Event organisers and emcees play some of the most vital roles in the entertainment industry. As a matter of fact, it is rare to find an event without the two. And while professional emcees are some of the most well paid persons in the events sector, the Covid-19 pandemic has altered how the industry runs. As a corporate and parties emcee for 15 years, MC Point Blank shares that the job has opened doors to other jobs for him including working on radio. \u201cThe emcee has really has been looked down upon for many years. The people who want to do things for cheap will quickly equate the roles of an emcee with that of the promoters around town. This makes it hard for some of us to get work. The most important thing I have learned, however, is that even if you don\u2019t put yourself out there, but you build a good rapport with other events sector players, you will get gigs. It mostly depends on who holds the account. And most corporates will go for people they have worked with before,\u201d he tells Spice. Point Blank adds that a lot of emcees hold themselves back by preferring events that rhyme with their tribal backgrounds. He says this could be very limiting even to one\u2019s growth as an events host. \u201cThere are also challenges wherer some people will try stand in your way, but one\u2019s merits will speak for you. The pandemic period forced me to cast my net wide because I wasn\u2019t making the kind of money I was used to and it was frustrating. But I had to adapt and go into podcasting and engage myself in improving other facets of my life. So, for other people in the sector, make sure you have more than one thing happening, and let people come to you for a specific thing,\u201d he says. Changing dynamics Comedian, emcee and event organiser Sande Bush aka Dr Ofweneke feels that the pandemic came to separate the \u2018boys from men\u2019. \u201cThis is so because the situation kind of put everything on a restart button. We have seen the rise of online events, and as an emcee can you sustain a virtual event for say five hours? "Therefore, as an event organiser, you have to convince the client that you can pull it off. We have had to rebrand to fit in. So, when picking an emcee for your event, you have to look for one who can balance a programme and at the same time engage the audience,\u201d he says. MC Miggy has been in the game for about 10 years now. He intimates that over that period, a lot has changed in the sector\u2014especially so due to the pandemic. \u201cObviously, there were more shows and gigs before Covid-19. Since then, it\u2019s been just about survival. At the moment, we are paid half of what we used to make before the pandemic. As an event organiser, a lot depends on the kind of event; this dictates the type of the emcee you\u2019d require. A good emcee is one who will not run out of ideas or sound boring in the middle of the event. They have to be able to think fast, so the event doesn\u2019t lag, while at the same time, sticking to the script,\u201d says Miggy. For 16 years now, MC Abel has cut a niche for himself as a corporate and gospel emcee, having started the craft after completing high school in 2005. \u201cMy experience has been amazing; great networking opportunities, free knowledge from experts\/speakers at the event I am emceeing, a lot of patience training with multiple personalities at events, being duped in some gigs, dealing with people\u2019s perceptions of your worth and your lifestyle, and taking the blame for the mistakes of others,\u201d says Abel. He intimates that Groove Awards was the door opener for him, and the biggest outdoor event he has ever emceed. However, according to him, there are factors to consider before accepting a gig. \u201cThe negotiation part tells a lot about my boss to be. If it is a contemptuous meeting, filled with or a lot of disregard for my profession, or what is required of me extremely violates my personal values, and putting others down, I often choose not to take up the assignment. "If it is about subjects I am not conversant in, such as golfing, I turn it down. In such cases, I\u2019d rather help the client outsource for an emcee. But all in all, I gig on all platforms, be it private, social or cooperate; if it needs me I will be there,\u201d he says. Adapting the changes Felix Odiwuor aka Jalang\u2019o is a jack of many trades and a master of all. He\u2019s a radio presenter, comedian, actor, emcee and talk show host. According to him, things might take forever to go back to normal, but the internet has limitless opportunities. He says emcees need to increase their online uptake and make the most of the changing spaces. \u201cCompared to pre-Covid-19 era, there are even fewer corporate events, which used to pay us (emcees) the highest. A majority of us are now depending on event hosting in the clubs. We are equally not making much from the few events and concerts; the payments are now very low, say a half or quarter of what we used to get,\u201d shares Jalang\u2019o. Event organiser Mkamburi Mwawasi aka Mkash is the mind behind the Park and Vibe event that\u2019s held in Mombasa. She says when picking an emcee for her events, the candidates must portray undoubted professionalism. \u201cWhen hiring an emcee, I will go for one who is aggressive and with a good command of the language. They should be able to easily read the mood of the crowd and elevate things from that, working fast and in tandem with the deejay. They have to equally be an easy learner. Before the pandemic, the emceess would make up to Sh100,000, but right now they are taking even Sh30,000. On our side as the organisers, it\u2019s a struggle too. There are many unnecessary licenses, which are all very costly; sometimes the profits don\u2019t come in as expected,\u201d she says. MC Chapatizo joined the industry in 2002 as Nyota Ndogo\u2019s dancer. Then one thing led to the other, as he went from dancing to singing, then music production, before a friend (Gates Mgenge) eventually noted his talent as a comedian and pulled him into the emceeing business. During the time he joined the industry, the Kenyan music scenes had not been raided with so much foreign content as it\u2019s the case now. Back then, he says, the payments were equally higher than today. \u201cToday, if you want to go with the rates you set for yourself, you are up for disappointments. The Sh70,000 shillings worth gigs are gone. Right now we are managing with even Sh5,000 from the club shows. Curfew is also making things really hard for the clubs. Sometimes, the event flops because people just didn\u2019t have money to go and spend. So, even the agreed pay might not turn out as so,\u201d shares the Coast-based emcee. He adds, \u201cThe key to keep getting the gigs is to understand the current times with patience, and practice a little satisfaction. Remember this industry is small, and somehow, everybody knows everyone and this is essential when people want to recommend you for a gig. Don\u2019t make hefty demands in anger when an event doesn\u2019t go as agreed.\u201d New openings For MC Japolo, who shuffles between Nairobi and Kisumu, the pandemic did not spare his source of income. While the industry went to the drains, the pandemic somehow opened doors for other business ventures for him. He went into the real estate and beauty sectors to supplement the meagre earnings coming from the emceeing work. \u201cBasically, we get gigs through networking and also self advertising on social media. The network I created before Covid-19 did come in handy. Also, being outgoing and vocal on social media ensured that I had an audience I could use as a bargaining platform for gigs. The number of gigs has significantly reduced, as we can only host one or two gigs per week and the pay for this has also reduced significantly. However my management ensures that we grasp every opportunity that comes our way in regards to event hosting,\u201d says Japolo in conclusion.