I’ve been covering the battle for NPR News listeners in Atlanta between WABE and Georgia Public Broadcasting. I saw a new development in a post last week by Jennifer Waits from RadioSurvivor. (I admire Jennifer’s reporting about college radio.)
Georgia State students involved with WRAS – Save WRAS – have filed an appeal with the University System of Georgia Board of Regents. They are asking the Regents to void an agreement the Regents approved in 2014 with GPB to allow Georgia Public Radio programming to air daily on WRAS. Under the LMA agreement, GPB controls the programming from 5am to 8pm daily for NPR News programs; WRAS controls the programming from 8pm to 5am for college rock.
COMPLAINT CHARGES MISUSE OF STUDENT ACTIVITY FEES
The Save WRAS student appeal asserts the GSU Administration circumvented university policies regarding the use of student activity funds to pave the road for GPB’s LMA. The written appeal says GSU knowingly misappropriated student funds for the benefit of an outside organization, GPB. The students also allege GSU administrators crafted the GPB LMA in secret and misled GSU’s student government in order to purchase a new transmitter and approve an operating budget.
The GSU students trying to Save WRAS filed a 59-page document with the Regents. The students are asking the Regents to sever the GSU/GPB LMA agreement and turn …full use of the WRAS-FM transmitter and terrestrial signal… to GSU’s student government.
WHAT WILL LIKELY HAPPEN
I don’t think Save WRAS has any leverage or standing (in the legal sense) to have any impact on the agreement between GPB and GSU. The licensee of WRAS is Georgia State University. They have the authority to make an agreement with GPB, change the format and reorganization the station. There is nothing Save WRAS can do to stop them except rally public outrage.
The possible misuse of student activity funds is another matter. If the appeal doesn’t work, Save WRAS might consider suing GSU to get the student money back.
Eventually, I think the GSU student government will decide they no longer want activity fees to go to WRAS because of GPB situation. Then, GSU will let GPB have a full LMA 24/7. This is what I think SHOULD happen. To me, GPB will provide the greatest public service.
NUTTY PROVISION IN THE CONTRACT
I got a chuckle when I saw one unexpected condition in the LMA agreement between GPB and GSU. It calls for GPB to air LOTS of GSU sports play-by-play:
I was in this situation once myself. When I was GM of KCSN, Northridge/Los Angeles the station was required to carry live coverage of CSUN Women’s Softball games. I was riding the board during one of the softball games and had the feeling not a single person on the planet was listening.
So I decided to see if that was true. During a break between innings I went on the air and said:
Usually we ask for your money at KCSN. Today I want to pay one lucky listener back. If you are listening to KCSN right now, and are the first person to call the station, I will give you twenty dollars. I’m serious, I’d like to hear from you.
No one called.