WRAS 88.5 FM, Georgia State’s radio station, will lose extended weekend analog air time starting Dec. 21, according to Open Records Request (ORR) documents sent by Lynn Medcalf, representative of #SaveWRAS.
Georgia State University entered a two-year partnership with Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) on May 6. This allowed GPB to broadcast over Album 88’s analog channel from 5 a.m. – 7 p.m. beginning June 29.
ORR documents reveal June 27 email correspondance between university attorney Kerry Heyward the chief operating officer at GPB. See emails below:
Saturdays and Sundays would air Album 88 from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m., according to a June 27 email correspondence between Chief Operating Officer Bob Olive and University Attorney Kerry Heyward.
As stated in the email, the schedule change from the initial contract was supposed to be temporary which was something not previously mentioned to 88.5 FM students, according to Medcalf.
“Documents prove both GPB and GSU knew the giveback of four hours on weekend to students was temporary and both chose not to 1) alert students at station of that fact – #SaveWRAS talked with students at station and they knew nothing about it; 2) make the public aware that this was a temporary arrangement,” she said. “They used this as a PR tool to make it look like they were addressing student concerns, but they are not acting in good faith by deceiving them and the public about the terms of this agreement.”
Reid Laurens, board of directors member for Album 88 Alumni (A88A) and former student employee of the station, said he was shocked to find out the additional hours were temporary.
“Apparently made to give students and WRAS staffers the impression that GSU’s administration and GPB management were sympathetic to their situation,” he said.
The cut in student broadcasting hours on the weekend will only increase the loss for students who work at WRAS, according to Laurens.
“We wish GSU’s administration had been more honest about the change in hours when it was announced, and we are saddened that once again, student-controlled programming hours are going to be cut back. It widens the gap between student staffers and their listeners; and it further diminishes the reputation of the nation’s foremost college radio station,” he said.
Medcalf said the partnership and the continuing events majorly impacts the station.
“It’s a travesty what has happened and what continues to happen to WRAS,” she said.
Douglass Covey, vice president of Student Affairs, said the GPB’s offer for additional hours was a temporary alteration to the agreement.
“The amendment was negotiated after the original agreement [when] the student station management requested additional broadcast hours for their programming. The additional hours… were offered by GPB as a temporary alteration to the agreement,” he said.
Covey also said that this information was detailed to students when the partnership went into effect and GPB began broadcasting content.
“This was explained to the students prior to the weekend when we began carrying GPB programming in the daytime hours. The amendment did not become effective until the second weekend of the collaborative broadcasting arrangement,” he said.
Laurens said he supports the station and the preservation of student-controlled Album 88 programming.
“Album 88 Alumni… serv[es] 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,” he said.