|Broadcast area||Atlanta metropolitan area|
|Frequency||91.1 MHz (HD Radio)
Channel 17 (GTCN)
|Branding||WREK Atlanta, Georgia Tech Student Radio|
|Owner||Georgia Tech Radio Communications Board|
First air date
|March 25, 1968|
Call sign meaning
|HAAT||102 metres (335 feet)|
WREK ("Wreck", from the Ramblin' Wreck) is the radio station staffed by the students of the Georgia Institute of Technology. It is located at 91.1 MHz and on channel 17 on the Georgia Tech cable TV network, GTCN. Starting as a 10-watt class D, WREK currently broadcasts a 100,000-watt ERP signal throughout metropolitan Atlanta, making it among the ten highest-powered college radio stations in the United States.
In 2007, WREK applied to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to increase its effective radiated power to the maximum power of 100,000 watts (from its former 40,000 watts) with a directional antenna pattern designed to avoid interference with specific distant stations (as required). This coverage increase was designed to greatly improve the radio station's coverage to encompass more of the Atlanta metropolitan area. That application was subsequently approved, and the station built out the improved coverage by replacing its antenna system in the fall of 2011.
In March 2008, WREK replaced its then 20-year-old transmitter with a brand new unit capable of three times the signal power and providing HD Radio capability. The addition of an HD Radio broadcast has made WREK among the first student-run, student-funded stations in the nation to add digital broadcasting capability.
Programming is student-run and extremely diverse, including everything from heavy metal to world, hip-hop to blues, classical and jazz to industrial and noise, and similarly diverse community programming (Church of the Subgenius). WREK slogans include "music you don't hear on the radio" and "quality diverse radio."
Regular rotation programming blocks take up most daytime broadcasts. Certain times focus on certain themes: mornings play Just Jazz and Classics while afternoons transmit RRR (Rock, Rhythm and Roll) and nights air Atmospherics and the notorious Overnight Alternatives. These time slots are staffed by various WREK student staff and feature a wide selection of music, contests, and PSAs. The WREK website maintains a two-week archive of all regular rotation shifts, available as 128kbit/s and 24kbit/s downloads.
Specialty Shows feature shifts dedicated to a specific genre. They air for over 50 hours a week, mainly in the evenings. They range from the Ramblin' Wreck Report, a Georgia Tech sports talk show hosted by students to Destroy All Music, clatter-improv with pink noise freakouts. Other weekly shows include The Mobius, an experimental electronic show featuring music and in-studio performances of new and established artists that run the electronic gamut; The Electric Boogaloo, a funksperience; Live@WREK, a live music show broadcasting local and touring artists and bands; and Slow Riot, technical, abstract math rock and atmospheric, swirling post-rock.
WREK also broadcasts play-by-play coverage of Georgia Tech intercollegiate athletics, including baseball, women's basketball, and volleyball. In fall 2004, the station agreed to partner with ISP Sports to simulcast network coverage of selected Georgia Tech football and men's basketball games to augment WQXI's diminished AM nighttime coverage in metro Atlanta. That partnership ended following the 2007–08 season.
In December 2002, WREK broadcast the entire 50-disc Merzbox by the Japanese experimental music artist Merzbow. An article in Creative Loafing described the Merzbow Marathon as "what may be the most obscure and counterintuitive move in the history of radio."
Continuing their tradition of unorthodox radio broadcasts, WREK chose to air the long-running heavy metal show WREKage for the entire 24-hour broadcast day on June 6, 2006 (6/6/6). Heavy metal was played in chronological order from midnight to midnight. As an extra nod to the mystic number 666 (number), Iron Maiden's The Number of the Beast was aired at 6:06 a.m. and p.m.
In Fall 2007, the critics of Creative Loafing declared WREK to be the Best Overall Radio Station in the Atlanta metropolitan area. The article describing their reasoning declared WREK to be "strange in a good way. The station's format is noncommercial and nonconforming. Few stations in the city can compete with WREK's eclectic playlist".
WREK's transmitter is a Harris HT/HD+ which outputs a 16.3 kW TPO signal into a high-gain 8-bay ERI (Electronics Research Inc) antenna, resulting in an effective radiated power of 100,000 Watts in the strongest direction. The antenna is located on a 300-foot (90-meter) self-supporting tower adjacent to the Undergraduate Living Center and Woodruff Hall on Georgia Tech's west campus, connected to the studio in the Student Center via a wireless, 950.0 MHz studio-transmitter link, WQAQ311, and a digital, fiber-optic link.
Georgia Tech was the home of an early AM radio station, WBBF (later WGST, now WGKA AM 920), which began operation in January 1924. Much of this station's initial equipment had been previously used by the Atlanta Constitution's WGM, and was donated through the efforts of the newspaper's editor, Clark Howell. In April 1930, the school made an agreement with the Southern Broadcasting Stations, Inc. to operate WGST as a commercial station, while still under the oversight of Georgia Tech. In 1973, the Georgia Board of Regents decided WGST was "surplus property", and the next year it was sold for five million dollars to the Meredith Corporation, despite opposition from alumni groups, members of the Georgia General Assembly and even the Governor of Georgia. Proceeds from this sale were used to upgrade WREK.
WREK first signed on the air on March 25, 1968, broadcasting at 10 Watts from a 20-foot tower atop the Van Leer Electrical Engineering building on Georgia Tech's campus. Barry James Folsom, then-student, started radio station WREK and was one of first DJs. The studio was located in the top floor of that building and included donated equipment from WSM-FM Nashville. Chief Engineer and then-student Geoff Mendenhall designed and built a 425W power amplifier which, once type certified by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in August 1968, brought WREK to 3,400W ERP. In 2013 Mendenhall retired from Harris Broadcast Communications (now GatesAir) as VP of Transmission Research and Technology.
In 1978 WREK's tower and studio were relocated. A new, 300-foot (91 m) tower was built on the western edge of the Georgia Tech campus, and the studio moved to the former WGST studios in the annex of the Alexander Memorial Coliseum (now known as Hank McCamish Pavilion), where it would remain until 2004. Visitors to WREK's Coliseum studios were often startled by its walls, which were covered by thick layers of posters, set lists, and other music memorabilia, as well as the giant electromechanical broadcast automation machines and other large racks of monitoring and control equipment. WREK's studios relocated to the Student Center Commons (formerly the Georgia Tech Bookstore building) in August 2004.
WREK began streaming its compressed (8-bit μ-law) broadcast over the Internet on November 7, 1994, making it one of the first Internet radio stations. The station now streams in MP3 format and features a two-week-long running archive of its broadcast on the schedule page of its website.
- "Engineering". WREK. Retrieved July 4, 2016.
- "WREKage". Retrieved April 7, 2007.
- "Best of Atlanta 2007". Retrieved September 12, 2007.
- "Georgia Tech's Powerful Radio Station WBBF Arranges Ambitious Program Series for Winter", Atlanta Constitution, November 30, 1924, page 15.
- "Tech Timeline". Georgia Tech Alumni Association. Archived from the original on December 23, 2006. Retrieved March 27, 2007.
- Brittain, Marion L. (1948). The Story of Georgia Tech. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press.
- "Georgia School of Technology", Educations's Own Stations by S. E. Frost, Jr., 1937, pages 105-106.
- "Atlanta Area AM Radio Stations" (leachlegacy.ece.gatech.edu)
- "General Manager Richard Crouch's narrative on the birth of WREK". Retrieved April 7, 2007.
- "WREK History". Retrieved October 11, 2011.
- "Mendenhall Opens RF Consultancy". Retrieved February 14, 2015.
- "wrek-net online streaming". Retrieved October 11, 2011.