TWB: Kindly walk us through your career journey
Oscar: My career kicked off in 2005 at Unilag FM, where I started as a presenter, and that has taken me through a number of other media organizations. After Unilag FM, I worked with inspiration FM, BBC as the Presenter Producer, then I moved to City FM as the head of programs. Basically, that is a summary of my career in broadcasting. In advertising, I worked for DDB advertising in my earlier days and I came back as associate director of the group to head DDB BBDO space, the production department so I was in charge of radio and TV for the group called Keces group. I resigned two years ago to focus on prewin games which is basically gamification and entertainment as the COO, and that’s the position I have occupied till date.
TWB: You have done quite well for yourself, looking at all your awards, what would you say is your greatest career achievement?
Oscar: I appreciate the recognitions but my greatest career achievement, I think would be a sum of all the part of my career. There is no one particular moment because every moment and every journey, every radio station and every TV station I have worked in has cumulated to that. So, if I was going to pick one it was when it was nominated for On-Air Personality for dynamic awards. I didn’t win it but that ceremony was where I bought a raffle ticket by Etisalat back then and my wife and I won a brand new Picarto. Though that was more of a personal achievement rather than a career achievement, I reckon that if I was not doing what I have been doing the opportunity to be nominated and be there would not have come.
TWB: What would you want the coming generation to remember you for?
Oscar: Honestly, “Impact”. Recent occurrences, especially in 2020 will make one realize what things are most important. Part of that realization hit me in 2016 which is why I set up the MC company that focuses on grooming the next generation of MCs in Nigeria and beyond. So, impact is what I would love my greatest legacy to be, in terms of transferring the knowledge I have to people who want not only to be MCs but broadcasters too. It’s very scary what I see and what I hear out there. The coming generation are doing what they think is best and you can’t fault them. A lot of things are not in place, a lot of things we enjoyed in our time are not in place. But in as much as there is room for self-development, to retrain yourself, one can also help them by creating the pathway to do so. What I want the coming generation to remember me for is being able to have inspired them in a way to fufill their innermost desires especially in the area of media entertainment and compare in the MC industry.
TWB: So as a graduate of Chemical Engineering how do you end up as a media personality?
Oscar: So, while I was in the University of Lagos where I was studying Chemical Engineering, I got the opportunity through a friend of mine, Gbekun Oloyede, to work at UNILAG FM which was in its infant years, this was in 2004 if I recall correctly. The whole idea was that while I was doing that as a hobby, I would still continue my Engineering degree. While I was there BBC world service trust were looking for presenters to kick off a program called FLAVA, I applied and became a co-presenter. Basically, that’s how my career kicked off. So, as I was working for UNILAG FM as Presenter, I was working for BBC as a presenter, and I was also studying my Chemical Engineering at the same time. This went on for about 4 years, and it was then I realised how much passion I have for radio, and well they say, “the rest is history”. I think it was in my 300 Level, when I realize that the BBC job was paying my way through school and that I love what I do and love how it impacts people. So I decided to kuku focus and face it, and I have never looked back since then.
TWB: Would you say your father’s profession influence your choice?
Oscar: Not really. My father laid down the name that’s what I would say. He’s been broadcasting for 35 years from the days of WNBS, WNTV and the television version which metamorphosed into FRCN(Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria). My father and my uncle, Uncle Soji Oyinsan, were very known names in that field. So my dad was in radio and Uncle Soji was in TV, the NTA. Their names were very established with that generation of broadcasters. So when I came into the industry at first he wasn’t aware, but the day I told him about my change from Engineering to Broadcasting he was so happy. Everyone I have met after then in the industry who heard my surname would ask: ”Are you the son of Sanya Oyinsan?” or “Are you the son of Soji? Soji is my Uncle and basically that how it’s been.
He never directly influenced, me but at the same time, I think he sowed a seed. Because back in the days when my father would arrange the so-called jamboree, this was the era that ushered in giving raffle ticket for cars, it was a big deal then. Radio Nigeria was a very big deal back in his days and he was the general manager. And you know, they organised concerts and stuff that we are familiar with now but it was a novelty back in those days. So the likes of Shina Peters, Colington, Salawa Abeni, Blacky, and so on. I remembered as a young kid going to one of those concerts. It was a big deal, big deal. I remembered sitting on Blacky’s lap then I think I was probably 5 or 6. I have grown up around media. My eldest brother, Tayo Oyinsan is also into broadcasting media, Tope Oyinsan, that’s my immediate elder brother is also into media in Ibadan. So it’s been in the family so to speak. My sister-in-law as well, Tina, works for the FRCN in Abuja at the head office. So it’s been in the family I guess it was just a matter of time.
TWB: What impact did the award on-air personality of the year have on your career?
Oscar: Have always been of the opinion that the person makes the name rather than the name making the person. So on-air personality for me is just one aspect of who I am and what I do but that’s what I am mostly known for, so I guess it gives me recognition, credibility and also helps to establish me as a voice in that industry. But nowadays you have people throwing the words around especially when they confused it with broadcaster or broadcasting, you know some people don’t know the difference. Broadcasting has more to do with the professional seasoned aspect of it where you have to go through a process. So on-air personality largely has a lot to do with the personality of the individual both on-air and off-air. Someone like Dan Foster, God rest his soul, ushered in that generation of broadcasting or media where people tuned in because of your cockiness and unique characteristic and what happened over time is that a lot of people tune in to radio stations because they want to hear how this person says this or his opinion on that. That is an extension of the person’s personality which some will love some may not.
TWB: How did you get the name “Oscar in the city”?
Oscar: So Oscar is a name that I gave myself when I was in Unilag. So my official name was Gbemileke Oyinsan. But I needed a name where people will not know me, so I chose Oscar, which was the character of the movie by Will Smith that came out recently in that period called Chantel! It was meant to be something I would just use for a year and dump, but it became my name down the line. I subsequently registered and filed an affidavit and made it legally a part of my name. But the “in the city” part happened when I was working with City Fm and I just wanted something a bit different, but even after I left it was a name I could still sustain and use and it kind of stuck. So “Oscar in the city” now became synonymous with me.
TWB: How would you describe your media career for the past 15 years?
Oscar: I think I will say it’s been very eventful, very reflective and every part of my journey as led to who I am now even though it was very confusing at the early stages when I was studying Engineering and I was working in Unilag FM and working for the BBC in Abuja. I used to fly to Abuja every two weeks to record, so it was very tedious, and I looked like someone who had no direction. But down the line when I got an audition for Cowbellpedia as the quizmaster the host, sponsored by Promasidor they needed somebody with media background and knowledge of mathematics and those two qualities I had in abundance and it helped me secure the position. So… my career has moulded me and the summation of each part has become the brand that is known today as Oscar Oyinsan Oscar in the City. It has also given me a lot of insight in terms of my path along with broadcasting, radio station, TV station, advertising, those four major part has led to my current journey which is in the era of technology and gamification where we are looking for more interesting ways to reward people and exchange knowledge. One of the things I am also particular about is ensuring that people know things, know the right things, so my role at Prewin games as the COO is to chart a course for this and we’ve been quite successful in the world of gamification which is basically taking most of the learnings we have putting it in a game format where people can be engaged and rewarding them for that as well. So I am still learning and my mantra has always been “I believe in the power of media and its ability to effect positive change” – and every position, every project I embark on is basically to fulfil that statement.
TWB: How would you describe your experiences moving from one radio station to another
Oscar: In retrospect, I think it was necessary, there is a certain level of insight and experience you get when you move around radio stations. There is also another level of experience that you have when you stay in one place. But for me and my journey, it has helped me understand the dynamics and the versatility that comes with media organizations from setting up a radio station to the programs department which I worked, to the engineering department which I have an idea of, to the marketing, to the production so I have been around every department within media house or a radio station which has helped me immensely in creating content, producing content, selling content. Therefore, my experience either at Unilag Fm or at City Fm, at inspiration FM or while working for the BBC as a presenter (later as a producer, a senior producer) all of these have come together. And I think depending on your nature, it might work for you or it might work against you. I have been able to harness all these journeys and it has given me a very rich portfolio in term of experience and in terms of knowledge of the industry, so that really helped me.
TWB: If you are to choose another career different from chemical engineering and media what would you choose?
Oscar: It probably would be somewhere along the line of sport. I love tennis I would probably want to maybe focus on that as an athlete. I was very good at running when I was in London and also in football. In fact, I think it was Arsenal or I can’t remember which of the clubs then when I was in school that came scouting I was picked but that was when my parents now decided to change my destiny and bring me back to Nigeria where I continued schooling but I think sport or somewhere along the line of sport would have sufficed.
TWB: As a media personality what are some of the keys to success in your industry?
Oscar: Number one, I think you must have passion for the job. Number two. Is consistency. A lot of the people that I started my career with who were interns, boy-boy, junior producers, presenters have now moved up, and in terms of referrals is a lot easier now because a lot of them are holding position. So you need to be consistent. You also need to innovate, so in as much as I am known as an OAP, I went into advertising, into comparing, worked as a voice-over artist; I had to diversify not only in terms of revenue sources but also in terms of experience and my skillset. That really helped a lot which is what I will advise anyone to do. The industry as a whole is maturing so in terms of the finance yon can’t make all the money from one profession. But if you have a brand name it becomes sort of an equity which you can now use to trade in other industries. I have been to places or meetings were because they’ve known me from Cowbellpedia or they’ve heard me on the radio or they’ve seen me in on rubbing minds, on Channels TV or seen me host an event that was televised live maybe with Goodluck Jonathan when he was president and was it broadcast on all the national stations, I enjoyed a level of trust that just breaks the ice. So that currency is what I realize I have and has helped me a lot.
TWB: If you are in the position of influence what changes would you make to the entertainment industry?
Oscar: The very one thing I would want to do is put around some kind of structure that trains the coming generation because that’s actually the core of it, that’s where everything emanates from –education. The industry people are more preoccupied with the glitz and glamour and lose the essence of it. So institutions and bodies and competent hands for example to help train the next generation would be my primary focus if I was going to choose one thing that would be it. Number two would be a means to accredit and verify people in terms of ensuring that they have been through a process, they are professionals and they are stable both in front of and behind the camera also in terms of their psychology and their state of mind because we are gatekeepers we influence a lot of people with what we say and with what we do, so those would be my major focus. There are many others but those are the ones I would focus on for now.
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Gbemileke Oscar Oyinsan is one of the most influential, well-regarded, and well-known names in the Nigerian Entertainment/Media space with over 15 years in the industry that cuts across Radio & TV Production, Compere & Hosting duties, Advertising & Media and most recently Techpreneur. Oscar created The MC Company in 2016 to groom the next generation of MC's in Nigeria and beyond. It's an Academy, Agency and Resource Centre for the Compere eco-system in Nigeria He has been at the heart of creating and crafting powerful award-winning stories for the ever-changing world of Advertising, Media and Entertainment in various administrative and creative capacities over the last 15 years. His journey has taken him through the worlds of Radio and Television, Advertising, Production and Entertainment in the capacity as presenter and producer, in front and behind the microphone and camera. Oscar is passionate about media and the use of media to effect positive change and his life’s journey so far has been towards achieving this one goal and learning how to do so creatively with a touch of innovation. Oscar holds an MSc in Media Enterprise from the Pan Atlantic University amongst other industry-recognized certifications. More at www.oscaroyinsan.com