Many at times as a blogger; I have always written about brands, public figures, and done digital communications for organizations. However, today am here to tell the Mugibson story; the journey on the pursuit of my media dreams.
To start us off; just a few days back, on the 6th of May, I did upload my very first episode of my series of podcasts that am going to be putting up from time to time. The podcast runs under the title of “Mugi Talks”. While on the podcast, I will be sharing and discussing various topics with a keen focus and interest on mental health, social and human well-being, relationships, health among others.
With the podcast, I will be providing voiced versions of some of my articles I write on here. It’s a win win situation in this case. My readers who have a hard time reading these long articles, can simply listen in to them using their favorite podcast streaming platform. The podcasts are to be available on as many platforms as possible. They include; Spotify, Google Podcasts, Radio republic, Anchor, Apple Podcasts etc.
For the case that you are the kind that has trouble with reading long articles, I do reckon that this Mugi Talks podcast should be a go-to avenue for you my dear reader, since the content on the blog site is the same as that I share on them podcasts.
This article is not any different from the usual long pieces I do occasionally write. However, this article is about my story, my journey to making it to joining the media industry. In case you love to read stories; well — its story time.
Before we dive deep into this, how about I take you down memory lane to when my dreams of becoming a media personality blossomed from.
Growing up, I was always that kid that loved to talk; be it to visitors at home, with classmates (this of course always guaranteed me a spot on the “Noise makers’ list” and earned me some canes some days at school), or even any one I pretty much crossed paths with; so long as they could respond.; that was all it took to spark conversation.
My ability to be this confident is much credited to my dad who instilled it in me right from a very little age. This helped me stand out from the rest of my age mates who were rather shy at the time. Because of this; some teachers right from primary school always entrusted me with duties of standing in for them at the blackboard to write or lead the class during discussions in their absence. This kept helping sharpen my audibility, articulation of words and phrases and overall presentation skills.
In brief, it is safe to say that media chose me since day one. Here are a few instances where I did get opportunity to execute presentation/ media related duties:
I represented my schools I attended at various levels. In one incident, my primary school was among the participants at the inter-school literacy and comprehension contest at Naguru Infant and Primary school, where I participated in imaginary story writing and my piece was marked the best submission in that category. I do remember my script having an 80% on its face upon being returned.
While in my p6 class (2010), the New Vision newspaper, introduced the “Toto Magazine”; a regular children’s pullout that was published each Wednesday. I was a big fan of it because it always had good children’s stories, crossword puzzles, drawing and coloring lessons, birthday shout outs, among others. The part that caught my eye the more was the section where kids’ articles were published. I therefore challenged myself to write something like an article that I knew my fellow agemates would love to read and also learn from. The piece was about the importance of saving and was titled “Saving is right”. It was published mid 2011 (July 13th) and soon as the article featured, being caught up with work at office, my father could not make it to school himself, so, he put a copy of the magazine where our article I had written in 2010 had finally been printed, he put it on a motorbike and sent me the copy of the mag at school. Y’all should have seen the way my face was beaming with joy; upon seeing my piece feature.
Funniest thing I remember about the magazine feature is that; that very day my article was published; on the cover of the magazine was a picture of a good-looking light skinned young lady, and people at school kept asking me if she and I were related; and by any chance if she happened to be my sister; just because we were both featured on the same day; or maybe because we were both light skinned.
I used to also be a very passionate and celebrated debater while in primary school. I do remember this one time in 2011 when the debating team which I was part of was invited by Kamwokya based radio station; Record Radio. Can’t clearly recall what the topic of discussion was that day but one thing I do remember is that once we entered the station’s studios, I was already in love with the radio environment. It was love at first sight. I mean there was just something about having headphones on my head, docked away comfortably by the studio seats and the AC that got me as I spoke into the microphone that thrilled my little soul. Coincidentally, that day of the interview was also visitation day at school. The presenter (host of the show) who had hosted us asked us if we would like to send shout outs to those special in our hearts before we could say bye to the listeners. My dad being my rock, it definitely had to be him I said while on air.
Having been through with the interview, we were driven back to the school premises. And good enough, my dad was seated under the immediate shed that was adjacent to the school gate with other parents. You should have seen the bliss in my heart and eyes when he told me he had been tuned in and was so happy to hear me talk on radio. This must have been the first official trigger of my love for wanting to work on radio someday.
Growing up as children, we always have dreams. It could be to become a doctor, policeman, teacher, engineer, nurse, soldier, lawyer etc. Being a normal kid, I also had one of these ambitions of one day taking on one of these as a career. But like we all know, dreams evolve as we keep growing and our interests keep shifting.
Like I earlier confessed, I for one; have always been a talker, of course and a good listener. We once were at dad’s office and I had just got my first pair of spectacles because I had short sightedness then. Looking at me, my father mentioned to me how he saw a lawyer in me because the glasses really looked good on me and you and I would somehow all agree to that because lawyers are synonymous with putting on glasses. Deep down I knew this was not something for me though. For the obvious reasons; one is that I do not fancy reading (because the profession genuinely requires one to be a fan of the books.) and two I am a person who is not into conflict or witnessing it; of which according to the movies I watched, it always seemed to me that lawyers were always there to defend “bad” people or be “arguing” in court; I therefore could not see myself doing this kind of profession.
Being that my father was into business, he did execute and attend to his appointments, calls and work on his clients with passion; I got inspired by it and at some point, I kinda felt like maybe business would be my thing. I do remember vividly telling my dad, “Me when I grow up, I want to be like you”; like the common norm and saying is; that most boys always wish to become what their fathers are in terms of career when they grow up.
While in the holidays, I did a lot of watching of television. I would sometimes keep my father company as he watched news. In each commercial break in between the news segments, adverts would run. The one that caught my dad and I’s eye most was the one of Movit Products Ltd whose advertisements were made by young lady most of us; you and I are familiar with; she’s called “Baby Gloria”. Having an endorsement with this brand, she has always appeared in their commercials.
One day my dad looks at me and he’s like; “I don’t know why but something deep inside me tells me you can actually make a good TV presenter. Ever considered that? Because me as me, I see it in you. I really live for the day I will get to see you work on television. I just smiled and said back to him, one day I’d be on TV and that i would make him proud. Just some day. Being that she (Baby Gloria) was in my age range, this was kind of an inspiration and encouragement that no matter what someone’s age was, they could still achieve their dream.
Soon as my primary 7 vacation kicked off, I wrote an application for a consideration to work on NTV’s “Planet K”; a children’s show that used to air on Saturdays. Looks like luck wasn’t on my side, as when we reached, the bombshell was dropped on us; that the show slot was already taken. And that it did have a presenter already. This did not deem my spirit though. I instead got to love media and television to be in particular the more because the dream to one day get there in media had been deeply rooted in me by now.
My public speaking skills were put to test in 2012 at my little brother’s birthday at home where my father put me to task to preside over the event as the master of ceremonies (MC); top of which I was already in charge of coordinating the entire mini ceremony and all, but I loved every single bit of it, because I mean; these are two my favorite people and I’d do anything for them.
Fast forward to 2013; in my senior two, I begun listening to too much radio in this year; more so XFM since it had been two years into the radio business (having been launched in 2011) There used to have this breakfast show called XAM; which was hosted by Siima, Rudende and Libolo. I was always super excited and looked forward to tuning in each morning; from 6am till 10am when it got done. I loved the selection of music they used to play, the presenters were very fun to listen to and had a thing they added to my mornings that they were never the same. Their on-air chemistry was so off the hook.
One Saturday morning, I “early bird” (wake up early) as usual and tuned in so as to hear the sounds of Siima, Libolo and Rudende, but this time round, I was hearing a voice of some man speaking; at rather fast pace but speaking with a lot passion, knowledge, and had a very special way he connected with the people he interviewed during the show. Days later; I got to know that this man was the one and only celebrated reigning king of media of our times; Ryan John Seacrest; and that the program was called American Top 40 (AT40); which is a chart show that airs every Saturday from 10am to 2pm on XFM and would be a countdown of the 40 biggest songs in the world.
Ryan would later turn out to be my role model when it comes to style and above all in being a highly versatile media personality with great radio talent and a warm personality. Ryan has been hosting the At40 countdown since 14th January, 2004 and also doubles as the host of the “On Air with Ryan Seacrest” show on Kiis FM in the U.S.
Around the same time period, as I was flipping through the television channels, I happened to land on Urban TV. As of the year 2013, the digital migration wave in the world of TV hadn’t taken off as much and would be watching Urban most of the times because it had a clear display. Besides having young and brilliant presenters such as Mary Luswata (Sqoop on Sqoop), Gaetano & Malaika Nnyanzi (Urban Today), Denzel & Sheila Salta (Backstage Pass), Mosha (Skizzy), Tattoo Sophie (Fashionista), Kyle, Emmie (Afro Fresh), Daniel Omara (Business Unusual), Humphrey & Shalom (Teen City), among others, the station was really entertaining to watch. This cannot go without mentioning the one and only Judithiana who hosted a fun weekend talk show called “Salon Talk”.
The other presenter who made the days of Urban tv very memorable was the young and enthusiastic lad; who hosted a Tech show called INNOVATE; which I was very much fond of. It was hosted by Daniel Mumbere, and sometimes guest hosted by Brenda Kembabazi. The show used to air on Saturdays, however they later shifted it to Thursday, then Sunday and another week day again hence I totally losing track completely.
Meanwhile at school, in my s.3 (2014), I contested for the position of Assistant Information Prefect; where I went through unopposed and won by majority vote. This would see me executing tasks such as; collecting news, compiling bulletins to be read on assembly and sometimes anchoring the news myself or sometimes with the assistance of my senior; the Information Prefect himself.
Back at home in the holidays, on my favorite station; a new television program known as (#TAG) was in its early stage of debut. The program focused on social media, trends, and the internet. It was hosted by Daniel Mumbere as well. It used to show daily during the week days on Urban TV still. Having opened my Twitter handle a few months back (May 2013 to be exact), so as to keep engaging with these shows I enjoyed following, this was indeed the program for me to get my grip on so as to learn more about proper maximization and usage of social media.
I reached out to Danny (like I call him) in 2014 and told him I wished to one day work on television and wanted to be like him. Days later, upon checking my inbox, I realized that he had responded to my message bambi. Having seen my message of how I found his work ethic incredibly inspiring and wished to have a one on one on lessons plus tips of how to make a good television presenter. He gave me an invite to come to the New Vision offices where Urban tv’s studios too were. While at the studios, I got an opportunity to watch a LIVE episode of #TAG that was going to be aired that night being recorded and filmed. I remember the guest on the show that day was celebrated gospel deejay; DJ Twonjex.
Daniel also ran a blog site (www.mumbere.blogspot.com) where he shared interesting stories, escapades, and encounters. From his tales while at campus to narratives of how his phone was robbed while in Nakasero. I was really moved by his love to tell stories in an appealing and engaging way. So, those of you who love my articles and wonder where I learnt it from, it was from this humble young lad. Being that I was following in his footsteps, I opened my very first blog site in 2014 as well. On the site, I shared around three stories on it but later deleted the site because the platform had limited features which kinda discouraged me and besides I even didn’t have reason and purpose to write at that time; to be honest. He has always encouraged me to continue to keep pushing, keep practicing my craft and that harvest time for all my hard work is surely coming.
With this motivation, for the next couple of months, I would make occasional visits to the station offices; bearing television program ideas, and concepts but I kept being turned down. Not because they didn’t want me but I was really raw, still a student and most of my ideas were mostly musical shows, yet the station had numerous musical themed programs already. Rejection after rejection, and with one disappointment leading to the other, I somehow convinced myself out of this dream; and told myself that maybe TV wasn’t meant for me.
I therefore went back to my roots in radio; which was my other favorite part of the media. Because of the AT40 countdown I always listened to, I went on a deep dive to seek understanding on how and what made Ryan Seacrest the best media personality there is. I got to find out that he had begun working on radio while he was 16; in his home town of Atlanta, Georgia. Begun to listen to various recordings of his shows as i mimicked his style of speaking and presenting. at least this was a major step to growth towards learning as much as i could about the industry i dreamt of getting into; which is media.
It was around this very time, during my senior four vacation when I watched Disney Channel’s “Radio Rebel”, a movie that revolves around Tara Adams (Debby Ryan), a student at Lincoln Bay High School who dreaded speaking to people in public, but in the privacy of her bedroom played a confident radio jockey, Radio Rebel; who passes on inspiration messages to her fellow high school students. Having later been discovered by her step father, Tara is then given a fill in DJ slot at his radio station; SLAM FM.
Being that I already had a hunger and thrill for working on radio, this movie really got me. Scenes where the main actress; radio rebel would just have the headphones on, tweak radio buttons, do a good delivery while on air, connect with the audiences and above all use her voice for a change is something that I really saw and knew I was destined for too; some day. I remember, while she still working on her home online radio which she run on her laptop, I thought to myself and dreamt I’d one day replicate that. And just needed someone with the technical know how of how to set it all up and I would be good to go.
I was lucky enough that one of my very first friends I made while in my s.5 called Mark, was a student of PEM (Physics, Economic and Mathematics) and during night preps being our very week at school were there sharing and that’s how I got to tell about this insane idea I had seen in a movie and whether we could recreate it; since he was an engineer in the making. We drew up sketches, made the appropriate research. Even though we were not able to bring the idea to life; what still touches my heart most was the dedication we had towards making a remote radio station work; just for the sake of a friend trying to help me prepare to reach my dream of working on radio.
While at my new high school, most friends I made and connected with got to know and later become fans too of the AT40 countdown. Also, during my time at my high school, I did engage mainly in inter house quiz contests. That was my favorite “out of the class” activity.
The greatest thing about high school is how fast time runs; before we could know it, our two years were done and we were headed for vacation; our s6 vacation. To me; this is the stage which if it were a chapter in a book; I’d title: The struggle.
Fresh into vacation, I paid a visit to one of Uganda’s oldest radio stations in the city’s capital; Kampala. Having greeted the receptionist, I narrated to her how I wished to volunteer to work for their radio during my long eight months holiday as I awaited to join university. She told me that all I needed was to do a “voice test” and in case the programs director liked my delivery, they’d give me a call back. The voice tests were carried out every Saturday, I was reliably informed by her.
Having made my inquiry, the previous day (Friday), next morning, I was up at a cock’s crow, took a bath, dressed really smart and made my way to the station premises. Once again found the receptionist, greeted her and then proceeded to make myself comfortable in the “waiting room” to wait for the recording studio to be opened by its operator. Moments later, it was, and the operator called me to go into the recording studio. He asked me my name, and phone number were taken down and told me to talk about myself; where I made my humble submission. The studio operator then passed me a script and gave me a go- ahead to place the studio headphones on and do a mock presentation of what was written on the script. We recorded the demo in three takes; the first take was really horrible as I kept on rushing though the script and sounded so unnatural since I was trying so hard to follow the script. The studio operator made it easy on me by telling me that I do not necessarily have to say whatever is written on the script and that I could improvise. He then told me that they would keep my demo saved among the rest and that if a program where my voice best fits ever had a blank, I would be summoned to come through.
Being a person who loves to always get feedback, I then asked the gentleman, what he thought of my demo as a person. He said that he loved the energy, the passion in the voice, and how I commanded an audience from the word go when the microphone had gone on. I happily walked out of that studio that day; and was already envisioning myself finally getting opportunity to do something I loved; which was – working on radio.
Like the popular saying, “do not put all your eggs in one basket” advises, I also tried out my luck and shot my career shot at several other radio stations around town. Saddest bit of it is I was always told to write application letters and CVs to leave for management to later go through and that they would give me a call back; which I do not recall ever happening. This other radio station in particular, I went to and I the receptionist told me to come back the next day because I had come late and the Human Resource Manager (HR) had already left since he would usually be around between 11am to midday. Being a vacist must be another of those most trying moments of someone’s life; you literally have no source of income, and you are really lucky if you get an employment opportunity (job) to keep you engaged and earning. I recall walking all the way from town till the media house’s offices because I did not have sufficient funds to facilitate my transportation. Walking might not have been bad at all, but it was drizzling heavily and I braved this rain because I did not want to miss finding the H.R at the radio station and I got lucky that by 10am, I was already seated awaiting their arrival. Having sat for over an hour, and no sign of the Human resource Manager gracing the studio that day, I stood up and went towards the door of the electronic news gathering room, knocked on the door and was allowed in. I asked one of the ladies what time the human resource of the station would be coming, and she told me that he wasn’t going to be no show that day. I then proceeded to inquire from her whether there’s a possibility that their radio would take on a vacist; willing to volunteer in any department to which her answer was no since the radio is a commercial enterprise and does not therefore allow voluntary labor but rather paid labor; and of which to reach that paid labor status someone should have had academic qualifications of not less than university level so as to be legible to apply.
This was also no easy shot for me to handle. Carrying with me my broken heart, I was almost half way into kissing my media dreams goodbye but decided to give media one more shot and went to another radio station in town. To begin with, this network has a variety of sister media channels under it and the uptown radio station they own is the one I wished to volunteer for, I was however told it was full and was pushed to the least listened to station the network owned. Reaching there, the lady who was handling it told me that if I came with that mentality of a modern youth (with ideas of an entertainment, music, sports or whichever “non-developmental” radio program idea, this station would not be for me. She made it clear that their radio only broadcasted content about agriculture, health and education and that if I could come up with such content, she could then consider giving me an interview. That was just about it. Ladies and gentlemen, this sealed it for me and i took a break from the hunt for chance, for opportunity, for acceptance to at least prove to the employers that i was worth the risk.
Dreams of working on radio seemed kind of futile, judging from how my efforts would always keep me so emotionally down and feeling bad about myself that I wasn’t living my dream, I decided to venture into vlogs; which saw me starting an online web series called “#MugibsonTV” where I would do amateur mock ups of myself presenting television programs. With the aid of my friends like Asher, Joshua Caleb and Prince, Gabriel, Jonathan Meya, and sometimes strangers I would come across and could help me hold my phone to record, I was able to shoot a few episodes which I would upload to Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. I got some really good feedback on the vlogs. I did an episode covering the World Cup Tour when it was brought to Uganda, one on Valentines Day, one about movies that were trending, I did record a vlog about a certain brain game and challenge I was giving to the viewers. A few episodes later, I put a halt on the vlogs permanently because deep down me all I ever wanted to do was radio.
It was now time to apply for university; and my first choice was the obvious; Journalism and Mass Communication, then the others. Unfortunately, I missed out on it.
Because I still had this radio person in me, I decided to make the internet my friend; doing research about how I could create my own and self engineered radio. This was the time I first discovered Anchor in May of 2018. Anchor is a mobile application/ platform that enables one make podcasts on the go. This alone wasn’t enough or a guarantee that one day I could be able to practice main stream radio (work on a real radio station).
I embarked on a mission to find a good journalism/media school where I could join and polish up and mold me into a better media personality. I knew I could not do this on my own, so, I took time off and personally sent an individual message to most of Uganda’s top television presenters, and news anchors; and two weeks of constant checking whether any had replied. All I did was inbox, greet, thank them for the job well done in their area of expertise and then ask whether they knew of a good media school they would recommend someone to join in order to become just as good as them. Not even a single reply from any. This perhaps must be the most hurting thing to ever happen to me in my entire lifetime. It did teach me to never leave someone’s message not replied to or at least reacted to; to show that you have seen it. To be honest, this is the time that I said to myself that if i were to ever make it in this field of the media industry; all I had was God, friends’ support and myself; and that i had to learn to be self reliant because most times in life, disappointments don’t come from far, they come from people you least expect them from. Learning to be independent was learnt that day.
The only response I got was from a lady I had read about who is a Public Relations Officer; and having seen that in her bio of Twitter, I then went to her DM (direct message) and asked her for some recommendations of good media schools to which she told me she didn’t have any in mind; however she wrote a tweet with that question and shared the link with me so I could see the suggestions the people shared in the replies section. There were some really good suggestions and I finally settled.
I later joined school of journalism and mass communication in the closing week of January 2019.
On the 2nd of May, I did record two radio demos (as advised by Mr Dave Rukasi or “Anko Dee” as we call him, after he saw my pinned tweet about my many failed attempts at applying and trying my luck at radio stations); one of a music request show, and the other of a breakfast show. I them shared them online (YouTube and Twitter).
These got so much buzz most especially on Twitter. Having posted video snippets of each, along with the #HelpMugibsonGetOnRadio, i therefore requested people to kindly (@) radio stations in whose programming style and format my delivery would fit by tagging them on my behalf. Various people messaged me with suggestions and some advice on how to improve my presenting, others with recommendations of radio stations . This I did do. First station was one in Bukoto. Then another recommendation was by my good friend Ptah who is also a big fan of the AT40 Ryan Seacrest show, who connected me to the General Manager of one of Kampala’s top uptown stations. I got in touch with them, we spoke for a while and I even send him my demos as requested.
In case you do wish to listen in to the demos I recorded; you can check them out here on YouTube.
Well, I know we have come far in this article, and if you have made it to this stage, thank you for your commitment to reading and for the support. It means a lot. Well, I went back in December 2018; a year later to the very radio station I did my very first voice test (the one I went to at the start of my s6 vacation) and the “We shall call you” ear warming response was served to me. Not any different from most scenarios many other people go through in the other fields when it comes to employment or seeking for an opportunity.
Also, in May last year 2019, a good friend of mine informed about an opening at a television station that had been launched in Makerere, where I did deliver my application letter and CV too. The interviews were conducted successfully; but still I as I, I wasn’t given a call back. This did not pain me so much, since my sole focus was mainly on radio and not screen.
Much of my motivation and support system has always been my friends; both online (on social media), and those I know in person. They have continuously been there. I do know that the struggle is not over yet; and that one day this dream that we’ve been upholding all this while will one day work out and shall cheer to wins. I do thank you so much for being a great group.
So, this article is like a personal example of how sometimes my blog articles can be lengthy; which is one of the reasons why I resumed with the “Mugi Talks” podcasts; to always provide voiced versions of the content I share here. With audio, it is quite easier to absorb the information shared. Besides these podcasts will be an opportunity to help me grow as a future radio personality; so that the day I finally get to radio, I’ll be good enough in terms of pace, word articulation, interviewing, and all-round radio presenting.
To date, I listen to quite a number of stations such as 97fm Radiocity, 94.8 Xfm, 91.3 Capital FM, 88.2 Ssanyu FM, 106.1 Nxt Radio, 100.9 Hot100, and 93.3Kfm.
Amidst this journey, a special shout out to all those who have been there; Joshua and Jolly for helping me rewrite my first ever tv script because my handwriting was not legible; and for you both being my first ever audience I presented to and cheered for me. A special blessing to you Derrick, mate (Dreventy). That talk we always had while we were still in high school about each of us’ dreams being valid really keep me going. One day, the artist in you will eventually blow up, and like I promised, I will one day be in position to host you on my radio show when we get there. Your prayers and words of courage meant and still mean a lot. Big thanks to you Stanley as well who always used to call me your “Presenter” instead of my name; these blessings and good luck you spoke towards my direction will one day come to pass. Last but not least is my good friend and brother in the struggle since day one; Kwizera Daniel (Qwizus Mc); with whom we have each had our own share of trying to breakthrough in the media; kudos to you champ for not giving up, man. We’ve seen bad days; but brighter days are on their way. Kim Lanky for always keeping me in check and to remind me to always stay focused and have courage. If I were to make a list of all of you who have genuinely supported and continued to believe in and encourage me right from the start till now; we would spend a whole day while at it.
we are not yet there yet, but some day, your boy Mugi will be on radio. Because i got God, i got you my people and myself to count on.
A special shout out to Elvis of Lvc Graphics Impressions for the amazing artwork which will serve as the face of the “Mugi Talks” podcast.
This podcast is to focus on self-improvement, physical and mental health, social well-being, relationships among other topics. I do look forward to having these deep conversations with you all and seeing each of us grow and learn from each other; just like the tagline/ slogan of the podcast suggests; “purpose through sharing.”
Remember to stay blessed and above all; Stay Safe.