Sometimes in life, we have to navigate through different waters before we find our true tide. Levis Musumba, a TV Producer with KTN News who also hosts Culture Quest – A show dedicated to covering the cultural heritage of the diverse tribes in the region, shares on how he found his niche in the media industry. He shares the secret to his success this far, and what he would do differently if he had the knowledge he now has.
In your own words, how would you describe the road to success?
In life choices are key. What you get tomorrow is dependent on the decisions you make today. One must be comfortable with being uncomfortable because true success is born from sacrifice. I also believe that success without passion is futile. Finally, don’t live to please people.
What has been your greatest lesson in this industry?
What you learn in school is not really what the industry expects of you. School trains you to think in one line of thought. The industry requires diversity. You need to be equipped with several skills. For example, you can’t just focus on knowing how to write for TV, you should have another skill – be it reporting, video editing, name it. Marrying class lessons and the requirements I found out here was quite a learning curve for me. It has taught me to never say no to anything that I consider a good opportunity – even if it is a completely green area for me. I say yes and learn on the job.
So why did you settle for becoming a TV Producer?
My initial passion was to be a reporter and my first job was on reporting. In 2016 I joined a production company (Charms Media) and had to unlearn and relearn everything. The industry does not focus on your papers but on knowhow. Nobody cares what your papers say if you cannot deliver. I joined the company as an intern handling research and left with solid knowledge on the entire production management process; from preparing proposals, budgeting, production planning, post-production processes and so much more. It taught me that there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes. A lot of work is put in before the final product is delivered.
If you were not a producer, what would you be?
I would be a writer. I like telling stories, especially human interest oriented stories.
As the Producer for Culture quest, how have you ensured that you have fresh content every week?
Planning. In production, planning is key. I don’t allow my bank to be depleted. I plan for content 4 months in advance. This helps me line up content well and have plan B in place in case the production for a particular episode goes south.
If you were to do things differently, what would change about your journey?
If I were to go back to school, I would focus on content production, as I see it the industry is still hungry for content creators. This not just a need for our local media space, but one that can be felt the world over. I still feel like there is such a gap in this area, especially in our local market. Many producers do not conduct their due diligence before launching fresh products. It is important to understand the trends in consumption and that this evolves. One must remain abreast by continually researching on their area of interest.
You are a very resilient person, what would you say is the source of your resilience?
Passion. One will never push themselves to go the extra mile without this key ingredient. My key idea behind Culture Quest was to push for frameworks that enable us to protect our heritage as Africans. I don’t just do this for a paycheck; a paycheck is good but the motivation is greater than money. I believe that the driving factor for success in any career is passion.
Passion will make one go beyond the constraints of an unfavourable environment and still endeavor to deliver. It will make one sacrifice comfort, resources, and whatever is required to get the job done. Passion keeps me researching to ensure I am continually getting better.
In driving for policy change that protects our heritage, I have also drafted a proposal to the Ministry of Heritage and Sports – and currently pushing for the implementation of the ideas drafted therein. Part of the content in the proposal includes; setting up cultural centres in every county working towards creating an international market for products prepared that have cultural symbolism so that locals in certain parts of this country can benefit from their crafts, just to mention.
What is your ultimate dream in this industry?
To become an Icon for policy change in the conservation of African culture/heritage; to ensure that the infiltration of westernization does not make us dispose off our identity as Africans. Also, to see different communities become empowered.
Who would you say has been your greatest bridge in this industry?
I’ve had several arms offer me a hand up. The first is Chams Media; working here exposed me to so much. I got to understand the process of production management. Working as a TV Producer at The Standard Media Group – KTN News – has also given me a platform to explore my gift in a very big way. The open-mindedness of my seniors has allowed me to boldly pitch ideas and have them give me guidelines on what is executable, and what adjustments can be made to ensure an idea passes as good enough for TV.
What would you say to an upcoming TV Producer?
Know your niche – Don’t produce content for the sake of it. Be keen, follow market trends. Be thorough on research and keen on picture quality. Understand your existing competition, what will make you different? Don’t duplicate other people’s ideas simply because they are performing well.
Keep up with the dynamics, the changes in the industry. Know that a good producer should be all-rounded – understanding not just the management and co-ordination aspect of production be well-versed with the technical end of things like how to operate a camera, what would make for good lighting in a particular environment and so on.
What is one of the greatest mistakes you see young people making?
Choosing courses without thinking or researching. If the course you are choosing that is flooded, identify what will make you different.
What would you say is your greatest asset in life?
Hard work, zeal, aggressiveness, and consistency. I’m also given to research.
When I was an intern at a certain local media station, a particular reporter told me that my voice would never see the light of day on any TV station. Well, see who has the last laugh. Hard work and consistency will always pay off. I also stand by what I believe in.
My aggressiveness has also enabled me to meet different County heads so that I can access what I need for content for shows that I produce. This makes accessing people in villages easier.
What are you most grateful for?
Being given a platform to mentor others – especially campus students
Do you have a specific time that you wake up every day?
Yes. I wake up at 4 a.m. every day either to research, script, or edit.
Would you describe yourself as an ardent reader?
Yes. I like reading all sorts of books from romantic novels to political books but I am mostly given to books on heritage.
Are there habits you have in place to ensure that you keep growing as a person?
Reading and researching would be it.