suffering same thing print media is experiencing as a result of advent of online?
I want to believe radio will be the last man standing, because the radio has a whole lot to offer. Radio will be the last man standing because if you have traditional radio, you can also be online. As we talking now, if you don’t want to listen to Max FM on the radio, you can listen online. Anywhere in the world, you can listen to us. We are already competing with the online radio station because we share same space. Also, we are visual. Radio is now visual. We can watch lot of radio stations on YouTube now. Radio is never going to be badly hit by introduction of online. Look at this, it’s actually easier to listen to radio in the car while driving than going online, so radio has so much to offer that it will be last man standing.
On a another note, do you have an idea why marriages are now hitting the rock so easily?
For me, I think impatience is the reason why marriages are breaking so easily now. As a married man, I have come to know if you can manage your wife, you can manage any other woman. Women are different but they all have some traits in common and I think same thing goes for men. So patience, understanding is important. Also, I think people go into marriage for the wrong reasons. Marriage is defined differently in our own space. For instance, lot of women, especially successful women are not marrying for love, they are marrying a guy who for example, fits their status. You would also hear ladies say they can’t marry a guy because he doesn’t have a car and so on. So since men know this, they now prioritize provision ahead of anything else since they know provision is what is keeps a woman. In this case, care, love and the rest would have been relegated. So when marriage eventually happens, the women expect love and care but unfortunately, the men would have programmed themselves to making provision top on the list so love, romance and the rest is secondary. Importation of the western culture is another issue. A lot of men are used to the theory of wife submitting to the husband, so trying to change that now comes with a lot of issue and don’t go well with the men. Sometimes too, I think understanding is what is lacking. For instance, what the women are also asking for or what the men want are not too much but the approach is the problem, so if the understanding is there, I think things will be better.
What has kept your marriage going?
I am the type who love loves his family so much, so I do what it takes to make things go well. My wife is also doing same. For example, I have my flaws and I have never hidden it, so when it happens, my wife knows. She also has her flaws that she didn’t hide. Another thing that I think has helped us is, we vowed never to allow any misunderstanding or argument goes beyond 24 hours and we have never broken the rule since we got married in 2015. My wife and I also have some “Oldskool” traits in us because for instance, I grew up with my grand- parents and my wife’s mum is also grounded in the traditional way, so in as much as we are “Newskool” we don’t really have the “Newskool” mentality because of our upbringing. So we find a proper balancing between being old and new “skool”.
How did you meet your wife?
People really find how I met my wife very funny. I actually saw her picture on my relative’s DP. It was in the time of blackberry. So I sent that my relative a message asking who the person on her DP was and she was like Hey…hold it there and turned me down. When we got home, I found a way to steal the pin of the lady on my cousin’s phone and I added her. She was like who is this and all that, the usual way a lady would behave but I remained calm. Later, we started chatting and became friends. We chatted and spoke on phone for months, got fond of each other before we started gravitating towards dating. That’s one of the good things of social media in my life (General laughter).