Georgia State University's Radio Station WRAS/album 88 to change formats

Many of you know I’m a grad student @ GSU. I’ve been a resident of GA for most of my life, and GSU’s radio station - Album 88 - has long been an important part of my life since I was a teenager. I know many people who feel the same way. This week the University announced that this important institution for independent music was shifting formats. No longer would it be mostly music - and mostly independent and new artists at that, run by the student body (some of who I have had the pleasure of knowing over the years - Nippon Music Champ and Dead Air, being two of my favorites!) - the local public broadcaster, GPB, will be broadcasting content from 5 am to 7 pm, daily. The staff of the station was told Monday, and they made the announcement on Tuesday I think. The student body was not consulted, despite the fact that we pay for the station out of our fees.

Keep in mind that Album 88 will continue to stream online (which was a new thing as of last year, I think) and from 7 pm to 5 am every day. Plus, we will get a 30 minute weekly music show. The new format will include many NPR and PBI programs, some of which are already broadcast on the other public radio station, WABE.

There is a petition to stop this from happening. I know that many of you value both independent media and independent music and might even be fans of the station:

If you’ve never heard the station, go check it out online:

My favorite shows now are the Friday shows, from the Ska show to the post-punk show.

Additionally, I plan to write a piece about this on Tropics of Meta on why I think this is BS. I’ll post it here once it’s up on the site.

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You have my condolences.

That station has got to be better than GPB - which generally sucked, even though it was the best station I could find in Savannah. I used to find the ‘today in Georgia history’ segment funny - always about some dead racist,it seemed.

Radio is by and large terrible in the US, I’ve found. We’re incredibly lucky to have KEXP (also a university station, sort of) in Seattle.

I’d have thought that with the Athens music scene here’d be a decent indie station. Or is that U of G? Where is GSU?

WRAS is at GSU, which is in down town Atlanta. You’d think this station would be attached to the flag ship university, but WRAS is at Georgia State, which is kind of the red headed step child of the university system. We were basically a commuter school until relatively recently. Since the 70s and 80s, they’ve been trying to become a major research university and they are moving in that direction. Grad students get more attention now and the STEM programs at least have really thrived in recent years. They are buying properties up around the city like mad and in fact the other big news this week about GSU is that they might buy Turner stadium once the Braves decamp for Cobb in 2017.

This is a pretty important station, not just locally. WRAS became one of the major college stations to really help establish the independent music scene, nationally speaking, in the 80s. It has the largest broadcast range of any college station - 100,000 Watts and it has been student run since it’s inception - students do everything for that station. They’ve had great indie programming for decades now. They were the first station to play OutKast. They once had Elvis Costello guest host. Bob Geldof wrote I don’t like Mondays there. They’ve always been deeply supportive of the local music scene - my husbands band was interviewed many times there, as were lots of our contemporaries back in the 90s. My husband remembers that when Depeche Mode toured with Violater in 1990, WRAS was the place that they went to promote the show - at this time, as I’m sure you know, they were pretty huge. I like GA Tech’s station and have heard good things about UGAs, too, but that is the one thing that GSU really has going for it - we have one of the best indie radio stations in the country. It was something I’ve always been pretty fiercely proud of during my time at GSU, and of being from GA before I was at GSU. The Athens scene was in part able to break out because of WRAS.

What makes this so galling is that this has always been a student run station. And not a single person who works at the station was told until Monday. I doubt we can roll this back, but I hope we can. They are wrecking an important institution in the city of Atlanta, and it’s absolutely heartbreaking.

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I"ve had too much beer to write what I really want to say coherently right now. but I will say that since I’ve been a music person, I’ve been a college radio listener. I worked in college radio as a student and since moving to Atlanta over a decade ago, not only has 88.5 been my daily listen–seriously, almost every day since December '01–I also held a monthly slot as a guest DJ there for a few years on the Hush-Hush Show.

Faced with yet another marginalization of my culture, I’m alternating between extreme rage and depression.


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