WREK 91.1 FM 50th Anniversary

Photo by Casey Gomez

Tucked away on the second floor of the Student Center lives Tech’s student-run radio station, WREK Radio. This year, WREK will be celebrating its 50th anniversary since its birth on March 25, 1968.

Founded by Richard Crouch, EE ‘68, WREK Radio sought to improve communications on campus with the philosophy that it would be student-owned and operated as a non-commercial educational service to the Tech community. WREK Radio maintains this philosophy today.

Although it was Tech’s second radio station, when WREK first aired, it was Atlanta’s only noncommercial station for a
few years.

“WREK, and the other arts organizations as well, offer a creative outlet to everyone on this campus, bringing an exceptional diversity of experience and thought to anyone who chooses to engage with them,” said Sheena Ganju, fourth-year IE and General Manager of WREK Radio. “To me, letting new ideas about art, music and the people you meet are part of the college experience, and I wouldn’t trade anything for that. WREK is not defined by one major or type of person or taste — everyone, from professors to undergrads, can train to have their voices heard on the radio. We also offer a unique way for Tech to engage with the metro-Atlanta community, broadcasting athletic events and putting a little of Georgia Tech into the airwaves.”

Originally signing on the air with only ten watts of power and consisting of a ten-mile broadcasting radius, WREK Radio has since increased its power to an impressive 100,000 watts, covers most of North Georgia and can even be heard in neighboring states at times.

WREK will be celebrating its 50th anniversary on the weekend of April 6, 2018 with its festival, WREKtacular, inviting alumni back to campus to celebrate.

Over the years, WREK Radio has been adapting and changing to suit the culture of Tech’s community.

“We’ve changed three things,” Ganju said. “Programming, power and technology. Music has evolved with the trends, we’ve expanded our automation (unattended operation) system and changed the stuff we played to include newer genres.”

It also goes without saying that as a radio station within a Tech school, WREK has massive support from its engineers.

“We’ve of course also evolved with technology — my favorite milestone is that in 1993 we were the first radio station to have an online stream of our broadcast, all thanks to Tech engineering,” Ganju said. This is not to mention the fact that, if any of the sound equipment breaks, WREK has engineers to fix it.

Despite these changes, traditions like weekly shows such as “Stonehenge” and “Destroy all Music” have been running
since 1984.

WREK also features a general weekly schedule focused on different genres of music, specialty shows, programs on public affairs and sports.

“Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., you hear classical and then jazz in the mornings and rock in the afternoon brought to you by the WREK operators,” Ganju said. “Every day after 5 p.m., we have specialty shows, which are shows curated by operators with a passion for a specific genre of music, like “Decompositions,” our midnight classical show, or 54-46, our Monday night reggae show.”

Other specialty shows include “A Bit Off Broadway,” broadcasting music from Broadway, the West End and movies on Thursdays from 11 a.m. to noon and “Coffee and Sushi,” featuring lounge, downtempo and chillout music on Saturday from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. A complete list of WREK’s shows can be found online on the radio station’s website, www.wrek.org.

WREK is run by the 20 members of the executive board staff, 120 operators and approximately 40 trainees that run the board every day.

“We try to encourage mentorship to retain interested members as much as possible, and to create a culture of inclusivity,” Ganju said. “We’re always trying to grow and engage listeners — one way is through social media to showcase what we have to offer, but the most important factor is good content. To have that, we have to have people who are passionate about what they do at WREK.”