Various social media sites are beginning to create petitions in hopes to protest against Georgia State’s recent contract agreement with Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB). The agreement was announced on May 6.
The Stop Georgia Broadcasting’s Takeover of Iconic Radio Station Album 88 (WRAS 88.5 FM) petition reached over 5,000 signatures on Change.org’s website, on May 8.
Art Vanderlay, petitioner from Decatur, GA called the move to replace Album 88’s airtime with GPB material a ‘critical error’.
“The way in which Georgia State made this deal showed a complete lack of respect for the students who run WRAS,” Vanderlay wrote in the petition. “None of the station’s management, DJs or other staff were consulted or informed about GPB.”
Michael Sciullo, a Georgia State alum who graduated in 2008, posted the link to the Change.org petition on his Facebook page as soon as he signed it. He has also urged other former students to save student radio.
“WRAS 88.5 is an institutional icon. It’s something that’s extremely important to GSU alumni, and it’s extremely important to the art and cultural landscape of Atlanta,” Sciullo said. “I feel like it was something with my generation that was really popular and meaningful. I mean, independent radio has led to the discovery of artists in Atlanta.”
Boycott GPB on 88.5, a Facebook page, has received more than 2,800 likes thus far with aggregated content relating to the GPB and WRAS partnership. This includes articles from Creative Loafing.
The Facebook page also features past content from Album 88, and a similar page titled Boycott GPB on 88.5 has been created on Google+.
Former general manager of WRAS Ana Zimitravich says she hopes the social media efforts will encourage university officials to renegotiate the deal with GPB.
She also said she and nine other former media heads echoed the same sentiment found on social media, in a letter denouncing the new partnership between Georgia State and GPB.
“This sends a clear sign that the university administration does not value the input of the student leaders that produce its programming and that the school prioritizes its own self promotion over the education of its students,” the letter states.
However, Andrea Jones, Associate Vice President for Public Relations and Marketing Communications for Georgia State says WRAS staff members were given notice as soon as possible.
“Students and GPB employees were informed the day after the agreement was finalized.” Jones said. “While students are entrusted to run the station, WRAS is ultimately a university asset. This opens the door for long-term opportunities between GPB and Georgia State. Terms of the contract evolved over time, and the university shared the decision as soon as it was signed.”
Jones also said officials would lend support by answer students’ questions, despite the emotional component of the unseating of WRAS that has surfaced through the internet and social media.
“We understand that there is an emotional connection to WRAS,” she said. “Through email and phone calls, we have heard people’s concerns and we appreciate them sharing their perspectives with us. We have also created an FAQ to answer the commonly asked questions about the partnerships.”
Zimitravich said Vice President of Student Affairs, Douglass Covey, started talking about GPB and its reputation during the meeting with WRAS staff and university officials on May 6. She also said Covey then told the radio station they should be grateful for the partnership with GPB.
The agreement states GPB can broadcast their content on WRAS’ analog stream, opposed to the station’s HD stream, according to Zimitravich.
“HD radio is where everything is going,” Zimitravich quoting what Covey said during meeting. “Hopefully they’ll stick around for the WRAS afterward.”
Zimitravich said she is grateful for those who support the station’s content
“I’m happy that they’re coming out of the woodwork to help support us. We’re trying everything we can to figure out what we can do to fight this,” Zimitravich said. “But as we work for the university and we’re students, there’s not much we can do to protest this. So we’re glad listeners and alum are coming to our aid with the boycott page and the petitions.”
Covey and Rebecca Y. Stout, Dean of Students referred The Signal to the public relations department for comments.