Mr. Tommy Annan-Forson, ace Broadcaster, Mc, Actor and Proprietor of Rabodef radio Academy. A legend with an inspiring story.
Tommy Annan-Forson comes from Cape Coast in the central region of Ghana. Born on the 3rd of august 1955 to Captain Annan-Forson and Constance Annan-Forson, he started school at La primary school for his basic education and entered Feden senior high school for his secondary education.
The last of four siblings, Tommy affectionately called, recounted his childhood as one of fun fused with strict adherence to rules and regulations from a wonderful couple who wanted the very best of life for their children. “A decent home filled with discipline and responsibility of life meant we didn’t have to take anything for granted. Getting an upbringing from a retired army captain meant you had no choice than to follow and obey the rules where necessary” he said. He saw in a mentor his parents and siblings who taught him everything there is to know as a boy.
Though he came from a decent affluent home, growing up was not all rosy, there were times he had to make sacrifices for the things he really wanted. His father, a disciplinarian, taught them the value of sacrifice to prepare them for the rocky road of life. They were taught to appreciate the challenges of life as a developmental phase for success. “In secondary school, there were times i was given money for either food or transport and had to decide which was appropriate to spend on. On several occasions, i walked from Odorkor to Circle or Labone after school” he recounted.
Things turned out for the worse after he lost his father at the age of fifteen, this meant growing into an adult had come earlier than expected. He had to truncate school at the secondary level to work for a living, he did some work in a coffee factory and also worked as a messenger.
After hustling to make a living from various meager jobs, he decided to train as a mechanic but also had some challenges because of his deficiency in mathematics. Life was getting tougher by the day and the stress of it took a toll on his health, he fell sick and was bed ridden for days. All he had at this trying moment to pep him up was his radio set that played his favorite music back to back. Little did he know staying glued to the radio and his love for music will turn out to be a carrier opportunity that will birth a legend. On his sick bed one morning, he tuned in to GBC2 to listen to “the morning spin” a mid morning music program hosted by Jim Amekpofor. “Jim had such a great voice, a voice so rich and soothing it drew my attention and interest” he said. He met and introduced himself to Jim the next day at the GBC premises and asked to be a friend, a request Jim gladly approved and they became good friends there after. Jim introduced him to a whole new world of entertainment and radio. Noticing his eloquence, great personality and soothing voice, Jim asked him if he will be interested in radio work, hesitant to reply in the affirmative, he calmly agreed to train under Jim. “Training under Jim was such a wonderful experience, for he taught me the rudiments of radio work and opened a great opportunity for me on radio” he said with a smile.
After gaining some great experience under Jim at GBC and appearing on some programs at the station as a guest artist, an opportunity opened for staff recruitment at the station and he was asked to apply. Another challenge to this great opportunity was his lack of requisite certificate to apply though he had gained such rich experience at the station to be employed and put on air.
He went ahead to put in an application despite the challenge. Fortunately for him, only a few people applied for the job and an exception was made for him due to the excellent qualities he exhibited as a trainee at the station.
Finally, he had landed a full time job at GBC as a broadcaster. This meant a dream come true for a unique talent who desired not only to work with the enormous experience gained but also dispense some bit of fresh air to sooth the media landscape at the time. To him, working at GBC meant following the rules as applied and fitting into the jacket as met.
The hunger to bend the status quo a bit and make radio more interactive and fun brought out the best of his dexterity. He recalled being summoned for a query for laughing out loud on radio, something he thought was meant to endear the listeners to their host. “Gradually, me and some like minded people at the station worked for some change to happen, we hosted very interactive programs that brought traction to the station and satisfied our listeners through some good feedback” he recollected. For sixteen years, the 80s through to mid 90s he worked, made a remarkable impact and left a great legacy at the GBC.
In 1995 still at GBC, Tommy Anan-Forson and his colleague Dasty Wayne were approached by Kwesi Twum (now CEO of multimedia group) to set up a new radio station privately owned to revolutionize the airwaves and set an alternative for urban listeners. After deep deliberation, careful planing and wide consultation, on the 1st may 1995 under the able determination of these three giants, Joy 99.7Fm was born, stationed on the hills of Adjankote in the Abokobi district of the Greater Accra region. “I was the first voice to be heard on Joy 99.7Fm, Dasty and I alternated on air for our test transmission and the feedback from listeners down the hill was breathtaking” he said in amazement. To him, the Joy Fm story and journey was one of experienced broadcasters seeking freedom to exhibit their creativity for public good in an era of little or no free expression and it worked. After its establishment, Mr. Annan-Forson worked at Joy Fm for eighteen months, he then went on to work with Sunshine radio where he was instrumental in its restructuring to Choice Fm. He went back to GBC in 2000 and stayed there for another three years.
After gaining a lot of experience working in the media, Mr. Annan-Forson found the need to create an establishment to train and nature prospective broadcasters to fill the numerous radio stations springing up by the day due to the proliferation of the media landscape. Thus in 2003, Rabodef radio Academy, an institution of radio and media excellence was born and became fully operational in 2004. Mr. Annan-Forson also worked with radio XYZ and is currently the host of ‘country cross’ on Easy 107.5Fm.
“My experience on radio over the years is such a huge joy i will not replace with anything given the opportunity, though it came with a lot of challenges” he said. He recounted how difficult and frightening it was working in the coup era in the 80s as a broadcaster, where you needed a pass to break the curfew to get to work in the early hours of the morning. “It was such a frightening moment, for you didn’t know wether you were going to get to work safe and sound amidst all the heavy security presence on your way in the early dawn” he said worriedly. The straight jacketed GBC at the time also posed as a challenge for a young dynamic broadcaster who wanted to creatively explore. He also admitted that taking the opportunity to move away from a well structured establishment (GBC) to set up a completely new privately owned radio station (Joy Fm) was such a huge risk filled with challenges for it was novel at the time. To him, everyday as a broadcaster came as a challenge, for you needed to satisfy your listeners through innovative programs and satisfactory delivery. “All of the experience and its accompanying challenges I took in my stride, for I have been brought up by a disciplinarian to accept challenges as a phase of life and make the most of it positively for my good” he said.
Tommy Annan-Forson has received various awards for excellence in the broadcast industry, 24 in total. Amongst them are, the National Grand Medal of Honor for media excellence, the Eminence award by Citi Fm and several others from the private sector and academic institutions. “Getting recognition for all the years of hard work though exciting, is also truly humbling, for you realize you have served your listeners well” he said. With all these great accolades, his foremost desire is to impact people in the industry positively with his experience through training and mentoring.
For a very affable but strict broadcast genius dedicated to work and highly time conscious, striving for excellence with determination and believe has always been his hallmark. To him, ‘the speed that thrills is also the speed that kills’, he believes young people should take their time, examine themselves, ask what they want in life and take it one day at a time, for ‘once you wake up everyday, it is a second chance at life’ and you should give thanks to God.
Mr Annan-Forson is married to Nana Yaa Agyare and they have a son.
“The speed that thrills is the speed that kills”
“Once you wake up everyday, it is a second chance at life”
Written by; Kwakubeng