You may not be a subscriber, you may not even be a listener but if you live in Australia YOU are a beneficiary of Community Radio. And it is under threat. The gentle (and sometimes radical) discussions, the new or unexplored music and arts, the idiosyncratic, local and challenging debates that bubble their way around the airwaves and then into the mainstream are given time and legitimacy through Australia’s Community Radio Network.

To a non-listener it might seem like an irrelevant or dying medium, but right now Community Radio reaches 4.4 million Australians every week* with stories and sounds found nowhere else in the mainstream media.

With the end of analogue broadcasting rapidly approaching, Community Radio needs the Federal Government to pledge only an extra $1.4million (of a total of $3.6Million) to help the dozens of Community Radio stations around the country make the switch to a digital broadcasting platform**.

Australia has one of the highest levels of media concentration in the world and though a failure to fund this proposal would not immediately kill Community Radio it would signal a turn away from the principles of plurality and “public interest” that underly Sen. Conroy’s current Media Reform proposals: http://bit.ly/Yg61re.

Wednesday is our day of Action. We aren’t calling on you to pledge funds, just put your name on the petition with the 12,000 others at: http://committocommunityradio.org.au/

If you get the chance flick the dial or stream in to 3RRR 102.7, PBS 106.7, SYN 90.7 or any of these wonderful breeding grounds for this city’s great public ideas: http://bit.ly/12L86ki

Michael Kirby, AC CMG:
“Australia has many blessings. But the concentration of media ownership in a few hands is not one of them. Increasingly, print media especially consider themselves not chroniclers but active players in the political and social scene. This makes community media all the more important to us in Australia. As Chief Justice John Bray of South Australia once said,’’ Diversity is the protectress of freedom.’’ Citizens should not only enjoy and benefit from community media. They should support it”

*McNair Ingenuity Research 2012
**For comparison the commercial networks have asked for a package close to $500 million.

Andy Lynch is a former Online Manager and current Board Member of SYN Media.

Dear Community Radio,

Oh you.

You, the love of my life. You, the reason I get up in the morning (literally, I own a clock radio). You, the one who truly listens to me and the one I truly listen to. Oh you. What would I do without you?

Well, truthfully, I wouldn’t do much at all. Approximately 80% of my regular week is dedicated to you in some way.  I listen to you every morning and almost every night, I rely on you for the music I love to hear and the conversations I need to hear. I spend every spare minute making radio documentaries to contribute to you or scheming about how I can spend more time talking live on you. And if not for you, I would be an incredibly boring person to talk to at social events. I would also be invited to a lot less social events, as I would never meet the wonderful people who make you.

Community radio, you’ve shown me everything that is great about broadcast media and everything that is great about human beings. You’ve let me hear and you’ve let me be heard. You’ve been a huge part of my life for the last 3 years and I’d like you to remain that way for the rest of my days.

So, I guess what I really want to say in this love letter is… I’m going to commit to you. In 2013 and forever after, I commit to community radio.

Yours with undying love,
Tess

I first started listening to SYN when I was 14. I had been diagnosed with clinical depression, and I wasn’t going to school at the time. I spent most of the day sleeping, and at night, I would listen to the SYN graveyard shifts from 2 – 6 AM. Apart from my own family, that was my only real contact with other people. One night, I heard a presenter talking about radio training, and I found out that anybody could complete training, and have their voice heard on radio too. Signing up for radio training was one of the first proactive steps I took that year to overcome my depression, and having a reason to leave the house each weekend added a lot of structure to my life, and made it easier for me to be outside and around other people.

There are many things that people get passionate about, and SYN was one of those things for me. At a time where I felt little passion about anything else, it really helped to have the support of the volunteers at SYN, and the sense of a family outside of home. Previously, I had felt insignificant and useless; I felt that my opinions and my thoughts weren’t worth sharing, or even worth having. Getting involved in community radio taught me that I didn’t need profound or deep insights into the nature of the world (which no 14-year-old can really hope to have), and that people would still care about what I had to say.

Small victories are important, and SYN gave me a lot of small victories; listeners would commend my music choices, or interact with us on a topic that I cared about. Going to SYN regularly also instilled a degree of ‘normality’ in my life. Slowly, as I increased my level of engagement with the outside world, I started going back to school, and found it to be not so bad after all. SYN was really integral in helping me take the necessary steps to come out of that stage in my life, and I’m glad that SYN is still a part of my life now.

I know that there are many other young people out there who struggle with depression, and I hope that SYN can play a part in helping them find a passion again, as SYN did for me. I hope that young people can realise, through SYN, that they too have a voice, and that other people care enough to listen to what they have to say to the world.

Community radio has never been more important than it is now, and I feel like the current threat against it is a clear acknowledgement of this.  

The youth of Australia is becoming more vocal, more creative and increasingly aware of their power as a collective group of independent artists and active members of society.

Community Radio ensures media diversity and affords voice and expression to the communities it serves.

Without the self determining voice of community radio, how can we as a community truly be in control of our own media?

Without community radio how can we even claim to be one?

Zoe Davies is SYN Media’s Arts Talks Manager. She has also volunteered at other Community Radio stations such as 3RRRFM, and studies Media at RMIT. 

mason

‘The young have exalted notions, because they have not been humbled by life or learned its necessary limitations; moreover, their hopeful disposition makes them think themselves equal to great things—and that means having exalted notions. They would always rather do noble deeds than useful ones: Their lives are regulated more by moral feeling than by reasoning…. All their mistakes are in the direction of doing things excessively and vehemently. They overdo everything; they love too much, hate too much, and the same with everything else.’

-Aristotle

I am not one that is going to argue with one of the greatest minds of the western tradition. Participating in a youth based community organisation does run the gauntlet of human emotions and observing a lot of high hopes being left by the wayside when the ideal clashes with reality. However, what other avenue do the youth have to test, to try, to push their limitations and the see results in a public forum? SYN is a community based organisation first and foremost and the dynamic is in the title – a community, a shared consciousness where anyone of the ages of twelve to twenty-five coming together to create and strive, to do, to be.

My experience at SYN so far has been inexplicable. The sheer amount of talent that pours out of this place is phenomenal and it’s contagious. Since starting here back in 2010, I have seen many people thrive and succeed in this caring, enveloping environment. Whether we are here for fun or as a step to future endeavours, we work excessively and vehemently, love too much and hate too much and we are all the better for it.

Mason Smith, Talks Manager and former Executive Producer of The Hoist, SYN Media

SYN Alumni and former Vice-President Ellie Cameron-Krepp explains why Community Radio’s future is worth saving.

Image

I thought I sounded like a bit of a wanker the first time I said I had 8 years of media industry experience in a cover letter. But, surprisingly, it’s true, and I’ve got SYN Media and community radio to thank for that.

As a 22 year old recent Media graduate, I’m fresh on the job hunt in an industry full of unpaid internships and a severe lack of entry level job opportunities. It sure seems disheartening at times, but I’m not too worried. Not yet. You see, working in community radio has set me up perfectly.

Thanks to SYN, I’ve had the opportunity to take on roles such as radio presenter, executive producer, trainer, interviewer, segment contributor, youth manager and even vice-president! Pretty snazzy resume for a 22 year old, hey?

Most of all though, SYN has just given me a beautiful family with which to share my passion for making media. There are very few organisations out there that provide open access for young people to produce their own media content, which puts SYN at the forefront of the industry for accessibility, and brings diversity to the Australian media landscape.

Considering the life changing experiences I’ve had volunteering at SYN Media, I couldn’t think of anything worse than the loss of digital radio and the consequences of that on a station like ours. We’ve been a breeding ground for so many of this country’s media makers, a place where young people have a voice, and an encouraging community for the thousands of vibrant volunteers who have passed through SYN’s doors.

Supporting a digital radio future is sticking up for the creators and consumers of community media who are at risk of losing the heart and soul of Australian broadcasting if stations are forced to go off-air.

But all hope is not lost- In order for other young Australians to be given the opportunities I have, we’re calling on everyone who cares about the issue to take action and join the campaign. It’s simple. Commit to Community Radio!

Simon Harman (right, pictured here with fellow SYN volunteer Kenton Reeder)

Simon Harman (right, pictured here with fellow SYN volunteer Kenton Reeder)

I have been at SYN for about 4 months now. During this time I have been on the radio, and also given opportunities to work with the online team from which I have contributed to and learned many things from. The people I have met at SYN are great, and I’ve made many new friends after even a short time with SYN.

Community radio has helped open my eyes to the inner workings of not only the media in general but also how an organization works and the importance of people skills. Community radio has not only been an entertaining experience, but one that has shown me that it is important for the media not to be monopolized by businesses. Without this, the poeple will have no voice in the information that gets fed to the masses on a daily basis, and that is an encroachment on the democratic values of our country.

Madeline Smedley shares the importance of Community Radio to her personally and to society in general.

Since I started at SYN I’ve not only learnt important skills that will help me in my professional future, I’ve also been able to better understand my community and participate in it. Through contributing and listening to SYN, I’ve become a more active member of the Melbourne cultural scene and have begun to feel like a real Melbournian.  I’ve also made friends whom I’m able to work with on projects that we all enjoy, and that are useful and of worth to more than just ourselves. Most of all, SYN and its members have helped me understand what I want from the future, who I am and who I’d like to be.

If SYN were left behind commercial stations, not only would it suck for the members who would be at a loss without the opportunities to learn, improve their skills and explore their options without risk, but the listeners would be without a valuable resource. SYN serves the community in ways other media cannot. A legitimate, local and focused organisation like this is made by the community, for the community, and remains one of the last vestiges of true, impartial, free communication.

#SYNforever

Madeline Smedley currently hosts Get Cereal on Thursday mornings, 6-9am on SYN. 

Radio broadcaster Kit Harvey shares some of the knowledge he’s gained while volunteering with SYN.

Presenting on SYN Radio has been an invaluable way for me to hone my craft as a presenter and content producer. That said, community radio is not simply a training ground for the more commercially minded among us. It is an essential part of Australia’s media landscape that increases and diversifies the voices available to media consumers.

On a personal level, community radio has given me the opportunity to share my own ideas and opinions, regardless of how light-hearted or tongue-in-cheek they may be. There’s something special about that.

To be completely honest, I’m not sure where I’d be without community radio.

In fact, scratch that, I’m not sure where we’d be without community radio.

Kit Harvey has presented and produced various SYN programs over the past three years. Currently he is a co-host of SYN’s seasonal program, “The Advice Line”. 

SYN Broadcaster Rose Houghton reflects on the opportunities given to her by Community Radio.


Community radio creates opportunities for young broadcasters to practice, learn and be involved in radio. It has been a massive part of my life for the last three years, giving me the chance to broadcast on air and be a part of the media industry. I have been able to learn so many skills and put back a little bit into the community.

Community radio talks about local matters and plays a wide range of music. It is so important that SYN and other community stations are not left behind, as it is such an imperative part of the community. Without community radio I wouldn’t know half the things I do about radio and wouldn’t be able to practice and learn more.

Rose Houghton is a SYN Volunteer on Get Cereal and the producer of her own show, Da’Burbs. She has also volunteered with 3RRRFM and was 2012’s recipient of the radioinfo prize at RMIT.