Port Harcourt based sports journalist, Fisayo Dairo was the guest of Journalists Hub, Sports Journalists Forum (SJF) on Thursday night in the Personality Interview segment.
Dairo has been a professional in the media industry for the better part of the last fifteen years and currently works for a Nigerian sports website aclsports.com.
‘Pasito’, as he is fondly called among members in the group took the opportunity offered by the relaxed atmosphere of the segment to talk through his journey from the beginning and some of the things that have never been heard about him in this no holds barred chat.
The segment was anchored by legendary Sports Journalist and Administrator, Godwin Enakhena.
Please let’s start from knowing who you are, from A-Z.
My name is Fisayo Dairo. Last born in a family of seven. Born and bred in Ilesa, Osun state. A lover of God and football.
Worked at a few Radio Stations across Osun, Ondo, Bayelsa and Rivers State before momentary retirement in 2016 from radio matters.
Currently works as Chief Football Writer at www.aclsports.com.
Married with a lovely baby girl.
Let’s go back to prying into details of some of the Radio Stations you worked with, and why you took a break in 2016.
I think I was lucky, in the sense that I started early. Three days ago (September 8) I was celebrating my first time on TV as an analyst in 2001, a teenager back then.
During that period, I was a huge radio fan. Listened to Sports Programmes across South West states especially Lagos. I was a huge Radio Nigeria fan, especially Metro FM (Emeka Odikpo, Emiko Bakke, Godwin Enakhena, Charles Anazodo) and Premier FM Ibadan.
It’s then not a coincidence that I started working with FRCN Gold FM in Ilesa in 2005. We were three on the Sports belt and since I was the oldest at 19, we were sharing 4, 200 monthly.
Interestingly, I gained admission to FUTA that same year but found a way to shuttle it in-between.
Between 2005-10 as well,. I was also running shows on OSBC Osogbo, Uniq FM Ilesa and Positive FM Akure. By December 2010, on the eve of my set’s convocation, FUTA Radio started in Akure so I became the pioneer Sports Editor there and worked there till November 2012.
I worked as an Analyst with Royal FM Yenagoa while serving in a Primary School in that city and after service, I worked with Radio Port Harcourt and Garden City Radio, both in Port Harcourt where I stopped.
Sports journalism just happened? Take us down memory lane, how it all began and why, influences etc.
I think it’s more of a calling, to be sincere.
I remember from my Junior Secondary 1 to Junior Secondary 3, when I wasn’t that good a footballer, my playmates will ask me to stay aside and be running commentaries for them. That’s always my condition for playing the next set.
So, we’ve been mad football lovers and from January 1999 when I had access to NITEL phone lines, I used to call many sports shows and gradually they were keen on knowing me and that was what opened the doors.
But, more precisely. What opened the door in 2005 was that: One of the presenters at Premier FM in Ibadan, Wale Afinjuomo was transferred to Ilesa to start operations at Gold FM in 2003, so he was the one that specifically asked the guy that was recruited as sports presenter to look for me. I was considerably popular around the football fanbase so it was easy for the guy to find me and get me on board.
From then, there was no looking back. I got support from my Dad, a lot, and that really helped me.
Let’s check out what you read in school
I studied Microbiology. I actually applied for Geology. But errrmmm, I met myself in MCB.
Why didn’t you flow with the course of study to earn a living instead of sports?
For me, it was impossible to do that. I already met my love even before getting the University admission. During the course of my study, I also found out that many broadcasters studied around Sciences too. I remember Fubara Pepple whom I loved listening to on FRCN Network News also studied Microbiology in his First Degree so I just focused there and then on how to get better doing the journalism thing.
When was your breakthrough?
There are many stages of breakthrough for me. And of course, I’m still expecting some more.
I think the first breakthrough was when I was a Studio Analyst on OSBC TV for Mali 2002 final between Cameroon and Senegal. I had very small stature going into my mid 20s. Then, I was 16, in Senior Secondary 3. I could barely walk in the streets.
Resuming to school on Monday, Princial called me out during the assembly saying how I made the school proud. That moment kept me in tune with dedication to the stuff.
Secondly, working at FUTA Radio from 2011 to late 2012. It gave me the opportunity to put into use every thing I observed in my six years at Gold FM, doing presentation clinics, occasional reports along with my designation. So at FUTA Radio, I was a Newscaster, Reporter, handled the biggest Current Affairs and interview shows along side Sports. It was great.
Finally for now, the third breakthrough was while I was serving in Yenagoa. I was always at the stadium to watch and tweet games involving Bayelsa United and Nembe City. Few match days to the end of the season, Hon. Nduka Irabor called me, encouraged me and said he was monitoring me. I’m grateful to people like Andrew Randa and George Akpayen for that. Since then, other things followed.
You’ve painted a picture that tells of the ease with which you navigated these roads, how about challenges, vivid explanations will just be fine.
We are nothing without these challenges as these are the things that help us when the going is good.
I think the year 2010 was a key year for me. My graduating year at FUTA. Also, there were plans for me (and some other Sports journalists in Osun state) to cover the World Cup in South Africa), sadly it ended in tears. We were duped and I was further duped to the tune of 500k, all paid by my Dad.
More crucially though, I was failed by a lecturer that claimed to love me in my final year so the devastation of having to spend extra 12 months in school came on board. How would I tell my parents? Well, I didn’t. I paid the school fees myself but more importantly, getting to work at FUTA Radio helped me to lie to many people that “I didn’t go to service because I had to help the school with their Radio Station.” Many people already knew I was into S
Sports journalism though.
From then, I knew that nothing could break me again in life because those months between July and December 2010 were hell.
Everyman has a story to tell, isn’t it?
Have you had any nasty experience with any sports administrator or player because of what you wrote about them?
I sure have. But I do forget things nowadays. Though maybe not precisely what I wrote but along the line of trying to do my job.
I remember when Davidson Owumi wanted to beat me in Warri in 2015. Thank God for China Acheru and Moses Etu who saved me from him and the stadium thugs that moment.
While working on Radio in Port Harcourt, I was once threatened as well by a Sharks Assistant Coach, Sunny Iseokwemah who threatened that I may not go back home alive should I come to Sharks Stadium.
I think I’ve had encounters with Mfon Udoh and Abu Azeez in the past too but I don’t put them to mind.
What have you learned in your years as a sports journalist?
I’ve learnt that if you really don’t want to follow the crowd, you can! I’ve learnt that integrity matters above any other thing in life and you can make it while doing the right things (equipping yourself to be good at what you do).
Why don’t your colleagues command the respect of administrators?
Well, it is part of life. I think since many of us are easily accessible to them and the sad realities of the Nigerian life have placed us at their beck and call, it will always happen.
Why is sports journalism free for all?
This is another tough question. Because I am also a product of it being free for all. I think it is one of the “easiest professions to jump into” and it is becoming even easier with the rampaging social media.
At what point did you decide to leave sports broadcasting for online print? And what is the difference between the two in your opinion based on your experience?
In October 2016, at that time, I had worked in two radio stations in Port Harcourt and felt poorly paid and not going to pay my bills further. Meanwhile, I was combining it with writing for the league website which was paying me far more despite having far less stress.
So, I felt I should concentrate on the league more and look for writing gigs. It turned out to be the best decision I’ve made in the past years
Tell us how you met your wife and when it was marriage
I never had any preference though I must admit that after having spent a year in Port Harcourt, I always preferred to marry a non-Yoruba.
I met my wife on Facebook. I liked her friend and sent her a Facebook friend request. Somehow, she sent me a request around that time. Her friend did not confirm my request so within three days of chatting with my wife, I knew this was my wife. I went to cancel that request I sent her friend. The friend later turned out to be the one she chose to be her Chief Bridesmaid last year.
Let me add. She said she sent me a request because she was adding Sports Journalists in Poet Harcourt. She was already friends with a couple of them in real life. So it was easy from the start.
A year in Port Harcourt and you decided it has to be a none yoruba, why please?
I think I got a change in orientation. I met a few Yorubas that I went close with marrying non-Yorubas and doing fine e.g Tunde Bello, Segun Precious. And of course, I saw a few premium packages too in these other tribes, so why not?
Has a girl ever broken your heart and how did you overcome it?
Yes. One lady I so much loved in 2011, after leading me on for long (about six months or so) later confessed that she had a boyfriend and I have really turned her head but she can’t break his heart. I couldn’t love again until about two years later. I overcame by just accepting to fate. I deleted her number and 2go until about six months later.
How do you like your woman?
I like to be all in all for her. Provision of everything she needs in all aspects.
How do you resist a tempting lady?
I think I always learn to pull the brakes at intervals. It’s easy to understand when you and someone are into each other so once you don’t want it, apply brakes in conversation periodically.
Who is your best friend in sports journalistm.
Definitely Tobi Adepoju.
Who served as role models while starting this business of sports journalism?
I had my models from the myriads of broadcasters I listened to. From Richard Asiegbu of FRCN to Deji Omotoyinbo and Smallette Adetoyese Shittu Alamu of OSBC back then. But I learnt professionalism from Metro FM and FRCN entirely.
I’d probably be a Musician, that’s my other talent and what I started early which is what my brother is doing.
Are you happy with the state of journalism in Nigeria?
Certainly not happy, to be frank. But I think I’m also not happy with the state of Nigeria. The hustle is real. The state of Nigeria has cast thick shadows on the profession.
One, to see journalists at all levels paid a minimum wage of at least 150k like NPFL players (coughs).
Two, to make sound, periodic training and retraining on core values and etiquettes available for all in the industry. Many are still coming in, so it is important it is continuous.
I think Yes. When I missed 2010 WC, I set the target of being at the World Cup by 2018 and I was there till the final match in Russia. It has also been rewarding for me to be able to feed my family. So, yes.
Finally, what’s your advice for your colleagues on the way to the top and how to keep winning?
Simple. Keep working. Keep learning and keep working more. Diligence will feed you. They do say that there is no money in this industry but diligence will feed you and your family. It pays to be fed by diligence than to be fed through negative means. Finally, the skies are wide enough to contain all birds. So, you can make it too.
Thank you so much Fisayo for your time.
Thanks once again for having me.