Just google ‘Ghanaian hiplife mix’ or ‘Nigerian afrobeat mix’ and the results that the search engine coughs up is more than what one asked for. Anyone who googles for this would be spoilt for choice because there are great mixes online which could be used for any occasion.
Silent DJs as my friend Derby Ghanaian promoter calls them are Disc Jockeys (DJs) who only play music on air and do not even make ‘fi’ sound on air. They are only known by their jingles made by Samini or Mugeez. Aside from the fact that they play their jingles which has their names (usually hilarious) like DJ Tablet on the mix, DJ Magnus Da Silva on your airwaves, DJ Champagne on your dial, et al, their real voices are not even heard anywhere.
Why I am forced to say that silent DJs’ end is nearer than they expect are experiences I had as a Broadcaster and as a Student in a foreign city with less than 500 Ghanaians. As a Broadcaster who doubled as a producer and a panel member of an award winning entertainment programme in Takoradi Ghana (OC Showbiz Review on Skyy Power 93.5 Mhz), before the programme there is a three (3) hour playing of hilife songs on air. As a producer, it is required of me to be at the studio at least an hour before the programme commences. I have the rare opportunity to interact with the DJs whilst waiting for the programme to commence.
In one instance, the DJ who was supposed to be playing the hilife song was indisposed so he could not be in the studio at the time. He asked a colleague to ‘cover him’ by giving him a compilation of songs (mix) he has done. All the colleague was to do was to just plug in the flash drive, copy the mix on the virtual dj software and just click ‘play!’ The 3 hour music play was done without him in the studio. I soliloquized, “Ah abe then in the near future radio station owners can employ just presenters who talk and can copy mixes from the internet.”
In the country where I am currently studying, there was a graduation party for a Ghanaian who completed his Phd course. At the party I was asked to DJ, partly because I worked at a radio station and I also have an active website (www.233times.com) loud on showbiz issues. To be frank, I just had to go on youtube, type ‘Latest Ghanaian hiplife party mix’ and I had about 30 to choose from. I just clicked play and I was the star of the graduation party because the mix had favourite songs of the Ghanaians gathered at the party. To my surprise, a Nigerian requested the repeat of Joey B’s ‘U and me.’ Indeed, like Paedae often say, “if it’s nice, play it twice!”
This also reaffirmed to me that the silent DJs have a nearer end than expected. Silent DJs should embark on an intensive presenting training from top presenters at their various stations. Why DJ Black of Joy FM will continue to win ‘Best DJ of the year’ at every Ghana DJs awards till God comes is the fact that he has a unique presenting skills aside from his unassailable disc jockey skills. His voice is one that magnets the attention of a listener and his command over the English language which is spiced with hiphop jargons makes him tower over his colleagues.
Indeed there is a time on radio which is dedicated to only music and talking on air is really not essential at that time of the day but it will be a disservice to silent DJs to continue relying on their mixing prowess. Musicians Union of Ghana (MUSIGA) has kept so long on monetizing intellectual property of Showbizers online and onland. Even if a DJ cannot speak on air, their mixes should be monetized so that they will accrue some financial benefits from their creativity.
Radio station owners should also create avenues to train DJs in presenting so that in the absence of an on-air staff, they could take up some roles to fill the vacuum. After the training, Programme Managers should also structure a programme which requires some level of speaking on air (doesn’t really have to be all talking programme, it could be ’10 hilife facts,’What you didn’t know about hiphop etc) for them to sharpen their presenting skills.
Most of the DJs I have personally spoken to want an avenue to speak on air whilst some are only content with their playing of songs but going forward, if they do not add something to their skills and only rely on their mixes, it would be disastrous for them in the near future. Working with a radio station poked me to realize that when the station wants to downsize, the DJs are the first touch. Before they become like the relevance of the Typewriter in recent time, silent DJs should be really paid attention to by industry players.
Author: Nana Kwesi Coomson (www.233times.com) @nkcoomson on Twitter