Ethel Blavo is one of few female disc jockeys rocking the radio waves in Ghana. Known as Mz Blavo by her listeners, the 32 year old did her internship at Amanie FM and made such a prominent impression she was asked to stay. Decked out in smiles as she meets me on Wednesday afternoon, this beauty is hardly a face for radio. Yet it didn’t take long for her to be offered her own show, and Raw Passion 360 was born. Just six weeks later, she clinched another spot on air.
The soft spoken disc jockey created Conscious Empire two weeks ago, which airs every Friday from 4pm to 6pm. After an outpouring of song requests on its first air-date, Mz Blavo is already focused on cultivating the reggae show into a can’t-miss program during Friday rush hour. One goal is to create an interview segment with a reggae artist at the end of every month, possible after building a strong network of talent over a long period in the underground entertainment scene. “I was trying to lay my pillars and foundation well. I know most of the people who are out and up and coming, so getting artists for interviews I don’t think will be a problem.”
Her list of favourites span from international artists like Vybz Kartel and Busy Signal to local talent such as Stonebwoy and Episode. Conscious Empire is all about playing song requests and “more music and less talk”.
“My dad used to have a live band,” the lovely lady of Amanie FM says, explaining how she fell in love with the genre. “They used to play reggae a lot. Normally they practiced at home and I ended up going to sleep with music. That’s where I got my love of music from.” Mz Blavo’s gentle character is a cool contrast to the boldness of her look – funky, cropped hair, multiple facial piercings, and purple eyes. “Even if I wasn’t being disturbed outside, I’d go inside to sleep and my siblings were playing music. I had no choice but to relate to it.”
Now two months old, Ethel’s Saturday night show, Raw Passion 360, was inspired by her past. “When I was way younger, like 20 years ago, I listened to a program like that and I loved it. When I got the chance to do it, I was like, okay, let me use the name, but I’m turning it around so I had to add the 360.”
Airing from 10pm to midnight, Raw Passion 360 is definitely a 180 from her reggae show. The music sticks to the theme of the program. “Slow music,” the radio DJ nods. “Blues, love songs, very low tempo.”
This show is more about the talking than the tunes, focused specifically on dating and relationships. Listeners send in their personal issues they want to discuss. “If they have topics that they don’t really understand, they text it to me or send it to me on Facebook. I pick one serious one and we tackle it.”
The short-haired stunner doesn’t take these issues lightly, either. She has two counsellors, one who is a doctor, who join her on air to discuss the issue over the course of the program, which is punctuated by musical breaks, of course.
“They bring their ideas, we share them together, and we are able to satisfy our listeners, especially whoever sent that topic or message,” Ethel shares. “I get back to the person and ask if it was good enough, if they understood the explanation or discussion, and most of them are like yeah, they do.”
Although Mz Blavo admits to a recent romantic break-up, she reveals that discussing relationship issues on the show has taught her a lot about dealing with her own matters of the heart. “There are so many things that I never knew until we discussed it. In a way, it helps me too. I’m really learning a lot.”
Before she became Mz Blavo, Ethel was a tennis champ until her love of cooking guided her to start a catering company. She also attended school for performing arts and was featured on several local television series. It was Ethel’s early passion for music, however, that led to her interest in radio, and by 14 years old, she was doing jingles for some of the local stations, even winning a rap battle on Vibe FM. Then, after seeing the original Raw Passion on air in the studio, Ethel decided to take radio seriously. In 2005, she graduated from Abro Media, and her passion for entertainment has only grown.
The road to radio hasn’t been easy, however. She lost her number one supporter at 12 years old. “My dad loved entertainment, so he was there pushing me every time.” When other parents were urging their kids to be doctors and teachers, Ethel’s dad believed in her. “He said, ‘I know this is what you want to do. Do you.'”
After her dad died, Ethel’s big sister became a constant source of motivation. “She told me, ‘Look. If this is what you’re doing, do it right. Do it like you don’t have tomorrow.”
Still, other challenges cropped up. “Especially with the acting,” Ethel says. “A producer would tell you, ‘If you don’t sleep with me, I’m not giving you a role.’ I always felt like, I’m the one that’s good, and I’m the one they need, so why should I allow that? That’s a no-no for me. That’s what killed my spirit for acting.”
Then, after graduating from Vibe FM’s school, her certificates were burnt in a house fire. Unwilling to give up, she went back to media school. “I didn’t want to do a fake one,” the lady DJ humbly admits. What did she do while waiting for school to start? Ethel spent every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday going to pubs to offer her DJ skills. “It was hard, but I felt if I didn’t put practice into it, it would wear off.”
Despite her persistence, Mz Blavo insists her recent success is owed to her photographer, Replay. “Everything was on the low until he came in. I’ve gotten a bigger followership on social media through Replay.” Ethel’s modesty makes her that much more likeable. “I’m learning from it. I love every step I’ve taken. No regrets.”
The “lady on fire” is blazing her own trail. Tune in every Friday and Saturday to catch Mz Blavo on Amanie FM.
Catch ‘Conscious Empire’ Fridays from 4pm-6pm and ‘Raw Passion 360’ Saturdays from 10pm-midnight by tuning into Amanie 96.1FM, or online at http://www.amaniefmonline.com.
Check her Facebook page – Mz BLAVO