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Douglas Lwanga’s heart beats to UG music

Lwanga (R), in the NTV studios with musicians Bobi Wine and Cindy.  TV MAN: He is the host of The Beat music show on NTV, which runs from Monday to Friday from 5pm to 6.30pm. He moved to NTV after throwing in the towel at Record TV where he had beaten all odds to run one of the most famous music shows dubbed Katogo. He spoke to Darius  Mugisha about his life, marriage, journey to the leading TV station in the land and his dreams for Ugandan music

Who is Douglas Lwanga?
He is a TV presenter, a video editor, a graphics editor and a family person. All the above added together make Douglas Lwanga.

Tell us about your journey to our TVscreens.
My journey started at Record TV. I am not good at years, but this was after I had completed university.
I was a video editor for a show called Day Breaker that was hosted by Tina Wamala (currently the PRO at Multi Choice). Years went by and management changed. So, during a meeting one time, the new boss asked me to try out doing a TV show. The rest is history.

Did you study any TV course?
Yes, I did Mass Communication at Makerere University.

What were you doing before joining TV?
Before TV, I was a camera man in a small production house called MGS videos. It was owned by a gentleman called Uncle Sam, he used to be the main man behind filming concerts, and events like PAM awards. He used to be the major person doing events videography before events firms got their own equipment.

How did you come up with the idea of Katogo, the TV show that made you?
Record TV was an international broadcaster with channels in different parts of the world. They used to pick ideas from different countries and bring them to different regions. They had a show on one of their channels called Cocktail. It was a show that had a mixture of different music genres. My boss asked me how we could translate Cocktail into something even a lay man could understand and enjoy. I simply went for direct translation, that’s how Katogo came in.

 Did you see Katogo becoming one of the biggest TV shows?
No. There were already bigger players in the game by the time I came through. I thought it would be very difficult because people like Straka and MC Kats were already established. But it was by God’s grace that my show attracted a huge following.

What exactly what happened between you and your former employers at Record TV?
It was just one of those days when you wake up in the morning and you feel quite unwanted somewhere. (laughs out loud…!) It’s a topic I have always avoided, but since its Sqoop, let me spell it out as it happened. I believe that when an employee has something to say, it’s only prudent enough that the boss at least listens. But that wasn’t the case with my former employer, I was never heard.
Truthfully my show (Katogo) had become big and may be my bosses thought I had started “growing wings”, but I am a down to earth person. But I realised the friction was growing by the day, so I decided to hand in my resignation.

We heard you left because they wanted to change the presenter of the Katogo show but you felt you owned the idea?
No, that’s not true. The main reason was that, my boss wanted me to extend the show to seven days from five. That meant I had to be on TV every single day of the week. I felt I would be over-stretching the brand that I had created. Besides, when would I have got time for my family or even my own self? I told him I could only do the show from Monday to Friday but he insisted on seven days and I decided to call it a day.

Did your boss at Record Tv, just let you leave even after creating a big show like Katogo?
No, he tried to call me and suggested we sit and resolve issues but you know so many things had already happened. It was like the French Revolution, things kept piling up and they were never solved, so time came when I felt I had to move on.

What did it take you to join NTV?
I have heard several rumours that I left Record TV because I had got a nod from NTV, but that’s a big lie. When I left Record TV, I just moved on without a very clear plan, I had decided to rest for a month and clear my head. So many TV stations called with different offers but NTV was not one of them.
I actually never thought about NTV because they had already taken on Miles Rwamiti from Bukedde TV and MC Kats was also doing a music show, so I didn’t expect them to accomodate another person to do a music show.
But a friend of mine introduced me to my current boss Aggie Konde. I was so shocked that she is a very approachable person.
I told her what I could do and she told me to put in on paper. I made a presentation before the marketing and production teams as well as music presenters. Kats and Miles were also present, and that’s how I got a job at NTV.

 NTV and Record TV have totally different audiences, how have you managed to merge the two audiences? Do you feel you miss a certain crowd?
No I don’t miss anything. When I met Konde, she told me, she wanted my show to appeal to the urban people and the average Ugandan. True, Record TV was totally the local audience, but since I had already penetrated that audience, I felt it was also an opportunity to get my fans change their knobs to NTV. It was also a chance to prove my worth to the urban people’s audience and I think I am faring well.

You also used to work on Record FM. Do you miss radio? Any plans of joining another radio station anytime soon?
Yes. I have been in touch with some stations, but deals are not yet signed. I am looking forward to doing a weekend radio show on one of the top radio stations. I am in talks with a few people and Sqoop will be the first to know when something comes up.

Celebrities are not easy to get every day, how have you managed to get them on your show every day, throughout the years?
It was not easy at the start. It goes back to the small principle that, “when you are no body, nobody will ever want to deal with you, however when you become somebody, you make friends and people gain confidence in your works.” I could call an artiste and tell them, “Hey this is Douglas from Record TV, I would like to host you at my show called Katogo.” The artiste would say okay, but they never showed up. However, I built the Katogo brand and the stars started calling me to be part of the show. And now doing The Beat on NTV, it’s not hard as they are more than eager to be part of the show.

Have you watched Katogo of late, what do you think about it?
(Laughs out so loud…) Why do you take me back to Record TV? Well, I haven’t watched it so many times because the show happens to air around the same time that I am on air. However, they have another weekend show that I have watched, but I think the presenter is trying his best.

There’s a segment on your show where you interview artistes from other countries. How do you link up with them?
You know NTV Uganda is not a small brand. Artistes out there look out for big brands that have numbers and NTV is one them. So I use the NTV digital media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Skype and talk to them. On the other hand, even some artistes send their music and links to NTV, so it’s pretty easy.

Now that you are working with the biggest TV station in Uganda, what is next?
I am thinking about Channel O, that’s my next step. I have not tried to apply yet because I have only been on NTV for less than a year. However, I want to establish myself on the station and then start thinking about my next destination.

Do you do anything else besides presenting?
Like I said, I am a video editor, so I design visual adverts, mostly for music concerts. I have designed most visual adverts for most shows for both local and international artistes. I did Macka Diamond, Konshens and video adverts for Bobi Wine, Bebe Cool, Chameleone and so many other artistes’ album launches.

We saw your wedding pictures,  who is the lucky lady?
She is called Eunice Nuwamanya, she works with Uganda Telecom. We have a son called Jayen Lwanga. We live together along Entebbe Road.

You look pretty young. Don’t you feel like you rushed into marriage?
That’s what some people say. But you know some things are decisions that we can only take as individuals. There’s a reason why someone puts on a blue shirt or a yellow shoe. But trust me, it’s a decision I took and I am not regretting it.

What advice would you give young people intending to get married soon?
Make sure you take the decision when you really mean to. It’s not easy but make sure you know the person you are committing your life to very well.

You really dress up for your show. Do you buy all the clothes or do you have a wardrobe sponsors?
I am dressed by Abryanz Collections. I shop twice every week and he gives me clothes at a discount. The beauty about dealing with him is that I don’t pay cash every week, we calculate our things and I sort him out on a monthly basis.

You seem to have a thing for skinny jeans, but some of your of fans don’t find them cool?
(Laughs out loud…) I think you should blame that on my designer. But I am one person who doesn’t do skinnies a lot. I put on skinny jeans like once or twice a week.

You have an annual party – the Purple Party, what is it really about?
It’s an annual end of year party. It’s a concept I developed while still at Record TV and it has happened for the past two years. It’s a party that brings together more than 100 artistes and we don’t play music for people to dance. There are performances back to back.  I intend to add so much to this concept, just watch the space.

As a person who works closely with musicians, what do you think is the future of Ugandan music?
In my opinion, if everyone in the music industry looked at Ugandan music the way Radio and Weasel are handling it, our industry would be really big. These guys have invested in everything; right from flying in producers to do songs for them, to spending tens of thousands of dollars to make videos. And their efforts have paid off with their music getting international recognition. So if every artiste goes these guys’ direction, our music industry will have a very bright future.

What’s been your best and worst moments on TV?
My worst moments have happened a couple of times. Sometimes people call in and get very abusive. They call you names just because they think being a presenter, you are supposed to be smiling even when you are hurt. My best moment has been getting recognised and appreciated – I have a couple of accolades, and joining the biggest TV station in the country, NTV Uganda.

What inspires you?
I’m inspired by passion. My passion for Ugandan music comes top on the list. I came on TV representing Ugandan music and I would like to move the world representing my country and its music, that’s my drive.

“There was this one time I thought I was dressed up for the show, I had this killer jacket. However, a female fan called in and she went like, “Douglas obu jacket bwo obwo sibwagala (Douglas I hate those fake jackets of yours).”I had a guest and that moment in time, I didn’t know what I had to say next. I felt terribly embarrassed!”

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