First of all, Citi FM’s Osei Kwame submits a playlist to be envied by anyone who even slightly cares about music.
Let’s take this further: he’s probably the one deejay in this town who is able to fashion out artful collages through an unlikely assemblage of Teddy Pendergrass, Asa, Paapa Yankson, Justin Timberlake, Rocky Dawuni, Dianna Ross, Coldplay, Adomaa, Miles Davis, Kojo Antwi, Aaliya, Six Strings, Robin Thicke, Efya, Etta James, etc.
It is specifically his competence in serving this potpourri within the same radio show: Brunch in the Citi, that makes him special –that, coupled with his elegant eloquence, the striking smoothness of his dark complexion, and the magic of neighbourly words conveyed through his lovely baritone –that same baritone that is also sophisticated, aware, and confident in what impact it has on the listening ear, and yet, constantly grateful for audience at all. I think I just described a gentleman. Anyway…
Until YouTube for example, it was impossible to be granted this much access to this much music –such expansive an assortment too. Thankfully, the days of sitting by the radio, hoping that your favourite song comes on, have been neatly tucked away in decades past because we have the internet.
What therefore is the role of radio? Why is the medium not endangered still? Why is there a new station every fortnight in Accra, for instance?
Simple: we listen to radio for the element of surprise. You know what songs are on your phone; you downloaded them yourself. When you listen to radio though, it is for the raffle of the playlist. You look forward to being surprised.
When a deejay has –through a combination of talent, passion, effort, and instinct –narrowed down what specific songs your spirit (not your mind) looks forward to being surprised by, even without you knowing, and it gets you to let out cries of sudden elation, then you know miracles are real, and he that is behind the microphone is born of God.
Osei Kwame is born of God, because he achieves this several times during Brunch in the Citi. Good heavens! From where did he dig these Nat King Coles? This Sadé Adu was my song back in the day! And because songs are catalysts to memory, it feels like reuniting with an old friend for the first time in a long time. Life comes down to such moments as these.
OK (as he’s otherwise called)’s Brunch in the Citi playlist is obviously painstakingly picked out. It is why it so teleports you to a specific zone of peace and quiet, which is the perfect place to be during work anyway.
This playlist, while it is largely based on 70s Soul, Jazz and Country music, is also vast, because it ropes in Highlife too, R&B, Reggae, Rock, Folk, Blues, Pop, even Rap. Everything is in there, and yet, it’s pillow-soft and reliant on gentle guitar melody.
Osei Kwame’s listenership transcends a single demographic, you can tell by the feedback which comes in: an undergrad is bonding with a P!nk number in a quiet dormitory, a husband dedicates Sinatra to his darling at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, an entire office of Fidelity Bank is tuned in, and so on. He appeals to both souls –the Aretha Franklin lover and the Cina Soul fan –and this middle ground, which he has brilliantly risen to become mayor of ( regent even), has certainly endeared him to everybody –from former Miss Ghana and PPP running mate Bridget Dzogbenuku to the supple Fante woman I am looking to woo –which brings me to this curious fear of mine: while it may be pure speculation, I’m certain that going against Osei Kwame (who’s both exciting to look at, and to listen to) for the “prize” of a woman’s affection, is hardly a fair contest under any circumstance.
But back to the real matter: Osei Kwame also represents a model which is fast-fading with the Doreen Andoh generation –that specific quintessence intended for radio. Radio is evolving, and so are the dynamics of mid-morning shows: they’re gradually swaying from soft talk and soothing music to something louder, and more dance-ready music. I don’t know how we got here, and frankly, I don’t mind, as my mood (like everyone else’s) varies, and there should always be some place to turn.
I’ll tell you this though: I like the contrast; this is what mid-mornings traditionally sound like, and then over there, is what the future of mid-mornings will sound like. I admire how much balance Osei Kwame brings with Brunch in the Citi. He knows these old folks; he invokes them so powerfully, and displays the timelessness of great songs. He knows these new folks; he highlights which ones are religious to rhythms of the heart; and by so doing, prophesies of what records will be classics in coming decades.
I admire how Citi FM has largely stuck to the originality of mid-morning programming, and managed to be whom the rest look toward. Then again, all Citi FM programming is worth emulating.
Not much is known of OK away from the microphone, something which is noteworthy in an era where everyone seems preoccupied with celebrity complexes. It means that his craft is where all the focus is, and he’s not looking to steal extra merit/attention from social media shenanigans nor public scandal.
Osei Kwame took over from Jessica Opare Saforo, a veteran in her own right. She had run the show for years and earned ubiquitous recognition for it, including by the prestigious Radio and Television Personality Awards (RTP) –and even if neighbouring Atlantis Radio was good enough gestation for OK, these were mighty shoes to be filled.
Brunch in the Citi would be both his greatest gift and biggest test yet. Would he abide by the existing template and lose himself in the shadows of Jessica’s legacy?
Or would he incorporate his own technique and self, and stealthily indent his presence however difficult, and however long it took?
Osei Kwame opted for the latter, and nearly three years on, he’s standing fine.
Born Nana Osei Kwame Bonsu, OK’s relationship with radio started with Atlantis Radio, from where he moved to host Citi FM’s flagship late afternoon show the Traffic Avenue, and then swapped with colleague Jessica Opare Saforo for Brunch in the Citi in February 2014. Brunch in the Citi airs weekdays 10 am – 2 pm.