JAY FOLEY, GHANA’S FOREMOST ENTERTAINMENT AND MEDIA PRESENTER
One of Ghana’s leading entertainment radio and television presenters, Jay Foley in a chat with Encomium Weekly shared his dreams and commitment in giving classic entertainment to his fellow Ghanaians and Africans at large. Privileged to share the same auditorium with the likes of Jay-Z, Kanye West, Nicky Minaj, Justin Bieber, to mention but a few, he opened up on why he is so passionate about flying an aircraft someday because he has always been keen on how to operate a plane and fly it as well and more.
Tell us about your family and educational background?
My name is Jay Foley and I am 32. I started my primary and junior high school education at Bishop Bawels Schools, finished in 1998 and proceeded to Achimota High School. Finished 2001 and proceeded to the Kwame Nkrumah University (KNUST) and I finished in 2006. I am the last of three boys. Recently, I got married. That basically rounds it up about my family and educational background.
Growing up, did you see yourself as an entertainer or a media personality?
Funny enough, growing up, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I was completely lost, but it became clearer to me in senior secondary school when I realized it had much love for music. So, just like any other rapper’s dream, you will want to rap, so, I used to play the flute when I was in junior school, but died down as I was growing up. Later in senior high school, I developed love for sound engineering. When I completed senior secondary and was home waiting to get into the university, I got in touch with Hamman, one of Ghana’s best sound engineers. He used to make beats for Tinney, Obrafour, etc and I understudied sound engineering from him. Actually, he started calling me Jay because my real name is John. I developed love for sound engineering. Throughout my stay in KNUST, it was all about making beats and aspiring to create my own studio, have my own artistes, my own record label and that was my vision.
What is the aim and objectives of 4syte TV?
It’s an entertainment brand. Right from day one, our core objective was to bring events in people’s houses and clubs to the screen and offer a total different kind of entertainment to the people. Back in the days, it was Smash TV that was doing something like that, later, Smash TV stopped and the concept of 4syte TV came in. So, my boss took the initiative of going to people’s event and let them see themselves on TV and enjoy that 30 minutes of fame. It turned out from being a 30 minutes programme to a whole TV station and my boss had that vision right from day one. I’ve always been proud to have supported him.
How will you compare the Ghanaian entertainment industry to that of Nigeria?
I’ve never really had the chance to be in Nigeria to experience things, because everything we see is from the outside, they might have problems on the inside and put out another image outside. Undoubtedly, Nigeria is a big market, a huge one and one of the biggest business countries in Africa because of the massive population, and I know it over took South Africa sometimes last year or so. If anything is to be done in Nigeria it will be done on a bigger scale. Entertainment has a lot to do with numbers as well. The more people that patronize you, the more money the organizers will make and the more money you can pump in there. But Ghana is a growing country and I totally believe we have a long way to go. Ghana, for example, influences the kind of music some Nigerians do. I think one of these days both countries should just merge (laughs). But I think we are both doing very well. Nigeria has set a pace in terms of quality and the things they put out. And in Ghana, we are picking up as well.
What is the future of entertainment in Africa?
Everybody will say it’s a normal thing, we’re getting there, but I don’t see it that way because we are losing what we really stand for. We are influenced too much by what’s in the West and we can never catch up with the West, because it’s theirs. If we want to preserve our thing, then we have to promote what is African. In creating what is African, we can be able to set up our own levels and our own standards. But if we keep on looking at the western culture and we keep using it to set up a standard for ourselves, it’s going to be a big problem. If the West feels there is a certain type of camera that will shoot a certain kind of video that will give a certain type of quality, it’s for Africans to also design something for ourselves to feel like this is what we like. And that is where my worry is. We are giving too much to western ideas and we are losing out on what exactly is African.
What do you think can be done to put a stop to such by stakeholders and entertainers in the industry?
It is people behind these people and people behind them are us. We have given so much attention to western life now that the people at the fore front which are now in the spotlight are forced to impress us acting West; we are like puppets being controlled by the commoners. If Yemi Alade doesn’t wear a certain kind of dress or Genevieve Nnaji doesn’t wear a certain kind of clothe or visit a certain kind of country and take a certain kind of photo there, then she is not seen as a celebrity. I’m not saying they should go into the jungle and take photos, but we can turn those jungles into beautiful places and take photos that will project and promote what we have here and what we see as our culture. I want to see an image of a celebrity hanging out with a big lion in Kenya. It’s African, it’s who we are.
What is your advice to the younger ones aspiring to be great media personalities?
It’s an area where you need to have a large heart to accept criticisms and opinions. One major thing I say to people who want to be in the media is that you must make sure you build and develop your education. You must make sure everything you do is something that will positively influence the people, because somebody is just following you like twitter, everything you say, he or she will take it serious. We are like mini gods addressing huge crowd. With the young people choosing a career, first, make sure it’s something you have strength for, no matter the area, make sure you are strong in that area, because when you make a mark, you are going to have people looking up to you, and when they are looking up to you that becomes a huge problem.
It’s crazy. People will give you their opinion of your day to day activities, you have done this, you have said that. To me, that does not make the image of a true broadcaster. If you are able to feed information to the people, and they believe in what you are doing, then you are on the right part, but the challenges are crazy. Like I said; you must be creative because if you don’t have it, it will become a huge challenge to you.
Who are the people you look up to?
I have one side which is talking on radio and presenting on TV, but the other side is where I have people I look up to and me being an inspirational person. I love to inspire, reach out to tertiary students and equip the unemployed graduates. I love to give them hope, so in that line, I look out for people that are great in the industry, even though the person is dead. I look up to Napoleon Hill, he is one of the people I’ve built my life on, the things that he said about people who have made it and how he goes about it. I want to be somebody who can be able to influence the masses positively. So, I use my brand, called 2131 to reach thousands of people and engage them on social media. I speak with them and I use the things I’ve been through in life to impact them. So, Napoleon Hills is my guy, he is the one I look up to.
What plans do you have aside all of these?
I tell you, and mark my words; “I want to be the first black man to fly a commercial airline without going to a piloting school.
– ADEBUKOLA ADENEYE-EDAH