Aug 10, 2022

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

Louis Otieno: How Rose Kimotho lost ‘K24’

The K24 founder has revealed how she lost the media house on a loan she took out from CBA Bank (now NCBA), which will answer numerous previous online articles speculating on the matter.

Ms. Rose Kimotho has exclusively described how a Sh12 million overdraft grew into an unpayable amount and she had to relinquish the property.

“CBA called me for a meeting and said that the overdraft was now at Sh70 million. They said: “Your overdraft is now 70 million Sh. Initially you had a Sh12 million overdraft. You’ll never get out of there.” And of course, on an overdraft, the interest rates are huge and they (grow every 24 hours). It just kept growing,” she says.

She remembers bank employees asking her, “How do you plan to pay off this loan?”

“(It’s) either Investor comes or they buy you. And that’s what happened. And that’s how we lost K24. And what always haunted me was the circumstances. What could I have done better? Maybe I shouldn’t have started with a bank loan. Maybe I shouldn’t have started with a dream,” says Ms. Kimotho.

Listen: Louis Otieno: The Making of a Superstar

She tells the story in an ongoing podcast series about former TV host Louis Otieno. The last episode uploaded on Saturday morning, the third of six, is titled ‘Fall from Grace’. In it, Ms. Kimotho shares her fears that she helped ruin Mr. Otieno’s career.

“It’s always haunted me,” she says. K24 under Ms Kimotho was Mr Otieno’s last employer before he was forgotten from the enviable brand he was. Today he is ailing and his hearing is failing.

When new owners came on board, Mr Otieno was not in management’s plans and he was ousted – not least because some of them were his bosses in other stations before and they had broken up acrimoniously.

“After I left, it was the end of Louis’ career,” laments Ms. Kimotho. She also reveals the wisdom behind “poaching” Citizen TV’s Mr. Otieno to K24, arguing that it was the biggest brand at the time. He was a top-notch interviewer and is said to have made a seven-figure salary.

“The biggest name on the spot was Louis Otieno,” says Ms. Kimotho.

Listen: Paradise Lost: The Story of Louis Otieno

K24 chose Mr Otieno to give them a competitive edge in their coverage of the 2007 general election. Little did the owners know that the violence that would follow the election would be the death knell. “The saddest thing in the history of the country and the history of K24 is the violence that followed the elections,” says Ms. Kimotho.

The loan taken out was part of a project in which Mr. Otieno was involved. But because of the violence, advertisers ran out on K24.

“There followed six months of no revenue and six months of charges and no revenue and six months of a deepening overdraft at the CBA bank,” says Frau Kimotho.

“The dreams, everything we planned from K24 just went down the drain. And it’s always haunted me that I always felt that one day I would have the opportunity to work with Louis,” she adds.

In the latest podcast, Mr. Otieno also recalls a disastrous one Interview he had with President Uhuru Kenyatta. It wasn’t long before Mr. Kenyatta was endorsed by then-President Daniel arap Moi to take over the leadership of the country.

Mr. Otieno says this is Mr Kenyatta’s first television interview. But the way the interview was scheduled didn’t bode well for Mr. Otieno and it was a disaster.

“This is the worst show I’ve ever been on,” says Mr. Otieno.

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He recalls telling Mr Kenyatta that he looked like someone who fell from the moon, which infuriated the interviewee.

He adds that it was in blown up a roaring match, even taking off his headphones to avoid hearing the producer’s instructions.

“I think I broke all the rules,” says Mr. Otieno.

In the next episode, Mr Otieno will speak about the death of Careen Chepchumba, which he describes as ‘my dear friend’.

So Mr Otieno once made 1 million shillings from a local broadcaster? Listen to his shocking response in the podcast that chronicles the scam and publicity stunt by some media houses.

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