By Juliana Taiwo Obalonye
Rita Onome Eghujovbo aka Queen Rita is passionate about developmental journalism, gender, health and social justice.
Starting her radio career as an Advert Traffic Officer, Queen Rita worked as a reporter, producer, presenter and sales executive before assuming her present status of Station Manager, Hot 98.3FM Abuja.
Last year, in the heat of the pandemic, she wrote a book, ‘Queen Rita: From the rough edges to becoming the Queen’ chronicling the sum total of the things she has gone through in life. In this interview, the broadcaster speaks about her Jack-of-all-trades and master of all life.
You seem to be Jack-of-all-trades and master of all, how have you managed all these?
For those who know me, it often comes as a surprise that I do marketing for the station. In sales and marketing, I grew to the position of Group Marketing Manager of Hot FM stations, coordinating marketing and sales activities in four radio stations across three geo-political zones in Nigeria. Despite this and other achievements, broadcasting is still my core. It is what I am most passionate about. As a station manager, I still produce and present programmes.
You’ve been in radio for how many years now and any bottlenecks so far?
I’ve been in radio for over 16 years and about 19 years in broadcasting generally. I actually started from television. As a student in University of Benin, I worked with Media Plus Communications as a presenter and production assistant. I started that job after Markus McCain, the producer and host of ‘Funtrain with Markus McCain’ came looking for me on campus. Apparently, another media producer who saw me working on my assignments at a private production studio in Benin had recommended me. He needed a co-host for his show. I jumped at it and had fun doing that while making some money as a student. As for bottlenecks, there will always be bottlenecks, overcoming them is part of our growth journey.
Last year, in the heat of the pandemic, you wrote a book, Queen Rita: From the rough edges to becoming the Queen. Could you tell us about the book?
The book is a memoir. It is something I am really proud of. I have come to realise that we are a sum total of the things we go through in life. How we handle curve balls, situations, both sweet and sour, is what shapes us. As a broadcast journalist and social justice advocate, I have been privileged to speak to people, youths, women, girls, professionals etc. When speaking in forums, I always draw from my experiences and use them as examples. Whenever I do this, the feedback is always heartwarming. After a while, I just told myself, ‘Rita, write it down, put it in a book’.
So, ‘Queen Rita: From the rough edges to becoming the Queen’ is ‘some of me’. I actually considered that as a title. In this memoir, I talked about my childhood, how losing my mother at an early age significantly altered my young life; love, marriage, career and a whole lot more. The feedback has been exciting. Some persons have told me it made them cry, laugh and cry a little more. Some reviewers have classified it as a powerful mentoring material. It speaks to people in different ways, I believe. What is central in all the feedback is, it makes you realise ‘you can’ and ‘you can be better because of what you have overcome’.
How does it feel to add ‘author’ to your titles?
I am still getting used to it. When I introduce myself at events now, those who know me will add ‘and author’. It feels good. I have been told it (writing) is addictive. So, fingers crossed on if I’m going to do it again.
Each chapter in the book reflects one or more defining moments in your life’s journey, and bits about how you overcame the circumstances to becoming the queen of the waves. What moments would you say you relished the most while writing the book?
All the chapters are significant and drew different emotions. There are seven chapters in the book:
My Unique Beginning, Finding My Voice, Journey to Finding Myself, My Journey to Happily Ever After, Hot FM, Influencers, and So You Want To Be A Broadcaster. I think ‘My Journey to Happily Ever After’ is where my real happiness started. Deciding on and standing by my choice of who to marry despite some challenges was key for me, because I was and I am still intentional about my happiness. I knew for sure that ending up with the wrong person would mean a lifetime of misery. Plus, I love love.
And what was the most difficult part of writing the book?
Recalling events, some not so pleasant. I broke down in tears remembering some things. I also shed tears of joy in the course of writing. You know, sometimes you are sure you have healed, and you moved on. But writing was some form of doorknob that opened the floodgate of emotions for me. However, I feel good about all of it. I am happy I did this.
I am a sum total of the things I have been through in life. No regrets at all.
Tell us something the world doesn’t know about you?
Ah! I don’t know!
I’ve heard that you sometimes dance to pop beats while in the studio. Would you call yourself a music lover beyond radio? And what kind of music do you vibe on?
Yes! I love music… not just because of my job. My job opened me up to all kinds of music. But I grew up listening to country music. One of my foster parents, Auntie Pat, and Uncle Joe loved and played a lot of Don Williams, Dolly Parton and the likes. That influenced me during my early years. So, I like country music and soft rock. With my choice of career, diversifying my music taste was inevitable. As a presenter, you know music was a prerequisite. I have also loved dancing since I was a little girl. Dance is my best form of exercise. Interestingly, I studied music and dance as a Theatre Arts student. So, what are we dancing to today?
In this digital world, it’s become a thing for celebrities like you to keep their families away from social media but you post yours, would you say you don’t see the need to keep your family away from the public eye?
I think it is a matter of choice. We all need to protect our children however we deem fit, whether on social media or in other spaces. For those that keep their children out of social media, I commend them for their choice. Though, my children are a part of me on social media, I am guided about what I share.
What has been the peak for you so far this year? And what big things are you looking forward to achieving through the year?
The peak in 2020 was completing and publishing my book. This year is just unfolding. I have had the privilege of speaking at the UN CSW 65 event organised by Helpline Foundation for the Needy. This year, apart from growing Hot FM Abuja where I have worked for over 16 years, I hope to grow my personal brand, Queen Rita. So, fingers crossed.
Still on the book, in the last chapter or so, you shared some helpful tips for young broadcasters who desire to be like you. Could you share some of those tips with us?
Every profession has its requirements. It is important for anyone choosing a career path to be able to answer that career question. Plus, give it the seriousness it requires. Broadcasting is often viewed as the place to ‘blow’ or become popular. These should not be the propelling force. Even if it is, you must be a really good and impactful broadcast journalist to achieve that. The tips I shared will help anyone looking to delve into broadcasting. To be a good broadcaster, you must be knowledgeable, disciplined, bold, and have a good support system. By the way, my book is available on Roving Heights bookstore and Amazon.