Over the years, she has grown to become a house-hold name. Is it her looks, her personality? Her voice on the radio? Her remarkable sense of style? Her simplicity or what? What makes her unique? What makes her the role model of many youths today? Too many unanswered questions though which was why we thought we’d go ahead to interview her due to popular demand. Yes! we met her. Yes! she is all that and more. Recent info revealed that she’s no more in CRBC. she’s moved on to greener pastures but we still love her, don’t we? Yes, i mean Maryann Okon.
- A brief intro. Tell us about you.
My name is Maryann Okon as we all know. I’m the first of two, we’re just two. I’m from Cross River, Calabar South, precisely. Both parents are alive and still married. What else? I’m a graduate of University of Calabar: Linguistics and Communication Arts. I have a pre-degree in English. I also have a diploma in Computer science. I have several certificates. I just like book.
I don’t really know if you can call me social but i’m not an introvert, i’m pretty outgoing, very friendly, i go out alot, i like going to the movies; thank God for the new cinema… i just hang out with my friends.
Work: i’m a broadcast journalist( radio and TV). I work as a presenter, i read the news on TV and radio. I’m a producer. I also work as an MC in the Governor’s House… that’s about it.
- So, you’re a broadcaster. For how long now? Any challenges?
This is my 10th year as an active broadcaster. Several Challenges anyway especially here in Cross river State where we are yet to really appreciate broadcasting as it is, yes, we are getting there you know. When i started, people really criticized out kind of broadcasting because there were used to the straight news thing. But these days, we have interactive shows where people can call in, you know… when i started, there were no GSMs but now we have phone-in programmes, twitter so anywhere in the world, anybody can contribute to my show whether they are listening or not..but before i started, i must say, i had several challenges and I didn’t start off to want to be a broadcaster. I was just looking for where to do my IT after my diploma. In those days, working in a bank was in and every bank said no to me. “No, we don’t want English students, No”. I was really frustrated. Apparently, both parents are journalists, don’t say it runs in the family… My dad said, “Go to NTA” and i said, “God Forbid, that place is dead” and he said he knew the G.M of CRBC so, long and short of the story, here i am. 10 years, crazy journey. So many criticisms, so many set-backs technologically, manpower wise, there are times that CRBC has so many problems and people would abuse us but thank God we have been able to come this far.
- Horizon Inc. Is looking into the fashion culture in C.R.S. what’s your take?
I think that in Calabar which is the Hub of fashionistas a lot of people don’t really know what fashion is. People tend to wear anything that is “in” and they do not consider how it looks on them. But they are few people that i know that are very very fashion conscious who every time they step out, they step out with fabulousity and glam and all that. I think that Cross Riverians, a few of us excluding me, appreciate fashion and do well with it.
- Do you feel something is missing?
Like i said, we need to recognize that it’s not what you wear but how you wear it.i think people mistake style for fashion, i dunno. They get it mixed up somewhat. I think we have a lot of trendy people in town and i’m aspiring to be one of them like my very good friend, Goodnews Udom; she’s fabulous.
- How fashion conscious are you?
I’d like to shock you, VERY! I may not be that fashionable, well, I’m trying but I’m very conscious.
- As a well known broadcaster, what are the extra effects you put into staying on top?
You know this job is very competitive. Every day, a new kid on the block arrives and it is your duty to teach them, you know, somebody taught me and here I am so, you need to teach them. You need to keep your game on, develop yourself everyday because just like, technology and life which are dynamic and change every day, so does broadcasting, it’s dynamic. Every day, something new is introduced and you need to be up to speed to be better. Also, you need to open up yourself to criticism whether they are constructive or not because these are the people that listen to you; without an audience, you can’t have a show. Also, spice up your programme every now and then.
- What has been your lowest point so far?
My lowest point… I think that it’s lack of encouragement in the area of broadcasting. In this part of the world, we are still trying to get people to appreciate what we are doing but I’m hoping that in the next 3-4 years, people will begin to appreciate it and buy into it and even encourage their children to do this. I’m sure my parents are proud of me.
- And the highest point?
My highest point I mean is working for the No. 1 man in the state, what else could you ask for? In fact, standing on the stages of the Calabar festival is the highest point. When you see the massive crowd and the moment you speak, they are all listening to you, you command authority and all, it takes a lot to command that crowd; it’s a beautiful thing for me. Every broadcaster, musician, entertainer, dreams of being on that stage and I have a single opportunity to be there every year, what more can you ask for?
- Being the broadcaster you are, was this always your dream?
I said that earlier, well, it wasn’t really my dream. I actually wanted to be an actress because I was very dramatic in school. Most of my mates see me now and say they are not really surprised. Till tomorrow, people still say I should try acting but I think I like to talk a lot so, I love broadcasting, best job in the world.
- How’s it been so far?
It’s been very profitable, very. Weddings and all… the money helps to enhance my wardrobe. So, it’s been very profitable.
And now to the personal stuff…
- What’s a typical “Maryann” day like?
I wake up, go to my office, do what I have to do, I must take ice-cream before I go home. I’m just a normal person like I really don’t have a planned out day except a day for work. I’m skinny, I’ve always been skinny. I just wake up and do my thing. Mostly spend more time in-front of the mirror. I could pick out five dresses and end up with one. Sometimes, I literally have to walk out the before I make up my mind on what to wear but that’s just my normal day. No drama.
- What designer labels do you patronize most?
No, that’s the climax!! Whoa… Elie Saab. I love Elie Saab. I just love Valentino from afar; I don’t really think it’s what I would wear. But I love other little designers like H&M, Nine West, Mango, Forever 21 even though I’m older than 21. I’m a Zara freak, my shoes and bags are all Zara. I’m a big fan of Guess but Elie Saab is my best designer.
- What’s the most expensive item in your wardrobe?
Hmmmm… Shoe, dress or bag? I have a very expensive shoe. My Christian Louboutin shoes. Anyway, I won’t say how much it cost but that’s the most expensive.
- What’s the most treasured item?
My shoes! Take the clothes, take the bags, and leave the shoes.
- Are you in a relationship?
No, no, no. I’ve been single for a year and a half.
- What do you see yourself doing in 5 years?
I see me having my own show which is a syndicate show that will be running all over the stations in other words, I don’t have to be live on all those radio stations but they will be pre-recorded programmes. These are shows that would be touching lives because I don’t see broadcasting as just entertainment; I look at it as an avenue for me to actually affect somebody one way or the other. I see me in the next five years doing that; touching the lives and actually seeing their lives change through my programmes. So, in the next five years, listen up for me.
- Any last words?
I always say that never say never. There’s a quote I stole from somebody, ‘tough times never last but tough people do’. Sometimes, life will always throw stumbling blocks at you but you have the ability to persevere and always have that goal in sight. Nothing can stop you!