CELEB GRAD: Matt Fincham

mattfinchamHe’s everybody’s favourite radio producer – and a graduate of Cambridge University’s Emmanuel College. Matt Fincham took some time out from managing Nick Grimshaw on the Radio 1 Breakfast Show to tell us about his student experience…

You have a first class English degree from Cambridge. What did you think of the course?
I look back on my time at university fondly, but it was an intense level of reading! You’d have to read two books or plays a week. While most of my mates had one essay a term, weekly essays and sometimes two a week was quite intense.

Did you get involved with any student clubs?
Yeah, I think that’s a really important thing for me. A mate of mine had a show on the university radio station, so I went in and sat in on it. There was about three people listening and any person could turn up and do a show, so I got involved. University focused what job I wanted to do and at that point, I started obsessively listening to Radio 1.

Aside from your degree, what did you get out of university?
Independence – standing on my own two feet, not having the safety net of my parents and forming new friendships. Doing basic things like learning how to wash your own clothes and cook your own food – probably
by the age of 18, I should’ve known how to do all that stuff actually!

Are you still in touch with friends from uni?
There’s probably six or seven people from uni that I will keep in touch with for the rest of my life – we had some of the most important moments in our lives together.

What did you see yourself doing after graduation?
Radio was important to me, so I sent lots of local radio stations emails and letters – it’s pretty tricky to get experience. I got in at a station called Vibe FM to help with the breakfast show. It was a bit of a drag getting up at 5:30, but it’s been good practice! I did it for a month, unpaid, observing what was happening in the studio, then they got me doing some other bits. It started my broadcasting career.

How has your degree helped you?
Communication skills are the biggest thing. Analysing iambic pentameter has never cropped up in my job, but there are other things which I have used! Reading people, being aware socially – all those things definitely shape you in your professional career.

What would your advice be for people thinking of applying for university?
You need to weigh up whether it’s feasible for you. It’s difficult at 18 knowing exactly what you’ll end up doing. Find a course that seems right for you, go to open days, visit unis. Speak to students who are already there too – that’s a real tell-tale sign.

Listen to the Radio 1 Breakfast Show with Nick Grimshaw, weekdays from 6:30am on BBC Radio 1

Source Magazine, Winter 2013

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