"same deficits plague roads in regards to gas taxes"
the major difference being that the state always finds the money for road construction.
e.g. the 285/400 interchange a.k.a Spaghetti Junction II, a pet project of Gov. Bad Deal and his cronies, has gone from early budget of $600 million (during tsplost) to $1 billion now, and surely will go well over that before completed.
lobbyists for road construction have successfully branded their taxpayer funding as 'investment' while any money going to alternatives is denigrated as 'subsidy'
"same deficits plague roads in regards to gas taxes"
the major difference being that the state always finds the money for road construction.
e.g. the 285/400 interchange a.k.a Spaghetti Junction II, a pet project of Gov. Bad Deal and his cronies, has gone from early budget of $600 million (during tsplost) to over $1 billion now, and surely will go over budget before completed.
lobbyists for road construction have successfully branded taxpayer funding as 'investment' while any money going to alternatives is labelled 'subsidy'
I'm lovin it
"No transit system in the USA (or maybe anywhere) actually makes it on their fares & all depend to varying degrees on grants, etc."
The same deficits plague roads in regards to gas taxes, so I'm not seeing your point here.
Well, "the idea that MARTA's interest is to provide a useful public service is laughable" may not be correct but it is true that of late their main goals are outside the areas of their actual purpose.
No transit system in the USA (or maybe anywhere) actually makes it on their fares & all depend to varying degrees on grants, etc., but MARTA seems to have taken the idea of outside commercial interests & development as their primary source of direct funding.
By that I mean their advertising sales, their highly touted palns for commercial enterprises, etc., ajacent to or even on company property (rental fees).
Meanwhile service performance lags, buildings & other infrastructure remain in disrepair (for example, both main train stations, 5 Pts & Lindbergh, have roofs w/ multiple leaks), several stations need remodeling to overcome poor design problems, etc.
Plans are afoot for greater rail service to the north end but that's to an area that already has service that extends further out than any other area & while it does have great potential for growth b/c of commuter traffic, what will draw customers isn't more stations but better service, the main area where MARTA needs improvement.
Administration there seems to be terribly disconnected from the actual day-to-day operations.
There's no direct supervision of what really goes on at stations, on buses, etc., nor is there a way for customers to actually find out if anything is ever done to investigate or correct complaints.
Just yesterday [11-19-2014] some MARTA buses were still flashing alerts for voters to get out to vote on Nov 4th !
You can't get more disconnected than that.
They have a captive customer base that has no choice but to use the service & that "no need to appeal" mentality seems to've set in at all levels.
All Urban Transportation systems have one main objective:
To Obtain Bigger Federal Subsidies.
The idea that MARTA is actually attempting to provide a useful public service is Laughable.
The only reason for expanding MARTA outside the beltway, is to create another poorly planned fiasco...which follows appropriate Federal Transportation Authority guidelines, resulting in Increased Federal Subsidies............
WRAS is indeed a university asset. One funded by student activity fees and with an expensive new transmitter approved by the student fee committee. All while Dr. Becker was in secret negotiations with GPB. He SHOULD have looped alumni and the public in to avoid bad PR; he HAD to loop students in to avoid constructive fraud.
Your dislike of hipsters is blinding your critical thinking. This entire process has been corrupt and unaccountable. Georgia State itself rejected GPB under President Carl Patton as did Georgia Tech--whose college station is even more experimental than WRAS. PBA Chair Dr. Louis Sullivan, a former cabinet officer and far from a hipster, saw GPB's actions for what they were: bad public policy and a waste of taxpayer resources.
Whether you like college radio or not, WRAS was an industry leader of high influence with numerous alumni in successful media careers beyond just Channel 2. Meanwhile, GPB is a scandal-plagued, unethical organization that's been losing pledges and public support for years. GPB's annual state audit has been delayed over a month now but they can't hide their financial status forever. This "win-win" partnership is not sustainable as it stands. And if it fails Mark Becker and Teya Ryan may well have to go with it. Their "leadership" so far has only made things worse.
Again, these are public institutions not private corporations. Students, taxpayers and the public do get a say.
Hello all --
I am happy to answer your questions. One by one:
“Please do tell me more about ‘the good Dr Becker.’”
I knew that one word -”good”- would get you guys all riled up! Honestly, I don’t know if he’s good, bad or mediocre in nature. I call him “good” because he’s never been “bad” to me. The only contact I have ever had with the man is that I sent him an email of support back in June when the hipsters were all up in arms, and he wrote back, “Thank you for your support.” That’s it. I don’t see him as a liar, but I do think he would have been well-advised to loop the students in that changes were coming instead of springing it on them after the fact. Perhaps he could have avoided the PR poo-storm this generated. Again, Dr. Becker doesn’t owe the WRAS staff anything, as the station does not belong to them or the students; it is a university asset. Georgia State is WRAS’s “true owner,” as that is what’s on the FCC license. As its president, Dr. Becker has to make decisions that he feels are in GSU’s best interests.
“It's been 6 months since the reformat, and WRAS now pulls consistently 40,000. How long, exactly, does it take for all the new listeners to show up?”
Looking at other format changes I’ve been privy to, we should begin to see an uptick over the course of the first nine months to a year. Since May, where the AQH was about 76K, it has dipped as low as 49K (which in the business is called “blowing out the core,” where the old listeners -core- go elsewhere and new listeners come aboard), to 69K, and then back to 61K as of October (not 40). This is normal in radio. The first six months of any new format is a wild ride and the shake-out takes time.
And who knows? NPR might not be successful on WRAS after all. I am not the Atlanta population at large, and I can’t predict what will happen beyond any shadow of doubt. What I can tell you is that block programming, like what WRAS is sporting now, is not usually successful. I am guessing that the next move will be that more of the music format will go away in 2015 to try and build the NPR brand on 88.5 and stop the major audience shift that occurs at 7pm every night.
Also: If the students had been playing Top 40, or country, or R&B, I would still say that the change in format was justified, the point being that the previous version of WRAS was not performing to the expectation of university leadership. I do think it’s a shame that “Album 88” did the stereotypical college-rock format and never really took advantage of what a truly unique opportunity it was to have 100,000 watts at their disposal. Think about it. If, in fact, WRAS is an “educational station,” then those kids need to learn proper production techniques, how to create compelling programming, how to follow a format, and so on, just like a commercial station. Because if WRAS is an “educational station,” I also would assume that the student staff is supposed to be learning about radio with an eye toward making a living at it. You don’t make a living by playing your favorite songs and saying “uh” a lot, and a 100,000 watt station isn’t there to be a social activity.
“The first time students were told ratings mattered was in May when their daytime hours were taken from them.”
I wonder if that’s really true. I believe that at some point the WRAS student leadership was told that they needed to produce some better and higher-quality content, rather than just spinning music. No one has commented publicly whether anyone was given an ultimatum, and of course the WRAS leadership certainly wouldn’t admit that now, since half the schedule has been taken away. In any case, I really don’t think this caught the WRAS leadership as off-guard as one would be led to believe. But again, Dr. Becker should have let people in on this once it appeared certain that a change was likely.
“If WRAS needs a bigger audience let the students program to that new mandate.”
Nothing would have pleased me more than to see those kids change the format and continue to program the station themselves. Make it live, make it local, make it relevant. That’s why I don’t believe that the announcement in May was such a big surprise. And apparently WRAS has been subscribing to ratings services because they’ve been showing up in the breakouts for a while now. Someone was obviously paying attention, but it wasn’t the WRAS student leadership.
“[H]ow does surrendering half of airtime to an unaccountable external entity whose interests lay almost entirely outside of the university "serve" GSU students? And how does surrendering control of that asset "leverage" it?
Unaccountable? In what way? If you mean GPB is unaccountable to GSU, then yes, you are correct, GPB has paid a fee to essentially “rent” 88.5 for 14 hours a day. The only accountability GPB has to GSU is to make sure the check they wrote is good. However, no control over WRAS has been surrendered, as GSU still holds the license and is fully in control. But like it or not, GSU has chosen to enter into a partnership with GPB. GPB does not own WRAS and has no plans to at this moment in time. If ratings and support sustain it, they may consider buying the WRAS license down the road, and that will open up another can of legal worms where it regards the sale of a university asset. If NPR on 88.5 fails, then GPB will lose interest fast.
“How is the community better off by removing WRAS's content in favor of NPR content that is largely simulcast on another station (one that has been providing NPR content to the local market for a very long time, to boot)?”
I don’t think the community is better off with a second NPR station. But it’s not about the community, it’s about GSU since WRAS belongs to the university. And NPR gives WRAS credibility more so than college-rock. It simply sounds more mature and like a big-city station that potential students and visitors might listen to and be impressed by. But I would still much rather have seen the students change the programming and create a new format, rather than piping in a canned one.
“What evidence can you marshal that students wanted more "talk-radio" content on WRAS, and given your fixation on numbers, how would that do anything other than lower average listenership? How many college students listen to NPR and would prefer to have their student station pre-empted with NPR content that they play no part in?”
I don’t know that student-produced talk programming would have increased listener levels. What I do know is that the station’s listener levels in its previous incarnation were not acceptable to university leadership, and quite frankly were embarrassing for a 100,000 watt station. My suggestion of student-created talk programming is preferable to me because then the station is still student-run and the programming is generated locally. That would always be my preference for radio in general: Local, local, local. I’d prefer NPR sign off 88.5 tomorrow if the students could produce something compelling. If you guys get your wish and NPR fails, there will be another format, but it won’t be “Album 88.” So maybe it’s in the students’ best interests to use 7pm to 5am to create and try some new things, new programming, new ideas. Then, if a change is made, the students can say, “Well, we produce this, and this, and this, and can produce more to fill every hour of the day.” Music could be a part of the programming, but it cannot be ALL of the programming. This has already been decided.
I’ll say it one more time: I truly wish that the students had stepped it up and WRAS had been able to generate some real talents like it used to (Chuck Dowdle, Richard Belcher). Radio and TV will need that next generation of personalities sooner rather than later. Commercial radio has made a grave mistake in eliminating so many entry-level jobs for the sake of automation. It would be wonderful if college radio would groom the next wave of broadcasters. The lack of qualified industry people will really be felt in the next 10 to 15 years as the older generation retires and dies off. There are too many jobs for Ryan Seacrest to have them all!
Oh, and that Twitter account? ‘Taint mine. I don’t have a Twitter account.
So I went and read through Mr. Radio's greatest hits over at the AJC radio/TV blog, and basically his pattern there is exactly the same as here: denigrate the student-generated content of WRAS (because it's not popular and he has some undefined hatred of anything he deems 'alternative') without having any actual familiarity with said content; claim to not have any direct interest in the GPB/GSU deal, despite constant bootlicking support of it and the relevant individuals; belittle anyone whose tastes are different than his, while constantly pushing this narrative that somehow more talk radio is what students want and/or Atlanta needs; projecting his own homogenized tastes onto people who he doesn't know and are likely nothing like him; and, constantly obsessing over ratings numbers, yet refusing to ever respond to why an explicitly non-commercial radio station should be operated on the same basis as a for-profit station.
It could well be that he's just some radio industry gadfly with a bizarre obsession (or hidden axe to grind) with WRAS's student programming, or student programming in general, but his vociferousness combined with his refusal to answer basic questions about his unwavering support - not to mention his obsession with the topic despite his claims to neither live here nor "have a dog in this fight" - does call into question what his actual motivations are.
I don't suppose anyone at CL would be interested in tracking the location of the IP address from which he's submitting these comments... could prove 'interesting'! That being said, I don't believe that any GSU or GPB insiders directly associated with this deal would be so stupid as to post such buffoonish commentary - to paraphrase The Simpsons, some people are just jerks.
Related: if he does indeed work in radio, and isn't in Atlanta (and let's not forget his obsession with talk radio), any chance this could be Mr. Radio's Twitter account? https://twitter.com/mrradio610
Please do tell me more about "the good Dr Becker". We students see him for what he is, both a liar and a thief who will not return phone calls. The WRAS ownership shuffle began soon after he began his job. This was a long term hit and he was involved in both refusing to disclose information while spending our student fee money, and in negotiating away a student built asset without asking the true owners first. He is so ashamed that he will not return student phone calls even after reported to the ombudsman. What is he so afraid to discuss? This is not acceptable behavior for public servants and is in violation of the school motto.
Mr. Radio is an intriguing figure in this whole affair. Within hours of the May announcement of the GPB/GSU partnership he was commenting on the AJC radio blog arguing that this was a necessary decision on Becker's part, that the research had been done, that music today isn't as good as when he and the average AJC reader were in college, etc. How had he seen the research when the students and public were kept completely in the dark? Is he a consultant for Becker or parties involved in drafting the partnership?
If he is correct and WRAS will be a full-time NPR affiliate in a year it's all the more imperative that students bring suit against GSU for the Constructive Fraud that led to their funding a new transmitter. Had students known it would be for GPB they never would have funded a new digital tower. Student fees should not be used to shore up Teya Ryan’s failing organization.
Mr. Radio's ratings data would be a powerful argument for a format change if WRAS were a commercial radio station. It isn't. A more apt example is from WRAS' own past. When alternative rock, or stink-rock if you childishly prefer, became commercially viable in the 90s and 99x started playing the likes of REM and Nirvana, WRAS adjusted its format to play other artists not heard on commercial stations. It's mission has never been to draw the biggest audience and thereby compete with commercial radio. It's always been to provide Atlanta with something else to hear. Something chosen and played by students not the University President. The first time students were told ratings mattered was in May when their daytime hours were taken from them. If WRAS needs a bigger audience let the students program to that new mandate. I’m sure they could put on a wacky zoo crew and sex talk show that would outdraw “The Splendid Table.”
Mr. Radio sounds less like an advocate for what's best for GSU and its students and more like a bitter old man screaming "You kids get off my lawn."
But the thing is, it's their lawn.
My suspicion remains that WRAS was a quid pro quo for Teya Ryan hiring Chip Rogers:
Note particularly that in April of 2008 a proposal by GPB to place programming on WRAS was rejected by Georgia State University. GSU’s then Senior Vice President of External Affairs Tom Lewis wrote: “While GPB is offering compensation, the value to our University of our 100,000 watt FM signal and our ability to maintain an independent program format is much greater. In our efforts to engage students in student life at Georgia State, we believe that WRAS is one of our greatest assets, and one which should not be compromised.”
If Becker was forced into giving up WRAS by the Regents or the Governor's office, then his inept handling of it all and unilateral shoving of it down everyone's throat would make sense. If not, and this partnership all really was Becker's own decision than he's a tone-deaf leader who's inspired nothing but acrimony and bitterness for everyone involved. His refusal to respond to Teya Ryan’s Creative Loafing interview where she dumped all the blame for any problems on GSU speaks volumes. He’s not very interested in his students’ concerns or in making this partnership work.
The way to prevent renters, seniors, and low-income owners from being priced out of their homes is to remove the county’s authority to assess property values for tax purposes. Generally, property tax assessments are proportional to assessed value times property tax rates.
It is not appropriate for County government to determine property values. Valuation is a market decision, and thereby a decision that should be determined only by motivated buyers and sellers. Letting elected county officials have that authority is a profound conflict of interest, which allows them to increase tax burdens without facing direct accountability to voters. Government may then use any number of arbitrary criteria to increase property assessments even, for property would never sell at the assessment claimed.
The official assessed value for tax purposes should only, and always, be the last purchase price on record ,which will likely be the price paid by current owners unless the property was inherited.
I saw a guy on the bus with a 42" TV last week but it was in the box and he just bought it at Target. I thought maybe that would suck to have a big TV on the bus like that !
It's been 6 months since the reformat, and WRAS now pulls consistently 40,000. How long, exactly, does it take for all the new listeners to show up (as if that demographic is what the school should be catering towards)?Also, kudos for talking down to everyone else in the thread, you sound just like the GPB slugs who have told people to sit down and shut up.
"I flagged it because it was filthy and obscene, not only toward me, but also to the good Dr. Becker."
So bad words do indeed hurt your feelings. So sad. I don't think anyone here needs protection from four-letter words, including Mark Becker (who isn't reading this anyway and, judging by his actions, doesn't much care what anyone thinks about it anyway). Also, this indicates you have some sort of connection with him - yes or no?
"I know the business and I know that numbers are a very important part of radio broadcasting."
You've answered almost none of the questions I posed to you, so let me re-iterate: what bearing does this have on a NON-COMMERCIAL, educational radio station? Its purpose isn't to boost listener numbers or to turn a profit, so "business" is really beside the point.
"I never attended GSU (unless you count a couple of parties I went to back in the day...and no one I knew listened to "Album 88")"
Hooray for confirmation bias! Nobody in your circle listens/listened to it, so nobody listens and/or it must be unimportant. As I pointed out, 70,000 > 0.
Also: I call BS, seeing as "back in the day" would almost certainly have to be before GSU had any on-campus housing of its own... it does support my (now-deleted) contention that you've never set foot on the GSU campus.
"Heck, I don't even live in Atlanta anymore."
Well now I understand why you're projecting your own tastes onto people who aren't anything like you - you don't live here, and you're basically using your imagination to dictate your argument. I'm guessing that, beyond AQH figures, you have essentially zero knowledge of the Atlanta radio market, GSU or GSU students.
So again: how does surrendering half of airtime to an unaccountable external entity whose interests lay almost entirely outside of the university "serve" GSU students? And how does surrendering control of that asset "leverage" it?
How is the community better off by removing WRAS's content in favor of NPR content that is largely simulcast on another station (one that has been providing NPR content to the local market for a very long time, to boot)?
What evidence can you marshal that students wanted more "talk-radio" content on WRAS, and given your fixation on numbers, how would that do anything other than lower average listenership? How many college students listen to NPR and would prefer to have their student station pre-empted with NPR content that they play no part in?
And again: why are you so deferential to Mark Becker?
J to the G-
I didn't flag your post because I disagreed with your content. I flagged it because it was filthy and obscene, not only toward me, but also to the good Dr. Becker.
You couldn't debate me with facts so you took the low road. Granted, I was condescending to you, but not filthy.
Look at Ted Freeman's post above. Very thoughtful, very measured. He disagrees with me. Fine. Most people here disagree with me. I debate with facts, and yes, numbers. I know the business and I know that numbers are a very important part of radio broadcasting. I'd say the kids and life-long students at "Album 88" learned this the hard way.
Here's the funny part: I don't have a dog in this fight. I never attended GSU (unless you count a couple of parties I went to back in the day...and no one I knew listened to "Album 88"), and I have never been associated with GPB.
Heck, I don't even live in Atlanta anymore. I escaped that cesspool years ago. I am just glad to see a university asset get a much-needed and long-overdue facelift.
I would also like to point out that the prior comment to which Mr. Radio was responding was deleted, probably because I hurt Mr. Radio's feelings, and he flagged it.
It's a nice parallel, really - you didn't like what I said, so you were happy to have it removed from the conversation; you don't like what GSU students play on WRAS, so you're happy that they were removed from the air.
Remember, everyone, Mr. Radio knows better than you what you should be listening to, and you shouldn't ever question him because he has NUMBERS!
Also, quick follow-up question: Renfroe is carrying water for the GSU administration because he was at least previously involved with student government there; what's your excuse? Are you associated with GPB? I highly doubt you're a neutral observer in this.
I like to rob that 55" TV and bring on the bus :)
@ Mr. Radio: nice condescension there. For one thing, I'm probably closer in age to you than I am to a traditional college student. For another, I sincerely doubt you have the remotest familiarity with any of the music that Album 88 plays, and between your constant denigration of it as "stink-rock", "garbage-rock", etc. (hey, did you know they play a lot of things beyond rock music? of course you didn't!) and your clear obsession with talk radio, it seems to me that, like Mr. Renfroe, you have some ulterior motive for so obsequiously praising the unilateral decision to seize a student resource, without student input, and essentially hand it over to an outside entity for relatively little in return.
I find it amusing that you continually project your own desires and views onto students - seriously, can you point to any bit of evidence that there is a large unmet desire for more student/university-oriented talk radio programming? Since you're so obsessed with listener numbers, tell me: what sort of ratings do those sorts of programs on WREK (TechTalk, Ramblin Wreck Report, etc.), the other student station in town, obtain? I'm going to guess well less of 70,000, and yet somehow you think this would be a better outcome. Also, you *are* aware that WRAS broadcasts GSU sporting events, right? (I bet you don't, since you don't seem to know anything about the station's actual content.)
Speaking of that 70,000 - how is that zero interest, and yet you simultaneously declare that I shouldn't pay attention to declining listener numbers? And how quickly do you expect the listener base to expand, given that GPB is basically simulcasting much of what has been available on WABE for years? How does this duplication make any sense, let alone serve the needs of Atlanta listeners? Do you *really* think that there are suddenly going to be a giant number of new NPR listeners in Atlanta? Or is it more likely that any new audience simply cannibalizes that of WABE?
"When potential students visit or check out WREAS, they'll hear something recognizable." As much as I love NPR, how many potential students do you think would hear "oh, they handed over half of the airtime at the school's station to a non-student-run, unaccountable exterior organization" and consider this a good thing? How many potential students - you're clearly referring to traditional, young undergraduates, as potential grad students won't care one bit about the radio station relative to their attendance - even listen to NPR? A few hundred??
"And hey, maybe if the students had played something recognizable and dropped in some talk programming, things might have been different." Again, you're projecting YOUR tastes and interests onto everyone else, and particularly onto people much younger than you - how convenient! You harp on how the station should have better served students, yet at the same time you take the attitude of "these dumb kids don't know what they should use their airtime for!" - so which is it? Did you ever consider that the students' tastes are nothing like yours, and that maybe they have no widespread desire for talk radio? (I'm sure you didn't.) How does duplicating WABE's NPR content serve students in any way?
WRAS is a non-commercial station, for educational purposes (Quoth the FCC: "This is a license for a noncommercial educational FM station") - comparisons to Star 94 and The Game and all of the other commercial dreck out there are irrelevant. This deal duplicates content already available and largely closes off one of the few outlets for interesting and diverse music in Atlanta - one that had a proud tradition dating back to the 1970's, no less!
But your answer is MORE homogenization of the airwaves, MORE serving an audience that's already served (in a lowest-common-denominator fashion) by other existing outlets - and you think this is a *good* thing. After all, you place priority on listener numbers above all else, and your prime example is a station that reinvented itself by playing the same 20 songs in heavy rotation. God save us from the radio industry "experts".
A former co-worker said she was happy when C-Tran shut down because it granted criminals from Atlanta easy access to Clayton County. She also thought China and Japan were the same country. She had no evidence back up either claim.
Creative Loafing Atlanta
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