GPB Radio to operate Atlanta’s WRAS without tax-based funding

Georgia Public Broadcasting will fund its new daytime public radio news service on Atlanta’s WRAS through private revenues, not state subsidies, according to Michael H. McDougald, a broadcaster who chairs the state network’s governing commission. GPB “has no intention of using taxpayers’ money to support this new initiative,” McDougald said in an open letter responding to criticism from Public Broadcasting Atlanta, which broadcasts a hybrid format news and music service to the state capitol on WABE-FM. McDougald said the state-owned pubcasting network expects earned revenues to fully support its news and talk programming on WRAS. GPB took over daytime programming of Georgia State University’s 100,000-watt FM station on June 29 through a channel-sharing agreement with the university. The deal drew criticism from GSU students who previously controlled all programming on the station, supporters of their music service and Public Broadcasting Atlanta, a community licensed public radio and TV service.

Chair of rival public radio station criticizes GPB’s entry into Atlanta

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.

GSU considers options to keep student-run WRAS programming on FM

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.