Album 88's future is up in the air 

After 43 years of student-run radio, GSU secretly decided to flip WRAS to daytime talk. What does GPB's takeover mean for WRAS 88.5 FM?

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GOLDEN YEARS: Since the station’s debut in 1971, student DJs were largely free to program blocks of airtime without much interference from university management. - SPECIAL COLLECTIONS AND ARCHIVES, GEORGIA STATE UNIVERSITY LIBRARY
  • Special collectionS and archiveS, georgia State univerSity library
  • GOLDEN YEARS: Since the station’s debut in 1971, student DJs were largely free to program blocks of airtime without much interference from university management.

"There was enough feedback from the community and outcry from the students that the sale didn't go through," says Charlie Bennett, WREK's faculty advisor. "And a lot of people had a more clear vision of what WREK meant to Georgia Tech and Atlanta."

On May 15, nearly 300 WRAS supporters packed into the Drunken Unicorn for a benefit concert, where they raised approximately $2,400 to fund the upcoming fight. DeVore and fellow WRAS DJ Marvin Evangelista brought students and alumni up to speed during a Q&A about withholding alumni donations, planning student protests, and other future strategies.

The next morning, Zimitravich, Martin, current General Manager Alayna Fabricius, and current urban music director Jenny Nesvetailova met with Becker, Covey, and other GSU officials behind closed doors to discuss the station's future. The dialogue marked the first time both sides had chatted since the GPB-GSU partnership was announced. Covey, who claims he understands their concerns, says the university "certainly intends to honor our contractual obligations under the new agreement." Becker has committed to future conversations to hash out potential alternatives to help meet students' demands in the near future.

For WRAS student leadership, the ability to sit at the table marked an important first step toward salvaging student involvement in the station. "Hopefully they'll continue to work with us to try and make WRAS a partner and not just a bargaining chip," Zimitravich says.

Zimitravich, Martin, Fabricius, and Nesvetailova presented GSU officials with a 10-year strategic plan that outlines how WRAS can grow and operate in what they consider the best interests of GSU students. They pointed to KEXP (90.3 FM), a Seattle-based public radio station partially run by University of Washington students, and how the station has achieved international recognition through its SXSW showcases, in-studio sessions, and event fundraising. It's not entirely student run, as WRAS' student leaders would prefer, but it's a station that's managed to use its airwaves to benefit both the students and the university.

"The future is still uncertain," Fabricius says. "But we do feel a little bit more optimistic."

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