Ellie Rennie on SYN FM

There’s a great article by Ellie Rennie about Melbourne student radio station SYN FM in the upcoming Griffith Review:

SYN stands for the much-too-serious Student Youth Network; nobody
can be bothered saying that on air. Audiences like the station because it has a
child-like innocence – it has none of the polished, fast-paced, ad-ridden hype
of commercial radio. If you live in Melbourne you can fi nd SYN on the radio,
television and the web. If you search hard you can also fi nd a few old copies of
its magazine, Pecado (which means ‘sin’ in Spanish), lying around its inner-city
headquarters. SYNners will be listening to their peer-produced content in their
rooms, watching it on television or downloading it to their iPods to take on the
train. Some tune in and decide ‘I can do better’, so they call up and book in for
a training program, others are online building the technologies, or in studios
telling the newbies which buttons to press.
For all of the talk of a new communications paradigm there are very few
stories of the people who are actually making it. SYN is a very small enterprise
where people go to learn about, and become part of, the media. The high dramas
of media dynasties, acquisitions and political infl uence lie pretty far from
their reality. But the ‘radical changes’ occurring in the mediascape come from
the sudden, wide-scale participation of ordinary folk in media production and
distribution. New ideas and technologies are emerging out of non-marketbased
activities – friendship groups and hobbies – outside of professionalised
industry. It is these stories that now need telling.
The life of SYN is also a story of digital literacy – a new literacy involving
the ability to write, not just read, the forms and languages of digital media
content. Through this poorly funded and only loosely organised institution,
young people are planning their response to the hard questions: ‘Where does
new media participation lead to?’ ‘Who is it benefi ting?’

 

SYN stands for the much-too-serious Student Youth Network; nobody can be bothered saying that on air. Audiences like the station because it has a child-like innocence – it has none of the polished, fast-paced, ad-ridden hype of commercial radio. If you live in Melbourne you can fi nd SYN on the radio, television and the web. If you search hard you can also fi nd a few old copies of its magazine, Pecado (which means ‘sin’ in Spanish), lying around its inner-city headquarters. SYNners will be listening to their peer-produced content in their rooms, watching it on television or downloading it to their iPods to take on the train. Some tune in and decide ‘I can do better’, so they call up and book in for a training program, others are online building the technologies, or in studios telling the newbies which buttons to press.

For all of the talk of a new communications paradigm there are very few stories of the people who are actually making it. SYN is a very small enterprise where people go to learn about, and become part of, the media. The high dramas of media dynasties, acquisitions and political infl uence lie pretty far from their reality. But the ‘radical changes’ occurring in the mediascape come from the sudden, wide-scale participation of ordinary folk in media production and distribution. New ideas and technologies are emerging out of non-market-based activities – friendship groups and hobbies – outside of professionalised industry. It is these stories that now need telling.

The life of SYN is also a story of digital literacy – a new literacy involving the ability to write, not just read, the forms and languages of digital media content. Through this poorly funded and only loosely organised institution, young people are planning their response to the hard questions: ‘Where does new media participation lead to?’ ‘Who is it benefiting?’

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