Behind The Mic ‒ Chicco Martino |26 September 2022
‘Radio is the only medium that allows you to see and dream, just by listening’
The ever so lively and entertaining Chicco Martino is a popular voice on SBC’s Paradise FM radio, especially on his two shows ‘Chicco dan Paradi’ and ‘Hot Mix’.
Seychelles NATION met up with Chicco who shares his love and passion for the radio.
Seychelles NATION: When did you start working with the radio?
Chicco: To tell you the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth; it was when a private radio station was opened. I said to myself, I just want to be a presenter. I already had my CV and everything, it is just that I did not send it. After I had distanced myself from the music scene for a while, I felt that I could not resist it. However, I could not get straight back into music. I just had this dream one night that I wanted to be a presenter, so I decided the next day to send an email to the chief executive of SBC. Antoine Onezime was the CEO at that time. I wrote the email in Creole for me to express myself very clearly. From there they accepted me. I started with Paradise FM at a time when the station was probably at its lowest point due to past presenters who had left. Here I am talking about popular presenters like Travis and AAP.
The station was literally empty when I joined. At that time there were private radio stations being opened and many had left SBC to venture with them. We eventually found ourselves with a station where I came to host from 9am to 12 noon and DJ Owen from 12 noon to 3pm. Without realising it, I was sitting in a chair and there I was as a radio presenter. At some point I said to myself: “I am entertaining, and doing this like, I just pushed a button and on I went”. Since then I have been on the radio. It’s five years already. Frankly, it keeps on getting better and better each day. Currently, I am working on a part-time basis with the station. I do two shows, ‘Chicco dan Paradi’ from Monday to Friday from 9am to 12 noon and ‘Hot Mix’ on Friday nights from 8pm to 10pm. Those are my only two shows for now.
Seychelles NATION: Why radio?
Chicco: Like I said earlier, I was trying to find a way to get closer to music since I had distanced myself from singing. So, I said, you know what, if I cannot sing for the moment at least I can play some music for my artist friends. I realised then that this was a way to push me towards music, listen to music and expose myself to the sounds out there. I am getting into it, but step by step.
Seychelles NATION: Five years on, share your experience with us.
Chicco: In terms of experience, to tell you the truth, when I started working I had no experience whatsoever. When I say no experience, I mean none. I did not even have a certificate from a media school. Nothing! It was like on your first day to learn how to swim, they just throw you into the deep end. So, I was dropped in the swimming pool, I did what I could to stay afloat and now I am swimming.
But on a serious note, it is a job where a lot of things happen. It is a place where you should have some degree of ethics as well. You cannot simply come on the radio and present. You need to have presentation skills, which I did not have. The amazing thing is that I did my radio course during those five years on the radio with Paradise FM, together with my audience.
Seychelles NATION: To be a presenter you must have certain qualities. Share with us the qualities you have that allow you to be one of the best presenters on the radio.
Chicco: Firstly, we need to realise that each and every radio presenter is different. We all have our own style and the way we present is obviously different. One thing is that you need to be really good at managing your time because you have three hours to run a show. You have to stick to the timing. On top of that you have interviews, games, and so much more. So, you must ensure that the time is used well. I think this is a skill that is necessary, not only on the radio, but in our everyday life as well.
Also, the way I communicate with people has improved tremendously. Furthermore, you need to be on time. You cannot be entering the studio gasping for air and about to start your show which will obviously reflect in your presentation. In general, whatever personality that you may have, you should make it work. The more experienced presenters often mention that you need to have a good voice. I did not have the voice. However, I personally think that whatever personality you have, you just have to bring it out there and be yourself. That is it.
Seychelles NATION: What are the reviews you receive from your fans and the audience in general?
Chicco: To tell you the truth, I have received only one hate message. Only one! That was the time when I had just started. It was super funny. We were all having fun, but there was one person in particular who was not happy with what he was hearing. So, he voiced his concern. That was the only time someone sent me a hate message. However, I have received many criticisms. At the end of the day people have understood and accepted my personality. They have managed to find a way to approach me and share their criticism in a constructive and positive way. Personally, I accept any criticism and I use that to assess myself and my performance as a presenter. You know, at the end of the day I am working for the people. In fact, our show today is based on what many people have brought together, those who do like and those who do not like my shows. However, there are presenters who are criticised heavily.
On the other hand, in terms of compliments, wow! Too much! At times I am even shy to accept so many compliments from people. I am not being boastful, but it shows that people out there actually appreciate what I’m doing and enjoy my shows. It shows that despite we agree to disagree at times, there is a good connection between the presenter and the audience. For me, this is what counts.
Seychelles NATION: Radio is obviously different from TV in terms of how audiences engage with the content. How do you engage your audience on the radio?
Chicco: I have said before that radio is the only medium that allows you to see and dream, just by listening. I think it is more powerful than television because it leaves your mind open and to wander and gives you the picture from what you hear. This is the most beautiful thing about radio. At times you have to use certain words or phrases that are very specific to try and describe something since they (the audience) cannot see it. How you put these words and phrases together is the crucial part.
Seychelles NATION: Tell us more about the two shows you host.
Chicco: ‘Chicco dan Paradi’ is from Monday to Friday. It is a programme I took charge of since a presenter was leaving. At that time, it was called the ‘Mid-Morning Mayhem’. It was hosted by Nelly B. I took the show and automatically I had to find content. I had to sit and plan what content I would come up with. I was really surprised to see that my ideas were accepted. Today, we have too many segments for the time slots we have. This is how far we have come. At times we even run out of time and we find ourselves asking to stay on for another hour. This shows that a lot of things go on during the shows. It is like you are in a playground for adults ‒ in a paradise. Basically, the ‘paradise’ show is the programme that is supposed to entertain in the morning and put people in the mood to work, and cheer them up until 12 noon. It is a show with lots of interactions. I was very surprised by the engagement of the audience with this show. You will not believe it, but people are really engaged. People even complain that I do not read their messages. There are lots of things happening simultaneously that I obviously miss a few. That is why I feel that people have a say in what happens in this show.
However, at times you do not get any messages. It feels really bad when you do not get any. It makes you wonder what you are doing wrong. This is a problem. On the other hand, when you get too many messages it is also a problem. At the end of the day I am the one who decides what goes on air or not. We also do sponsored games. This we do to promote businesses. It is also well appreciated as people enjoy getting prizes. Everybody is excited with this section of the programme.
It is not only an entertainment show, we also educate people in a fun way. At times I tell my audience that they will have to address me as ‘Sir Chicco’. I tell them, yes we do have fun but there is a time to be serious if we are about to talk about serious stuff. We usually have fun, but when it is time to be serious we are very serious. People really appreciate this since they know that in ‘Paradise’ we have lots of fun but at the same time there are lots to learn. I do tell them, if they take on board these things and apply these daily, their lives will be much better.
Moreover, we have ‘Hot Mix’. This is aired on Friday nights only from 8pm to 10pm. So, every week I play the best tracks on the island for two hours. For me, if I am not dancing to a track, I will not include it in the mix for that night. ‘Hot Mix’ is less talk and more music. Yeah, those are the only two shows I am doing for now.
We used to have more shows in the past, for instance ‘Love Struck’. However, it then evolved into something else, and was too much for me. This is now being hosted by Chanty.
Seychelles NATION: Have you encountered any challenges during your time working on the radio?
Chicco: One of the biggest challenges is when you are entering the studio door. When you do, you have to put all your life’s troubles in a bag and leave them at the door. Only then do you go in. If your troubles are still with you, you simply do not enter the studio. This is because if I am sad today, it does not mean that everybody else have to be sad. I need to be able to control my sadness. Let’s say the night before I had an issue with my partner, I cannot cancel my show, I have to come in. So, when I come in I leave this at the door and I do my utmost to be the happiest man on the planet for those 2-3 hours. Hence, for me the biggest challenge is to pretend that at a personal level that everything is okay at times when it is not. This is normal because we cannot burden people with our personal problems. Despite our problems, we try to reach out to them so they can also encourage us. As for everything else, it has become a habit. Even I, am surprised that I am able to manage all the equipment in the studio. Despite this, the biggest joy is when you put on the microphone you have your audience, you have three hours with them, it is fun, and you forget all the troubles around you. Personally when I do my shows, I completely switch off from all other things.
I do not have only radio in my life. I am everywhere. I do construction, I design, I have a rehearsal studio and I even have a food van. I am into a lot of things. So, I must juggle all that. Like I have said, when I enter the studio, I put all these at the door and concentrate on my audience. If you need me to design something for you or you need some bricks or cement, you will not get Chicco for the 2-3 hours that he is in the studio.
Seychelles NATION: Any last comments?
Chicco: The best thing for me is that I have never been employed in my life, and I will never be employed. All the part-time work I have done; I think radio is where I will stay for a long time. But I have to balance things, because I have my music projects I would like to get into as well. Thankfully, through the radio I have been able to do a time management course which has allowed me to manage everything in my life.