Changing lives, one broadcast at a time

By Yen Eriksen
Young Media Leader, SYN Canberra Media Hub

The clock ticks down in the studio: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and we’re live “turn up your wireless, strap yourselves in, because its time…” There’s laughter, music and good conversation. Once a week I get to enjoy this process: collaborating and supporting young people to make radio.

In 2014 I was one of SYN Media’s Young Media Leaders, as part of the National Youth Media Project. I was one of five young people selected from around the country to be involved in training, planning and executing this national radio initiative.

The project – funded by the Telstra Foundation, Community Broadcasting Foundation and Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation – supports a new network of regional youth broadcasters on the premier digital station SYN Nation, including volunteers from my local community radio station, 2xx fm.

For me, being one of the SYN Young Media Leaders has been a great pleasure and a career turning point. The regular workshops in Melbourne let me learn skills in a supportive and enabling environment that gave me the much-needed space to explore my ideas about leadership and community engagement.

As a young queer person I have often felt on the outside and as though I needed to demand my right to be included and counted. This project made me feel trusted and valued and, in turn, that meant I grew to better trust myself. If it weren’t for the project I would never have had the self-confidence and the skills to run for, and successfully be elected to, the Board of my community radio station, 2xx.

The access to mentors in the sector has been invaluable in fighting the sense of isolation young people in small regional stations sometimes experience. Being part of this project awarded me the legitimacy to be a spark for change in my own station and start something that would have a ripple effect.

In Canberra, our Media Hub has a handful of regular members and has meaningfully engaged with more than two-dozen young people. We meet weekly at the station to do skills training and content development before going live to air for an hour.

The team of young people who present the Young Folk Media hour on SYN nation and 2xx approach their work with an enthusiasm and energy that always excites me. We work together to craft an hour of broadcast that features stories and segments that are relevant to young people.

For me, working with this group of volunteers has been the ultimate reward. I am still learning all the time, and even though the first year of the project is over I will keep supporting all kinds of people to make community radio. Access to media is important because it reflects life, and life is lived by all kinds of people.

March, 2015