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Student DJs file Board of Regents appeal over GSU's role in WRAS deal

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The fight for Album 88's future doesn't appear to be ending anytime soon. After months of protests, heated meetings, and unsuccessful negotiations, Georgia State University student DJs have filed an appeal with state officials to contest the deal that handed over most of the radio station's airtime to Georgia Public Broadcasting.

Nine months ago, GPB took over daytime programming on WRAS-FM (88.5), GSU's longtime student-managed radio station, and replaced the station's eclectic shows with local news reports and talk shows. The $150,000 multi-year agreement has since allowed the state media network to enter Atlanta's radio market for the first time ever. In the process, WRAS DJs had their airtime reduced by more than half in exchange for educational opportunities including internships.

According to incoming WRAS General Manager Hannah Frank, university officials required GSU students to pay fees that ultimately went to fund a new $676,000 radio transmitter. The appeal says the university has shown "blatant disregard" for the Board of Regents' policies because money earmarked for WRAS students' needs has largely benefitted a third-party organization.

WRAS DJs also claim the GPB-GSU agreement took place behind closed doors and circumvented the Board of Regents' governing policies. During the station's budget approval process, the appeal says GSU officials did not disclose to students that it had been involved in negotiations with GPB dating back to 2012 — information that could have altered the transmitter's funding. According to Frank, the university "hoodwinked" WRAS DJs into thinking the student-funded transmitter would benefit their organization, knowing full well GPB would benefit from the equipment.

In addition, the appeal says the university's actions could result in potential Federal Communications Commission fines due to multiple instances where GPB has fallen out of compliance with the federal agency's rules during the past year. Since GSU holds the station's license, the university would be on the hook for potential fines.

"This has exposed the University, as the FCC license holder, to significant fiscal liabilities which, based on the student fee structure, it is reasonable to expect would be met through payment of student fees," the appeal says.

The Board of Regents does not have the power to revoke the GPB-GSU contract. But if board members found the university to be in violation of its rules, the WRAS deal could be revisited with student involvement during a mediation process.

"We want all of the air time back," Frank says. "If they work with us and have a dialogue, we may compromise some way."

Spokespeople for GSU and GPB, respectively, declined to comment on the matter. The Board of Regents has 30 days to respond to the appeal. We've embedded a full copy after the jump.

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