Today, May 6, 2014, WRAS management and staff were informed that the university has struck a deal with Georgia Public Broadcasting. According to representatives from central GSU administration, this deal will begin a 2-year contract that will increase GSU’s presence on the GPB statewide network of affiliate stations. With this new deal, programming on WRAS 88.5 FM will consist of GPB programming from 5 AM to 7 PM. WRAS programming will fill the 7 PM to 5 AM time range on the analog station (88.5 FM), but will air around the clock on our HD FM stream along with our online stream. WRAS Atlanta Album 88 is a 100,000-watt student-run and managed radio station that has been operating from downtown Atlanta since 1971. Prior to the announcement, neither members of staff nor management were informed of – nor given the opportunity to discuss – the decision that was made public today.
Although WRAS’ first on-air broadcast took place on January 18, 1971, its roots reach back to the mid-1960s, when GSU was still known as Georgia State College. On November 12, 1969, Georgia State University – which had only recently attained its University status on September 10, 1969 – officially filed with the FCC as a radio broadcasting station on 88.5 FM. In February of 1970, the FCC granted a permit allowing for WRAS to begin its operations at 19,500 watts, for which two small studios were utilized within what was, at the time, GSU’s Student Center (and is currently its University Center).
In 1974, WRAS aired Atlanta’s first live “Quadrophonic,” broadcast together with WREK, employing a short-lived technology which provided listeners with two front and two rear channels of sound. WRAS quickly championed and upheld its reputation for being among the most influential and professionally run student stations in the nation. While most other college stations had poor training, sparse technical facilities and little knowledge of programming, Georgia State students produced a progressive sound so popular that it influenced format decisions down the dial at the commercial stations as well. WRAS has continued this trend into the new millennium, ensuring that quality programming coincides with discovering unheard music and maintaining professional relationships throughout the music industry and the Atlanta community as a whole.
While we regret the decision greatly, know that neither WRAS staff nor management had any part of this change. Acting unilaterally as the FCC licensee, Georgia State University administration has chosen this route with stated goals of increasing listenership and generating a positive partnership between the institution and GPB. The staff of WRAS was met with surprise by this announcement for two reasons. First, up until the announcement was made this morning, WRAS staff was never of the understanding that our ratings mattered. As a college radio station, the mission of our station has never been to make the rich richer or to give airtime to mainstream music. This being true, we have never been concerned about ratings nor were we aware that the administration was until this morning. Our interests, instead, were delivering quality and diverse music to our listeners and supplying an alternative to mainstream radio.
Secondly, the support we have received throughout the decades from the GSU and Atlanta communities has been overwhelming. It is because of this consistent support that we have never even questioned our ratings or stature among listeners. We as a staff and family are devastated by this decision that we had no say or part in. While we understand our programming will persist mostly via online streaming and HD FM, this completely disrupts our mission: to provide top-grade programming that allows our listeners to connect via discovering new music. We feel that with these changes, we will face a diminished listenership and overall decline in quality of our station.
We as a staff are deeply saddened and want to apologize for these changes that, again, are completely out of our control. As mentioned before, the university will assess the contract again in two years and determine where to move forward from there. Since this move is driven so much by listenership, we cannot guarantee how the university will act in the future. This could mean that we either revert back to our original format, stay in the partnership with GPB, or perhaps even switch WRAS over to 24/7 GPB programming. Whatever the case is for the future, we appreciate the listenership and love we have been showered with over the years. If you want to voice any concerns, please contact that powers that be directly: Andrea Jones (Assoc. VP of PR & Marketing) can be reached at 404-413-1351, Mark Becker (President) 404-413-1300, or Dr. Douglass Covey (VP of Student Affairs) at 404-413-1500. Can also be reached via email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org.