A Day in the Life of the Head of Music at Spark 107 FM.

 

This week, I’ve decided to focus on the dual roles that someone can undertake in their creative career – being a student and being the Head of Music at Spark 107 FM (it is a voluntary position).

I spoke to Rute Correia, who is the Head of Music at Spark. She’s also completing an MA (Masters) in Radio at the University of Sunderland.

In between both things, she hosts and produces two weekly radio shows, I’m Game For This (talk/magazine show about video games) and White Market (mostly music, all about free and open content).

I’d like to stress that Rute’s job is voluntary.

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Permission from Rute to use photo.

Here’s what Rute had to say!

How did you get into your job? 

I am not quite sure to be honest. I joined Spark at the end of June and in the beginning I was doing White Market and producing the Record Collection.

During summer everything was sort of quiet, but as classes started again I began to get more and more involved with Spark. At some point, Scott Hastie (previous Head of Music and current Deputy Station Manager) and I had a conversation about what kind of role I would like to have within Spark’s management and that was a key point on my decision to apply for the this.

I started to have training with the software we use to schedule the playlist and get deeper into Spark’s key commitments regarding music.

At the end of November, I officially applied for the position and got it. (Yeahy!)

What do you like about your degree and your job?

Everything! Music and radio are my biggest passions, so to have a position where I can actually have a say on both is like heaven on Earth. I love the idea of bringing great songs to people, and making a difference somehow. Everybody has a song that is super special for them for whatever reason. To be able to curate songs that may have an impact on someone’s life is something that I truly enjoy.
On top of this, listening to loads of music and dealing with the industry to get interviews and review concerts is definitely something I never get enough of.
What are some of the challenges of your degree and your job?
Well, the most obvious one is time management. Being Head of Music while doing a Masters and two weekly radio shows is quite challenging.
In terms of actual work, it’s making sure that my personal taste in music doesn’t interfere (too much) with our playlist.
Of course, part of the job has to do with gut feeling and my understanding/knowledge of music, but most of it is not: it’s about reading charts and compiling release dates. I don’t think many people understand that.
Very often there will be songs that I absolutely love that won’t get into our playlist. Likewise, there are many songs that I don’t like that will get to our A list.
I can’t really say I am not sort of heartbroken sometimes!
What do you think are some of the challenges in the creative sector?
For me that would be competition and value.
I believe the creative sector, particularly the media sector, is unbelievably competitive. The worst part of it is that very often (especially when you are starting) is more about being in the right place at the right time, rather than having done the right work.
Not only that is quite demanding, but it can lead to frustrating situations.
It’s also very common to come across scenarios where your work is deeply undervalued, just because you’re still a beginner.
Since the competition is so tough, very often young professionals tend to settle for situations that are not favourable to them in terms of salary and work hours, because it’s either that or nothing.
How has your degree helped you?
My previous one? I have a BA in Communication Sciences (it’s like media sciences, really) from my hometown Lisbon, done between 2006 and 2009. I kind of regret not having paid as much attention as I should back then.
My degree was deeply academical, and I understand that that might be a bit “boring” when you’re just 17.
Nevertheless, it taught me a lot on how to think, how to analyse a situation and how reflection should be a key element of anything we do, which had a deep impact on my problem solving skills and my general approach to life, actually.
I am a pragmatist, so I need a bit of both theory and practical stuff.
Right now, on the MA, I have both sides which is helping me tremendously in terms of compiling information to actually produce knowledge.
Why did you pick to work the sector that you work in? 
I grew up thinking I wanted to be a journalist; a serious one, dealing with politics and stuff. So, when I had to pick what to study in university it was quite easy. Back at home, my degree was the best in the field and it had all the top professors. But after two or three months in, I realised that I did not want to to that.
I always loved radio, and that’s what I wanted to do, but not as a journalist.
Still, I finished my degree, majoring in Cinema and Audiovisual, as that was the closest I had to entertainment in media.
During university, I started doing radio at an engineering faculty in Lisbon and I knew that was my place. I did various internships in radio, back at home and ended up getting a job at one of the stations, which turned out to be a job at a music festival promoter really.
After two years, I was exhausted (underpaid and overworking), so I took an opportunity to work abroad. At that time, I had put my dream on hold. Life happens and it takes us in different ways than expected.
Eventually, I met my boyfriend and moved to the UK, and after struggling with finding a job in online content marketing (that’s what I was doing), I decided it was time to go back to what I loved the most, radio.
So, I guess opportunity had a deep impact on my choices over time.
Describe a typical day in your degree/job.
On class days, I wake up, read emails while having breakfast, go to university, have lectures the whole day, use breaks to read emails and the end of the day to reply them and keep up with what happened during the day (listen to the music I was sent and starting to sort it).
On non-class days, the ritual is sort of similar, except I work from home in the morning (reading emails, replying and all), and in the afternoons I tend to go to Spark.
On Tuesday afternoons, I record the game show; on Thursdays, I spent my afternoon scheduling Spark’s broadcast for the following week; on Sunday evenings, I do White Market live from Spark.
In the middle of all this, I read stuff about radio, try to keep up with what’s going on in the music industry world and prepare both radio shows and a weekly feature I now have on RDP Internacional (the equivalent to BBC World Services, but in Portugal).
Do you have any advice for people wanting to get into your sector and/or the creative industry?
If you love it, keep going.
I’ve been working in the media/creative industry for almost 9 years now and I am back to a point where I am put in the same bag as a beginner because I am not British, nor have I grown here.
The huge network I had back in Portugal is not very relevant here, so I am sort of starting from scratch.
Learning all the radio stations I have never listened to, the names that matter and why they matter is not easy sometimes, but it’s what I need to succeed here.
It is very likely that at some point you’ll have to do something that is not quite what you wished for, or something that is but then you realise the background is not as glamorous as it you imagined.
But if you love it, keep going. That’s the only way you’re really going anywhere.

You can follow Rute on Twitter – @RuteRadio.

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