The Athletic Association’s decision not to renew its football and men’s basketball broadcasting contract with WREK radio may be justified, but the way in which the change was handled by both sides is not. While the Athletic Association exhibited a lack of concern for timing and communication, WREK also failed to adequately plan ahead.
At the heart of the matter are the opposing statements made by both actors. Director of Athletics Dan Radakovich’s claim that the reason why WREK was not notified of the decision—which would strip it of around $30,000, or one one-third of its budget—any earlier was because he did not know who to contact at the radio station seems weak, to say the least. There is no good reason to explain why either WREK or Student Publications had no inkling of the decision until one day before a press release was announced.
Given that WREK had to submit its yearly budget to the Student Government Association in October and that it was not given a chance to renegotiate or state its case, the Athletic Association’s communication efforts seem like too little, too late. Even though the decision may be financially smart for the Association, its actions showed little savvy and respect in treating a Tech student organization as a sub-par business partner. We doubt that a commercial partner would have received the same treatment.
However, the Athletic Association has also explained that when it first began broadcasting with WREK, it clearly expressed that it would continue to look for a commercial broadcaster. While WREK’s staff may have changed during this period, organizational leaders should have ensured that such an important piece of information would have been transmitted from year to year. In addition, WREK should have taken care not to rely too heavily on what was never a permanent source of funding. Careful planning might have eased the difficult transition into the next year that the station is now experiencing.
SGA now has to fill in WREK’s budget for next year, taking twice the usual funds from the Student Activity Fee to make up for the $30,000 loss. The large budget cut was unexpected, and we understand that WREK needs these emergency funds, but the station should look to the future to make sure it does not come to rely too heavily on the student body for funding.
WREK offers a creative musical alternative to metro Atlanta. As it continues to grow, we challenge it to use this same creativity in figuring out a way to be sustainable in the future, with or without the Athletic Association.