Friday, December 7, 2007

New WREK Transmitter Funded

According to "Council Clippings" section of the Nov. 30 Technique, Georgia Tech Student Government just passed a bill allocating $180K for a new HD-capable transmitter. The current plan is to use the subchannel for a time-delay broadcast of the regular signal and also for broadcasting of additional Tech sporting events.

Update: According to GM Brad Petrick, WREK would welcome donations to help them raise the remaining funds needed for the new transmitter. The total cost is estimated to be about $187K, so they are currently $7K short. To make a contribution, visit the WREK web page and click on the "Donate" link.

Thursday, October 4, 2007


WREK has been selected by Creative Loafing as the Critic's Pick for Best Overall Radio Station in its Best of Atlanta 2007 awards.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Waiting for the Other Shoe...

No, this blog isn't dead - it's just that no public information is available about outcome of the Radio Communications Board's review of WREK and the various proposals for WREK's future.

However, I have learned that the RCB completed its review and made a set of recommendations regarding the various proposals at the end of last semester. I will post again when definitive information is available. In the meantime, thanks to everyone who expressed their support for WREK.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

WREK Town Hall Meeting TODAY 11AM

The WREK Town Hall Meeting will be held today, April 17 from 11AM-12PM in the Campanile Plaza on the Tech campus. A "Pre-Town Hall Meet and Greet" will be held immediately beforehand, from 10-11AM, and a post-meeting show fill run from 12-1PM immediately afterward.

The meeting will feature a discussion about WREK's future, including the WREK 2007-2010 Strategic Plan (PDF), which is posted on WREK's website. Here is a brief summary of the Strategic Plan taken from the WREK website:

WREK has been profoundly shaped by Georgia Tech and its student body. Founded by Tech students in 1968 as a noncommercial educational station operating in tandem with the Institute’s mission to educate and serve the public, WREK is run by students who exemplify the initiative, creativity, leadership, and engineering excellence that Tech nurtures.

WREK wants to shape a future that envisions us as a leader among independent, student-run college radio stations. We will achieve this by keeping the station on the cutting edge of radio technology and positioning ourselves as an important and original source of ideas, information, and entertainment for both Tech’s campus and the growing public it serves.

Update (9:40AM): WREK will broadcast the meeting live and will also stream webcam video of the meeting at the WREK website,

Another Update (Wed, 4:10PM): If you missed the broadcast, you can listen to it here on the WREK Archive until it is automatically erased next Tuesday.

Friday, April 6, 2007

More on the RCB/PBA-AETC Meeting

Today's Technique has an article on last week's RCB meeting with PBA/AETC. As reported earlier by Adam Preble, AETC stated that they would like to assist WREK in fundraising and on technical issues, but they are not interested in leasing or taking over WREK's signal.

The article also mentions the upcoming "Town Meeting":
A town hall meeting will be held to allow the RCB to present the student body with the different options that were given by the three entities. The meeting is tentatively scheduled for the week of April 9.
That's next week. More details as they emerge.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Today's RCB/PBA-AETC Meeting

A meeting was held today between the Georgia Tech Radio Communications Board (RCB) and representatives ofthe Atlanta Educational Telecommunications Collaborative (AETC), which is the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1994 to manage Public Broadcasting Atlanta, WABE 90.1FM, and WPBA TV30.

WREK alum Adam Preble (GM 2000-01) attended the meeting and provided the following summary:
They [AETC] stressed that they're "really here to listen and learn," and that they "don't want any of WREK's airspace for [their] programming." They are basically offering their services in a partnership to assist with underwriting and programming "should we decide one is necessary," and they see their larger role as helping to preserve unique programming like WREK's. When asked what they were interested in getting from WREK, their response seemed fairly altruistic; they see threats on the horizon for public broadcasting and say they want to help.

While they don't seem to have any interest in WREK's air time (they say they're very happy with WABE's 3 HD radio channels), I think it's important to note that their help doesn't come without a cost. For example, if we had them help with fundraising or underwriting, some form of profit sharing would be part of the arrangement.

Monday, March 26, 2007

RCB to meet with Public Broadcasting Atlanta

To continue its review of WREK, the Georgia Tech Radio Communications Board (RCB) will meet with representatives of Public Broadcasting Atlanta (PBA) on Thursday, March 29 to discuss PBA's proposal for a "partnership" with WREK. PBA operates WABE-FM, the Atlanta NPR affiliate.

According to news reports last fall, PBA's initial proposal was to "lease" WREK's main signal 14 hours a day, from 5AM-7PM for NPR and other programming.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Internet Streaming is not Free

A key part of each of the three proposals to change WREK's operation is that student broadcasts would continue using an HD radio subchannel and Internet streaming. For example, in his Dec. 1, 2006 letter to The Technique, Tech Associate VP of Institute Communications and Public Affairs James Fetig writes:
"...there always will be a student-controlled WREK signal in an independent HD format and on the Internet."
However, Internet streaming is not free, and in fact is becoming dramatically more expensive. This is because streaming requires the payment of performance royalties, which were established for digital transmission by the Digital Millineum Copyright Act in 1998. Stations pay these royalties to an organization called SoundExchange, which in turn disburses the proceeds to music performers and copyright holders. Note that these royalties are in addition to the traditional royalties that radio stations pay to music publishers such as ASCAP and BMI.

Performance royalty rates are set by the US Copyright Revew Board (CRB). Last Friday the CRB announced new (and significantly higher) royalty rates for internet streaming. According to this report, the new royalty rates will allow noncommerical webcasters to stream audio for a flat fee of $500 per year providing that listenership does not exceed 159,140 Aggregate Tuning Hours (ATH) per month (the amount of time all users listen to streaming audio in one month's time). Above this limit, noncommercial licensees will be expected to pay the full commercial cost, which for 2007 will be $.0011 per "performance" (i.e., per listener per song). This is a significant increase from previous rates. Even worse, the CRB increased the rates over the following years so that by 2010 the cost will be $.0019 per performance.

The limit of 159,140 ATH corresponds to an average of 216 listeners per hour. Given the choice of using Internet streaming or purchasing a $200+ HD radio receivers, most students are likely to choose Internet streaming to listen to WREK. The increased use of streaming by Tech's 17,000 students could surpass the limit, causing the higher per-performance rate to kick in and resulting in high royalty obligations.

For example, consider a scenario where the ATH limit is exceeded by 100 listeners per hour. Assuming WREK broadcasts 10 songs in an hour, the added royalties would be 100 X 10 X $.0011 = $1.10/hour. Over a year this adds up to a cost of $9,636. By the time 2010 rolls around, this amount would climb to $16,644 - a significant percentage of WREK's current operating budget. The more successful WREK is at attracting listeners, the higher the cost. This could make the cost of Internet streaming prohibitive.

Update: the text of the offical CRB decision can be found here.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

More Details about the RCB Review

Here are some more details about the WREK Review Process that is being conducted by the Georgia Tech Radio Communications Board (RCB):
  • A meeting with Public Broadcasting Atlanta (PBA) is being planned sometime in March. This will complete the RCB's hearings to consider the "three proposals".
  • The WREK staff is in the process of preparing a Strategic Plan that will present their vision of WREK's future. This plan will be considered by the RCB as part of its deliberations.
  • A survey of Georgia Tech students is being prepared and distributed by the Georgia Tech office of Institute Communications and Public Affiars (IPCA). The results of this survey will be reviewed by the RCB as part of its deliberations.
  • A "Town Hall Meeting" at Georgia Tech is being planned to to facilitate a public discussion about the future of WREK.
The board will make its recommendations after these steps have been completed.

Friday, February 16, 2007

News Coverage of the RCB/GPB Meeting

This week's Technique and Creative Loafing both ran stories about the Feb. 7 RCB/GPB meeting:

Monday, February 12, 2007

More about the RCB / GPB Meeting

I have received a few more details about the RCB /GPB meeting last week with Georgia Public Broadcasting, including a list of attendees. GPB was represented by the following people:
  1. Ms. Nancy Hall, Interim Executive Director
  2. Ms. Bonnie Bean, Chief Financial Officer
  3. Mr. Mark Fehlig, Director of Technical & Engineering Services
  4. Mr. Jim Wesley (title unknown)
While Ms. Hall, Ms. Bean, and Mr. Fehlig are all listed on the GPB website, Mr. Wesley is nowhere to be found.

However, some Google searching reveals that he is James W. Wesley, Jr., a retired broadcasting executive who was most recently Chairman and CEO of Summit Communications Group, Inc., which at the time owned several commercial radio stations and cable systems. Mr. Wesley is a Georgia Tech alum (IM '55) who got his start in broadcasting as an announcer at WSB in 1955 while still a Tech student.

What is even more interesting is that Mr. Wesley is a generous donor to Georgia Tech. Most notably, in 1998 Mr. Wesley and his wife endowed the James and Mary Wesley Chair in the School of Literature, Communications and Culture ("LCC") with a gift of $2.5 Million. More recently, he was listed in the highest category of donor ($500,000-$1,000,000) in the Georgia Tech Alumni Association's "Founders Council Newsletter" in Fall 2003, Spring 2005, and Spring 2006.

It is interesting to see someone of Mr. Wesley's stature and background advocating a "partnership" between GPB and WREK. As a major donor, I expect that any proposals that Mr. Wesley might bring to the Tech administration will receive careful consideration. However, while GPB expressed a strong interest in "leasing" a portion of WREK's signal at last week's meeting, they offered no concrete proposal.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

The RCB / GPB Meeting

The RCB meeting with the GPB was held today as scheduled. Commenter "WREKker" at Rodney Ho's RadioTalk blog describes the scene (emphasis mine):
The meeting was unusual in a lot of ways. GPB’s representatives purported to only be interested in a “partnership” with WREK. They would give WREK staffers opportunities like internships in exchange for airing their programming. Whether WREK staff are interested in internships, I cannot say. But I doubt it. As for their programming, they are primarily interested in “drive time”, when they are airing NPR staples like Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Fresh Air, and Marketplace. They repeatedly stated that they were looking for a way to get a signal into Atlanta, and that they had no specific proposal. It was “whatever WREK wants.” It is uncertain whether you can take this at face value, however.
Update (2/8 10AM): Rodney has now posted his own report on the meeting.

WREK Discussion in AJC RadioTalk Blog

Atlanta Journal-Constitution writer Rodney Ho has posted an article about WREK and the RCB/GPB meeting in his RadioTalk blog on Access Atlanta. There is a lively discussion going on in the comments section that is definitely worth a look.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

WREK Review Process Underway

Apparently the review process proposed by the Tech administration is already well underway. The Radio Communications Board (RCB) met in December to set up ground rules for the review process. While the information that I have is sketchy, apparently the RCB plans to meet with each the parties proposing to take over airtime from WREK. They will transmit an evaluation of the proposals to President Clough, who will make the final decision on whether to accept one of the proposals or else leave WREK in its present form.

One of these meetings will occur tommorow, February 7. At this meeting representatives of Georgia Public Broadcasting will present their proposal to the RCB. According to prior news reports, their preliminary proposal was to lease WREK airtime during the morning (6-9AM) and evening (3-6PM) "drive time" to broadcast National Public Radio new programming.

I will post more details as I receive them.

Friday, January 5, 2007

An Open Letter to President Clough

The following open letter from 67 73 Georgia Tech Alumni and former WREK staff members has been sent to Tech President Dr. G. Wayne Clough. Copies have been distributed to the Tech community to encourage an open discussion about WREK's future (see the distribution list at the end of the post).

January 2, 2007

Dr. G. Wayne Clough
Georgia Institute of Technology
Atlanta, Georgia 30332

Dear President Clough:

This letter is prompted by recent news reports in The Technique and The Whistle concerning proposals to change the operation of WREK-FM. As Georgia Tech alumni and former WREK staffers, we would like to express our support for WREK in its current form as a student operated noncommercial radio station.

We understand that the Georgia Tech Athletic Association, Georgia Public Broadcasting, and Public Broadcasting Atlanta have all made proposals to take over part or all of WREK’s 40,000 Watt FM broadcast signal and relegate student broadcasts to an HD radio subchannel that few Atlantans and fewer Tech students are equipped to receive.

WREK’s broadcast signal is a valuable asset, but it should be remembered that this asset only exists because of the efforts of countless Tech students over the last 38 years. Beginning in 1968, students organized WREK as a station to be operated by and for the students of Georgia Tech. Students built the first studios and obtained the equipment needed to begin transmission as a 10-watt station. Students filed the paperwork for the original FCC license as well as applications to broadcast at successively higher power until it reached its present level of 40,000 Watts. Students did the engineering to develop and maintain successively more sophisticated broadcast and studio facilities, including a sophisticated digital automation system. Students made history when WREK became one of the first stations to broadcast streaming audio over the Internet.

Over the years, WREK has provided a voice for Tech students and a forum to exchange views. WREK has covered live events at Tech that include the visits of Presidents, interviews with personalities ranging from Lester Maddox to Frank Zappa, music concerts, and countless varsity sports matches. WREK’s programming has provided a valuable alternative to the homogenous and heavily consolidated commercial FM band. WREK has accomplished all this at minimal cost to Tech, with operating expenses funded by Student Activity Fees.

As WREK alumni, we are some of the many students who helped build and operate WREK over the last 38 years. While we are proud of what we accomplished, we are even prouder that WREK has continued to flourish as one generation of students has passed the reins to the next. We look back on the time we spent working at WREK fondly and realize that whatever career path we have taken, our experiences at WREK were an important and formative part of our Georgia Tech education.

Because of our pride in WREK as a Georgia Tech tradition and our belief in its value, we are deeply concerned about the current proposals regarding WREK. One of the greatest attributes of the WREK experience is that students are immersed in all aspects of the broadcasting experience, including not just music, news, and sports programming but also engineering and management. Any move to limit or remove student control over the station would greatly reduce the value of this experience.

We are also troubled by the proposal that student broadcasts be moved to an HD sub-channel to allow WREK’s main FM signal to be leased or commercialized. WREK’s main signal is the foundation of the station’s identity. The FCC granted Tech the license for this signal because of student efforts to create a station to be operated “by and for students”, and we believe that it should continue to be used for this purpose. As a practical note, the current cost of HD radio receivers (at least $200) would greatly limit students’ access to WREK’s programming and prevent it from accomplishing its primary mission.

We believe that particular caution should be employed in considering any proposal to transfer WREK’s license to commercial status. One need only review the history of WGST – Tech’s last venture in commercial broadcasting – to see the pitfalls. According to the Georgia Tech Archives, WGST was donated to Tech in 1923 by Atlanta Constitution owner Clark Howell to be operated as a commercial station with “educational opportunities for students”. However, within a few years, the operation was leased to a third party and operated without student participation until its sale by the Board of Regents in 1974. It is not hard to imagine such a scenario occurring with a “converted” WREK – and once gone, WREK’s license would be impossible to replace.

As alumni, we feel a strong connection to Georgia Tech that is in many ways a result of our WREK experience. This strong connection is shown in a continued interest and involvement with Georgia Tech and WREK. Many of us contribute to Roll Call, and have also supported WREK through cash donations (alumni contributed over $40,000 to support WREK’s recent move to the Student Commons), equipment donations, and direct technical assistance.

In closing, we believe that WREK is highly a visible demonstration of the engineering prowess, creativity, and entrepreneurial spirit of Tech students. This demonstration greatly strengthens the Georgia Tech “brand” at the local, national, and international levels. Moreover, we believe that WREK as currently organized is a Tech tradition that is well worth preserving. As alumni we have backed up this belief in support for WREK specifically and Tech in general. Please work with us to keep it in the hands of our own Tech students, who built it, funded it, staffed it, and continue to benefit from the WREK experience.

Sincerely Yours,

Leonard Greene, EE ‘68
WREK Staff 1968 (News Director)
Orbital Engineering and Consulting, LLC
Charleston, South Carolina

Geoffrey N. Mendenhall, EE ‘70
WREK Staff 1968-70 (Chief Engineer 1968-69, General Manager 1969-70)
Vice President - Research and Development
Harris Corporation - Broadcast Communications Division
Mason, Ohio

Joel Ackerman
WREK Staff: 1969-71
Vice President of Sales
RTO Software
Alpharetta, Georgia

Eric Roberts, IE '72
WREK Staff 1970-72 (General Manager 1971-72)
Senior Directory
Oracle USA, Inc.
Newtown, Pennsylvania

Mike Caldwell, EE ’73, MSEE ‘75
WREK Staff 1970-73 (Program Director 1970-73)
Senior Director - Product Management
ARRIS Broadband
Atlanta, Geogia

David G. Hunt, IMGT ‘73
WREK Staff 1968-73 (General Manager 1972-73)
Hunt Corporate Services, Inc.
Syosset, New York

Edwin G. Markle, IE ‘73
WREK Staff 1970-73 (Business Manager 1972-1973)
American Airlines
Colorado Springs, Colorado

Bob Smith, PSY '73
WREK Staff, 1972-73, (News Director 1973)
Technique Editor 1972
Morning Drive DJ (On-air name: Ross Brittain)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Formerly with: WHTZ-FM /New York (10 years); WABC-AM /New York (3 years);
WKSS-FM /Hartford (8 years); WZGC-FM /Atlanta (3 years); others

John A. Maynard, EE '74; MSEE '75
WREK Staff 1971-75 (Sports Director 1971-73, Music Director 1973-75)
Chief Engineer Advanced EO/IR Systems
BAE Systems-IEWS
Amherst, New Hampshire

Paul E. Miles, AE '74
WREK Staff 1970-72
Commander, U.S. Navy (Retired)
AirTran Airways
Virginia Beach, Virginia

Paul Pomeroy, IE '74
WREK Staff 1969-74
CEO, Pomeroy Therapeutics
Cincinnati, Ohio

Glenn R. Sirkis, IMGT ‘74
WREK Staff 1968-71, 1974 (General Manager 1970-71)
Chief Executive Officer and Owner
Stradis, Inc. (Broadcast Television Equipment manufacturer)
Tucker, Georgia

Arthur S. Nacht, IMGT ’75 MS IMGT ‘78
WREK Staff 1971-75 (General Manager 1973-75)
Chief Operating Officer
Stradis, Inc.
Atlanta, Georgia

Frank T. Riherd, EE '76 (Chief Engineer 1974, General Manager 1975-76)
Consulting Engineer
Nice, France

Craig Cuttner IMGT ’77
WREK Staff 1975-76
Senior Vice President, Advanced Technology
Home Box Office
New York, New York

Greg Baumann, APHY ‘78
WREK Staff 1975-1980 (Program Director 1977-78)
Chief Architect, Mediation Business
Intec Telecom Systems
Atlanta, Georgia

Lionel Hightower EE ‘78
WREK Staff 1974-1978
Vice President of Engineering
Viacom/MTV Networks
New York, New York

Fred Hybart EE ’78
WREK Staff 1974-78 (General Manager 1977-78)
ViaSat Corporation
Atlanta, Georgia

Jack Tumblin BSEE’78, MSEE ’90, PhD (CS) ‘99
WREK Staff 1975-1978 (Music Director 1975-77),
Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Northwestern University
Evanston, Illinois

David J. Droste, ME '79
WREK Staff 1976-79 (Business Manager 1978-79)
Manager of Predictive Maintenance Services
Lumberton, Texas

John A. Nestor EE ‘79
WREK Staff 1976-79 (General Manger 1978-79)
Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Lafayette College
Easton, Pennsylvania

Darryl Pierce
WREK Staff 1976-79 (News Director 1977-78)
Metro Brokers GMAC Real Estate
Atlanta, Georgia

Richard B. Gay, EE '80
WREK Staff 1978-80
Senior Applications Engineer
Silicon Laboratories, Inc.
Austin, Texas

Gerry Picard, EE’ 80, MSEE ‘81
WREK Staff 1976-1981
Sr. Staff Engineer
Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control
Orlando, Florida

Greg Jones, ICS ’81
WREK Staff 1977-83 (General Manager 1980-81)
General Manager, Strategic Marketing
Texas Instruments
Dallas, Texas

Marie Fair, IE ‘82
WREK Staff 1979-82
Business Domain Expert, Quality
Santa Fe, New Mexico

Chris King
WREK Staff 1978-82 (Music Director 1979-80)
Technical Director
Pixar Animation Studios
Emeryville California

Lisa Berson Reynolds EE '82
WREK Staff 1978-82 (Business Manager 1980-81)
Reynolds Engineering & Design
Belmont, California

David Sedacca, EE '83, MSEE '85
WREK Staff 1980-1985 (General Manager 1982-1983)
Principal Engineer
Scientific Atlanta, A Cisco Company
Atlanta, Georgia

David Beard, CE ‘85
WREK Staff 1981-85
Structural Engineer
Robertson Loia Roof, PC
Doraville, Georgia

Reggie Ratcliff EE ’86
WREK Staff 1974-80 (Chief Engineer 1976-80)
Principal Engineer
ViaSat Corporation
Atlanta, Georgia

Bob Gough EE '86
WREK staff 1982-86 (General Manager 1983-84)
Senior Software Engineer
Wurld Media, Inc.
Saratoga Springs, New York

Eric Winter EE ’86, MSEE ‘87
WREK Staff 1982-87 (General Manager 1983-1986)
Principal, Webicus, LLC
Marietta, Georgia

Dave Sasscer, ME ’87
WREK Staff 1982-87
Vice President
David J. Spector and Associates
New York, New York

Arthur Davis, Management ‘88
WREK Staff 1982-88 (General Manager 1987-88)
Station Manager
Portland, Oregon

Timothy Bennett, NE ‘89
WREK Staff 1986-89
Program Manager
Drummond Group, Inc.
Nashville, Tennessee

Robert Hardwick, MSME '89
WREK Staff 1986-89
Structures Engineer
The Boeing Company
Seattle, Washington

Michael "Ike" Hall, BSHP '90
WREK Staff 1988-90
Associate Radiation Safety Officer
Emory University
Clarkston, Georgia

Mary Clare DeReuil, ID ‘91
WREK Staff 1987-1994
MCD Design
Atlanta, Georgia

Valerie Stickles, App. Bio1 '91
WREK Staff 1989-91
Senior Software Consultant
Manhattan Associates, Inc.
Atlanta, Georgia

Will Fratesi (attended Tech 1988-92)
WREK Staff 1988-91
Independent Musician
Atlanta, Georgia

Amy Potter, ME’92
WREK Staff 1988-96 (General Manager 1990-92)
Program Manager
Georgia Environmental Protection Agency
Atlanta, Georgia

Peter Rentz, Physics '92
WREK Staff 1989-97
Eastern Developments Music
Los Angeles, California

Gray Saunders, ME '92
WREK Staff 1989-96 (Sports Director, 1990-94)
Grayarea Pictures
Atlanta, Georgia

Gavin Holmes, ID ‘93
WREK Staff 1990-93
Visual Effects Artist
R!OT Atlanta
Atlanta, Georgia

Thomas Peake, HTS, STAC '93
WREK Staff 1988-93 (General Manager 1992-93)
Copywriter (self-employed)
Rhetorical Engineer for Hire
Atlanta, Georgia

Jamie Osborne, EE ‘94
WREK Staff 1990-94
Fixed Route Coordinator - Accessible Services
San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency
San Francisco, California

Lisa A. Smith, CS '94
WREK Staff 1992 - 1994
The Home Depot
Atlanta, Georgia

Jennifer Kraft Leavey, CHEM '95
WREK Staff 1991-1995
Senior Academic Professional
Georgia Tech School of Biology
Atlanta, Georgia

Brennan T. Price, M.S. Chemistry '95
WREK Staff 1993-1995 (News Director 1994-1995)
Patent Attorney
Axinn, Veltrop & Harkrider LLP
Hartford, Connecticut

Chris Campbell, AE '90, B EE '96
WREK Staff 1988-1996, 1999-2002 (Chief Engineer 1999-2002)
Project Engineer
Turner Broadcasting / CNN
Atlanta, Georgia

Ryan Todd, HTS/STAC ‘95, MS IDT ‘97
WREK Staff 1989-96
Senior Member of Technical Staff
VMware, Inc.
San Francisco, California

Neel Murgai, CE ‘96
WREK Staff 1990-98
Independent Musician
Brooklyn, New York

Lyle E. Sprinkle, EE ’96, MBA ‘02
Director, Product Line Management (Radio Solutions)
Harris Corporation - Broadcast Communications Division
Mason, Ohio

Faisal Ahmad, EE ‘98
WREK Staff 1993-98 (General Manager 1997-98)
Senior Marketing Manager
Intersil Corp.
El Segundo, California

Brian Blankenship, ME '98
WREK Staff 1995-98
Manufacturing Engineering Manager
CEA Technologies
Colorado Springs, Colorado

Peter Boyle CmpE ‘99
WREK Staff: 1994-99
Manager of Product Engineering Characterization
Altera Corporation
Mountain View, CA

Alec Dutcher ME ’99
WREK Staff 1996-99
Design Engineer
Visteon Corporation
Detroit, Michigan

Brent Harris, CS ‘99
WREK Staff 1995-99 (General Manager, 1998-99)
Manager, Technology
Atlanta, Georgia

Will Judd, ME, ‘99
WREK Staff 1994-99
Orbiter Handling Engineer
The Boeing Company
Viera, Florida

Steven Kiefer, ChE '99
WREK Staff 1995-1999
Process Engineer
ICL Performance Products LP
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Hormuz Minina, EE ‘99
WREK Staff 1994-99
Product Development Manager
Range Servant America
Atlanta, Georgia

Ramsey Tantawi, EE '00
WREK Staff 1995-2000 (General Manager 1999-2000)
IT Manager, The Food Project
Boston, Massachusetts

Matthew Wesolowski, Public Policy ’00
WREK Staff 1998-2000
Owner, WYAB 93.1 FM
SSR Communications, Inc.
Jackson, Mississippi

Frank Fuller, MS INTA ‘01
WREK Staff 2000-02, 2006-
PhD Candidate (Political Science)
Georgia State University
Atlanta, Georgia

Ed Martin, MCRP '01
WREK Staff 2001-04
Planning Director
City of Nevada City, California
Nevada City, California

Thomas Kimberly, ID ‘01
WREK Staff 1994-2001
Wayne Street Tattoo Company
Milledgeville, Georgia

George Perantatos, CS '01
Program Manager
Microsoft Corporation
Seattle, Washington

Adam Preble, CS ‘01
WREK Staff 1997-2001 (General Manager 2000-01)
Software Engineer
Stradis, Inc.
Tucker, Georgia

Thomas Hildebrandt, CS '03, MSCS '04
WREK Staff 2000-04 (Chief Engineer 2002-04)
Law Student
University of Georgia
Athens, Georgia

Katherine Schweigert, STC ‘04
WREK Staff 1999-present (General Manager 2001-02)
Master’s Degree Candidate (Sociology)
George State University
Atlanta, Georgia

Mandy Lowey, CS '03
WREK Staff 2000-2004 (General Manager 2002-2003)
User Experience Designer
Motorola, Inc.
Chicago, Illinois

Markus Haas, MSCS ’05
WREK Staff 2001-05 (Program Director 2003-05)
Senior Unix System Administrator
San Antonio Express-News
San Antonio, Texas

Mr. Jeremy Varner, WREK General Manager
Prof. Colleen Terrell, WREK Faculty Advisor
Mr. James Fetig, Associate Vice President of Institute Communications
Dr. William Schafer, Vice President of Student Affairs
Mr. John Stein, Dean of Students
Ms. Danielle McDonald, Assistant Dean of Students and Chair, RCB
Ms. Alison Graab, SGA President
The Technique
Tech Topics

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

The Tech Administration's Intentions

The most complete statement of the Tech administration's intentions about WREK is provided in a Letter to the Editor in the Dec. 1 Technique from James Fetig, Tech's Associate Vice President for Institute Communications and Public Affairs. Here is the text of Mr. Fetig's letter in full:
While I appreciated the coverage of the WREK proposals in the Nov. 17 issue, I am afraid that the story and editorial are a bit ahead of the facts and schedule.

As the story indicates, I have been asked by President Clough to lead the process that will examine the various proposals related to WREK radio and provide him a fact-based analysis and recommendation.

It is important to note that change to the status quo is not preordained. Moreover, there always will be a student-controlled WREK signal in an independent HD format and on the Internet.

The station's staff and the physical integrity of the station facility would also be unaffected. The crux of the matter centers on how the FM analog signal might be used, whether partnered with National Public Radio in some form, in a student-run commercial format, or by maintaining the status quo.

After talking to a range of student and administrative leaders, I believe the most effective way to move forward is to ask the Radio Communications Board (RCB), WREK's governing body, to analyze the proposals and possibilities.

The RCB membership is composed of four faculty and staff members, and includes six students constituting a student majority. I believe the Board is positioned to best represent the interests of the station, the student body and the Institute as a whole.

The analysis will take place over several weeks and should involve a thorough fact-gathering process and a complete examination of WREK's mission and all proposed options. It should include a survey of the student body to determine the station's actual listening audience in terms of demographics, size, listening habits and desires.

The process also should be open, and additional comments should be invited through open fora and the Web. In addition, each party with a proposal related to WREK should be invited to campus to present their ideas in person.

Before any recommendation can be reached, many questions must be asked and a great deal of data must be collected. It is my hope that every interested student will follow the process closely and provide valuable input along the way.

James Fetig
Associate Vice President,
Institute Communications and Public Affairs

A Summary of the Three Proposals

Three organizations have expressed an interest in taking over WREK's main signal during all or part of the broadcast day. Student broadcasts would be relegated to an HD Radio "subchannel" which could only be heard using a $200+ HD Radio Receiver.

The details of the proposals have been described in The Technique (Georgia Tech's student newspaper), The Whistle (Georgia Tech's Faculty/Staff Newsletter), and Creative Loafing, an Atlanta weekly newspaper. To summarize, the three proposals are as follows:
  1. The Georgia Tech Athletic Association (GTAA) is proposing to somehow convert WREK from noncommercial to commercial operation. It would then be used to broadcast Georgia Tech athletic events; revenue from the commercial operation would go to the GTAA. This proposal was first reported in The Technique in a September 29th article, "WREK examines new proposals". Further details are provided in Creative Loafing in an Oct. 11 article "WREK faces proposal to go commercial" and in The Whistle in a Nov. 17 article "Athletics makes its pitch to student radio".
  2. Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) is proposing to "lease" WREK's main signal for 6 hours a day during the morning (6-9AM) and evening (3-6PM) "drive time" for NPR programming. This proposal is also described in the Sept. 29th Technique article and the Oct. 11 CL article.
  3. Public Broadcasting Atlanta (PBA) is proposing to lease" WREK's main signal 14 hours a day, from 5AM-7PM for NPR and other programming. PBA operates WABE, the public radio and TV stations in Atlanta, but is not affiliated with GPB. PBA's proposal is described in a Nov. 17, 2006 article in the Technique, "PBA inquires about managing WREK".
A common feature of each of these proposals is that WREK's signal would be upgraded to "HD Radio", which allows an FM signal to broadcast both its conventional main signal, which any FM radio can receive, and also one or more subchannels, which can be received with an HD radio receiver. Student broadcasts would be placed on one of these subchannels.

The next post discusses the planned response of the Tech Administration to these proposals.

News & Opinion Links about WREK

This post contains links to some news reports and opinion pieces about the WREK propsals. If you find any additional articles which are not here, email me at jnestorx AT

News Articles
Editorials and Letters to the Editor
Deja Vu All Over Again: The 1997 WCNN Proposal

In 1997, WCNN propsed to pay WREK to simulcast commercial broadcasts of night football games. This was deemed necessary because WCNN's AM license required that it broadcast at reduced power at night.
Last update: Feb. 8, 2007.

Monday, January 1, 2007

Why this Blog?

I am creating this blog to provide a forum for discussion about the future of WREK-FM. WREK is Georgia Tech's Student-Operated Noncommercial 40,000 FM Radio Station, which broadcasts in Atlanta at 91.1 MHz. WREK was founded om 1968 by a small group of students and has been continuously managed and operated by students for the last 38 years.

Recent proposals that are detailed in the next post would remove student control over WREK during part or all of the broadcast day and relegate student broadcasts to an HD radio subchannel which requires the purchase of a $200+ HD Radio Receiver to hear.

Why do I care?

Many years ago, when I was a Georgia Tech student, I worked at WREK. It was by far the best experience of my college career. Building, managing, and operating a 40,000 Watt radio station was a lot of fun, but it was also a great learning experience.

For the last 38 years, students have been responsible for all aspects of this station, including programming, engineering, and management. The students who have worked at WREK have benefitted greatly from this experience, whether we are now broadcasters, engineers, managers, or even college professors. I'd really like to see today's Georgia Tech students continue to have the same opportunity.

Students have been good stewards of WREK for 38 years - why does Tech's administration think they can do better by leasing it out now? Is it about money? Is it a desire to enhance Tech's image or "branding"? What can be done to convince the Tech administration of WREK's value? I hope we can explore these questions in future posts.