Funke Treasure Durodola is a master of her game. She exudes confidence as she walked towards the podium to give her welcome address. It was the launch of her two books, ‘Pronunciation Guide For Clergy’ and ‘Pronunciation Guide For The Spoken Word Industry’. One could see that she is walking the talk as she spoke taking care to pronounce each word that came out of her mouth correctly, as a speech coach she couldn’t afford to make a mistake with her pronunciation.
Durodola has a burning desire to ensure things go well in an industry she has worked in for more than nineteen years, broadcasting. The desire to ensure that clergies at churches feed their lambs with the correct pronunciation while sharing the bread of life, and for broadcasters on radio and TV to feed listeners with the right words on air, led her to write the books.
“I moonlight as a speech coach after official hours. I realised early enough in the practice that there was a need for a text that would condense all that that they will need to know for accelerated growth. I wanted to put into the hands of my clients a resource manual that would serve them post training. In the bid to do that, I started seeing a greater need for such a book for the larger good,” she says of her journey into writing the books.
Durodola initially set out to write a book, but she ended up writing two books, which is not an easy feat. “The feedback received after releasing the sample book necessitated a second, which I was reluctant to do because of the enormous work involved. It is never easy writing a book; sufficient is the challenge of getting one right. I mean you want to start from the writing itself, without electricity, you power your generator to write. I do not like noise, and I had to get used to writing in a neighbourhood with a cacophony of generator induced noise. And then, the constant traffic that leaves one exhausted. Those were the most challenging part of getting the books out.” In her book ‘Pronunciation Guide For The Spoken Word Industry,’ Durodola you wrote extensively on some common pronunciation errors made by broadcasters on air. She says she became tired “of a ubiquitous development, of correcting presenters about the mispronunciation of words. Some of them would even look at you as if you were impossibly fastidious. In my active days on the air, one feared the disappointing look from a superior when a word was mispronounced. Nowadays, some of these presenters go on a shaming campaign, to whoever cared to listen to how you were constantly picking on them out of hatred. How do you attempt to read the news without being familiar with the pronunciation of words, proper stress placement and word grouping, knowing that the likes of the late Veronica Osawere would be listening? How do you even claim to be a professional when you make so many mistakes on air? Who put you on air to start with?”
“There are mispronunciations everywhere one turned, even from the gatekeepers in the Spoken Word industry. Secondly, there are blind arguments from people who haven’t bothered to check the pronouncing dictionary. When a listener calls in to tell a presenter that the correct word is ‘preyor’, not pressure, you know then that we have the challenge to deal with. All through the books, I progressively kept explaining and justifying, yet I wrote a chapter that has more than one hundred and twenty words we pronounce wrongly, yet I didn’t exhaust them. For those in public speaking, this is critical, just because the word challenge is pronounced starting with ‘Ch’ for instance, does not make chaos become ‘cha-hose’. It’s quite ridiculous, and we need to deal with our vast ego that continually gets in the way, and learns to speak the English Language right. I am not saying go acquire an accent, and we are second language speakers, so you don’t need to be under pressure, our educated English is excellent.”
On the usage of slangs on air, she argues some programmes are light-hearted that allow presenters to use slangs.“I have heard expressions like, ‘in the abroad’ many times on air and multiple radio stations. At first, I thought it was a joke between two presenters, and then I realised that it was not, it was an acceptable slang amongst millennials that found its way into the broadcast language. Sometime in the immediate past, such slangs would be frowned upon, but at the risk of being seen as rigid and inflexible, one may allow this, however, when it becomes a regular expression, then one needs to consider critically the role of the media to educate.”
Having worked at FRCN for almost two decades, Durodola says she has learnt so many things as a broadcaster some of which she shares in her books.
“Now that would take a whole book to distil. We are talking of almost two decades, nineteen years of work in a government parastatal. I would do an autobiographical work to address that someday. Suffice to say that we need a civil service reform in this country, workers should not be left to the whims and caprices of leaders, there are scores of talented people in the Nigerian civil service whose talents are stifled, and there should be an evaluation of leaders and their leadership styles.”
Her staying power as a woman in the broadcast media is re-invention. “I constantly re-invent myself to adapt to the changing times, technology and resources needed to compete and stay ahead of the competition in all that I do. I try.”