His Plans Are Set But The Ingredient Is Praying And Believing
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Tolu Adepegba or more famously known as LadyT is the radio presenter for the drivetime show on Premier Gospel. One of the most well known UK radio shows within Europe, the TV presenter and podcast host has been in business for over 12 years.
Speaking to her about perspective on her journey, the future for Lady T and beyond, this interview is one that you need to get comfortable for.
2BReal: How did you get your current job?
TA: I applied for it like everyone else. I was sent the role by my mentor, Gary Smith at the time. I didn’t want to apply for the role because I wasn’t ready. My mentor thought otherwise. He believed in me that much, even when I didn’t in myself. So we worked on the application together and then to my surprise I was selected & I went for the interview. In fact, the first stage interview was via Skype & I had just landed from America that morning. Slept for a few hours, prepped, prayed & did the interview in my pyjamas, well I brushed my hair, put a little cream on my face & put on a jumper but still had my pyjama bottoms on LOL! and now I’m here, six years later in February 2019.
2BReal: Tell us a bit about yourself. When did you know that you wanted to become a presenter and where did it all start?
TA: I was born in Nigeria, moved to the UK in 1990 when I was about seven and a half. At the time it was just me, my brother & my sister. Towards the end of the year we moved to the UK, my youngest brother was born. My father passed away in 1994, four years after moving to the UK. This was very hard for my mum who now had to look after four kids by herself.
From then on, I had to grow up real quick. Mum was working two jobs to support us she may even have had three. So I had to be an adult quite young quickly to help look after my siblings. It’s funny, every time I write about his (my dad’s) passing, I get emotional. In terms of future, at that time, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do before I was a teenager. It was only when I was in a girl group with friends did I realise I wanted to work in entertainment….
Yes, I was in ‘girl group’ LOL!
In my teens, my interest in music grew and grew, much to the annoyance of my mum. At the time she didn’t believe music or entertainment put food on the table. TypicaI African parent, I had to do accounting, lawyer, medicine etc. I point blank said to her ‘no it’s boring & it’s not for me’. Fast forward to college, I still didn’t know what I wanted to do but I knew music was a part of it. I went to the extent of applying to record labels abroad to do internships and kept getting rejected lol. I laugh now but it was so frustrating then.
When there was a call out for volunteers to help with a new college radio station, that’s when things changed. Even in the midst of helping to set up, it wasn’t something that I wanted to do as a career. When at university, I used to listen to the likes of Chris Moyles, Scott Mills, Jo Wiley who were at Radio 1. Then ChoiceFM presenters Angie Lemar, DaveP, Jenny Francis, Jigs, Martin Jay, George Kay had me thinking I like the way these guys talk and love their shows. When I volunteered on a show that was on the local BBC station, it was then when I knew that I could do this as a career.
2BReal: Is anyone else in your family in the media industry? Where did the inspiration come from?
TA: The only other person in the media industry is my cousin. He’s on the Sky production team for all their sports output. The inspiration came from being young and wanting to work in entertainment. I knew I loved music and wanted to work in the industry.
2BReal: At what point did you realise that you wanted to go into broadcasting?
TA: Probably in the last year of my volunteering on Urban Gospel Experience on BBC Oxford with Dj G (Gary Smith). I remember saying to God that If you want me to do this if this is the path I’m to go then I need to get paid for it and enjoy it. Fast forward to being at Premier Gospel for nearly 6 years and loving it. It has its good and bad days. But the good has been super high & awesome because I get to meet some amazing people, hear their stories, meet people making moves in mainstream industries who are Christians. I’ve met artists that I’ve listened to growing up like Kirk Franklin, Donnie McClurkin, Ron Kenoly, Mary Mary etc and discovering new artists which get me soo excited and hyped lol!
2BReal: Your drive time show is one of the most popular on Premier Gospel. With over 750,000 listeners per week tuning in, how do you continue to maintain a level of originality as a woman of influence?
TA: Simply by being myself and relatable. Listeners know when you aren’t being real. When you are not, they tune out. It’s important to open up and share personal likes and dislikes and things that bug you because I can guarantee someone listening has experienced it. When you are real, they will tune in and follow & won’t want to miss you being on air or what you have to say. There are things that I’ve said and forgotten that I said it. Then at an event, a listener will come up and tell me I said something and it relates to them or it helped them.
If what I’ve said has had a positive impact on them then I know that what I’m doing is worth it. What I do is bigger than me and I’ve only realized that in the last two years or so. When I feel a way where I’m not feeling great or just wanting to quit…it happens because you question is all this worth it. It’s only when I get a call from a listener encouraging me in that they are being blessed by what I’m doing at the station. That for me hits home, changes my mood and then makes me grateful for where I’m at.
Also, it lets me know that God is watching and listening and will send a listener to reassure me. Doing the show He has also opened up some great opportunities and connections which allows me to relate and connect off the air and I guess being in a place of ‘influence’.
I have hang-ups about that word but that’s for another day LOOOL!!!
2BReal: You recently started Kand!d with Lady T. What spurred the need to begin the podcast and what do you aim to solve for this generation?
TA: I’ve had the podcast idea for about a couple of years before I eventually started it. It was then a combination of heated lunch conversations, getting frustrated with myself for not stepping out and doing what God has asked and then watching a particular online show which I won’t name, which I thought was absolute trash. Like I was watching in disbelief. I thought this can’t be how young adults are thinking and carrying on, is it? It just seemed vicious & unhealthy.
I then thought I have to start this podcast and change the way conversations and topics are approached. They need to be open, safe, relaxed, respectful and informative. You can disagree because not everyone will agree even as Christian. I’m not sure I can solve but I can most certainly be part of the solution so this generation doesn’t need to act or move the way they are. If you want long term sustainability in work, life, relationships, you can communicate, listen and think effectively and positively. Also showing what the Bible says about particular situations.
2BReal: How has social media impacted your brand and how you interact with your audience?
TA: It has impacted it because I now have to be mindful of what I post. In all honesty, If I didn’t have to deal with social media, I wouldn’t bother. It’s a job in itself. Only last year I was made to realise that I need to think differently and really use it as a proper marketing tool. Social media really is a marketing tool despite its toxicity it can come with. So you need to decide what you are really using it for. Oh, how the days of marketing has changed, granted that the old ways are still there. But when you have billions of people at your fingertips, who are consuming online content, of course, you will have to be aware and conscious that you are marketing your services or product as effectively as possible because you want people to buy. People now know that I like to dance a lot, post funny and serious quotes and eat A LOT LOL!!! So that has shaped what I post and what I am known for.
2BReal: How has music and the industry culture changed the way artists connect with you?
TA: It’s the digital world that has changed the way artists connect. Gone are the days when CDs would be sent via post and email hadn’t really taken off. So having advancement in digital technology has made it easier and quicker for artists to connect. There’s Google to find out who’s who, there’s Facebook, Twitter, websites, LinkedIn to find a company online and find out who you need to contact in order for your music to be heard. So nowadays artists have no excuse to not send their music digitally. If you don’t send it, I won’t know and I may not even chase you for it. I have other artists who have made the effort to send theirs in.
So whether you are a well-known or unknown artist, have things in place for your music to get to the radio because I won’t chase. But I’ll chase when I’ve actually sought the artist or group out and I’m feeling their track. When the music is good, I really let the artists know. What’s good is that some artists have become good friends…only a few, not a lot.
2BReal: For some who may be wanting to break into the broadcasting industry, what would be your advice for them in starting out?
TA: The simplest thing is to start out in your local community radio, hospital radio, do work experience or offer to help out. Don’t expect to have a show straight away because you need to prove your worth and be patient. And something someone said at an industry event, you have to be media savvy. The generation we are in, digital is just in your face. So be clued up on social media and how it works. Radio stations will definitely be looking to see if you are competent in online skills, social media, video editing, audio editing, writing articles etc. All that will depend on what area of broadcasting you want to get into. So take courses if you have to, so that your skills are up to date and that you stand out. Have a musical interest especially when it comes to radio. Doesn’t matter what area of radio, you need to like music and be passionate about what you want to get into.
2BReal: As a woman of God, what is your favourite scripture that gives you comfort, confidence and composure?
TA: It has and always will be Jeremiah 29v11 – For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.
I have always held onto verse 11 but only until recently did 12-13 jump out. 11 is the promise but 12 & 13 are commands for us for it to be complete. It’s like making a cake. The cake is the finished product but you need the ingredients in order for it to come together. His plans are set, my future is set but the ingredient is me praying and believing. There are times when I might worry or get myself into an unnecessary funk, but I get myself together and go back this promise. If it’s written and He said it then I have to hold onto it and take comfort in it.