There can be no doubt that Bola Ray has been a humongous part of the radio industry for quite a while now. His name has been synonymous with most of the things that relate to entertainment on radio and over time he has transformed from an ordinary presenter to the reference point for late afternoon show hosting.
Last week marked the tenth anniversary of Bola Ray’s climb to the throne of Joy FM’s Drive Time as the de facto host and one of the leading hosts of that segment of radio in Accra. It must be noted that during these ten years a lot has happened that has sold the tough talking presenter to his audience like none other.
During his days at Radio Univers Bola Ray was a big banging DJ-like presenter who ensured that he gave the audience at the time a good feel of both local and foreign local hip music. Thankfully, it was just at the time Hiplife was emerging and Bola latched on to make it even more popular.
From Radio Univers, Bola Ray moved on to Top Radio and people old enough may remember when he used to do from 2pm to 4pm between the years 2001 to 2003. Top Radio even back then was not among the most popular stations in Accra but when Bola Ray arrived most radio dials stopped and he whipped us silly with good hip music on the Top City Jam.
Bola Ray has had his own failings on radio in his time. I recall once at Top Radio when Anane Korba (also a former Radio Univers product) left the station Bola Ray took over as the morning show host and predictably he “killed fire” properly. When he took over I remember asking him if he could handle a morning show and he said yes but it turned out that time that he could not “use crab to prepare soup.”
However, it would seem that the experience he had along the way both on Univers and Top Radio were preparing Nat Kwabena Adisi (his real name) for the big job ahead down the road from the Hotel Ces Si Bon area to 355 Fanofaa Street in Kokomlemle.
When it was announced that Bola Ray was moving to Joy FM there were a couple of things that watchers of the industry at the time thought would vitiate against his success and due to that it was concluded by some that his decision to move was ill conceived.
To begin, with Bola Ray was a nickname and as Sammy B would tell you when he moved from Choice FM to Joy FM, the latter station at the time did not allow for presenters to use their nicknames on air and he had to struggle to continuously mention “my name is Kwame Bampoe” after mentioning Sammy B for so long a time. Even DJ Black had to struggle to let his adopted moniker stay ahead of his official name of Kwadwo Ampofo.
There were exceptions to this rule though as in the past the likes of DJ Azigiza and Heavy Dee managed to convince whoever made the rule at the time that they would stick with their on-air name, thank you very much. Even then Heavy Dee started mentioning my name Klenam Anatsui aka Heavy Dee only when he moved to Joy FM.
From all indications however, by the time Bola Ray had arrived at Joy FM the rules pertaining to the use of nicknames on air had been dropped or its enforcement had reduced and so he got to stick with it although he had to continuously, during sign in and sign off, remind his listeners of the official name Nat Anokye Adisi. That was the first hurdle he cleared.
The next thing for Bola Ray to do was to be able to break that stranglehold that Gabby Adjetey had had on the Drive Time on Joy FM. In those days the SI Unit for drive time was Gabby and how good he was on the show! Look, Gabby was so good that when Komla Dumor tried to sit in for him he messed it up and neither could his childhood friend Kwabena Pecku fill the gap Gabby left.
Thus it was always going to be an arduous task for Bola Ray whose strength was more in his music playing than in his oratory, something Gabby Adjetey had in abundance. But what he didn’t have in speech he had in hyping, talking big and practically coming to the level of his listeners.
Over the years Bola has defined what ought to be done on radio at that time of the day to get the attention of listeners most of whom are commuting from work to their homes and in the process has given a reason to advertisers to use the show for normal commercials, extensive LPMs and many radio activations.
One of the two things Bola Ray has perfected over the decade must be how he hypes or simply put paints grandeur picture about things that would ordinarily be explained in simple terms by other presenters. He has a knack to make that simple event look like it’s the wedding of William and Kate and event organisers have come to know that getting Bola Ray along is one sure way of making your event look big!
The other thing Bola Ray does more than any other person on radio is dedication or shout outs! If dedication was replaced with 100metres at the Olympic Games, Tyson Gaye, Asafa Powell and even Usain Bolt would all have nothing on Bola Ray and he would have continuously by used them to wipe the tracks for ten years. The greatest mathematician cannot count the number of times Bola Ray makes dedications on a single show let alone how many he would have made in the ten years since taking over Drive Time on Joy.
It must be mentioned that Bola Ray has taken his time over the years to build his own brand and in the process built the reputation of the programme he hosts on Joy so much that there seem to be some symbiotic relationship between the two. This is so palpable that anytime he was away from the show it is felt that something had been taken away from it.
Bola Ray’s dedication to the programme also has to be acknowledged in the sense that although he was going to build his own businesses in Empire Entertainment and others, he ensured that he also made time in the week for the Drive Time and didn’t let the personal businesses thwart what he is required to do on Joy. Or so it would seem from the outside.
Ten years of continuously hosting the same show on radio is no joke and Bola Ray needs to be commended not only for the longevity but also for maintaining a high standard on the show that has kept his listeners and earned him younger ones as well.
During his time many have come and gone on other stations, there have been stiff competition from the likes of Jon Germain, Jessica, Sammy Forson, Kwame Farkye, Giles Bossman, Abeiku Santana, Fiifi Banson, Ekow Puncho, Okyeame Quophi, Mikki Osei-Berko and many others.
The big questions however are these: after spending ten years of building what he has on Joy FM how many more years would Bola Ray stay at the station? Would the rumour I heard that after his tenth anniversary Bola Ray would jump ship materialise?
Time alone would tell, but in the meantime it is appropriate to say congratulations, DJ Bola Ray!