By Francis Doku
MANY won’t know, but being a pundit is a tough job. You have to be someone who has the knack to think on your feet to respond to prevailing matters, but even more is to know the subject matter very well and be able to connect that knowledge, the history of events about the subject and relate that to the subject at issue.
There are many who parade themselves as experts and end up being called to be pundits on the subject on radio and television who, in actual fact, just blow hot air with nothing of substance to their punditry, be it in sports, politics, entertainment and other subjects.
How do I know this? I have been at the highest level of entertainment punditry in this country for almost two decades, right from segments on radio and television shows through when new shows discussing entertainment were being introduced across different radio stations to when entertainment became proper staple for content creators on television and radio.
Over the years I have shared platforms with some of the most brilliant pundits in the game including Mark Okraku Mantey and Pa John Bentsifi Dadson, the two men with who I started the punditry show on Joy FM’s Rhythm A to Z (as it was then known) and with who I shared many weekends discussing issues of art, entertainment and everything showbiz.
Suffice it to say that Mark and I had previously been part of the first pundits that started Entertainment Review on Peace FM with Akwasi Aboagye.
However, I would not hesitate to name three shows on which I have enjoyed my punditry, during the days that I was neck deep in that part of media work. First, as part of the original team that featured on GHOne’s The Pundits; I enjoyed the time with Nii Ayi Tagoe and Arnold Asamoah-Baidoo with George Quaye as host; second, the times I spent on Rhythms A to Z with Ken Addy and Nana Turkson with Nii Ayi Tagoe and Mamavi Owusu-Aboagye as host; third, the nights I spent with Nana Turkson on Joy News’ White Carpet with Gladys Osei-Owiredu as host.
Those were some of my best times on radio and television and even though as pundits you don’t get paid so much for your time and efforts, it was a great time and I always looked forward to the next show to share in that camaraderie with the gentlemen I share the studio with and to share some knowledge with the listeners and viewers.
But this piece is not about me. I just wanted to start the story by telling you how and what the punditry looks like and what it was meant to be when I was a key part of the circuit some years ago. This is about the chap I, and I believe many others, would consider as Ghana’s number one entertainment pundit at the moment.
It looks like Arnold’s interest in entertainment started at a very young age. He loved everything entertainment and it shows in the many things he did while still a young man. He would write letters and share his views on entertainment to newspapers and magazines available at the time.
I recall during the early days of Graphic Showbiz, one of the most frequent contributors to the letters section was Arnold Asamoah-Baidoo. He would write about things happening both in Ghanaian entertainment, as it was at the time, and relate them to things happening in the bigger entertainment markets.
This was both before he would go to the University of Cape Coast to study for his degree and while still at the University. Arnold, Evans Okpoti, Ebenezer Anangfio and the young Eugene Selorm Kofi Owusu (who had barely passed puberty) were our most frequent contributors. We were always sure we’d get letters from these four.
I remember us joking about it at the office and asking how this Arnold guy got the time to write about these things when he was supposed to be studying. But we appreciated the fact that he had the time and the knowledge about the subject matter even at that time.
I should also say that even about this time, Arnold was contributing to some of the early entertainment shows on radio, including 205 Total Entertainment, Channel R’s with DJ Abio as host. Considered as the progenitor of radio arts and entertainment review shows in Accra, 205 Total Entertainment packed the bus with some of the big names at the time including the likes of Kwasi Aboagye (Peace FM), DJ Oxygen (Oxxy FM), Nat Sankofa Tete Arthur, Gabriel Arko (or Gabby now of Onua FM) and the late music producer Faisal Helwani.
Arnold would eventually find a seat on Kwasi Aboagye’s Entertainment Review on Peace FM and over time he would become one of the most vociferous panel members on the show and, dare I say, one of the few with the most incisive, well-grounded, factual and sometimes even sagacious point of view on the subject under discussion.
He at a point had the opportunity to edit the then weekly entertainment newspaper called Fylla and he did a good job there as well. His weekly reviews became good content for those who want to know what’s happening in the industry.
Over time Arnold Asamoah-Baidoo became a frequent face and voice on almost every entertainment review show worth its name. He would spend the entire weekend going from one show after another; on Happy FM, Onua FM, Rainbow Radio, Power FM, Peace FM, Starr FM, Live FM, Peace FM, Hitz FM, Adom FM and others as he spread his view on the touchiest subjects in the world of entertainment.
Especially on Kwasi Aboagye’s Entertainment Review show on Saturdays, Arnold eventually became and still is (in my humble view) the real McCoy. Despite many stalwarts of the entertainment landscape who appear on this particular show weekly, anytime Arnold absents himself from the show it is really felt and his presence helps to clarify the issues pretty well.
I would say that two elements have pushed Arnold to the top of the punditry dame and they are his forthrightness and his memory of entertainment related events and news. To say Arnold speaks his mind would be an understatement. He really says it like it has to be said in most situations.
Trust me, even me who would say it as it is (in this column and on air) and damn the consequences, sometimes I cringe at some of the things Arnold would say about the burning topic. And he remembers a lot of things many would have forgotten.
Any new show on entertainment review that emerges and would not look for Arnold Asamoah-Baidoo as part of its panel would not have thought through the prospects very well. As it is now, he is the first name that comes to mind on any such show.
Lately, the most talked about programme on Saturday on television has to be United Showbiz on UTV and Arnold has become the leading light on that show as he and Nana Asiamah Hanson or Bulldog would battle it out on Nana Ama McBrown’s show. As someone who can express himself very well in both English and Twi, he serves the show very well. Just as he has on other platforms over the years.
What is even fascinating about the Arnold story is that he has through his punditry career been doing something else and so this particular path would be seen as a pastime. However, the man who has been working with the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority for a long time now has proven that passion is all it takes and with a good load of that he has worked his way to the top of the slippery pole as Ghana’s number one entertainment pundit. Or do you have anyone else in mind?