So, as any of my Facebook friends well know, I have been supporting the efforts to save WRAS Album 88, the student-run radio station of Georgia State University. On May 6th, GSU President Dr. Mark Becker announced that Georgia Public Broadcasting had bought the rights to use the station every day from 5am to 7pm for $150,000. Fourteen hours during prime drive time radio STOLEN from the students. Apparently, this deal has been in the works surreptitiously since 2012. GPB tried to buy WREK (the Georgia Tech college station) air time a few years back and failed, so they started courting GSU. Dr. Becker announced the deal when all of the students had finished classes or were graduating, to mitigate the uproar. What neither he nor GPB anticipated was that WRAS has a tremendously dedicated listenership.
Why is WRAS so important? WRAS is a 100,00 watt college radio station, run by the students 24 hours a day currently, with over 70,000 listeners. It was started in 1971, playing an eclectic selection of music from all genres, and has launched the careers of groups like Outkast and Deerhunter, long before mainstream radio stations picked them up. WRAS has also given countless DJs, audiophiles and personalities a start in the radio industry.
Why is this a bum deal? Dr. Becker brokered this deal with absolutely NO STUDENT INPUT. GPB claims that it will give GSU students great internship opportunities, but curiously has not mapped out any such details. And if you try to ask their PR person, she is clueless, because GPB has no intentions of offering the students anything but the middle finger. GPB plans to take 14 hours of prime FM drive time radio and replace quality musical radio programming with REDUNDANT talk radio programs that they already air on their NPR stations. Only FIVE shows are not currently on air for GPB. So, WRAS student programming would be replaced with RERUNS. GSU would be responsible for any financial obligations if the programs that GPB airs violate any FCC policies. GPB is taking away 14 HOURS of great music that listeners want to hear. 70,000 plus LISTENERS. Dr. Becker and GPB did not consider the listeners, the students or the alumni. It’s interesting that GPB is seeking to expand listenership, yet chose to ALIENATE 70,000 plus devoted listeners. Not a wise move. Further, Dr. Becker has shamed himself and the University with this underhanded deal. He cannot be trusted to do what is best on the students behalf or include them in any discussions about their university. He needs to remember that his salary comes from their tuition and alumni support.
What can you do about it? Get fired up! Write emails to Dr. Becker, to the CEO of GPB! Call GPB and GSU to let them know how you feel! (Respectfully and without cursing, though I know it’s super hard. I have really wanted to rant like a drunken sailor over this.) Tell them you to rescind the deal or you will rescind all financial support and listenership of GPB and GSU. Tell them you support the alternative proposal posted here: #saveWRAS Proposal
Why is this so critical NOW? We only have until June 29th. That’s when the “format switch” to GPB programming takes place, UNLESS we protest enough to change the tide. GSU hoped listener outrage would dull by postponing the switch. NOT A CHANCE. Express your ire and show your support for WRAS! LONG LIVE WRAS ALBUM 88, the student-run voice of Georgia State University!