Georgia State, Georgia Public Broadcasting Massively Screw Up

May 6, 2014 15:23 pm

by Ed · 46 comments

Atlanta radio was made substantially worse thanks to a partnership between Georgia State University and Georgia Public Broadcasting.

In an utterly stupid* decision, WRAS, GSU’s student-run radio station, will start airing GPB programming between 5:00AM and 7:00PM. The change starts on June 2. It remains to be seen what will be played during the remaining hours, but I’m not convinced it will be good. In my apoplexy I forgot student’s will still have the graveyard shifts for programming. Yay.

Now Atlantans have lost one of the best radio stations in the country and possibly the world. Instead of cutting-edge new music that can’t be easily found, we’re getting programming available from literally dozens of other outlets, all available with the click of a mouse. Just what we needed!

Undoubtedly, GSU deserves an especially hearty “well done” for this partnership. In addition to weakening Atlanta’s media, the university also sabotaged itself. Eliminating one of the few on-campus organizations that made GSU truly interesting and outstanding doesn’t seem like the best of decisions.

There are generations of people who benefited from exposure to the music of WRAS. I, and many other students, went to GSU specifically because of WRAS and the chance to work there. Not only that, but I challenge you to find more than three people who worked at WRAS and didn’t love every second of it. Will GPB deliver that same impact, and be that formative for so many people? Absolutely not. Especially because on an initial reading of the announcement, there seems to be at best, a minimal amount of new content that will be aired on 88.5.

*Yes, I know a 100,000-watt radio station in one of the country’s biggest media markets is probably worth millions of dollars and yes I’m, uh, pretty familiar with the liability of using students as on-air “talent” for 24 hours a day. That still doesn’t make this a good decision. 

{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

John Vestal May 6, 2014 at 3:28 pm

WREK 91.1 FM, where you can hear this guy erry Friday 5:00pm – 6:00pm.

Will Durant May 6, 2014 at 7:21 pm

Yeah, but Tech practically gave away serious bandwidth back in the early 70s with WGST (as in Georgia School of Technology) back when AM was king and I’m not sure, but I think they literally gave away the 94.1 FM band. Can you receive WREK beyond Buckhead anymore?

bohemianlovepad May 7, 2014 at 1:06 am

WREK is a 100,000 watt station now so you probably can’t hear it past Buckhead

View from Brookhaven May 6, 2014 at 3:31 pm

They had an extra $150K laying around since Chip got the boot, I guess.

This is awful. I blame Lois.

Going to leave my car unlocked tonight with a note on the window, “Please steal my radio. It is no longer necessary.”

Ed May 6, 2014 at 4:31 pm

The silver lining? Reading the WRAS FB page and people complaining about “corporate greed” when two non-profit organizations have a partnership worth less than six figures a year to increase opportunities for students and lessen one organization’s liability.

williestark May 7, 2014 at 2:37 pm

Do you think they will add some old radio serials like the Green Hornet. The news is cool, the classical thing needs to get cut back maybe by 2-4 hours, so maybe they can throw a 30min old radio series in the mix.

Ed May 7, 2014 at 5:06 pm

I’ll make sure they get on. I was hoping for “The Bickersons.”

#WhitePeopleNostalgia

drjay May 6, 2014 at 4:40 pm

ugh, album 88 was one of my favorite things about dating a girl from atlanta back in the day…

Man from Atlanta May 6, 2014 at 5:03 pm

WRAS, its 100K Watts and its programming are a BIG reason why I came to and stayed in Atlanta. WRAS is the preeminent college radio station in the country. Attending the fortieth anniversary celebration a couple years ago it was obvious that WRAS is a Georgia institution, not just an asset owned by GSU. GSU’s President’s announced “win-win” shows he’s tone deaf (pun intended) to what WRAS has meant to Georgia and the impact WRAS alums have on arts and entertainment culture across the country.

Life in Georgia has just become a little blander. The bean counters win and the citizens lose.

James Fannin May 6, 2014 at 5:20 pm

GSU is a school badly in need of a good leader. Goodbye student DJs, hello Diane Rehm. Just sad. WABE has fortunately held out against the Public Broadcasting juggernaut for decades and continues to air classical music but apparently the liberal powers that be worry that we don’t enough Democratic talking points in our daily diet. The President of GSU is wrong, for this to be a win-win, someone has to actually win. I see nothing but losers here as GSU marches toward mediocrity and homogenized public radio that is available to anyone now 24 hours a day on one of several public radio applications on their iPhone.

George Chidi May 6, 2014 at 6:50 pm

Wait. Wait. WAITAFREAKINMINNIT.

Does this finally, finally mean there will be actual NPR available on the radio after 9 a.m. and before 3 p.m. in this burg, like Talk of the Nation and All Things Considered and, you know, news that isn’t the execrable mouth-breathing idiocy of “The Kimmer” or the somnolent droning of Lois Reitzes?

YEAHHH!!!

Look. There’s been a devil’s deal between GPB and WABE for years that prevented GPB from broadcasting within the range of Atlanta, and the Buckhead doyenne mafia has mandated that WABE run pedestrian classical pabulum mid-day. It’s infuriated me — and others — for years.

It’s a loss to Georgia State. I recognize it. But I also think those students will find another outlet. The city is fundamentally better off now.

Rich May 6, 2014 at 8:19 pm

Nothing personal against Lois Reitzes, however Atlanta did need regular NPR programming. I’ve been using the “Tune-in” app around the house to listen via WiFi, the only alternative. Where I’m from in south GA could chose between WFSU, GPB and another Florida NPR station. I’ve missed the voices of sanity.

It is unfortunate WRAS is taking the hit, but the team of reasonable minds needed this.

DrGonzo May 7, 2014 at 11:20 am

Atlanta HAS regular NPR programming for anyone with an internet connection – WABE has an all-news/all-NPR streaming broadcast channel. And honestly, if you don’t have an internet connection, you are probably not the demographic GPB/NPR is targeting…

Ellynn May 6, 2014 at 11:33 pm

Talk of the Nation ended on June 27, 2013… They still produce Science Friday, but now you have to listen to The Take Away.

Ed May 7, 2014 at 2:59 pm

A few thoughts…

First, does anyone know where I can hear “Talk of the Nation”?

While yes, this helps Atlanta’s airwaves it kills a voice that won’t be coming back and wasn’t heard elsewhere. The programming GPB will air will all be available with a click of a mouse or iTunes subscription. That you can now hear it on the radio… meh, that’s an “improvement” but a net loss. As I said before, no one is going to go to GSU because of GPB. No one is going to say, “man, this GPB station in Atlanta makes me want to stay here.”

That is a loss.

Ellynn May 7, 2014 at 4:43 pm
Man from Atlanta May 6, 2014 at 7:02 pm

Better off? I not so respectfully disagree. WRAS has been an engine that attracted young, creative types to Atlanta who in turn have become young professionals fueling our economy. While I can’t spout statistics, I am perplexed at how more Talk of the Nation is going to spur anything but more hot air and greenhouse gasses. This is an important loss, and NOT just for the students.

Ellynn May 6, 2014 at 11:35 pm

Again to re-cap, Talk of the Nation is DEAD, Ended production… it spurs no more…

xdog May 6, 2014 at 8:44 pm

Well, that’s a damn shame. A88 was the best thing going on the local airwaves. This is yet another time when efforts to monetize an asset leaves other values behind.

Man from Atlanta May 6, 2014 at 11:58 pm
DrGonzo May 7, 2014 at 11:15 am
Jon Lester May 7, 2014 at 7:51 am

Ed, I guess I haven’t been here long enough, because that’s something I didn’t know about you and which I appreciate.

I do always tune into Album 88 when I’m in the metro area, as WREK reception seems spotty most of the time, but I was already a bit disappointed that they don’t accept singles for submission, vinyl or otherwise. This is not exclusive to them, by any means, but you’d think everyone would have noticed by now that CD cases pile up faster than records.

Dan Lynn May 7, 2014 at 8:38 am

I disagree with all those in favor of this move. GPB tried to take WREK in 2006 but Georgia Tech said no. Generations of students have used WRAS to move on in the industry, I interned at CNN,worked at WSB-TV while in college for 3 years, became a TV anchor, won two Associated Press Awards and an Addy. Health issues forced me out, but I got well enough to go in broadcast sales. I freelance for major outlets every year, I could not have done this without WRAS,

DrGonzo May 7, 2014 at 11:12 am

Just what we need, 98 more hours a week of what will be mostly Democrat propaganda that’s already available to anyone with an internet connection. 88.5 was the only music station in the city worth listening to, and now that’s going to be sized down to the overnight hours? So, now my favorite shows – Tower of Song, Soul Kitchen, I Don’t Care (the punk show), Dot Dash, Blue Note and many others – will either be cancelled, or I’ll have to listen to them at 2am?

Guess that settles it. Time to get satellite radio, and to heck with terrestrial radio.

drjay May 7, 2014 at 11:22 am

i’m pretty sure npr is available on satellite radio…

Ellynn May 7, 2014 at 11:58 am

This mornings NPR included “Faith Drives A Father To Create A Test For Childhood Cancer”, “Kidnapped Nigerian School Girl Escapes, Talks About Ordeal”,
“In Ukraine’s Corridors Of Power, An Effort To Toss Out The Old” ,”With Midterm Elections 6 Months Away, Primaries Begin” (very GOP centric), “Draft Season: All-American, Twisted And Downright Infectious” and of course “Obama Sounds Alarm Bell On Climate Change. Is Anyone Listening?” to get our “Democrat propaganda” for the day.

The international coverage on topics is very good. They have on the ground first person reporting which covers far more regions then you hear or see on the major networks. There SCOTUS coverage is impressive also.

Harry May 7, 2014 at 12:14 pm

Their SCOTUS coverage has always been impressive.

DrGonzo May 7, 2014 at 1:48 pm

And every story is spun for maximum liberal propaganda effect. But this is not an argument that will penetrate your mindset.

Harry May 7, 2014 at 2:08 pm

The only time they eased off was for a few weeks just after the GOP grabbed the House in 1994.

Ellynn May 7, 2014 at 2:50 pm

NPR was run by a member of the GOP for most of the 2000′s…

Harry May 7, 2014 at 8:33 pm

Yes, he was the titular head.

Ellynn May 7, 2014 at 2:54 pm

I don’t have a mindset. I am neither a Dem or a Rep. As a card carrying member of the middle, I listen to all sides. Before the day is done, I most likey will read more then most from a host of many areas of propaganda.

DrGonzo May 7, 2014 at 3:09 pm

“As a card carrying member of the middle…”

So basically you’re just telling me you have no principles for which you are not willing to comprimise.

Ellynn May 7, 2014 at 4:51 pm

I have many principles, and since neither the Democratic or the Republican Parties can come even close to meeting the majority of them, I am not willing to compromise my principles to belong to one or the other.

DrGonzo May 7, 2014 at 6:14 pm

And all your principles are totally middle of the road? I don’t get your philosophy here.

Ellynn May 7, 2014 at 6:55 pm

Do you believe in EVERY thing the GOP does? Do you hate EVERY thing the dems like?

I know what I stand for, and what lines I will not cross. Some can be more GOP like, and a few can be very DEM sounding. It’s called being a realist. Try it, you might like it…

greencracker May 7, 2014 at 12:33 pm

Uh this is just going to cannabalize 90.1 drive time broadcast if it draws any at all with whatever it puts on against morning edition/atc.

I want daytime npr news, but weekends too?!
Damn, charm academy 88 dj just said on Saturday that he thinks he’s on sked to return to weekly broadcast. Sorry, charm fans :(

Chris Huttman May 7, 2014 at 1:21 pm

While I’m against this move, WABE deserves it. I work in radio advertising (among other things) and the national NPR people we talk to on a regular basis (it’s non commercial but you can do sponsorships and they make a lot of money from this) say that basically Atlanta and Jackson, MS are the only two big cities with public radio/NPR affiliates that are still doing the classical thing. Many cities that have classical have two public radio affiliates one music/one news.

WABE has a loyal funding base that wants to hear classical. They know that as long as they make those people happy they can raise the money to pay the bills. The whole culture revolves around the donor base. Never mind that there is probably a LARGER donor base out there to pay for a real news NPR station, they just haven’t been interested.

This is going to kill them – they’ll quickly lose the news focused people to WRAS who maybe at the start will still listen to news on WABE during the traditional times before switching to WRAS during the day, but eventually they’ll just go to WRAS for the programs they used to listen to on WABE. That’s got to be a good percentage of WABE’s donors (the people who grudgingly donate for All Things Considered and wish there were more).

So, when WABE loses say 30% of its donor base and 50% of audience, it is toast.

Very sad – had WABE modernized, we’d have a great NPR station and we’d still have WRAS. Instead we’ll have a good NPR station on WRAS and a fossil on WABE.

Harry May 7, 2014 at 1:26 pm

Don’t fight the Fed. Don’t fight the old Jewish ladies.

Ed May 7, 2014 at 2:55 pm

” is probably a LARGER”

exactly why WABE shouldn’t change things. It’s more expensive to recruit new donors–donors who might not exist.

Classical music has earned its spot in the cultural canon. There’s just as much “need” for an all-classical station as there is for something like WRAS. Classical music is probably the greatest music that will ever be made.

Ellynn May 7, 2014 at 4:55 pm

GPB has classical from 9-2 every weekday… It’s not all news. Just saying…

greencracker May 7, 2014 at 5:25 pm

Plan =
Put Lois Reitzis & her crew on 88.5 for a couple hours a day.
Put all the news on 90.1.

I’ll take my Nobel Peace Prize now.

Of course this is a two-year deal, right? If Chris is right and this smushes WABE, in two years GPB can take over 90.1 and GSU can have 88.5 back?

Ed May 7, 2014 at 5:35 pm

Probably not. It makes more sense for GPB to have a sort-of ownership over GPB because it won’t cost as much to operate the station 24 hours a day. If the transmitter is still on GSU land and GSU still has the FCC license, GPB has little liability.

Yankton1206 May 7, 2014 at 12:47 pm

I do wish that GPB would create a “current music” station that could be accessed throughout the state. This could be a wonderful possibility for collaboration between GSU and GPB to teach business modeling, options for expanding a donation base (under 35 can’t be the normal GPB demographic), increasing exposure of Georgia/local music, and allow for it to be commercial-free.

Minnesota Public Radio has this model in place and it is fantastic. Look up The Current through MPR. The station can be accessed wherever MPR is broadcasted.

The lack of quality, commercial-free or at least limited in Georgia is ridiculous. If I knew anything about that industry, I would ask for change, but as it is, I’m just going to turn off my radio and stream from other national stations instead.

brittanym35 May 7, 2014 at 12:58 pm
DrGonzo May 7, 2014 at 6:12 pm

The way GSU snuck this past their students, you’d think the school was being run by the Cobb Board of Commissioners…