‘YOU ARE LISTENING to sin,’ said the radio announcer. That was a few years ago now and I remember thinking I must have misheard. The music was also a bit odd, plunging into bad taste and then getting good again. As it turned out I had been listening to SYN, and not ‘sin’. SYN, I discovered, is made by people between twelve and twenty-six. The only playlist is the ‘sweet 16’: a collection of songs they happen to like that week. The cheekiness of the name is deliberate. All their lives ‘the SYNners’, as they call themselves, have been told that the media is bad for them. And so they play up to it, taking SYN to be sin, knowing that they are in charge now.
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 find SYN on the radio, television and the web. If you search hard you can also find 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.
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