Revolt – GSU students protest station takeover

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt May 7, 2014
Logo from WRAS boycott GPB page.

Logo from WRAS boycott GPB page.

UPDATED at 4:34 pm on May 7:

Georgia State University officials on May 6 announced a “historic partnership” with Georgia Public Broadcasting that would bump programming on WRAS 88.5 off the air during the day.

Students and management are protesting the decision to move their programming to broadcast between 7 pm and 5 am, saying they weren’t consulted about the decision. They said GSU’s May 6 announcement took them by surprise.

“We as a staff are deeply saddened and want to apologize for these changes that, again, are completely out of our control,” WRAS employees said in a letter outlining their concerns. The students started a “boycott” page on Facebook that swelled to nearly 2,000 likes within hours. The page encouraged listeners of the station to contact GPB and GSU officials. There’s also a petition on with nearly 3,000 signatures.

Ana Zimitravich, former general manager of the station, said the contract with GPB has a 30 day termination clause. She said the goal of the boycott is convince GSU to reconsider.

“We’re trying to motivate our listeners and alumnus into scaring the vice president and the president into nullifying this contract,” she said.

Zimitravich believes that GSU wants to use the partnership to enhance its brand.

“I think that they did it to increase exposure for GSU. If they wanted money they would’ve just sold us. Our wattage is worth $25 million,” she said. “They want to use their assets to make a name for themselves and attract new students. It all boils down to money, but it’s sacrificing the integrity of the university and the radio station and the wishes of the students.”

Georgia Public Broadcasting also has not returned a message seeking comment.

GSU spokesperson Andrea Jones sent an emailed statement about the protest.

“While students are entrusted to run the station, WRAS is ultimately a university asset. This opens the door for longterm opportunities between GPB and Georgia State,” she said. “Terms of the contract evolved over time, and we shared the decision as soon as it was signed.”

To read the full statement from WRAS, click here.

About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of

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  • manman

    I’ll say it here, I’ll say it everywhere, I’m never giving another dime to GPB. This is nothing but a power grab to try to steal listeners from WABE. This whole thing stinks.

  • manman

    Is this the “exposure” they’re looking for? I mean, seriously, they wonder why UGA and GT have more branding power, as they toss out an Atlanta icon for nothing.

  • MacEzra

    Bah and fie, say I. 88 has long represented something special to me (even when I was complaining about them) I love 88. They’ve long represented something sorely lacking in much of the radio I’m continuously finding reasons to avoid; namely: variety, freedom, change, and surprise.
    My car doesn’t stream online radio and 88 has been the first preset station on any vehicle of mine since I turned 16. Even if I wanted to change it, there’s no other station that could couch that spot. I’ve surfed our radio and found it lacking time and time again. I’ve no intention of letting GPB take that away from me with some kind of squatter’s rights arguments without some kind of stance, however Quixotic it may be. I still think tilting at windmills is noble.
    I’ve no delusions of grandeur (well, damn few, at least). Mine is not a column followed by millions; my voice little more than a bird fart in a forest of chirps and chirrups. Nor am I a neophobe, fearing change at every turn. If 88 falls prey to unwelcomed programming in those hours that I find it most convenient to listen, I’ll make do. I’ll get by.
    I will, however, ask that if you have any interest or concern that you add your voice, name, or indignant consternation to the effort of keeping something so youthfully vibrant, esoteric, subcultured, so strongly individualistic that it has influenced an entire multi-cultured city for over 40 years alive, strong, and continually shifting through generations and generations of programers and deejays proudly disseminating the likes of which get shared few and little places else.
    I encourage you to pen whatever comes to mind. I encourage you to sign this. I encourage you to write to any of these folks. I’m not a fan of anger, but if it winds your sails, blow vehemence. If you’d like, I welcome you to copy and paste the following, altering as you need, and sharing as you see fit.
    Dear Madam(s) and/or Sir(s) at GPB,
    I’m writing concerning what I fear to be an gross oversight in regards to the purchasing of air time on 88.5 fm. I’ve no misconceptions of the legality of your endeavors. You’ve committed not even the slightest tort in your procuring of key hours of air time in the Atlanta radio market. Even the fact that this procuring occurred without the knowledge of the heart, lifeblood, and soul of the unavowed operators of said frequency is without legal recrimination. You are absolutely and without a doubt within the proper parameters of the law.
    But, you see, you never contacted me.
    It’s important that you know; that you’re fully aware. I own Album 88. It belongs to me. It’s mine. It has been since a young unsteady hand turned the dial on my radio (when radios had dials) far to the left of those collected megahertz and found a space that took that hand and assured me that Hamlet wasn’t blowing smoke when he told Horatio that there was more in Heaven and Earth than was dreamed of in his philosophy. Ghosts resurrected on that channel and new voices bellowed through thin speakers in cheap cars, at questionable parties, in stolen moments between homework, love, and that endless endeavor to find out just who it was that was trying to do those things.
    Under my ownership Album 88 has befriended and alienated more than I could count, has loved and adored, surprisingly, more and more year after year. Under my impeccable tutelage 88 has remained so frighteningly young and exuberantly curious as to garner the fear of those that succumb to the certainty of age (a lesson learned so well that my dear child of 88, taut and unforgiving, feels the need to remind me of daily; “Mere years,” 88 says, “don’t excuse your sudden exclusion”. 88, as my progeny, as a product of my concern, as a continuation of my legacy as I egoistically see fit, has embraced and supported so many as to make CBGB, of now critical fame, redden in shame.
    You should know, further, that, in this age of information overload, I’m well and fully capable of not only finding fair and balanced reporting but, also able to field throughout the myriad of fair and balanced reporting to find the balance of all said reporting. I can do that. I like to think that others possess this ability, as well.
    I do not threaten. I don’t like it (it’s heavy-handed and not conducive to positive action, I fear). I do know, however, that GPB on 88.5 is not a news source for the likes of me. I wonder at the current efficacy of boycotts. Regardless, I simply will not be able to endorse such by any effort of my own.
    I don’t begrudge you. I like what you do, I really do. I’ve no doubt that you’re good people. I wish you well. Elsewhere. I can’t be too clear on this. I wish you well in spaces otherwise not occupied by me and the radio station I own and love.
    Obviously, Album 88 will never belong to you. Neither will 88.5 MHz. That belongs to me…and others. I know. We’ve bonded solely through ownership of it. They know who they are.
    Sadly, what I fear you’ve not yet realized, and will one day bite back with surprising tenacity (I’m, quite frankly, hoping not too far in the future), is that many of us that own 88 own you, too. Making us choose children is a dangerous game.
    Right now, Album 88 likes me, maybe even loves me. You see, adoptive benevolence ensures such. 88 is mine. Your claim of ownership is legal, but not moral. Your mistake has repercussions that rattle the window panes. You’re affecting more than is measured in market penetration and general decency. We need these things; we do, we do. We’ve all raised 88 to be something outside ourselves. We may not agree with the choices it makes, but we’ve given our best to add to the beauty of what once taught us that some things are outside of our norm.
    Sincerely, with some fear, without animus, with this acceptance (that 88 taught me),

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