My Life In Media: Stevie Spring

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The Independent Online

Stevie Spring, 47, is the chief executive of Clear Channel, the UK's largest outdoor advertising company. After working as a butcher, teaching sport and managing the family hair salon, she graduated in law and has spent most of her career as a brand advocate. She lives in London with her Australian partner where she shops, swims, and socialises.

What inspired you to start a career in the media?

I was always fascinated by advertising - my sister and I used to recite commercials verbatim as children. Over two decades in advertising agencies I watched the balance of power shift from those advising on creative strategy to those advising on media strategy - where the vast bulk of the investment is. Ironically, I now find myself running a property-based, pure-play media company - no stars, no content, no editorial - just great-location-meets-beautiful-frame, where I'm reliant on my former creative chums for eye-catching ideas that make my medium work for our clients.

What was the family newspaper?

The Daily and Sunday Express - which I read with open contempt to emphasise the chasm between my right-of-Genghis-Khan's stepfather's views and the not-quite-communist stance that I'd taken from my father's left-wing teachings. But I loved the Gambols!

What were your favourite TV and radio programmes?

At 15, it was Top of the Pops and shows like The Monkees and The Partridge Family. I was also glued to the radio chart on a Sunday evening. I used to record my favourite singles on reel- to-reel tape, often missing the intro or picking up the DJ's banter instead - all this through a microphone held to the radio speaker, so it was awful quality. I pretty much knew every word to every hit. Even my favourite commercials were sing-a-long - Coke's 'Teach the World to Sing', "Lipsmackin'" Pepsi... I was a true jingle queen.

What's the first medium you turn to in the morning?

I wake up to the Today programme on Radio 4 followed by The Times business digest and T2 with my All Bran. But I find the compact version irritating so this may change.

Do you consult any media sources during the working day?

Reuters online, our news-clipping service, and all the marketing, media and property trade magazines.

What is the best thing about your job?

The variety - dealing with the leader of a local authority, a toilet designer, a bus-shelter cleaner, the audit partner of Ernst and Young and the managing director of a £100m client in a single day; and of course the best seats at Clear Channel Entertainment events.

And the worst?

Only having 24 hours in any day.

What's your most embarrassing moment?

My front-fastening bra pinging open during my first-ever presentation to a board. I was wearing a tight-fitting top and there was just no hiding place.

What do you tune in to at home?

Sky+ has changed my life. I'm an irregular and light TV viewer. Now I can actually watch programmes, whatever time they're screened. For the first time in my life I watch series - The L Word, ER, Green Wing - without missing huge chunks.

What's your Sunday paper? Do you have a favourite magazine?

The Sunday Times - because of habit. I'm a voracious magazine reader - CN Traveller, Tatler, Vanity Fair, Vogue, The Economist, Time and Private Eye.

Name the career ambition you want to realise before you retire.

I don't want to have a ambition which means I may have to retire.

If you didn't work in the media, what would you do?

I'd be politically active: though not in central government, where I fear it's impossible for a jobbing MP to make a real difference. I'd probably run a NGO. I chair the Groundwork Federation, the UK's largest environmental community regeneration organisation.

Who in the media do you most admire and why?

Rupert Murdoch - for having the courage to do things differently and being such a driver of change.


1978: Marketing Management, Alpine Group

1982: Client development and agency sales at TV am

1984: Grey Advertising - group operations, international and national account management and business development.

1989: Deputy Managing Director at Gold Greenlees Trott

1992: Managing Director at Woollams Moira Gaskin O'Malley.

1994: Joined the management team at Y&R, which was responsible for the rebirth of the London office of one of the world's oldest, largest and most prestigious advertising agency brands.

2000: appointed Chief Executive of Clear Channel UK. She also chairs the Groundwork Federation, which incorporates 50 trusts in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and is the UK's largest organisation delivering sustainable community regeneration projects. She is a fellow of both the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising and the Marketing Society.