Sam Jackson
Managing Editor, Classic FM

  • BA in Music (2004)

How did you find your way into your current position?

After graduating from York, I began working for Classic FM as an Assistant Producer. In my university holidays, I'd gained some experience in broadcasting through work experience with the BBC Proms, which then led to some paid work as a runner and score reader with BBC Classical Music TV. This, coupled with the fact that I'd been a member of the inaugural Classic FM Consumer Panel throughout my time at university, meant I was in the right place at the right time when a job came up. In terms of my current position, I've actually remained with Classic FM since graduation. I've held four different roles - it wasn't until three years ago that I was given the responsibility of running the station - and I've worked for three different parent companies, so it's still felt like a very varied journey.

What are your strongest memories of your time at York?

I absolutely treasure my memories of York. It was a place where I learned so much, and where I felt immersed in creativity and a sense of anything being possible, right from day one. The madness of Prac Proj in the first term will stay with me forever; I also loved the 'project' system, and the ability to learn about various composers and subjects in-depth (three months studying the music of Arvo Part was a genuine joy - where else would you get to do that as an undergraduate?!). Other particularly happy memories include chairing Chimera, the new music ensemble, playing one of the pianos for Rachmaninov's The Bells, and just the overarching sense of community and common purpose we all felt within the Music Department. It was (and continues to be) a very special place.

How did York prepare you for your career?

Studying at York expanded my understanding, and really made me question the status quo. York's refusal to simply teach music just like everyone else does was incredibly refreshing, and set me up very well for the world of work. On a practical level, the passion for music displayed by everyone who taught me at York really did set me up brilliantly for working in a job where the whole aim is to introduce this music to people who have never heard it before.

What advice would you have for current students?

Don't hold back; try everything. Don't limit yourself by definition of what you've done before; instead, give it all a go! I'm by no means an expert in contemporary music, yet I found myself chairing the Chimera Ensemble, going to the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, and discovering a whole load of music I'd have never encountered otherwise. If you get a taste for something you really like, take the chance to push in further and study it in greater detail. Be open minded; it doesn't matter if you go through three years at university without studying a single note of Mozart; you simply want to come out the other end with passion and a love of music, and that can definitely be achieved without having to follow a very proscribed approach.

Sam Jackson