University delays launch of GPB Radio service on Atlanta’s WRAS-FM

By Sean Meehan

A channel-sharing agreement between Georgia Public Broadcasting and Georgia State University’s student-run radio station WRAS-FM that had been set to start last week has been postponed to June 29. 

The station, also known as Album 88, has been entirely student-run for over 40 years. But in May, the university and GPB announced a partnership that would give GPB the station from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day. The partnership, which originally had been scheduled to take effect June 1, was arranged without student input and met with opposition from Album 88 DJs, alumni and fans.

The delay in implementing the partnership was announced after a May 30 meeting among members of the station’s student staff and GSU president Mark Becker.

In a statement on the WRAS Facebook page, Georgia State said it decided to delay the transition to address issues brought up by students. Doug Covey, vice president of student affairs at GSU, said in an interview that student representatives used the meeting to share their vision for the station’s future and that the delay will allow the university to take their ideas into account. 

“The reason for pushing back the start date was that we wanted more time to continue exploring alternative ways to operationalize this agreement without negating it,” Covey said.

The university’s statement also said the delay would give GPB more time to develop local programming for the station.

Album 88 Alumni, a recently formed group that has started the website savewras.com, hope to use the delay as a chance to meet with Becker and urge him to reconsider the contract.

“We don’t fully understand which part of the equation caused the delay, but we’d like to think that President Becker is having second thoughts,” said Reid Laurens, a member of the board of directors for Album 88 Alumni. “We’re expecting and hoping that we’ll get a meeting so we can hopefully help him understand what a valuable resource WRAS is for the university.”

Though Album 88 Alumni hopes to see the partnership postponed indefinitely or abandoned, Georgia State remains committed to the agreement.

Becker “has always been clear that he thinks working with this broadcast network has important value for the university,” Covey said. “He’s made it clear that we are going to continue with the agreement.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story reported the announcement to delay the partnership ran on the university’s website.

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