Israel Laryea is a Ghanaian broadcast journalist, news editor, anchor and programme host with Multimedia Group Ltd. He began working in the broadcasting space with TV3 in 1999 before moving to the Multimedia Group Limited.
Together with Prof. Ivan Addae Mensah, Mr Laryea was a moderator at the 2008 Presidential Debate, making him the youngest moderator of a presidential debate.
He also doubles as a regular business news analyst for the BBC World Services Business news radio and a stringer for CNN.
Sharing his story as part of the Engine Room series on the Springboard, Your Virtual University, Mr Laryea said being a broadcast journalist had not been easy.
“To last this long and still be relevant, it takes a lot of grace, sacrifice, hard work and practice,” he stated.
Having a good voice
On how his broadcast journey started, Mr Laryea said fortunately for him, he had a good voice growing up, something which he discovered early.
He said his eldest sister at that time was an ardent listener of BBC and introduced him to it.
“I just heard her listening to the BBC and I was like this is refreshing. BBC is about world news and things happening around the world, and it was very informative, which helped me gather a lot of knowledge,” he stated.
Aside from that, he said he was also interested in encyclopedias which helped him gather more knowledge.
“My grandfather had lots of them so I read them and for me, it was an opportunity to learn and acquire a lot of knowledge,” he said.
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Mr Laryea said the turning point in his life came after he had read a book by Dale Carnegie titled ‘How to win friends and influence people’.
“This was the turning point in my life. My perspective of life changed after reading that book and I saw things differently. I didn’t have much confidence at the time as I grew up as the only boy amongst three girls and in school, they would always tease me with it.
“My self-esteem was low and I always felt I was not handsome but after reading the book, I realised it was important to be confident because it is what you put out to others that they make of you. So I decided to make a conscious effort to adopt some of the learnings in the book and be confident,” he noted.
He said right away, he bought a camera and started taking lots of photos of himself.
“I took the photos in a lot of ways I wanted to look and I used that to build my confidence and once I had that confidence, I felt yes, now I could go out there,” he said.
Mr Laryea said one of the things he also learnt from the book was ‘practice’.
“After listening to the BBC, I always tried to practise and tried to sound like the anchors. So I will be listening to a news bulletin and I will be repeating after them as they read and I did same with CNN.
“I learnt a lot from these people by just observing them, and that is how I got my unique way of broadcasting,” he said.
Best English student
Mr Laryea noted that the point where he realised he should go into full-time broadcasting was when he completed his ‘O’ level and came out as the best English student.
“When my results came, I was the best English student in my school. In my first year at Okuapeman, there was this student who won the best English student and I told myself I should win this too, so when eventually after ‘O’ Level I got a letter that I had won the founders shield which was for the best English student, I felt so good and it was one of the happiest days in my life.
“They say play to your strength so I told myself if English is my best subject, then I should do something broadcasting. By then, GBC was looking for newscasters so I applied but nothing came out of it,” he noted.
Work at TV3
Being inspired by Dane Carnegie’s book which had built his self-confidence, Mr Laryea said he went to TV3 in an attempt to meet the CEO for an opportunity to work there but he was bounced by the receptionist.
He said he, however, later had an opportunity to work at TV3, not as a broadcaster though but as a production assistant.
“One other thing I learnt in the book was that you have to learn to put your foot in the door. So when eventually I saw an announcement on TV that TV3 was looking for production assistants, I applied for it. I had always wanted to be a broadcaster and an anchor but I told myself, yes, that is my foot in the door so I applied and at the time I was applying, I didn’t even have everything they were asking for but I went there feeling confident and they asked me some questions which I answered.
“So I got in an as a production assistant but even during my interview, one of the panellists told me I had a good voice so when there was an opportunity for an audition, I should try. My first day at work too, my then boss told me if there was any opportunity for an audition, I should go for it,” he explained.
He said six months after starting work as a production assistant at TV3, he got the opportunity to anchor his first news bulletin.
On what had kept him going, he said, “I took things one day at a time and being diligent with my work. I always try to distinguish myself apart from the rest.”