The broadcasting and competitive landscape has changed and will continue to do so – Serge Noujaim

Serge Noujaim is the Chief Executive Officer of COOL, WAZOBIA, INFO AND AREWA RADIO. Both he and one of his radio stations emerged winners in different categories at the MARKETING EDGE Awards 2021 which held recently.

At a media briefing which he held after the event, the prodigious media executive reflected on the awards and their implications for him and his organization. He also took time off to reflect on the trail-blazing credentials of his broadcast group, the latest developments in the consistently exciting corporate odyssey of the Group; while, at the same time, taking a look into the future.


Wazobia FM was awarded by MARKETING EDGE “Radio Station of the Decade.” What does that mean to you?

What an achievement! We do not take it for granted. Our appreciation goes to MARKETING EDGE for this recognition. More importantly this one goes to all our listeners, followers and community. We are very proud and grateful.

Wazobia FM is a pioneer heritage radio station, but one that has always kept in touch with the new realities of the industry. We remain vibrant and relevant. And yes recently we have assembled a great team of dedicated professionals who love the brand. I think that’s crucial. When the ambition of your team is matched by that of the brand they work for, you have something special. We are doing the right things. So this award also goes to all who have invested themselves in building Wazobia FM from its inception as the pioneer Pidgin Radio station in Nigeria till date.

By the way, we have already stored the trophy. We are already hunting for the next one.

And you just bagged the MARKETING EDGE Award as “Media CEO of the Year!” How do you feel about such recognition and what does the award mean to you?

It’s amazing. I usually get my yearly “Father of the Year” or “Husband of the Year” award from my wife and 2 girls, and that is all I need in life really.

But when you think of all the hurdles and obstacles we had to overcome as a team and in the shadows, far from the limelight, then this award feels like validation. But I am not one for the spotlight. I can come out once in a while and flex but that is just the business environment dragging me into it!

So thank you MARKETING EDGE. It is not taken for granted.


Wazobia FM looks to have been growing in leaps and bounds as the years roll by. With an additional penetration into Onitsha, the past 14 years have been exceptional for the indigenous station. How have you been able to sustain this growth?

I believe that if you are not expanding then you are going backwards. That is the mindset we have. We also believe that Wazobia FM needs to be present in the major geopolitical zones in Nigeria. Of course the expansion comes at very high cost. The economic environment has been quite tough. So we also need to find the right balance in terms of when to consolidate and when to make a move. The bottom line however is, and will always be, the engagement and affinity with our audience. Radio without an audience is like football without fans.


Your stations were the first set of radio stations to deploy visual radio in Nigeria. Thanks to you, radio, which was one time known as a blind medium, suddenly has sight. What informed the adoption of visual radio?

I think visual radio was radio’s response to social media and visual platforms, saying “we shall not be left out, we are still adaptable and relevant.” Radio becomes more of a two-way experience for listeners, who are now also viewers. Radio becomes an even better platform for our talents who now gain additional exposure. And advertisers of course get more value. So overall a win-win for all and a natural evolution of our favorite media, Radio.

And yes we are the first to do it in Nigeria. Before you know it all stations will have it and it will be the norm, it’s just a question of time. That is natural.


What has been the impact of visual radio on the brands’ overall business objective?

It certainly consolidated our position in terms of evolving with the times and staying ahead of the game. If you look at the talent being viewed on the visual radio platform via our Website, Facebook or YouTube pages, it really is enticing. I mean you can now watch Sheriff and Jimi Disu break down the hot topics on Nigeria Info 99.3 in the morning, you can watch Dotun interview the music industry’s biggest stars on Cool FM 96.9 midday and finish your day off with Evening Oyoyo hosted by Expensive on Wazobia FM 95.1. As I said, watch and not just listen to. As long as we are enhancing the listening and viewing experience of our audiences, we are on track with our objectives.


What are some of the initiatives the brand has carried out over the years to impact the community?

I think that has been an important component of what we do, and my teams are probably tired of hearing me say the same thing year in year out. But, the way I see it, we have a duty to give back to our community, our listeners and those who are in need. So we will always factor that into our yearly plans.

The hustle in Lagos is real. Helping out goes a long way. No matter how big or small. Being there is what matters.


How do you cool off after a hard day’s work or over the weekend?

Guilty as charged. I am a Golf addict. I feel the game of Golf keeps me sane. No joke. Without it I’d probably go old and mad way sooner. It gives me a different type of challenge, mentally and physically. I get adrenaline from work, but Golf keeps me humble and focused.

Family, Golf, Gym and food. And Manchester United. That’s me in a nutshell.


Going forward, what is the big picture for you and for the organization at large?

I think we must keep challenging ourselves. Sometimes it is in our nature to resist change, but we must embrace it.

The broadcasting and competitive landscape has changed since the 90’s, 00’s, and 10’s and will continue to do so. Our ability to adapt and raise our standards continuously as an organization is vital. My teams are aware of the expectations I set for myself. It is those same expectations that filter down through the organization. We are on a journey to excellence, and must enjoy every minute of it.


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