Three days after Georgia Public Broadcasting took over daytime programming on Georgia State University’s WRAS-FM, Atlanta’s other public radio station, WABE, released an open letter criticizing the channel-sharing agreement. Dr. Louis Sullivan, chair of the board of directors at Public Broadcasting Atlanta, which owns and operates WABE, called the deal between GPB and GSU “bad public policy.”
The agreement, which took effect June 29, gives GPB control over the 100,000-watt station’s programming between 5 a.m. and 7 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends. The arrangement also provides GPB with a presence in on Atlanta airwaves for the first time. Previously, the news/classical format WABE was the city’s only public radio station. In his letter, Sullivan pointed out that WRAS is now airing NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered at the same time that WABE runs those programs. WABE is already serving the Atlanta market, said Sullivan, who called on GPB and GSU to modify or terminate their agreement.
Georgia State University announced Friday that it is searching for a new FM frequency for student-hosted music programs, which will soon be cut from daytime hours on GSU’s WRAS-FM. Starting Sunday, GSU will air public radio news and talk programming provided by Georgia Public Broadcasting from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m., replacing the student music shows. The agreement, announced May 6, has drawn criticism from GSU students and WRAS fans. In its announcement, the university said it has hired engineers and media consultants to look into broadcasting the student-produced content on an FM translator. That idea was first suggested by a group of WRAS supporters known as Album 88 Alumni in a proposal sent to the university Wednesday. The deal between GSU and GPB included providing a 24-hour HD Radio stream for the student station, but few people own the radios needed to pick up the digital signals.
College Broadcasters Inc. and the Student Press Law Center are speaking out against a channel-sharing agreement that gave Georgia Public Broadcasting control of Georgia State University’s 88.5 WRAS-FM during daytime hours. Under the agreement announced May 6, GPB will program the station with news from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. The student organization that until recently controlled all programming will take over nighttime hours. The announcement surprised and disappointed the station’s student hosts, who set up a website to protest the agreement. In letters to the University administration, CBI and SPLC expressed support for the students and denounced the deal, which was made without notifying the programmers. “CBI believes, and I believe personally, that student ownership is key for these student media outlets, and it’s been taken away from them by all accounts without any discussion or dialogue,” CBI President Greg Weston said in an interview.
In a channel-sharing agreement announced Tuesday, Georgia Public Broadcasting will expand its public radio service into the Atlanta market starting June 1 via Georgia State University’s 88.5 WRAS-FM. GPB Radio will program the station with a news format from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m., providing Atlanta with its first public radio outlet to air news in midday hours. The city’s WABE, operated by Atlanta’s public school system, airs NPR’s newsmagazines but also schedules classical music from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays. “We wanted to bring something that is not currently in the market,” said Bert Huffman, v.p. of development for GPB. “We recognize that people can get classical music from WABE.”