Sonita Alleyne,(born 1968) is the Barbados-born British co-founder and former CEO of Somethin’ Else, a cross-platform media production company. Alleyne is a member of the BBC Trust, the governing body of the British Broadcasting Corporation, and Master of Jesus College, Cambridge.
Biography and career
Alleyne was born in Bridgetown, Barbados. At the age of three she moved to Walthamstow with her parents and later attended the nearby Leyton Manor School and Leyton Senior High School. She graduated from Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge (1985–88) with a BA in Philosophy and began working as a financial adviser for Royal Life. A year later she joined Jazz FM's publicity department and, in her two years at the station, proceeded to become a trainee producer.
In 1991, Alleyne set up Somethin' Else, a music publicity business (named after the jazz album by Cannonball Adderley), with former colleagues Jez Nelson and Chris Philips. The company produced original content for the BBC and commercial radio. As CEO, Alleyne led many projects herself, including the development of Radio Music Shop, the world's first retail radio station. By 2008, Somethin’ Else was, according to The Independent, ‘the biggest syndicator of radio programmes in the UK, outside of the BBC, distributing shows to more than 200 radio stations in 65 countries’.
In October 2009, Alleyne stepped down as Chief Executive and took on the role of Non-Executive Director. Fellow co-founder Jez Nelson succeeded her as CEO.
Starting in 2008, Alleyne has chaired both the national arts charity Sound and Music and the Radio Sector Skills Council. She is also a member of the Court of Governors at the University of the Arts London and a trustee of the Islington Arts and Media Trust. She sits on the UK Culture Committee for UNESCO and contributes to the Government Department of Work and Pensions as a member of the London Skills and Employment Board and the National Employment Panel. She has been a judge for the Precious Awards, which celebrate the entrepreneurial achievements of black women, and the Sony Awards.
In February 2012, she was named the non executive director of Archant, a media group. In July 2012 the Government announced that Alleyne would join the BBC Trust, the governing body of the Corporation.
Alleyne has been a board member of the London Legacy Development Corporation since April 2012. In 2019 she was appointed Chair of the British Board of Film Classification.
In May 2019, she was elected Master of Jesus College, Cambridge, a role which she took up in October 2019. She is the first woman to hold the role, 40 years after the college began admitting women as students.
Awards and recognition
In 2000, Alleyne received the Award of Excellence from the European Federation of Black Women Business Owners. In 2002, she won the Carlton Multicultural Achievement Award for TV and Radio. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts and the Radio Academy. In 2004, she was awarded the OBE for services to broadcasting.