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


Peter said...

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

Mandy said...

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

grayarea said...

Gray Saunders, ME 92
WREK Staff 1989-1996, Sports Director, 1990-1994
Grayarea Pictures
Atlanta, GA

Anonymous said...

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