Yesterday I had the privilege of hearing the inspirational story of journalist, radio host, PR whizz, presenter and grime music go-to girl, Sian Anderson. Sian shared her journey so far with myself and a number of other young people at the Livity / Live Mag UK headquarters.
Sian is a former editor of Live Mag UK, who came in at 15 saying that she simply wanted to be a “celebrity interviewer”. However, as a contributor, she wrote a piece about girls from “ends” with some references to girl gangs, which attracted the attention of the newspaper, South London Press.
This particular story was translated in a way that got Sian into some trouble, but she was able to rectify it and respond to the backlash, while making a good sum of money for a 15-year-old in the process. Being put in this situation taught Sian a lesson in journalism, which she wasn’t really interested before. Yet, she grew as a journalist and progressed up the ranks to become editor of Live Mag UK, under the mentorship of then senior editorial mentor, Chantelle Fiddy.
At 17, Sian and her friend Julie were given the opportunity to present a radio show on Rinse FM. They were thrown in at the deep end, not knowing how to use the equipment, and Sian told us that everything that could go wrong went wrong on that show. Nonetheless, Sian continued to learn on the job and she found herself mixing different tracks together, which was started off as a joke but turned into success that eventually led to requests from listeners.
During this time, Sian became the go-between that connected South London MCs, like P Money and Blacks, to the journalists who wanted to get in touch with them, as they didn’t have email addresses and you “couldn’t just hand out [their] number”. In some ways, this was one of Sian’s stepping-stones into PR.
Another stepping stone was when Sian saw a then unknown Ed Sheeran perform and she thought he was amazing. She was able to get him on to the set list of the live music night, ILUVLIVE, which was the very next day, where he went down a storm with the urban crowd. In fact, Ed went down so well that he was asked to collaborate with a number of grime artists.
This led to Ed Sheeran being signed by Atlantic Records and also having a No. 2 single on iTunes, which was a collaboration with grime artist JME. Sian had a hand in orchestrating Ed’s record deal, which she was again paid big money for, and she was later approached by Warner Bros Records to give two upcoming artists the “Ed Sheeran treatment”.
While Sian continued to work with Warner and present on Rinse FM, she also set up SighTracked, her PR, Consultancy and Project Management company, with some friends. In the company’s initial stages, Sian made some mistakes, because she wasn’t “feeling” all of the logistical stuff. However, this would later come back to bite her.
A couple of years down the line, Sian decided to have a professional look into the financial side of her business. Due to skirting over certain logistical aspects, it turned out that she owed tens of thousands of pounds (her figure had actually been cut down, because she had listened to advice from Chantelle and kept all her receipts over the years).
Although she had been making a whole lot of money, Sian admitted that she had not been wise in spending or saving (apparently, the amount of money she spent on Nando’s was ridiculous). Sian had to make some changes within her business and also work crazy hard in order to make her repayments.
With her business running efficiently, Sian made another change in her life and left Rinse FM in 2o13. Shortly after leaving Rinse FM, she was again approached by the BBC, which she eventually went on to work for, telling them “I want to be the black Fearne Cotton”.
After appearing on a daytime show, which did not work at all for Sian, she realised that she needed to be on a specialist show, enabling her to select the music she wanted to play. This was another learning experience for Sian, as it forced her to study radio, because she could see that there was a lot she didn’t know.
Eventually, Sian got her own regular slot on Radio 1 Xtra, after covering a number of radio shows prior to that. However, she realised that she no longer wanted to be the “black Fearne Cotton”, as the long process of TV was not for her.
After being the promotions co-ordinator for numerous artists at Warner, Sian eventually became a Marketing Manager at Atlantic, despite not having a lot of the knowledge and expertise. However, the label supported her, as she managed the campaigns for a number of UK and US artists.
This became too much for her though, especially with her radio show and a business to run, resulting in Sian leaving the role of marketing manager behind in late 2014. She said that she’d probably get back to that line of work when she was in her 40s though.
At just 24, Sian is a radio host, business owner, presenter and DJ, and she has been a reporter, editor, freelance promotions co-ordinator and marketing manager. Not to mention she has played a big part in furthering the careers of some of the top names in British music. Yet, what stuck with me most is that she continuously learnt from her mistakes and gained valuable life lessons, after constantly saying “I wasn’t taking it seriously”.
To succeed and juggle so much work, Sian says that your mindset needs to be, “what else am I going to do”? After all, there’s no point of sitting on a wall doing nothing when there’s a whole world out there to conquer.
Keep updated on Sian’s progress by following her on Twitter: @SianAnderson