Music Alumni: My Career in Radio and Live Events

Man standing in front of Olympic screen
Mike Gibbons
BMus Music
After graduating from the Department of Music in 1974, Mike has gone on to have a successful career in the production industry, working for the BBC on a multitude of live events, including concerts in Buckingham Palace for HM Queen's Golden Jubilee.

I've had a brilliant and varied career with music being a major part of it. It's a classic example of serendipity - I chose Sheffield once I saw it.

Career Achievements

I was going to be a teacher as in those days you were either a performer or a teacher, and no way was I a performer. Instead, I joined the BBC as a radio producer (mostly) on a whim after being pushed by the Careers Service. I was forced to change career inside the BBC to events, after a quick spell running performing arts & media education. Then the Olympics came along...

I moved to London 2012 as Head of Live Sites & National Coordination, working at Games in Beijing 2008 and Vancouver 2010. After London 2012 I then became Events Advisor to the International Olympic Committee working on Games in Russia 2014, Rio de Janeiro 2016, Pyeong Chang 2018, Tokyo 2020, Beijing 2022 and Paris 2024.

I ran BBC radio stations in Cumbria, Devon and Bedfordshire and then went onto run BBC Live Events across the UK including concerts in Buckingham Palace for HM Queen's Golden Jubilee; VE Day 60th Anniversary in Trafalgar Square; festivals in Manchester, Yorkshire, Glasgow, Belfast and two national events with up to 8,000 concerts and activities.

I also became Managing Director for Formidable Productions which has delivered sports events for Rugby World Cup 2015, and various sports marketing programmes, as well as TV launches and promotions. Our sister company, Formidable Media, is a leading social media content producer for major international companies.

However, the most important activity in my life remains my choir...

Student Memories

The remnants of the old steel industries, the blast furnaces roadside, the buses for 6 pence anywhere, Sheffield Utd in first place in the top division, Pele playing at Wednesday.

These were the days when we would book concerts for Hall Balls like Slade or Mungo Jerry. I actually dumped a Roxy Music concert on Ranmoor House without any permission when the Students Union couldn't accommodate it... and they let us go ahead! We saw Wings in the Union, Sha Na Na after Woodstock and so much more. We'd develop and put on theatre productions almost whenever we liked, and without any charges or controls. It was a lucky generation.

Black and white theatre production. Cast on stage

Much of my development at Sheffield is down to the four great influences during my time in Sheffield - the Department of Music, the Drama Studio, the Students Union Music and Theatre, and even my flat.  Two of my flatmates also ended up in broadcasting and one of them became a 100 plus million selling author - read "The Reacher Guy" by Helen Martin for a great summary of what Sheffield was like in the early 70s.

Career Advice 

I had nothing planned but wanted to keep music at the centre of much of it. Throughout, I ran choirs and bands, played organ and keyboards. I say go with the flow, try out everything that interests you, don't be pigeonholed, explore, and enjoy.

I'm still working on big events all over the world at Olympics & Paralympics and I'm a Director of Music, fifty years after heaving my Lambretta scooter out of the Guard's van of the train at Sheffield Station and finding my way up to Ranmoor as a naive 19 year old on the next step of life's big story.

Thank you Sheffield!

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