While Tuesday’s announcement regarding the Georgia Public Broadcasting takeover of WRAS Atlanta 88.5 FM, Georgia State University‘s student-run radio station, came as quite a shock to the Georgia State community and the larger Atlanta area, fans of the station’s current programming should make no mistake about it: the timing was deliberate.
Georgia State officials announced their decision, which was made without consulting the student management and staff or the Committee for Student Communications, on the morning of Tuesday, May 6, 2014. This timing conveniently coincided with the end of the semester, the annual turn-over of student media leadership and, as the public found out yesterday, the announcement of Georgia State’s proposal to purchase Turner Field and turn it into a football stadium.
Why wait until the end of the semester, on the last day of finals, to make such a huge announcement? Just look at the social media backlash. In less than 36 hours, a Change.org petition has reached more than 5,000 signatures. The Twitter hashtag #SaveWRAS began trending in the Atlanta area almost immediately, and #BoycottGPB later Tuesday evening. Facebook users changed their profile pictures and profile cover pictures to custom-made “SAVE WRAS” graphics. Statements were issued from the student staffs of WRAS and The Signal, Georgia State’s student newspaper, as well as from student media alumni.
So imagine what surely would have happened if the announcement had been made while campus was full of students, faculty and staff — immediate, massive demonstrations in the courtyard, Student Center and University Center at the very least. But by now most students who live on-campus have moved home already, and students who don’t live on-campus are only returning for an hour here or there to finish up their final exams. The Signal, the student newspaper, has finished printing for the summer. By waiting until campus was virtually empty, the university purposefully avoided widespread in-person student backlash. After all, it’s easier to avoid the Internet than it is to avoid masses of angry college students.
Along with the end of finals, the end of April also brings with it another significant event on campus: current student media leadership hand over the reins to the next generation of general managers and editors-in-chief. What better way to avoid significant student backlash than to immediately overwhelm incoming student leaders with such a significant overhaul of procedures that have been in place since the ’70s?
Finally, yesterday Georgia State officials strategically announced a proposal to purchase Turner Field in hopes of turning it into a stadium for the Panther football team. Undoubtedly a positive move for the school, students, alumni and fans, the announcement was purposefully timed to overshadow the overwhelming negative response to the WRAS decision.
Unfortunately for Georgia State, it seems officials have underestimated the passion and loyalty that students, fans and Atlanta residents hold for what has been voted the top college radio station in the country. Please continue to use the hashtags #SaveWRAS and #BoycottGPB on Twitter to encourage people to sign the petition and make phone calls to the appropriate people at Georgia State and GPB. And keep visiting SaveWRAS.com for updates and developments!