- Posted May 9, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
First Person: Your essays
Save Georgia State University's student-run station, WRAS, from Georgia Public Broadcasting
The decision is a hit with Atlanta public radio listeners who want news and talk during the day -- currently, the city's only public radio station plays classical music from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. -- but the partnership isn't going over well with students and alums from the college station. They say the students should have been consulted. You can read the full statement from the student-run station here.
Students will continue to program the station at night, and can stream live online during the daytime hours. In a statement from GPB, CEO Teya Ryan said the agreement will provide students with new journalism training opportunities.
Erica Jamison is the executive director of the Atlanta art nonprofit MINT and a senior producer at Indigo Studios. She attended GSU from 2001 to 2006 and got her 88.5 tattoo towards the end of her career at the radio station.
- dsashin, CNN iReport producer
In early May 2014, Georgia State University announced a partnership between GSU and Georgia Public Broadcasting. This partnership will split the programming of WRAS, GSU's 100,000 watt student-run radio station, in half. During the day, from 5am to 7pm, the station will be talk radio programmed by GPB. From 7pm to 5am, the station will be programmed by the university students.
This partnership was crafted without the input of any current or alumni DJs, and was announced very close to graduation, when the shift in station management would be at its most chaotic.
As a former WRAS DJ, this decision deeply saddens me and I'd like to share my story.
My first experience with WRAS was as an awkward outcast teenager in the middle of Barnesville, Georgia. A tiny town with no record stores, music venues, or any other places for a weirdo like myself to find her people. I’m sure my sister remembers me forcing her to listen to One Step Beyond as we were going to bed on Sunday nights. Ska was so cool! WRAS helped fuel my love for music and gave me something to latch onto in that awkward teenage phase. I grew to love it so much that it directly contributed to my decision to attend GSU. As soon as the first opening for DJs was announced during my freshman year, I signed up and did my first sit in with a veteran DJ. She let me pick one of her U-Picks which I promptly screwed up by selecting Bad Religion which was already in rotation.
This was the beginning of 4 years at WRAS and I loved every minute. I hosted The World Won’t Listen, Cowtipper’s Delight, Quintessential College Show, The All Request show, and probably a million hours of regular rotation. In fact, I delayed graduating by a semester so I could stay at the station just a little while longer. I became the PSA Director (the job everyone else hated) and between that, and the amazing grassroots community at the station itself, I was completely drawn into supporting community based, collaborative organizations. This directly led to the founding of MINT, a community based arts nonprofit that I have run for the past 8 years. WRAS gave me the confidence, the experience, and the wherewithal to do my own thing because we as DJs were doing our own thing (and succeeding!) every day.
Aside from the professional experience, I met many dear friends at WRAS. My boyfriend and I would not be together if it weren't for the station, and I count myself lucky to have met so many incredible people during my tenure there. While we all now live in different parts of the country and don’t see each other nearly as much as I’d like, I love that these people occupied such a special time in my life. They say you are only as good as the people you surround yourself with. If that’s the case, then I was at my best during my time at WRAS.
I know the arguments for this agreement include the belief that it will be beneficial for the students in the long run. I STRONGLY disagree with this position. If WRAS' analog signal is limited to evening hours, it will no longer be a force to be reckoned with in the music community, both regionally and nationally. This agreement will effectively be the death of the station, and with that death, hundreds if not thousands of individuals will lose all the opportunities that I was so lucky to have. This "partnership" with GPB is simply a power grab from the students GSU should be training to be effective leaders. Great institutions beget great people, and I'm afraid that WRAS is one of the last bastions of greatness at GSU.
WRAS is so much more than a radio station. It’s a community where people like me, the awkward small town kid, can find their feet, grow as human beings, and can make real contributions to the culture of the city. I hope that GSU decides not to honor the agreement with GPB. WRAS has shaped so many lives and has the potential to shape so many more.