In Kenya, we enjoy several television programmes a majority of which we associate and identify with the hosts. However, little is known of the hardworking men and women that grind effortlessly on a daily to make the shows possible.
In this instance, WoK highlights the case of one of the most-watched news shows, JK Live, hosted by veteran journalist Jeff Koinange on Citizen TV. For those that watch the show, you may have heard Jeff occasionally call out, “Monica” or “Monica, take us to break”. Well if you may have been wondering who she is, worry no more, because we got you.
Monica Kiragu, or super-producer as she is often referred to as, is a veteran media personality and a respected name in the industry. She is the head of directors at Citizen TV. Many close to her describe her as hardworking, determined, and a go-getter.
She boasts a vast career in the media industry, having begun her journey as an attachee at the national broadcaster, KBC in 2002. She was a production assistant on the Vioja Mahakamani show and kids programmes.
Her big break came when KCB opened up an opportunity for News Anchors and Directors, kickstarting her impressive rise to the top of television production in the country. Over time, she has become a great producer and her work speaks for itself. She is attentive to the last detail in her production.
“It is a balancing act with a lot of moving pieces and you have to always be on your toes,” she said during a past interview.
Monica worked at KBC for 10 years before moving to Citizen TV in 2012 where she rose to become the head of directors. She notes that she developed a passion for directing and producing from the numerous television shows she watched growing up.
“When I was growing up, I used to watch Vioja Mahakamani and Vitimbi on KBC. When the credits would roll, I used to see the title ‘kiongozi’. I would always ask my late dad what that title meant and he used to try and explain to me every time I asked even if I did not fully understand,” she said.
Monica is as tough as they come. She has been tried and tested on various levels across the media industry and always come up on top.
She notes that for one to be successful in the media industry, one has to always be on toes and ensure that they make all the right moves.
“You have to make sure you have stories and hence you have to keep checking in with news reporters you manage as they edit their stories. You always have to have a plan B if the story you’re chasing is not ready on time. The news program has to start on time, the news anchors I manage have to be prepared and available.
“The lighting has to be perfect, the sound should be good and tested, and the graphics have to be prepared. I also have to liaise with transmission controllers to ensure we’re all on the same page with the exact time the program should air. With all these responsibilities, maintaining a calm demeanour will help you keep your crew calm and allow them to deliver,” Kiragu says.
Monica notes that the success of the show is down to the relationship between herself and the news anchors. To her, teamwork is an important aspect of success in the business, as is a positive relationship within the crew.
The job, however, does not come without its fair share of challenges.
“A lot rides on your decisions as a news director. One wrong move and your whole team fails. It is like constantly being in a hot seat. Sometimes the sound fails, you don’t have a news anchor or you’re late to go on air. It is through these mistakes that I have managed to polish my skills because I’ve learnt from them and now I’m better at my job,” she said.
Kiragu advises upcoming directors to ensure that they do plenty of research and specialise in what they have a passion for, master their art and from there, effort to learn about other areas.
“Love your job and you’ll always deliver more than is expected and excel,” she says.
Working with Jeff Koinange
Jeff Koinange is a veteran in the media industry and his impressive resume alone is a handful for most producers to work with. During a previous interview, Monica conceded that most people were afraid of working with him when he first arrived at Citizen TV.
She noted that he had a tough demeanour which made some of the producers cagey of working with him at the time.
Monica revealed that before she took up the task of producing JK Live, she was encouraged and challenged by friends to take up the task, telling her that she will be great at it and has what it takes.
“That same Wednesday, when he came, everyone was like ‘hey, this one is tough, no one can handle him’.
“So my team told me, ‘Hey Monica huyu wewe ndio utawork na yeye, tunaskia ni mkali sana. (Monica, it’s only you who can work with him, we hear he is very tough)’ so that’s how we started,” she narrated during the May 2019 interview.
Jeff is a big name and he had just left KTN, JK Live was one of the highest-grossing shows in the country, and this also made the other producers fear working with him.
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