Dear President Becker,
We, the alumni of WRAS Album 88 are writing to express our opposition to the deal reached between Georgia Public Broadcasting (“GPB”) and Georgia State University (“GSU”) over the daytime broadcasting rights for WRAS Atlanta 88.5 FM (“WRAS”). We write to explain why this deal has led us to announce today that we are withdrawing our support, financial and otherwise, from the university. While we recognize that the university administration feels that this deal represents the best interests of the students currently attending GSU and stands to create new opportunities for students in media, the alumni firmly believe this deal undermines the station’s legitimacy for the following reasons:
The impact Album 88 makes on students’ careers: As WRAS alumni, many of us owe our careers to the lessons learned and the networks developed while volunteering at the station, and all of us learned important life lessons at the station that serve us to this day. The current model adds significantly more value for the tuition dollar than any opportunity that could be provided by GPB. WRAS in its current format represents a unique learning and training experience, and there is no way to replace hours on the board and the responsibility involved in managing airwaves 24/7. While a partnership with GPB may prove beneficial for communications students and for interns, it should not be achieved by re-organizing WRAS – a student-run station that is very beneficial for communication, music, business, and students of many other majors. Opportunities can be created for film and communications majors without having to change the makeup of Album 88’s student-run radio.
The impact Album 88 makes on industries: The station’s ability to influence the music industry and broadcasting industry – by educating students and shaping their career paths through hands-on experience – is directly tied to the station’s broadcasting power and reach. By restricting students’ airtime to nighttime only, you eliminate all these opportunities for future students. There is no real comparison between the experience gained during nightshift broadcasting and a secondary online channel suggested, and that provided by the power Album 88 has today as a terrestrial radio station (that reaches the entire state of Georgia as well as parts of South Carolina, Tennessee and Alabama).
The impact Album 88 makes on the local community: Album 88 has a positive influence on the health of the music industry in Atlanta. As an incubator of new music, it exposes new trends and plays deep cuts from albums, providing listeners with a unique music experience they can’t get elsewhere. Local clubs and music retailers have successfully operated for decades nurtured by this unique broadcasting experience. By contrast, the GPB talk radio format is geared toward older demographics in a market already saturated by talk radio stations. Moreover, the university has never before measured Album 88 by its listenership volume, nor has it attempted to influence student programming in a manner that can increase ratings – an idea that we believe the students may be open to exploring should this be a priority for the administration.
Objection to the details of the deal and the way in which it was reached: The administration left the primary stakeholders (GSU students and WRAS staff and management) in the dark during months of negotiations with GPB. The administration never outlined any concerns about formatting and never engaged the students in an attempt to address any concerns. The community, whom WRAS has a duty to serve, was also left out of the conversation.
Historically, these types of partnerships have not been in the long term interests of students or institutions, as seen in several other schools in recent years. One example is Sacramento State, whose students were promised great opportunities to work with NPR in creating and curating programing, and instead have seen their roles reduced to answering calls during pledge drives.
In addition, the contract as it stands does not represent the institutions’ best interests. For example, as the FCC license holder of WRAS, GSU is left responsible for all damages incurred by an FCC complaint. There are many such complaints of obscenity against NPR and NPR affiliates. Any complaint against the station would be the responsibility of GSU regardless of the time of day or the group providing content. This shows that this deal was reached without ample consideration for the possible negative financial impacts to the university.
Our expectation from the GSU administration: We expect the GSU administration to prioritize and steward the students towards greater opportunities. We fail to see how limiting a student-run media outlet in favor of a third party media outlet meets the goals of the university. It is also a very worrisome strategy that communicates to the students that none of their media is actually free. To reach a decision without input from the students the way you did – and with the timing you chose – displays total disregard for the students, the university as a whole, and indeed the entire GSU Alumni which for decades has regarded WRAS as a beacon for the university’s brand.
Uplifting students and rising to the occasion: The administration is faced with a golden opportunity: To empower GSU students to rise to the occasion and face the format’s challenges on their own. By doing so, students will develop new skills and learn new lessons in a way that re-enforces WRAS’s role in the community and reaffirms its four-decade-long legacy. For example, if the administration takes issue with the funding of the station, allow students to administer their own pledge drives and benefits and learn how to obtain sponsorships and fund a portion of the operation. If the administration takes issue with listenership levels, the alumni are ready to form an advisory committee and work with student management to re-shape programming in a manner that will lift listenership significantly within a year, while also developing new careers for students in the process. If the administration seeks to establish new opportunities for film and communication majors, the university’s alumni can work with additional local partners (and there are several obvious candidates for this in Atlanta) to foster strategic relationships that will yield very strong value-add, all without having to compromise any student-run media. Let us work together towards solutions instead of fostering divisiveness.
Conclusion: For all of these reasons, we believe that there is merit in asking GPB to re-negotiate the details of the agreement, with student involvement in the process. We believe that while GPB may play an important role as a partner of GSU, its involvement at WRAS must be tempered with the need to prioritize the students’ control of the airwaves 24/7 and the students’ self-determination with respect to any hours of programming that may be allocated periodically to GPB as a partner.
Since the administration has not been receptive to the demand by the student body and community at large for the cancellation of the agreement, we The Alumni pledge, from this day forward, to withdraw all of our financial support for GSU as alumni, until such time that the administration completely and irrevocably terminates its contract with GPB with respect to any WRAS interference whatsoever. We also expect no further interference with any student media moving forward. We vow to make it our mission to solicit all GSU alumni to take the same position.
We thank you for your consideration and look forward to one day being beneficiaries of this university once more.
CEO, Neurotic Media
President / CEO iEdit Creative
Connie Prichard Aylor
BS 1992. MPA 1996
Daniel E Moll
Sr Engineer – Home Depot SSC
Education Coordinator- The Metropolitan Opera
Postdoctoral Fellow, University of the Pacific
Address Data Specialist, Spatial Focus Inc.
BS, Geology 2011
Owner / Media Production Specialist
Stand-By Production Works
BA Journalism 1993
Host/Producer at WABE Atlanta 1999-2002
A&R at TKG Music
Music Teacher at The Clinton Global Initiative
Marketing Director at St. Joseph Abbey
President of August a Télécom and Data
Class of 1979
Senior Producer, “The Clark Howard Show”
WestwoodOne /WSB/Cox Media Group
GSU class of ’96
DJ in 1996
BS Communications 1982
Shawn R. Nolan
Attorney at Jonathan E. Leonard PC
GSU College of Law J.D. 2008
Senior Producer/Program Director, AM 1690, The Voice of the Arts
BA Journalism 2008
Kevin Howard, Morning Show Host. Clear Channel Media.
WRAS from Nov’91 to Feb. ’94.
WRAS 2011-2013. PSA Director 2012-2013. Assistant Program Director (2013).
GSU Class of 2013
Suzanne Huff – CNN Studio Operator
BA Film & Video/Journalism 2009
BS Psychology 1995
Southeast Market Media Anchor, Total Traffic & Weather Network
CEO, Carter Creative Services
BA – Communications/PR
Kim Curley Reynolds
WRAS Pogram Director 1988-1991
BS in Communications 1992
Turner Network Television
WRAS 1997 – 2000
BA – Communications/Journalism
BS in Communications 1977, JD 1999
Julie Ann Solomon
WRAS 1996-97, Co-founder of Nitrate 88
Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies 1997
GSU 1985 BS Communications
WRAS 1980-83-Public Affairs Director and Host of “Infinite Vibes”
Former host of Jazz Flavours on WQXI-94.1 FM
WRAS 2000-2005 – Music Director and Promotions Director
Founder of The Quintessential College Show
BA Broadcast Journalism 2005
Video Tech for Touring Music Acts
John Darwin Kurc
Concert Photographer at daxwax.com and pollstar.com
BA Comm & Psychology
CEO 2 Degrees Marketing
BS in Computer Science
Instructional Designer at AT&T
Turner Broadcasting Systems
Jez de Wolff
Sr. Marketing Manager, Adult Swim/Cartoon Network @ Turner Broadcasting.
Sales Mgr. Broadcast – ACS Solutions
COMMUNICATIONS WSB-TV CNN
Then anchor at WRBL-TV,WAKA-TV
FREELANCE 1990-PRESENT FOX NETWORK,ESPN RADIO,FOX RADIO AND MORE
WRAS 1976-1993, GPB 1985-1988, WABE 1990-2003.
Owner, Gail Harris Counseling, LLC.
BA Spanish 1983, MS Community Counseling 1996
Millie De Chirico
Manager, Programming, Turner Classic Movies
WRAS member 1997-2002, GM 2001-2002
Publisher/Editor, Stomp and Stammer Magazine.
WRAS 1987-92 (MD 90-92)
WRAS Program Director 1998-1999
Owner, The Little Gym of Snellville
General Manager 1985-86 / Program Director 1984-85 / Announcer 1981-87
WRAS Member 2007-2009, Assistant Program Director 2008-2009
BS Criminal Justice 2009
Communications Coordinator at WorkingBuildings
DJ 2008-2011, APD 2010-2011
Senior Producer The Clark Howard Show /1997-present
DJ and Producer/ Co-Host The Georgia Music Show