Yfm not a specimen for experiment – Ato Afful

Entertainment of Saturday, 5 December 2015

Source: James Nii Yebuah Mensah

Ato Afful ManagerAto Afful, General Manager, YFM Kumasi

In December 2014, YFM, a subsidiary of Global Media Alliance, appointed Samuel Ato Afful, a Communications Specialist as General Manager for the then newly established Kumasi wing of YFM, Ghana’s most popular urban youth radio station.

After a year in existence in the Garden City, Mr Afful, as the man at the helm of affairs at the Unit shares his experiences on what has gone well, challenges, what could not be achieved and how the future looks for the young man and the station he heads.

Below are excerpts of an informal encounter James Mensah (Y Sports) had with Samuel Ato Afful recently.

As General Manager, what will you say has/have been your highs and lows? Well, as a leader, leading a team of very talented young energetic minds, you ought to be on top of your game if you desire to taste success. So what I do is I make sure I am constantly researching on new trends in the industry. I listen a lot and give room for contributions from the team. I am the type who encourages my team members to be innovative and creative. The weak ones are assisted and encouraged to up their game.

So my highs will be my ability to treat each member of my team with respect and as individuals. For my lows, hmm, it has to do with my humanitarian nature and desire for success and perfection. Sometimes, I believe I over react when what looks simple to be (especially with respect for structures) seem difficult for others to comprehend. But the good thing is I am aware of this, hence I make sure it does not affect my work. I may grieve within, but it certainly wouldn’t show in my work outflow.

Having said that (the above), tell us- Who is Ato Afful and why is He in Kumasi?

I’m very simple yet principled. It is part of me. I have one guiding principle in my professional life- and I remember re-echoing this on my first day at post as General Manager of YFM, Kumasi on 1st December 2014. Business is about Making money and becoming popular. When you attain that level, then you become influential and cause change in society. Also, the fear of the Unknown drives me a lot. For my decision to relocate to Kumasi, it was prophetic. That’s all I can say about it for now. Besides moving into a very new territory sort of causes you to work harder because you do not want to have any regrets about the risk you took. The challenge brings out the best in you.

It’s a year already. Walk us through your journey as General Manager from day one till date

Challenging! Interesting! and Fulfilling! Let me elaborate from the latter. I say fulfilling because a lot has been achieved within a year under review. As at the time I took up the appointment, YFM-Kumasi was virtually a new station so coming to head a station with a unique style of programming was a huge risk I took leaving the comfort of Accra for Kumasi. Well logistically, you would expect everything to be all rosy but then again even roses have thorns and that’s where the challenges spew.

Over the years, we have had to deal with serious transmission challenges. Dumsor has had its own toll on us. In terms of Events, in as much as I’m an events person, I have had my fair share of the ups and downs associated with events management. The Area codes jam (in May 2015) was huge (Mwuahhh!! ‘snaps the fingers simultaneously’), likewise other equally well-organized events such as the Alomo Sankwan, Aponkye Nkrakra, Club Activations, the Health Walks, Campus Activations, Pool Parties, etc. Better days are in sight.

In your candid opinion, was it worth establishing YFM in Kumasi?

The evidence is clear enough. The station has grown at a very fast pace in Kumasi. Yes we can do better and we surely are gonna ‘explode’. As a unit, we have worked intensively at achieving optimum from whatever resource at our disposal. My Team have bought into my ideology that, once their individual brands grow, the Unit automatically grows in that regard. This is a huge driving force for our growth. Also, the level of synergy here is good enough and healthy. The way we openly discuss issues, fight over issues and then we move on is a trait that most companies should think of learning from us.

How will you describe your leadership style at the unit?

I run an open system. I operate on the principle; every action is backed by an intention and as such I’m always on the lookout for the intention and not the action as it were. We come from different backgrounds with varying expositions. Sometimes, the act is wrong but the intentions maybe good.

When humans congregate for a common cause, there will inevitably be lots of friction and as a leader, one needs to be willing, able and ready to harness these individual differences in the team for its common goal. So for me, no matter how you offend me as a person, I don’t allow it to affect business. You could be my good friend but if you goof, I will deal with you accordingly- but every punitive action is done in such a way that the offender appreciates that they have erred, hence the punishment (if necessary) is in order.

What has been your most successful and difficult Event?

The most successful was the Guinness-Yfm Area Codes Jam. In-fact that was the maiden edition for Kumasi. On-Air presenters saw it as an opportunity to expand their brands in a way; I also saw it as an opportunity to assess how best I coordinate my staff in bringing success home on this “blockbuster” event.

Like a ship set on sail, all hands were on deck. Cyphers were done; On–air promos were heard more than the bells in Vatican. We got our listeners and Kumasi to be ready for the experience. Then D-day came and everybody billed at a task performed with diligence. For me the icing on the cake was when security approached me informing they could not allow any more people into the venue-Heroes Park at the Babayara stadium. At that point, I looked up to the Heavens and smiled in gratitude to God. We certainly look forward to next year’s.

The above notwithstanding, our deals with some clubs and pubs have not yielded the desired results. However, the prospects are worth pursuing. It goes without saying that chief among our successful collaborations and partnerships in this regard have been our Shisha Sundays at Vienna City and some stints with Plush Lounge and Heavy’s Night Club. Also, just as expected, we are very ‘loud’ on the various campuses in the metropolis notable KNUST, KPOLY and the various private university colleges in the Region.

So what’s in store at YFM in Kumasi in the year ahead (2016)

Well, I will put it in a very simple way. Accra is choked already. Kumasi has proven to be the most preferred and receptive centre for events and showbiz now. No radio station in this country will dare compare itself to YFM when it comes to entertainment and showbiz.

We are a great voice in the industry. So you bypass us, then you obviously ain’t ready for success in the industry. Don’t forget that, YFM is a Golden Triangle- YFM Accra, YFM Kumasi and YFM Takoradi. So in dealing with Kumasi, your success becomes the business of the other sister stations including Happy FM and ETV. It’s a tightly knit network of broadcasting giants. Businesses should take advantage of the uniqueness of the Y brand.

The next time you’re in the Garden City (Oseikrom or Kumasi as others call it), don’t miss the opportunity of treating yourself to some head nodding, finger snapping, body rocking and toe-tapping sounds via Y102.5FM. Yfm, Official Frequency for the young and Young at Heart.