In The Hot Seat – Annah Jacob

Host of Pearl 102 FM’s after-school show Annah Jacob, tells TMN about growing up with regional media and how important she considers nurturing home grown talent and creativity…

Name: Annah “Banana” Jacob               

Age: 33                          

From: India (born in Dubai)               

Current Job Title: Radio Presenter for Pearl 102 – children’s radio

When did you first arrive in Dubai?

I was born here!And I’ve been here ever since.

Where did you work prior?

My media career predominantly included presenting for Dubai One (TV) and Virgin Radio Dubai. Chances are you will have seen me waving a microphone around most parts of the UAE!

What were your first impressions of the media industry in the Middle East?

I was raised in Dubai so I grew up reading children’s supplements like Young Times (Khaleej Times) and Junior News (Gulf News) as well as watching a variety of children’s TV shows and cartoons across Channel 33 (now known as Dubai One). Even though it was limited, every bit of media back then was all-encompassing and had a little something for every member of the family.

Has your opinion changed much?

We’re certainly spoiled for choice now, but, print and broadcast media in the UAE these days does seem to have the same type of content hashed out in multiple ways ­­– which is why I genuinely appreciate homegrown publications and shows. It’s nice to have locally-produced content that capitalises on the talent pool that we have right here in our own backyard. We could also do with more content for children in the UAE.

Tell us about your current role…

I’m known as Annah Banana to children (and most grown-ups) and I host the after-school show from 3pm – 6pm on Pearl 102 FM.

What challenges do you face?

Presenting and producing a radio show by yourself is quite hectic. There’s researching content to keep your target audience coming back for more, preparing all of the audio elements needed for the show, managing the desk (and making sure the station doesn’t go off air), fulfilling deliverables to the sponsors, booking guests and finally, managing a group of children on air is a whole different ball game compared to adults. I’m usually tuckered out after a show – but seeing their faces all lit up is worth it!

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

The look of glee when kids (and grown ups) turn around and go “You’re Annah Banana?!” Yes, I love the recognition!

What advice would you offer to someone looking to start a career in media in the UAE?

I was fortunate to receive a break when I auditioned for Dubai One back in 2009. Times and trends have changed however and one no longer needs to limit themselves to traditional platforms or even the norms of how things are done. My biggest advice would be to think outside the box and aim to create the next big thing in media.

How do you find PRs in the region?

I genuinely don’t have an issue with PRs in the region, maybe it’s because I don’t know any better! I’m usually good at sending a quick response to thank them for their email or alternatively point out why their press release or media invite isn’t relevant to me, or my work.

What’s your pet PR peeve?

If they continue to send press releases or media invites when I’ve pointed out that they’re not relevant to me or my work!

What advice can you offer PRs seeking coverage on your show?

Don’t just change the name of the recipient on your mass broadcast – customise your email to highlight why your client or product is relevant to me, my show or the station! Otherwise, I will gloss over and hit NEXT.

How would you describe yourself at work?

My at-work personality isn’t too dissimilar from my on air personality. I like to exude positivity and pass that kind of happy energy to people I work with. I like to walk in with a smile on my face, say hello to everyone by name and then sit down to get started with purpose.

Describe yourself in five words…

Little person with a large personality. (That ‘a’ doesn’t count)

What’s your most overused saying?

Treat people the way you would want them to treat you – unless you want to be treated like dirt!

Five things you can’t live without?

I’m not attached to anything I can’t give up – family and friends not included, of course!

If you weren’t in your current role, what would you be doing?

If I wasn’t a Presenter, I could picture myself being a makeup artist. I already quite enjoy doing makeovers on my friends!

If you could change one thing about media in the UAE, what would it be?

Both TV and radio stations need to support and nurture homegrown talent and locally-produced content. They may not be commercially viable at the start, but neither were some of the biggest shows or artists that we have today!

How do you see media changing in the UAE in the coming years?

I think it will definitely become more digital.

If you could have one work wish granted, what would it be?

To host and produce my own TV talk show with no censorship!

What is your favourite form of media (i.e; TV, radio, print)?

TV will always be my first love because that’s how I got into the business, plus, I’m all about body language. Having said that, radio has definitely added a whole new dimension to my skills as a Presenter!