Fight to Save WRAS Ramps Up: Benefit Concert, Graduation Protest, Petition & a Boycott Page

Efforts to save the student radio station at Georgia State University are ongoing and increasingly impassioned.

As I confirmed in a post last week, GSU officials surprised staffers and supporters of WRAS (88.5 FM) — known as Album 88 — by announcing they had struck a $150,000 deal to sell the station’s daytime programming rights to Georgia Public Broadcasting.

What this means from a college media perspective: Instead of overseeing around-the-clock programming enjoyed by listeners tuning into a powerful terrestrial station in greater Atlanta, GSU student radioheads will be forced to stream their content online during the day and only reclaim their analog kingdom at night (7 p.m. to 5 a.m.). The planned two-year contract with GPB may eventually lead to a more permanent, expansive takeover of all 24 hours of station programming.

To fight back against the impending loss of student control, staffers and supporters are staging a multi-pronged awareness campaign. As the campaign’s press liaison Chris Shattuck tells me, “We held a successful protest at graduation in front of the administration and thousands of friends and family of the graduating class; a group of more than 50 alumni met [Monday night] to discuss the long-term goals of the campaign; [and] we’re hosting a benefit concert this Thursday to support future organizing efforts and campaigns by the #saveWRAS movement.”

The GSU graduation protest included seniors decorating their commencement caps with expressions of WRAS support.

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WRAS staffers have also released a statement detailing their opposition to the GPB deal and requesting a meeting with Georgia State’s president and a representative from GPB. As a portion of the statement reads:

“Not only is 100 hours of student programming being removed from our analog 88.5 FM in exchange for internships/30 minute student music program ‘opportunities’ but all of these changes were made without allowing any student input. While we understand the reasons for secrecy around ‘high stakes negotiations’ and respect GSU as the FCC licensee, failure to include students in the decision casts the administration as deaf to student voices.”

A boycott page on Facebook also now boasts more than 6,000 Likes. As it explains, “GPB is set to ruin WRAS 88.5. We will not let this happen without a fight. Boycott GPB and refuse to support their takeover of 88.5.”

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In addition, a Change.org petition to “Stop Georgia Public Broadcasting’s takeover of iconic Atlanta college radio station Album 88” has acquired more than 8,500 digital signatures. The petition’s description states, in part:

“An Atlanta institution,WRAS has been on the air for almost 45 years. However, its legacy is far greater than that of a mere college radio station. WRAS is an emblem of Atlanta’s cultural legacy: past, present, and future. A world-renowned outlet for local voices, remarkably diverse music, and undiscovered talent, 88.5 FM was instrumental in helping launch the careers of famed local groups such as R.E.M. in the 1980s, Outkast in the 1990s and Deerhunter in the 2000s. It’s no secret that Atlanta’s radio market has degenerated into a homogenized glop over the past 10 years thanks to companies like Clearchannel desperately targeting only the lowest common denominator of listeners as commercial radio becomes less and less profitable in the modern world. However, in a radio market as notoriously awful as ours, having a truly unique voice on the airwaves such as WRAS, a station that remains untainted by corporate interests and steadfast in its mission to be a source of musical exploration for Atlanta, is honestly a godsend. We ask that Georgia State University reconsider its deal with Georgia Public Broadcasting.”

Separately, journo extraodinaire David Schick has completed a #SaveWRAS deep dive, analyzing the amount and type of tweets connected to the hashtag. According to Schick, the whole shebang is “the essence of a hashtag activism campaign.”

Related

Surprise Takeover of Georgia State Student Radio Station Spurs Criticism, Calls for Boycott

Comments
2 Responses to “Fight to Save WRAS Ramps Up: Benefit Concert, Graduation Protest, Petition & a Boycott Page”
  1. Daniel says:

    It’s amazing how aloof the administration of GSU is on this matter. They don’t realize how important Album 88 is to the community inside GSU and the larger community of metro Atlanta.

  2. It’s the coat and tie guys out of the loop yet again. What a loss! WRAS has always been a robust training ground for thousands of students allowing them to learn about radio, production, music, promotion, storytelling, sales, management and more. I was one of them. First, this will be the loss of an island of unbridled creativity in a world of dull radio sameness. Second, and more importantly, it’ll stop thousands of college students from one of the most important aspects of education- learning by doing, by experimenting, by being creative and takings risks.

    I worked at WRAS in the late 70s. It is, in fact, the only reason I decided to attend Georgia State University. I listened to 88.5 in high school all the time. It was so interesting and fun. I loved listening to episodes of The Lone Ranger on Saturday mornings. There was community engagement with Road Rallies and all sorts of wacky promotions. I won an album by being the 4th caller to 658-4488 several times. The first was a copy of a Mott the Hoople. I learned that if you were a GSU student, you could work at the station. “Wow,” I thought. “Playing records, talking on the radio, reading the news, interviewing bands, attending concerts, being a reporter? Yeah, I want to do that!”

    Shortly after becoming a student, I timidly walked into the station in 1976. “What do I have to do to work here,” I asked. I was welcomed, encouraged and challenged by almost everyone. I learned about audio production, voice overs, music, promotion and sales. I was awestruck when Training Director Doug Jackson left me in the production room (actually a closet) by myself to record my voice on the monster Magnecord reel-to-reel tape deck for the first time! WRAS served as the foundation of my career in communications. My first seemingly real sales call for the station was at Alex Cooley Concert Promotions, the main concert promoter in Atlanta back then. I asked them to sponsor the ChickenMan radio show series. They said, “OK”, signed my contract and cut a check. I was thrilled. I had my first successful sales call in radio and the station put the continuing series on the air.

    Today, it’s almost 40 years later. My company, Alpharetta- based GM Voices, employs over 35 people who record and produce hundreds of thousands of words a month in over 100 languages and dialects. You’ll hear our voices when you call many Fortune 1000 companies, use an automotive navigation system, watch web videos or use most any device that uses prerecorded voices in its user interface. We partner with over 600 voice actors and dozens of studios around the world so that North American-based companies can easily speak the local language in any market and on any media.

    I think Georgia Public Broadcasting is OK, but WRAS 88.5 is a precious Atlanta resource that can better serve our community by continuing its current student run operation. It’s a formula that’s worked great for 40 years.

    You can put our 635+ families down as fans of the WRAS that provides a career launching pad for 18-year-old college students as they learn, experiment and develop skills they can take enthusiastically in into their futures.