Words by Alex Watts
“The reason that community broadcasting exists is to support local arts and music. I feel that that’s why Melbourne has such a beautifully rich and diverse music and arts scene; there’s the support behind it with community radio.”
Speaking from SYN HQ, Bethany Atkinson-Quinton (host of SYN’s The Hoist) is a prime example of everything that makes community radio such an important tool — allowing diverse and passionate voices the chances to be heard, as well as giving music fans the chance to play anything they think is worthwhile on air.
One of the key aspects of SYN (and their Channel 31 TV show 1700) is that they are a youth organisation, with their presenters and staff falling between the ages of 12 to 26. This not only influences the tone of the shows but also provides a platform for a section of society not often looked to for information.
“It’s a celebration of the voice of the youth because it’s not heard in the mainstream media,” agrees Atkinson-Quinton.
“It’s really empowering to young people to be able to present and if they um and ah a bit, well, we’re all human and I really like that human element.”
The station also changes its programming grid every 12-14 weeks, which ensures that they can accommodate for a plethora of ideas while giving a large group of young hopefuls the opportunity to host their own show.
“It’s quite different from Triple R and PBS — a lot of their presenters have been there for 30 years and they’re absolute experts in that genre of music or whatever field it is, but because there is that age gap we don’t have presenters like that, which makes it quite interesting. It means that people come in; they get really excited about it; they do awesome stuff but then they might leave. That’s okay, because then you get new people coming in and that’s something we totally value. Somebody did a show about potatoes for six months. It was this comedy show; it was great! I suppose it gives people that space to explore whatever it is they’re passionate about.”
Atkinson-Quinton also works as the radio trainer at SYN, providing a unique opportunity for young people wanting to pursue a media career; teaching them everything from presentation and interview skills, to media law, to how to create multi-platform content.
“We have people from SYN that now work at Triple J or ABC, or some people are working at Star FM, so there’s people in commercial radio and the private sector.
“As well as being a youth media organisation we are very much a training organisation. We have a programme that’s on Monday to Friday called Schools On Air, which is getting school groups on air.
“We also have access programming — one of our values at SYN is making sure we are as accessible as possible to every young person in Melbourne. We’ve done work with disability advocacy groups where we can get certain funding to train young people with disabilities and get them a show.”
Among a diverse grid that includes an upcoming programme about mental health – Represent – which is a youth based politics show and the extremely popular Asian Pop Night, The Hoist is the station’s local music programme and Atkinson-Quinton revels in the amount of music she receives.
“That’s personally one of my favourite things. We have music meetings every Thursday night where we go through the music that gets sent in. Pretty much everyone I love and go see I’ve discovered through SYN.
“It’s become such a part of my life and that’s such a beautiful common thread throughout the community stations that I’m involved with. I’m also involved with Triple R and PBS who are all unique, but the commonality is the community behind it.”
For information on how to get involved with SYN head to http://syn.org.au or email firstname.lastname@example.org