WRAS Student-Managers meet with GPB CEO Teya Ryan

Atlanta, GA, October 29, 2014 – Students who run Georgia State University’s radio station, WRAS (88.5 FM), met Tuesday for the first time with Georgia Public Broadcasting CEO Teya Ryan and members of GSU’s administration to discuss the changes implemented on June 29 which resulted in GPB controlling WRAS’s broadcast signal for most of each day.

WRAS General Manager Alayna Fabricius commented: “Our agenda today was to meet with Teya Ryan to have direct communication with her about our major issues concerning the GPB and WRAS partnership; we wanted to propose receiving back more terrestrial airtime, and to outline the benefits and opportunities we were said to receive in the contract. We wanted to make her aware of how losing a majority of our airtime, that is broadcast from a tower paid for by student fees, was negatively affecting our influence not only in Atlanta but the entire college radio network.”

But students who attended the meeting were disappointed in Ryan’s responses to their concerns and requests.

Former WRAS General Manager Anastasia Zimitravich noted that students sought a clear “definition of ‘opportunities’ available to WRAS students per the contractual agreement.” When attendees from GPB asked about problems with WRAS’s streaming programming via TuneIn.com which resulted in WRAS’s 20,000+ followers being directed to GPB’s streaming content instead of Album 88’s student-produced content, Zimitravitch said, “Teya Ryan, Bert Huffman, Veronica Pemberton-Daniels and Tiffany Brown Rideaux clarified that the TuneIn.com stream malfunction was not directly their fault, but that their marketing department would look into the problem. Teya confirmed that GPB was open to any opportunities for GPB, which could include fundraising on WRAS. She confirmed that GPB had no intention of splitting the WRAS license between GPB and GSU, and was unsure that any such clause had been included in the contract. She stated that it is GPB’s intention for the University to maintain WRAS’s license, unless an opportunity arises where GSU offers up the license to GPB, but GPB has no intention of pursuing such a venture. Teya stated that GPB would look into the promotion of WRAS during GPB’s programming, possibly by airing WRAS specialty show promos either before the transition or during breaks in NPR programming.”

Zimitravitch continued: “During this meeting, the students proposed having their weekend programming returned due in part to declining cume and share as compared to before the switch on June 29th. Teya rejected the proposal, stating that ‘the contract would continue as written.’ When pointed out that WRAS had been granted 2 hours per day on weekends, Teya stood firm that the contract would continue as-is.”

“The students asked for Teya and the GPB Board to define what ‘opportunities’ are available to WRAS students per the GPB/GSU contract. Teya and the [other GPB representatives] were unable to clearly define any unique opportunities available to the students of WRAS in exchange for 100 hours of weekly airtime,” said Zimitravitch.

WRAS Urban Music Director Jenny Nesvetailova commented: “During this meeting the students also talked about how the presence of GPB on 88.5FM has negatively impacted Album 88. After a recent trip to CMJ Music Marathon in New York City, where hundreds of promoters and college radio affiliates meet every year for a music festival, it was evident that many stations all throughout the country were saddened and angered by what happened to Album 88. Also, this was the year where WRAS was moved from a top tier of a few stations which exert the most influence over other stations in the country, to a lower level, showing that the influence of WRAS is decreasing due to the fact that regular rotation (a blend of new music curated by the WRAS music department that plays throughout drive time on weekdays) is barely on the analog signal anymore, resulting in less listener feedback and listenership.”

Nesvetailova continued, “When asked why the students were not involved in the negotiation process of this contract, [GSU Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Douglass] Covey stated that when negotiations such as this happen, a lot of people have to be kept in the dark, but he did state that GPB and WRAS staff found out at exactly the same time about the partnership.”

WRAS Promotions Director Hannah Frank commented about the GPB team’s remarks when students asked why the contract negotiations were kept secret: “In regards to their secrecy over the contract, they said that this was ethical to do based off of various factors (uncertainty about outcome of conversations)…then I remembered that Georgia Tech students were brought to the table before any decisions were made when GPB offered a similar deal to them. So why is it ethical in our scenario to keep everything under wraps?” Frank also commented on GSU’s statement from July in which the University stated it was in talks to acquire a subchannel translator which would allow simultaneous transmission of two analog signals from WRAS’s transmitter: “I talked to Dr. Covey briefly after the meeting and he promised me an update within the week on the translator.”

About Album 88 Alumni: Album 88 Alumni (A88A) seeks to preserve student-controlled radio programming at Georgia State University’s WRAS-Atlanta 88.5 FM (Album 88) by serving as an advocate for the nation’s first 100,000-watt student-run college radio station, strengthening the bond between alumni and current students for their benefit and providing an association for former Album 88 staff everywhere. Album 88 Alumni is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit organization.

For more information please visit http://savewras.com or contact Reid Laurens at a88a.rlaurens@gmail.com or 470-222-5177.