By Conner Burks
In the busy lobby of the Georgia Center, with hotel guests, conference goers and student-athletes coming and going, there is hallway blocked by a glass door with the letters, “WUGA” printed on it in red and black. To the right of the door is another glass pane with a sign that reads, “Quiet, please! Recording in process.”
This is exactly as it says, WUGA, a NPR affiliate is located right in the middle of the University of Georgia’s campus.
In the Athens area it’s on both 91.7 and 94.5 FM. It’s interesting, different, covers stories from all walks of life and plays music that’s almost guaranteed not to play anywhere else. At least, on the Athens AM and FM dial.
“We carry NPR programming, as well as programming from other syndication sources including the BBC,” WUGA general manager Jimmy Sanders said. “We produce a full slate of locally produced programs and we produce community events.”
The station is celebrating its 30th year of being on-air. It’s been 30 years of not only having dedicated fans, but also hosting countless events where people who tune in regularly can meet on-air personalities. It’s no surprise there is a steady following of loyal listeners.
“What strikes us is the vibrancy of the station and the importance of it,” Sanders said. “Almost to our surprise sometimes, how the community members feel so strongly about the station.”
One thing that certainly keeps listeners coming back, other than the content, is having invested in the station. As an NPR affiliate, there are many donors around Athens who can give input to WUGA about what they feel could be better or changed.
According to Sanders the content, though, is the reason for the donations in the first place and for good reason. With a variety of shows ranging from music to politics to local happenings and more, WUGA offers a wide selection of programming for listeners to enjoy.
“We do local news, have politicians, experts many guests on,” WUGA Reporter Alexia Ridley said. “We also do a lot of local music content. We work with local musicians when they’re putting on shows. We publicize them and have them on the air.”
It’s not just the locals that WUGA supports, though, it also finds ways to give students at the University of Georgia opportunities to better their studies. Whether it’s an internship, expert advice or just lending a studio for some recording, many students have benefitted from the station.
“They gave me studio time so I could do my interviews and get my audio story done. It helped me get in touch with his [interview subject] mom and coach because interviews over the phone with a hand recorder are terrible,” Georgia student Soraya Rouse said. Rouse needed the studio for her multi-platform story telling class.
With 30 years under its belt and no signs of stopping, WUGA continues to be a focal point to receive local news, breaking stories, hear the newest band to come out of Athens or just listen to your favorite programming, local or national.