Turning a hobby into a career -The story of Doreen Andoh
Doreen Andoh is a Ghanaian radio personality and brand ambassador who has been on radio for 26 years now, making her one of the longest serving broadcasters on the national scene.
Currently, the presenter for the Cosmopolitan Mix, a mid-morning radio show on Joy FM, Ms Andoh is often described as the queen of the airwaves.
She was the first woman to receive the Best Presenter of the Year award in 2001, being awarded the status of the Queen of the Airwaves by Leading Ladies' Network, and in 2013 she won Outstanding Female Presenter at the Ghana Women's Awards. Just recently, she was awarded Woman of the Year for Excellence in Media’ award at the 2021 Glitz Africa Women’s Awards.
Sharing her story on the ‘engine room’, a new series on the Springboard, Your Virtual University, she said growing up, she always wanted to be a pharmacist and never saw herself as a radio presenter.
She explained that she got into radio just for the fun of it as a hobby but later developed the interest of making it her profession.
“Growing up, I was a ‘tomboy’ and when I set out to secondary school, I wanted to do pharmacy in the university. My father was very excited because he was a pharmacist. I liked the understanding of it and it was something that I looked forward to doing,” she stated.
She said things started taking a different turn when she completed her Advance level and unfortunately had to rewrite Physics and Chemistry.
“I was on my way to write the mock exams before the real exams one Saturday but got into an accident and broke my two legs. One of my school years was gone because I spent three months in the hospital; they put metals in my legs and I had to learn how to walk all over again.
“I recovered, came back home and went back to write the exams again the following year,” she explained.
She said after the exams, she was home and not doing much when she heard Joy FM would start transmission.
“I felt this was interesting. I had gone to visit my sister in KNUST just around that time and she was working on their radio. I did it once with her and I enjoyed it, so I asked a friend who was working on jingles for the Joy FM to introduce me to the management and he did.
“I was invited to come in. They made me read some newspapers out loud and they asked me to come the next day. When I got there, they gave me a couple of pieces of paper that had news written on them and said I was doing the news at noon,” she narrated.
She said her first task went very well and received lots of applause from her bosses.
“I was 22 years then. I was young and was just enjoying myself. It was more of a hobby and fun thing. I kept going until I later decided to go do journalism as a career so I went to the Ghana Institute of Journalism,” she noted.
“Now when I sit back and think about the whole thing, I feel God needed me to listen to something. Inasmuch as the accident put my whole education in a different realm, I think I also got the chance to get closer to God,” she added.
The God factor
Ms Andoh pointed out that what had kept her going all these years was the grace of God.
“I don’t do it all by myself. I walk into that studio sometimes clueless and don’t know what I am going to do that day but what I know is that God will tell me what to do. Sometimes I go in there with a play list, sometimes I don’t and just follow my instincts,” she said.
Commenting on preparation, she said she was unable to tell how a show would go just based on the preparation she had made.
She said she, however, read wide to understand the basics of whatever she wanted to talk about.
“I go online to research and find out about what is happening in the showbiz world. I also pick up songs that I think the listeners will like, which is the difficult part because you are playing to a group of people you don’t know and haven’t met before so satisfying them can be very tough. I try to think outside the box and sometimes I probably will have a list but sometimes the beats that I hear in my head and ears inspire another beat so you change it along the line,” she explained.
On how to become a good presenter, she said “you need to read wide, have a strong sense of humour, understand what is going on in the world, and have a knack to satisfy people that you don’t know and see.
She said the three greatest lessons that she had learnt in her 26 years on radio were patience, reading and understanding and learning social skills.
“I have learnt to be very patient. I have learnt to read and try to understand other subjects apart from what I am used to every day and I have learnt more people and social skills.
“Being patient is being humble to know more and understand more and creativity comes in when you read wide and understand more,” she said.