Chude Chudenowo is a media entrepreneur who has been working in the media for 15 years. He has worked in all forms of media; print, online, TV, development, PR and communications. So, it’s the collection of all that experience that we used to build Red Media Africa.
In an interview with Guardian, he said the following,:
You have worked in the media industry for about 15 years now, what would you say was your biggest inspiration for choosing to work as a media practitioner?
When I was leaving school, I never thought that a career in media was a possibility, because most of the people who were in the media were frankly poor, and I didn’t want to be poor. This was after the proliferation of media in Nigeria; there were a lot of TV stations and all of that.
So I thought I was going to be an Accountant. But I should have known because I was a media consumer, I used to read newspapers a lot; I knew a lot of presenters on TV and radio, all the doyens, as they call them, of journalism. I should have already known that I was a media person, but then you’re a young person and you don’t know, you think everyone is like that. So, when I came out of school and I got my first TV job which was live on TV on Levi Ajuonuma’s Show, he was interviewing me and he asked “So, the viewers, I think he’s a very smart, young man, should he have a segment?” And they said “Yes”. So, once that happened, it immediately clicked for me that this is what I’m supposed to do.
But even then, I thought I was going to be in communications because that was where the money was supposedly, not print, not etc. But luckily as my story began to evolve, and I count myself lucky, the industry itself began to expand as I began to see more opportunities to be in this industry.
So, the Future Awards has been on for nearly a decade now, can you remember the earliest thoughts that birthed the idea that became the Future Awards now?
I remember that I was sitting down with a friend of mine, Peju Adeniran, at LUTH and we were talking about our visions to ourselves. We were outside in the dark of night, in front of her hostel. And I told her that I’m so passionate about young people, that the kind of person I want to be, the kind of brand I want to be is that when people think about young people the first person that they should think about is Chude.
And you know, I was just saying these random things, and unlike entrepreneurs these days can be very confident, I wasn’t, it was just something I said like a wish, if I could have it this is what I want to be. And when we were to do the Future Awards we postponed it like three times, we were just so afraid that we couldn’t pull it off without sponsorship, so it’s amazing that the first edition didn’t have any sponsor.
You must remember also that many of the major things in this country started in that year, SMVA (Soundcity Music Video Awards), AMAA (Africa Movie Academy Awards) and I think MAMA (MTV Africa Music Awards) as well. That was the first time we heard that SoundCity did a red carpet at the Headies Awards. So there was no precedence, just a thought that until then the only way that people were engaging with young people was with these boring conferences and seminars, and we thought “What’s the best way to get the attention of young people? What’s the best way to inspire them?”
And we thought the combination of what we want to achieve are the things that young people seemingly want, or that capture attention: celebrity, glitz, drama, and that’s why we did the Future Awards. We thought an event would be better than a magazine or a TV show, an event would incorporate all of these elements, but I honestly never thought we could do it, until my partner at the time – we used to have a female partner – said “But we can do this thing o. We can get this from here, get that from there.” Before then my mind hadn’t yet opened to the possibility that we could do it without money, and then again brands didn’t have youth segment managers so it was even more difficult to get money for youth initiatives, but we did it.
Your career began really early at the age of fifteen; would you say this reality provided peculiar challenges or opportunities for you?
Peculiar both, but more opportunities than challenges. Honestly I don’t see the challenges, because when I started people used to say that they can’t give money to a small boy for the Future Awards, I’m sure that they still say it, but I don’t hear it anymore, so it’s not really my business, if I lose anything that I do not know I’ve lost, it’s fine.
What would you describe to be your proudest moment so far? What do you consider to be your greatest achievement so far?
Honestly, my greatest achievement, and this is not a cliché by any means, but when I wake up in the morning and I look at my team and the company that we’ve built, that is my greatest achievement. It is easy to win an award, not that it is easy, but it is a matter of panellists coming together to analyse your work.
It’s quite easy to make money; anybody can do that, but to build a business, to build an actual thing that didn’t exist before, and to keep it running optimally, legitimately, and profitably. You know one of my proudest moments last year was the ability to say to myself that I would increase all the salaries in this business, and I don’t know where I was going to get the money from, but I was going to do it because I think it’s the right thing to do and to be able to do it without having a company that shook because of that. Those daily decisions that you have to make, the complex decisions that you have to make, and to eventually find out that your decisions worked out well and you’re still standing and you’re not just standing but you’re growing.