Carl Raccah is the Managing Director of Pineapple TV and has been firmly embedded in various disciplines in the Nigerian Entertainment Industry since 1996. He is a Creative Industry Professional with vast experience both internationally and locally. In this exclusive interview with Alaba Ayinuola of Business Africa Online, He talked about the inspiration behind Pineapple TV and his journey into the entertainment, media and production industry in Nigeria and Africa. Excerpts.
Alaba: Could you briefly tell us about yourself and journey into media and production in Africa?
Carl: I have been involved in the creative industries since I left school, though initially as a singer, songwriter, and performer. In the mid 80’s I worked with the two-time Grammy Award winner, the late Nigel Gray, at his legendary Surrey Sound Studios. Older readers may remember his work with The Police, Godley & Crème, Paul Brady, and a host of others. The engineer for my projects, who is still a good friend of mine, was Jim Ebdon; he’s now the live sound engineer for the artist Sam Smith.
In the 90’s, I had the amazing privilege of working with the musical genius and Grammy Award winner David Hentschel who produced, engineered and arranged works for Genesis, The Yellow Jackets, Elton John, Missy Elliot, L.L. Cool J, and the list goes on. I was born in Kano, Nigeria but went to school and lived in England until I came back to Nigeria in 1995. One of the first gentlemen I met was Mr. Jimi Awosika who was then the Creative Director at Insight Communication. He, very kindly, based on my music background, started giving me jobs for some of their clients. I worked on the music for the Pepsi Big Blue Campaign, I composed jingles for UBA featuring Daddy Fresh and I created the theme music for the original series of The Ultimate Search. I was also the Music Director for The X-Factor here in Nigeria.
This, and the revelation that Nigeria had a largely untapped popular music scene, made me interested in staying in the country and working alongside some of those artists. I mention this only to highlight that I was firmly embedded in music; I didn’t think I would ever be involved in producing television content let alone co-own a TV Channel. I always mention that the inspiration for the TV Channel came about when I noticed my son watching, learning and absorbing information from the shows on CBBC and Disney Junior. This made me wonder if there was content available that would resonate more with the African Child, content that they could identify with. This was ten or so years ago, and I was amazed that there had been nothing since the NTA show, ‘Tales by Moonlight.’ I understood then that there was a space, so that’s how the idea for Pineapple TV came about.
Alaba: Kindly tell us about Pineapple TV, the inspiration and who is your target market?
Carl: Pineapple TV started with a focus on a target market of children from the ages of 4 to 16. After about 3 months of broadcast however, we started getting feedback from parents and grandparents saying that they were enjoying the channel and were watching alongside the children. Then we noticed teenagers outside of our target responding also; those of the 17 to 20 something age group. We have now shifted our content production and acquisition to include shows for the family while ensuring that Pineapple TV continues to be a safe viewing space.
Alaba: How is your brand unique and what kind of content are you creating to entertain African families in the continent and in Diaspora?
Carl: I believe we are the only channel on the African Continent broadcasting Africa for Africa family content. By that I mean, 95% of our shows must be produced or licenced on the African Continent fulfilling our mandate of invigorating this sector of the Creative Industry while providing quality content that resonates with our audience, which is the African Family. The remaining 5% allows us to partner with content producers elsewhere on projects that will impact our audience. At this time, most of the shows we have produced are made in Nigeria, and I don’t see this changing. I have seen that in Nigeria we have the producers, directors, and crew who, given the opportunity, can deliver content to an international broadcast standard. They are dedicated, professional and passionate.
We are currently developing a Pineapple TV Mobile App. When this is available our content will be available to families in Diaspora and the rest of the continent. We are in discussion with various broadcast platforms who have indicated an interest in licencing the channel to other parts of the world. I’m pleased to say the importance of the Pineapple TV initiative and concept is beginning to be understood.
Alaba: Can you share your major challenge and how are you navigating through this dire time?
Carl: As a new channel, there are a few challenges that we had to overcome. The most difficult is convincing a broadcast platform to understand what your channel offering is. I was very lucky in that I was given an opportunity to present the Pineapple TV concept to The Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who understood fully what I was trying to achieve and actually said and I quote, “Carl… You are preaching to the converted.” He kindly asked Mr. Segun Adeyemi to oversee the progress of the project. Mr. Adeyemi in turn introduced me to the COO of Startimes. Mr. Tunde Aina and that is how we are now on Startimes Channel 129. These three gentlemen have played a significant part in our progress and I am grateful to them.
Alaba: What is your leadership style and philosophy?
Carl: That’s an interesting question but perhaps better answered by those in the Pineapple TV team. I do think that in a creative space however, one should have defined parameters, so procedures, reporting and work flows are adhered to, but at the same time ensuring the office space is friendly so that creativity can flow. I like to encourage the whole team to suggest creative ideas no matter how out-of-the-box they may seem and no matter what position you hold in the business; I have an open door policy and I ask the executives and heads of departments to offer the same; we’ve had some exciting content concepts come to fruition in this way.
Alaba: Which is more important, data or content to the future of marketing?
Carl: In my opinion it’s always going to be content. Consumer’s won’t spend their hard-earned money on data if the content isn’t appealing… I am of the mindset that, as consumers are able to access content via ever more varied and available platforms, that what they want to access becomes even more important. So, whether its an advert, a series, a film or a song, it better be fantastic! As the saying goes, ‘Content Is King’ and I believe this is hugely relevant now.
Alaba: How do you see the convergence of digital and TV play out?
Carl: In Africa, for the foreseeable future, I think both will share the same arena. Data is still quite expensive, and coverage is not available everywhere, or all the time. I am looking forward to when the country flips fully to DTT. That will give a great option for consumers and producers alike.
Alaba: How does your organization measure its impact and what is the future for Pineapple TV?
Carl: Pineapple TV is here to stay. We will continue to invest in our area of the Creative Industry to ensure Nigerian talent across the whole process of our production needs is supported and invigorated. By that I mean the various women and men who are actors, producers, scriptwriters, film crew and content producers.
We will also broaden our content appeal to ensure that Pineapple TV is the channel that African Families tune in to for safe viewing, educational, inspiring and entertaining programming. We measure our impact by the positive feedback from our partners.
Alaba: What would be your advice to aspiring media entrepreneurs and investors in Nigeria and rest of the region?
Carl: Pineapple TV took me over 10 years to get going from concept to first broadcast. I experienced many hurdles on the way. So, the most important advice I would give to aspiring media entrepreneurs is to understand from the onset that it will not be easy, you must be ready to persevere. It helps if you are passionate about what you are trying to achieve, because if you’re not, it may be difficult to endure, figuratively speaking, the bumps and bruises you will undoubtedly receive on the way to fulfilling your ambition.
Also, it’s important to note that the creative sector is a business just like any other, and that it’s vital that whatever your discipline within the industry is, it is approached with the same tenacity as other entrepreneurs apply to other sectors. As far as investors are concerned, because the Nigerian Creative Sector is exciting and vibrant at every level, it has many years of potential growth ahead of it. Whether investing in studios, concert venues, equipment rental, movies, make up outfits, fashion design, book publishing and all the other areas that make up the creative industries, there is room for dedicated professional well managed entities in every area.
Alaba: How do you relax and what is your favourite tourist destination in Africa?
Carl: At the moment, I don’t have too much time to relax, but that’s fine by me. I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to see 10 years of hard work trying to get this project off the ground actually moving now. Of course there are challenges, but every challenge resolved is a step forward. That’s a more relaxing place to be than wondering if the concept might ever get off the ground. For me and my co-directors, Heitham, Ali and Hadi Safieddine and for our Chairman, Mr. Francis Ogboro, The Pineapple TV project has become vocational.
We all fully understand the impact that our programming is having in inspiring culture and pride in all that is Nigerian and indeed African. We are happy to be playing a small but important part of Nation Building. As for my favourite tourist destination in Africa, that has to be Kano. I was born there, so whenever I go back, I’m filled with nostalgia and many amazing memories. When I visit Kano I feel I’m home.
P R O F I L E
Carl Raccah has been firmly embedded in various disciplines in the Nigerian Entertainment Industry since 1996. He is a Creative Industry Professional with vast experience both internationally and locally. As a musician he composed the jingles for many successful advertising campaigns and the theme tunes for The Gulder Ultimate Search Reality Show and ‘Diamond In The Sky’ for Diamond Bank.
As a producer he recorded successful albums for Yinka Davies, Ashionye, Daddy Fresh, Fadabasi and others. As a Production/Technical Manager, Carl has worked on some of the most ground-breaking live events in Nigeria such as Yello Fest, Star Trek, Star Mega Jam, The Tetmosol Girl Power Concert Tour and others. In conjunction with Sonic Spaza South Africa, he negotiated (licenced) the selected works of Ruggedman and Styl-Plus for use on the Nokia Express Music Phone and negotiated the works of various Nigerian artists, ‘The Nigerian Selection’ for use by Virgin Atlantic Airways as part of their in-flight entertainment bouquet. Carl Raccah is the Managing Director of Pineapple TV.
Christa Sanders Bobtoya: The Woman Advancing International Education in Africa
Christa Sanders Bobtoya has been involved in the field of international education for the last two decades. She has lived in Accra, Ghana since 2004 and is currently the Director/Head of Webster University’s Ghana Campus, the only American university in the sub-region offering US-accredited graduate and undergraduate degrees. Sanders Bobtoya spent her first decade in Ghana as the Associate Director of New York University’s (NYU) 6th global site and the university’s first study abroad program on the African continent. As the head of Webster Ghana, she works daily to fulfill the University’s mission of providing high-quality learning experiences that transform students for global citizenship and individual excellence.
“I have always been passionate about education, international travel and intercultural experiences. In my role of Director of Webster University Ghana Campus, I am able to fuse together all of my passions where I work daily to fulfill the University’s mission of providing high quality learning experiences that transform students for global citizenship and individual excellence,” says Sanders Bobtoya who is committed to promoting international educational opportunities to students worldwide and has worked and studied in Spain, Germany, Ethiopia, Ghana, Brazil and the United States.
Sanders Bobtoya has traveled extensively across 5 continents, spanning 85 countries dedicating much of her career to the field of higher education and managing study abroad programs as well as international branch campuses of US institutions both in Europe and Africa.
Previous experiences have included a role as a Program Officer for the Institute of International Education (IIE) in New York where she managed a range of scholarship programs for both Latin American and African students through the Institute’s Scholarship and Training Programs (STP) division and as the Chief Counselor of Students for Syracuse University in Madrid, Spain where she also co-founded a support organization, Voices of Change, to help students of color cope with discrimination outside of the United States. Additionally, Sanders Bobtoya has provided cross-cultural counseling services in Berlin, Germany and developed short-term, faculty-led study abroad programs to both Eastern and Western Africa for Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia, and has consulted a number of educational institutions focused on international educational initiatives such as Stanford University, Dartmouth College and the Council of International Education (CIEE), the world’s largest international educational exchange organizations.
Currently, in the role of Director/Head of Webster University’s Ghana Campus; the only American university in the sub-region offering US-accredited graduate and undergraduate degrees, Sanders Bobtoya works daily to fulfill the University’s mission of providing high quality learning experiences that transform students for global citizenship and individual excellence.
“Under my leadership at Webster University Ghana, students are exposed to new ways of thinking and benefit from the cultural diversity and enriching academic environment that strengthens their critical-thinking skills. Since opening our doors in 2014, we have enrolled both undergraduate and graduate students from over 25 different countries, spanning four continents including many from Africa and its Diaspora who later join Webster’s elite network of over 157,000 alumni worldwide,” adds Christa Sanders-Bobtoya who holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Spanish from Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia where she graduated summa cum laude before completing her Ed.M and M.A. degrees in Counseling Psychology with a concentration in cross-cultural studies/multiculturalism from Columbia University in New York.
Learn More about Webster University Ghana at the Online Open House
Hussein Fakhry, MD of Key Architectural Group Nominated for The 2020 Ghana Industry CEO Awards
Hussein Fakhry, the Co-Founder, Managing Director and Lead Architect at KEY
Architectural Group has been identified as one of the most outstanding chief executives in
corporate Ghana by Ghana Industry CEO Awards.
Hussein’s astute leadership at Key Architectural Group led to the nomination of Top CEO in the
Construction (Building) category. KEY Architectural Group has offices in Accra, Ghana, Abidjan, Ivory Coast and Beirut, Lebanon.
The 2020 Ghana Industry CEOs Awards is an annual awards scheme aimed at identifying and
publicly recognizing the most outstanding Chief Executives in corporate Ghana across a wide
range of sectors.
Backed with a Master’s in Business Administration and over 24 years of experience in the Design and Construction Field, the architect by profession and passion has been behind landmark residential, commercial, touristic, and industrial projects in West Africa and Lebanon.
Hussein Fakhry designs are inspired by nature, sustainability and contextual architecture.
To vote, kindly visit: Ghana Industry CEO Awards
aYo Holdings appoints Marius Botha as Group CEO
African micro-insurance fintech business aYo Holdings, a joint venture between telecommunication giant MTN and traditional insurer Momentum Metropolitan Holdings (MMH), has appointed Marius Botha as its new group chief executive officer (CEO).
Botha was formerly CEO of life insurer Stangen for nearly seven years, having previously held executive positions at African Bank and Munich Re.
aYo Holdings offers accidental hospital cover and life cover in Zambia, Uganda and Ghana with additional African countries launching in the very near future.
Botha holds an honours degree in actuarial science and an M.Phil in Futures Studies.
Issued: ByDesign Communication