The powerful rise of social media and the multiplication of cable television is, in a bunch, like an invading army at the gate of radio stations, knocking attention and felling attention and snatching listeners from radio stations in the south of Nigeria. Seeing how the craze for cable TV skyrocketed between 2015 and 2018 in the Southeast, one would be forgiven to believe that this was the beginning of the end of southeast radio, of radio being an important medium of information and entertainment in Igboland for the youths, and that by 2021 no one would care about FM stations.
This didn’t happen. From workshops to offices to cars, and in solitary positions far from the Africa Magic-watching family in the sitting room, people have continued to listen to the radio. Radio stations have contributed to this by becoming irresistible with the voice that melts bones and programmes that entertain, enlighten, and demands that you take a position.
Today, in a state like Anambra, nearly one in every three random towns you can mention has a radio station. Duplications are one rung higher than bastardization, thus these plentiful stations can give the impression of a fall of standard. But this is not true, there are still gems among the lot and this is what we would be doing here, pointing at the gems in Southeast radiosphere.
It is impossible to have a list that is representative of the whole states in the Southeast, equally. We didn’t care about geographical balancing, so a majority of the stations come from Enugu and Onitsha metropolis. In fact, of the ten stations we settled for, there are just three outside of Anambra and Enugu States and this is normal, the two states have the resources and the concentration of talents to own Southeast radio.
Owerri could only sneak one station into this list which is a shame for a state that prides itself on its swag. Even the station may be living off its past glories (but we don’t want to fight). Awka and Umuahia should be on this list, they are not. Awka has become the home for government-owned stations and government stations are not the first point of call for refreshing radio entertainment. Aba… sigh.
Too much pre-information kills the flow. Go through the list, eat them up, disagree with it, spit out the ones you may, cuss if you feel like cussing, but don’t lose sight of our goal: We did this for the culture.
Here are the top ten radio stations in the Southeast in ascending order of their influence. Or the way we understand it to be.
Note: You can listen to every southeast radio station here live, online, via streaming sites, and via their respective websites.
Urban FM, Enugu (94.5)
Urban FM came to Enugu in 2016. With a bang. At this time, Dream FM had a super hold on the audience of the young in and around Enugu. One of the assets they unleashed on the Southeast was Honey Ojukwu, the award-winning presenter who began hitting the airwaves as a teenager. Honey co-anchored UrbanFuse and made fans in the thousands.
While Honey has moved on, to Port Harcourt, Urban fans have remained. Their Urban Breakfast Show and Wayback Wednesday have kept fans coming back. And they do not have pushover presenters. One of them, Uche Gabriel, called UCdMC has kept Breakfast Show bubbling.
Wazobia FM, Onitsha (93.7)
Wazobia FM is synonymous with pidgin English radio offering in Nigeria. They started in Lagos and have branched into FCT. If you ever listened to them in Lagos or Abuja, you would appreciate the power of the pidgin language to hold governments accountable, entertain, and distract. You don’t even have to be in Lagos to follow them. You just have to own a GOTV and run short of subscription to catch the Lagos channel.
In just about three years of existence in the Southeast, their shows Una Wake Up, Kunene Zone, Evening Oyoyo Saturday/Sunday Mende Mende, etc, and their presenters Area Mama, Akwaugo, and Angel Gabriel, etc, have captured souls in Anambra, Abia, Enugu, and Delta States.
Hot FM, Owerri (99.5)
Hot FM made waves in the mid-2000s and early 2010s, in Abuja. It was one of the new stations that came to counter the duopoly of Ray Power and Cool FM. Hot FM succeeded in what it came to do and became one of the hottest FMs in the capital.
In its peak, Hot FM boasted of unforgettable OAPs such as Princess Chi, Solid C, Queen Rita, and Elgiva. They ruled the Abuja airwaves which reached places in Nassarawa, Niger, and Southern Kaduna.
Owned by the Anyanwu family and managed by Ndu Scott Anyanwu, they decided to re-invent the magic in Owerri. To solidify its position in the Southeast, they sent down their most prized possession, Princess Chi, to Owerri and she was able to make Hot FM popular in an area then-dominated by government-owned stations and Igbo-language programmes.
With urbane stations springing out in a handful every year, Hot FM now has a lot of rivals but that Hot spark, diminished, has continued to shine.
Solid FM, Enugu (100.9)
Solid FM Enugu is one of the numerous legacies of the Nigerian sage, Dora Akunyili. It is a radio station that was able to strike a great balance between Igbo and English content, between cultural and popular culture, between the religious and the secular, between youthful and elderly presenters. Solid FM is generally an FM in the middle.
The station is one of the oldest surviving privately-owned radio stations in Southeast Nigeria. It was there during the excellence of Cosmo FM. When Cosmo FM left the scene, stations such as Dream FM, Urban, Family Love, and Correct FM have hit Enugu, but Solid FM has remained Solid. They have somehow continually got an audience.
One of their most known programmes is “Soul Sistaz”, an on-air counselling show done at noon on Sundays. The lead speaker is Mama, and she is supported by the Soul Angels and the irregular but thoughtful Soul Brother, dissecting relationships the Godly way.
Ijele Ozy Ejiofor self-styled Ada Nawfija anchors that one programme that also draws a lot of listeners.
The fact that Solid FM can be caught via the waves in Enugu, Ebonyi, parts of Anambra, and Abia States have kept them in the list whenever influential radio stations in the Southeast are thought of.
Magic FM, Aba (102.9)
You can say whatever you may about Aba roads and their restive nature, and you may be right. But you would be wrong if you dismiss the town as a town without radio swag. They have enough of this with Buzz FM and Magic FM. Buzz FM is relatively new but making waves. Magic FM came to come in 2013.
Perhaps their most loved voice is that of Ikechukwu Agu known as IykeDgee who runs the Magic Monday Show, Mondays to Fridays, 6 am to 9 am, and Special Sunday Morning Worship, 6 am to 10 am. He brings brilliance, power, and fun in his OAPing. He used to be with Cosmo FM, now you may understand.
There is also Tee-A the well-traveled sportscaster who has had stints in Sunrise FM and Solid FM (all in Enugu). There is Francis Rhoda who calls herself your radio girlfriend and anchors shows from the hearty to the kiddies’ to the family hour. There’s Anastasia, Lolo V, Abi Sarah, etc.
Magic FM is an influential FM in the Southeast where its frequencies can be reached in Abia, Imo, and Enugu States; and beyond the Southeast into Rivers and Akwa Ibom States.
Salt FM, Abakaliki (98.1)
Ebonyi State has the least amount of FM radio stations in the Southeast. A quick count reveals three – Salt FM owned by Ebonyi Broadcasting Corporation, EBBC, the Federal Unity FM, EBSU FM, and one owned by the new Federal University, The Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu Alike Ikwo, AE-FUNAI.
Of these, Salt FM is the most popular one. And it goes beyond the Salt State, reaching areas in Enugu, Anambra, and Abia States.
The station is known for its use of jingles to sensitize its audience. They did one for Lassa fever, one for Ebola, and three for the Coronavirus. These jingles do more than sensitize, they entertain, and maintain a recognizable brand among even the casual listener. Salt FM is the history-marker of popular events and eras of Ebonyi State and its close neighbours.
Salt FM has both Igbo and English segments and perhaps their most popular show is “From the Heart” anchored by Godfrey Chikwelu known as Baby Mouth, done Wednesdays between 12 am to 4 am in which listeners call in and talk about matters of the heart.
You can argue about Salt FM placed so high on this list by comparing them with others behind and some not on this list and your argument is valid. But since we are talking about influence, you would struggle to win this argument.
Brila FM, Onitsha (88.9)
For lovers of sports, Brila FM is the go-to place. The station has the advantage of being in Lagos and Abuja, meaning that Igbos returning for Christmas, other holidays, or occasions or relocating would reconnect with their favourite sports commentary channel.
They have popular shows such as “Hard Tackle” in which they have two in-house OAPs debate over an issue with callers and comments from social media also taken into deciding the winner of the contest, VAR in which they have topical issues such as “Is North Macedonia’s win over Germany another reminder that there are no more minnows in football?”
Other programmes include Beyond Border Sports Show, Live Commentary of matches with phone-in interactions with fans, etc. One of their well-known presenters is Nina, the Radio Goddess, who arrived in Onitsha in mid-2020 and took the channel by storm.
Founded in 2002 in Lagos by Larry Izamoje, Brila FM is the first sports-only radio station in Nigeria. Brila FM Onitsha is the only sports radio in the Southeast.
Soundcity, Enugu (91.1)
If you are on public transport in Enugu or Ebonyi State and the speaker is airing music, one hit after another, uninterrupted by ad, it is not a CD plate – it is Soundcity FM. From 2016, Soundcity TV founded a Radio version and began with Lagos. Then Abuja, Port Harcourt, and Kano. When it was time to storm the Southeast, they chose Enugu and it was a powerful storm.
Soundcity is nearly 100% music. A little talk, and little ad (in fact, I have listened to the stations a lot at different times, and not once did I hear one single ad – it is music after music after music). They play the latest music tracks as “e dey hot”, they play the hits of the moment in various Countdowns and it is not all national content as they have a Home Run Enugu for local music.
Nigerian politics and news are mostly depressing. Soundcity offers the region a giant earpiece to shot out the depression of the state of Nigeria with music and many people in the Southeast are buying.
Blaze FM, Oraifite (91.5)
One word, so many ripples and memories created in many ears and hearts in not just Ori-Ifite, not just in the Onitsha-Nnewi axis, not just in Anambra State, but in major parts Southeastern and into the north and the South-South regions.
Their reach is very impressive. And their content is interactive, entertaining, funny, and enlightening. Established in 2010 by Sir Emeka Offor in his hometown in Oraifite, the station in a relatively unknown town, the station was going to struggle to create a catchy slogan with its host town. They just abandoned the town and went Blaze! and went blazing.
The internet is full of references to Blaze FM Nnewi and Blaze FM Onitsha, or just Blaze FM Anambra. Inaccurate, this being a pointer to the fact that many would rather associate them with a known geography to understand their reach and influence. The station continued to make a name for itself. And it is not just in English: they have programmes in pidgin, and Igbo language. One of their programmes Ratata Republic hosted by Mc Akonuche helped pushed the station to the clouds.
Other programmes such as Blaze 360, Blaze Invasion, and Izumunne/OraObodo have maintained their hold on their fans as far north as Kogi State and as far south as Edo State.
Dream FM, Enugu (92.5)
Dream FM is the most influential radio station, by far, in the Southeast. The station was established in 2009 and it is the nearest thing we have in the quest to replace Cosmo FM and indeed they inherited some of the staff of Cosmo, one of whom is Gloria Orji Emordi. She became one of the most loved voices in the region. While she handled many shows, her anchor of the Ngwongwo Parliament (the one Nigerian Show) is the one that would come to many minds and it fetched her the moniker Madam Secretary.
Another powerful voice is that of Jude Dawan who runs the Breakfast Club and is Alhaji Tanko in the parody Parliament. Lyrics is a musician, presenter, and comedian. There’s Marc Swagz the party animal who holds the hip-hop of the station in his creative grip, there’s Obijizu (Ogbuefi Gburugburu) with his Igbo swag, there’s Ezinne a versatile anchor, there’s Oma of the Mid-day Express, there’s Nekarr.
On the Disc jokey aspect, they have DJ FX2, DJ Trish, DJ Rain, etc. Each a bang-star.
Some of their other popular shows include World VS Word in which they have Pastor Bankie *or someone equally sound) as guest, dissecting the word of God on Sunday morning. They have People’s Forum, Talking Sport, Sport Yarn, etc. Every show is a hit.
Dream FM is not all English – they have Oge Ndigbo where Juliet Anozie (AdaIgbo)’s Akuko Uwa rules. They also have shows in Nsukka and Nkanu dialects with huge sub-ethnic followings.
Dream FM is blessed with great OAPs and producers. Sometimes their sponsored posts and ads rise to irritating levels, but with the understanding that this is a business that must be profitable, it is forgivable; it’s minute compared to the immense entertainment and enlightenment Dream FM Enugu offers its listeners in Enugu, Anambra, Ebonyi, Abia States, and elsewhere.
Cosmo FM is no more but it is regarded by many as the best radio station to come out of the Southeast and is remembered with goosebumping nostalgia. It was founded by former governor, Chimaroke Nnamani, who had questions to answer with the EFCC. So they came, seized all assets linked to him, and shut down many of them. They shut down Cosmo FM which is up there as the biggest injustice and stupidity in equal proportions, done by FG on the Southeast over beef with one man.
Cosmo FM’s office now lies with cobwebs and dust off Ojigba Junction, Ogui Road, Enugu. Indeed, there was a station, a legend.
Silverbird Rhythm Awka is one of the stations owned by then-Senator from Bayelsa State Ben Bruce as part of his Silverbird group. Ben Bruce began having issues with Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, AMCON, over debts he owned Union Bank which AMCON took over.
In June 2016, they threatened to take over his assets. If they carried out this threat, we can’t say for sure but we woke up one day and Silverbird Awka was no longer on air.
It was a very fine station while it aired. Its biggest name Sydney Aneke and his buddy MegaMoney ran the show. Last I heard of them, they were on Family Love (Inspiration FM) in Miliken Hill, Enugu, a station waxing strong and can be in many people’s top ten.
Other stations that can easily make the top ten include Radio Sapientia Onitsha (the most painful to miss out) Heartland FM Owerri (a narrow miss), Coal City FM Enugu is another narrow miss. Purity FM Awka (a federal radio), Odenigbo Obosi, near Onitsha, Authority FM Nnewi (owned by Senator Ifeanyi Uba), Unizik FM Awka, Anambra Broadcasting Service, ABS Awka, the private Darling FM Owerri, the pidgin-laced Correct FM Enugu, and the Enugu State-owned Sunrise FM Enugu, federal radios Unity FM Abakiliki and Pacesetter FM Umuahia are also good.
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