It is one thing to be a familiar face on TV, but something entirely different, and probably more difficult, to become a household name via Radio. Gihan Abdallah has done just that. Her career has maintained an unrelenting high since she started out. Her show, Agmad 7 Elsa3a 7 has been a national favorite for a staggering 13 years now! We spoke to her to learn all about the radio side of showbiz.
Does it get old doing the same show for over a decade?
Consistency has pros and cons. Consistency, stability and familiarity, are the main pros. The cons are that sometimes it can get stagnant, and a little bit of boredom is there as well, which is normal.
How do you keep it interesting and reinvent the show?
The show is the backbone of the station because it’s a music station and this is a chart show for this station. It’s a pillar, and you can’t change the pillars much. We only change the songs, but we can’t change the structure itself.
“Radio is my comfort zone, like it’s my home, but I can do TV or anything else.”
Why do you think it lasted that long?
I can’t answer that all by myself. I don’t have an exact answer for that, but maybe it’s because people like it, maybe because it’s essential to the station, maybe because they like me.
Is it like a long term relationship and if you do something else it’ll be like you’re cheating on the show?
No I really need to do something else. I can keep the show and do something else beside it.
Have you considered doing something other than the radio? What’s so special about the radio?
Radio is my comfort zone, like it’s my home, but I can do TV or anything else.
What’s a memorable moment for you?
The most memorable moment was the beginning. The first day, and the first week; they were all continuous crying and shaking and my legs cramping and all. Of course, when I get praise whether it be from audience or an artist, that is my reward. Also, when I get awards, but only the reputable ones.
There’s a great deal of sucking up in showbiz, how do you deal with it?
At first I thought it was very strange and didn’t know how to handle it, but now I’ve become experienced. You see artists doing it and even the audience sometimes, when they hate a certain artist or like another they’d ask things like “why are you on so-and-so’s side and not on my favorite artist’s?” and I get a lot of complaints of this kind. So then I would tell them “it’s okay I’ll take care of your artist the next time”.
What about unhealthy competition in the scene? Can people get too cutthroat?
Yes, when it comes to hosting guests for example, some would say “no, you shouldn’t make an appearance in this station, come to my station”, this is expected.
“We were the first radio that had Social Media, the first with a big number of subscribers on Social Media, the first to have a TV, ever!”
How do you think you can make radio history with Agmad 7 Elsa3a 7?
We already did since we started out in 2003, but we can do it every year. In 2003 when we started out we had set a milestone in history. That was the first radio station talking that way, broadcasting such type of music. We were very different. We were the first radio that had Social Media, the first with a big number of subscribers on Social Media, the first to have a TV, ever!
How do you feel about that?
I feel very proud. I feel like it’s mine.
Is the music scene thriving despite of the spreading piracy?
It’s suffering of course, and the producers are the main sufferers here. That’s why everyone is going towards digital platforms. So they can start to bring money in a way other than selling the record itself.
“On the radio when people used to contact us on SMS, I would know the people who sent us texts regularly well enough to know the names of their spouses and children.”
Did the music scene change with the appearance and popularity of young bands?
They didn’t exactly change much, but they joined the variety. If you had five types of music, now they’ve become six. The same thing goes for Shaaby Mahraganat songs, they’re joining the platform now.
Has your interaction with your fans changed after Social Media?
It’s easier to get in touch with a larger number of people, but you lose intimacy. It’s great in the sense that you have more friends and are heard by more people, but you don’t know any of them. On the radio when people used to contact us on SMS, I would know the people who sent us texts regularly well enough to know the names of their spouses and children. I still ask some listeners to say hi to their families, by name, when they text.
Do you think too much advertising might kill the entertainment?
It doesn’t, it revives it, because it’s where we get our money. A good station and radio host will know how to make a listener stay and wait for the advertisements to be over. The listener will stay for a host they like or good content. Also, advertisements could be beneficial for the listener.