Gary Al-Smith and the social media depth

BY: Francis Doku
Gary Al-Smith
Gary Al-Smith

We are in the middle of the summer and football fans are either happy or sad that their team has bought a player(s) or lost one or more.

One of the most interesting times for football fans is during the pre-season when all the player transfer juice happen.

When he was at Citi FM, Gary Al-Smith and the team had a show called Donkomi which airs around this time and talks about which football player is moving where and who is staying where. It was always a very popular show with the likes of Nathan Quao, Godfred Akoto Boafo, Benjamin Nketiah and the others discuss and analyze the real and potential movements.

The one thing you were assured of getting on Donkomi was the fact that people who are in the centre of these things are called to give a view on what the transfer would be. Thus someone in London or Paris or Milan or anywhere will be raised on the line to talk about what was happening to a particular player, club or manager where they are. Added to this is the podcast that Gary did after the show, making it possible for those who missed to listen online.

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I wasn’t surprised therefore when I heard Gary Al-Smith hosting a show called On the Move on Joy FM, which does exactly what Donkomi did. I have listened to a couple of them and I think Gary is really in his element. For a football fan like myself, this pre-season gold.

There is something Gary has added to Joy FM since he joined and that obviously has to be the social media influence he brought on board. The sports side of the station has seen a lot of action on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook thanks to what he and the team do.

When Joy FM decided to go for Gary Al-Smith and have him leave Citi FM to come and work for them I predicted that it was a good move on the part of the station. I indicated that with influence he was building in the social media space, Al-Smith was the right candidate to help the station compete with its fiercest rival.

Below are some of what I wrote two years ago. “Gary Al-Smith has been a rising star in the sports in recent times, indeed one of the fastest rising young sports presenters on radio and television and most importantly online and social media in this country over the last couple of years. Although he may not have been walking the circuit as long as other known sports presenters he has his own experiences to boot.

“Even at his young age and relatively short experience Al-Smith is known around the world as an authority on African football and that is the reason why he contributes to discussions on pan-continental and global sports networks and writes for some of the leading sports related print titles.

“Over the last few years he has been working as sports presenter on Citi FM and the main anchor of the English Premier League broadcast, presenter of the sports segment on the morning show among other sports programmes on the station such as Donkomi, and FC Africa.

“One area where Al-Smith’s influence has rubbed off positively on Citi FM’s sports is in social media. He is a prominent Netizen who has a good number of followers on Twitter and Facebook who feed off his insights into Ghanaian and African sports.

“It is very likely that he will bring that online and social media knowledge and quality to bear on the sports at Joy FM if he returns from the African Cup of Nations and joins the likes of Nathaniel Attoh, Ridwan Ibrahim Asante, George Addo Junior, Tony Bebli and Kwame Dwomoh Agyeman at 355 Fanofaa Street.”

I should say that I have been observing his growth at Joy since he joined two years ago and I think that my predictions about what he brought to the table has been apt. The influence of Joy Sports on social media has grown thanks in part to what he had done with the rest of the team. Following his arrival at Joy FM a new account was created on Facebook and Twitter to handle just sports and it’s known as @JoySportsGh. It could be coincidence, but also possible to be one of the things he recommended or championed.

That aside, it seems to me that the station has had some depth in the area of sports reporting and analysis. Joy FM used to have a good sports teams but the likes of Gary, Godfred Akoto Boafo, Nathan Quao and team used to beat them black and blue both on radio and online.

I could say for a fact that it has reduced tremendously and not just because Gary joined or is there, but there seems to be enthusiasm to be part of the new things happening on social media. The other presenters he works with Nathaniel Attoh, George Addo Jnr, Ridwan Ibrahim Asante, Bennet Owusu and the others have all helped to push the Joy Sports agenda on radio, TV and online very strongly, but I believe that the addition of Gary has been the fuel needed to make it happen.

Regarding the current show, I think the analysis is very good especially from the new and young members of the panel. The problem though is that most of them are not known, despite how good they are. It reminds me of when the likes of Nathan Quao and Benjamin Nketiah who were doing great analyses on Citi FM despite not having awareness.

They will learn on the job, but for a show that would run only for a few weeks before the closing of the transfer window, you need to come with all guns blazing. The show which airs on Saturday from 5pm to 6pm goes to the Joy FM social media pages after it is aired and a podcast of same is created.

Beyond this show though and beyond everything else, I think whoever decided to bring Al-Smith to Joy FM would be very happy he or she did. His presence has impacted heavily on the brand, especially in the realm of digital.