Photo by Austin Foote

WREK, Tech’s student-run radio station, acquired $97,000 in funds from SGA to construct a new 100,000 watt antenna, allowing it to broadcast at the highest allowed power level for an FM station. This was the final step in a 10-year process to acquire the necessary license and funds.
“This is a massive accomplishment. This has been on the shoulders of the students that volunteer to work at WREK. They truly envison this, and they made it happen,” said Mac Pitts, director of Student Media.
With the installation of the new antenna, WREK will increase its broadcast power from 40,000 watts to 100,000 watts, enabling a 20 mile expansion of coverage. This will expand its radio signal to reach local cities and suburbs such as Peachtree City, Roswell, Alpharetta, East Point and Rainbow City, Ala.
“It’s been a step-by-step process. Any project of this magnitude requires an extreme amount of planning and forethought. Much of this project rested on the shoulders of prior WREK members,” Pitts said.
To fund the final part of the project, WREK collected its money from a variety of sources. WREK estimated the final price of the antenna’s installation to be $150,000.  They requested 65 percent of this amount from SGA. Other sources of revenue came from underwriting advertisements broadcasted on the radio station, funding from ISP Sports as well as other fundraising efforts throughout the past three years. Underwriting is a limited form of advertisement for non-commerical radio stations, such as WREK.
On Tuesday, Feb. 9, SGA approved the bill to fund WREK’s new antenna by a vote of 37-6-3 in the Undergraduate House of Representatives (UHR) and a vote of 32-3-1 in the Graduate Student Senate (GSS).
WREK received approval for the bill three weeks after introducing it. They presented to both GSS and UHR during open forum on Jan. 25, when the bill was in new business on Feb. 1 and when the bill was up for formal debate on Feb. 8. WREK held an open house for Senators and Representatives to tour the station on Feb. 3 and Feb. 4.
“We tried to be really transparent. [The bill passing] is such a relief because our construction permit ends in Sept.,” said Jonathan Walker, the general manager of WREK and AE PhD student.
Many members of the Tech community have recognized the amount of work WREK has put into this long term project. Members of GSS noted WREK’s work in their discussion of the bill on Feb 8.
“This is an organization that has been very forthright with us,” said Sen. Arren Washington, a CHEM PhD student, during debate. He continued by discussing the critical nature of this bill saying that if WREK did not receive these funds, it would be unlikey that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) would approve the construction permit again.
“This is something that they have been working towards for so long…they really did their diligence on making sure everyone knew the purpose and significance of the bill,” said Sen. Will Runge, AE Masters student.
The 100,000 watt capability brings new opportunities for WREK to connect with other organizations on campus such as Under the Couch.
This past Jan., WREK created a direct link between Under the Couch and WREK’s station, both being located in the Student Center, allowing bands to be broadcasted live on WREK radio.
“It’s our attempt to reach out to the community. We have a very unique source of communication because we are a radio station.  [Under the Couch] is really happy about it. It gives them better pull to pull in better bands,” Walker said.
Major commercial stations such as Star 94 and Q100 currently broadcast at 100,000 watts, which is uncommon to find in college radio stations.
“It just goes to show you that Tech students are capable of accomplishing what they set their minds to do. It shows the leadership and ability that Tech students have to accomplish long term changes which benefit the Institute,” Pitts said when talking about the long process and the effort of the members, both past and present, of WREK.
WREK plans on installing the antenna this summer and officially recognizing the new broadcast capability in the fall. While there may be some downtime, the station plans to minimize it.