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WRAS students will lose extended weekend hours in December

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:

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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.

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“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.

1 Comment

  1. This whole fiasco has been rampant with unethical behavior by Becker, Covey, Walker and others in the Administation. For example GPB and GSU Administration had agreed to a deal LONG before they announced the agreement in May 2014. We can see they had clearly arrived at agreement by Fall 2013 as indicated by this set of emails published in The Signal and obtained by an Official Records Request. They simply delayed the announcement to prevent student opposition and to prevent the Student Fee Committee and Student Communications Committee (both reporting to Covey and with Walker sitting as an ex-officio member) from delaying or placing stipulations on the “repurposing” of the antenna/transmitter for GPB use.

    “- Aug 6, 2013 Peter Tannenwald [GSU Special Counsel in Washington, DC) to Kerry Heyward [University Attorney] and Jeff Walker re. GPB/GSU Term sheet.

    Meg Miller [GPTC legal counsel at Dow Lohnes PLLC] sent the University’s Wash. D.C. lawyer their new term sheet which has “time-share” elements added. She [Miller] told Tannenwald that this was originally for his comments before she showed it to clients [GPTC], but he feels she must have shown this to GPB “as they are diving in full tilt and are not leaving her the chance to talk with me privately first”.

    [Four Month Gap in Provision of Records despite ORR requests]

    December 02, 2013 Butler > Jeff Walker “I would like to chat with you today TO KICK OFF the joint project between GSU and GPR. I am open and available for the rest of today…”

    – Dec 3, 2013 Butler > Walker “Radio Project” “Jeff was it today we were getting together with your chief engineer at 2:00? I have so many things this week that all seem to be happening at 2. I wanted to double check.”
    Dec 3, 2013 @ 1:57 by I-Phone “Robert we hadn’t made a specific time, but I’m copying Tom [Taylor] to see when he’s open. I can do anytime after 2:30. I’ve been in meetings all day-“
    – Tom Taylor @2:17 (taylorengineer@comcast.net)
    [Tom Taylor was the student-fee funded Chief Engineer at WRAS] to Butler/ Walker “I can be available after 4PM. Walker: “I can do that too”

    January 8, 2014 – Walker > Butler/Taylor “Just back today, will need to gather some information about the arrangements for the equipment.”

    -”…I don’t know why the purpose of the equipment is necessary to reveal. If you have a moment today, we can discuss this issue.” – Walker to Covey (Jan. 8, 2014). – See more at: https://georgiastatesignal.com/covey-walker-and-becker-address-orr-documents/#sthash.e4ZifT24.mcunyIbO.dpuf

    Jan 27, 2014 Robert Butler > Jeff Walker/Tom Taylor “I thought I would touch base with you to make sure we are on track and to make sure I have the correct contact information for the installation of the EVPL from Level 3….”

    Jan. 30, 2014 Jeff Walker > Robert Butler (GPB Chief Engineer) [Tom Taylor] “For purposes of installation, I’d be the most logical choice. My contact information is below. If there is a way to do it,IT WOULD BE GOOD TO tell them NOT TO CONTACT ANYONE ELSE AT GSU to avoid any leak of information. The questions you had about the cost of equipment were supposedly answered by those above my paygrade.”

    *******************
    So it is clear that an agreement (including the financial aspects about the purchase of equipment) had already been reached by Fall and certainly by December, 2013…when the WRAS Advisor and WRAS (student-fee funded) Chief Engineer were surreptitiously ordered to begin work on patching GPB’s studio with WRAS.

    This was more than enough time to allow Student-Faculty Advisory groups to be notified and perform their due diligence on the project. But all participants were scrupulous in maintaining secrecy so that students and others AT GSU would not know.

    This is a clear violation of the obligation of Student Advisors to make advisory groups and managers aware of events that could seriously impact the organization and the expenditure of student fees.

    The claim that the agreement had not been reached by May 2014 is simply a sham – designed to avoid fraud charges.

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