Student-run radio add first automation since 1972 by James Brierton
They introduced Athens to REM and the B-52’s but now WUOG (90.5fm) has something new for its listeners: automation, the station’s first auto-pilot software since the station’s birth in 1972. The all student-run station is looking to add regular programming for long holiday recesses once automation is installed.
The station has otherwise been dark when student disc jockeys went home for the holiday.
“Doing automation won’t hurt localism as long as you know what you’re using it for,” says Akeeme Martin, the station’s Operations Director and longtime disc jockey. “For us we’re still going to educate the people as well as be a service.”
Using automation software makes sense for stations of all sizes – say those who study the industry.
“They are a community radio station run by volunteers,” explains Dr. Ann Hollifield, a media research and head of the Grady School of Journalism and Mass Communication’s Telecommunications Department, “Their programming depends on who showed up that day.”
James Hutto uses it on his station: the new EZ-FM (88.1/89.9fm).
“I think automation has really the leveled playing field,” says Hutto from an empty office within ABC Printing on Broad Street in Athens. The room is soon to be converted into a new studio for the easy listening and oldies station.
Like EZ-FM, automation is a matter of functionality for NPR-affiliate WUGA (91.7/97.9fm).
“We can have automation running and it allows our people to work on other things and develop locally produced programming,” explains the University of Georgia’s Director of Television and Radio Jimmy Sanders, who oversees operations at WUGA radio along with WUGA TV.
But using automation has its downsides.
Hollifield warns: “When you have it being run by a computer server, quite often you have a problem if there’s a breaking emergency in terms of getting a human being who can break in on the station.”
WUOG is taking that all into consideration before their first automated test for the Thanksgiving holiday. But what’s most important to them is their decades long relationship with the community.
“People just randomly walking by and out of curiosity come through the double doors,” explains Martin.
WUOG will be joined with its alumni this weekend for its fortieth anniversary celebration.