old.wrek.org History | WREK Atlanta, 91.1 FM


March 25th, 1968 WREK signs on the air with 10 watts of power. Its broadcast area consisted of a ten mile radius, airing between noon and midnight each day. According to one campus publication, it was “born out of a suggestion made during a Tech leadership conference in the fall of 1966.” The three key ingredients of WREK’s early philosophy were student ownership and operation, non-commercial educational service to the Tech community, and improvement of communications on campus. For the first few years, WREK was musically mainstream and Atlanta’s only non-commercial station.

[See Richard Crouch’s narrative on the birth of WREK.]

[See Larry Griggers’ narrative on the early days of WREK.]

August 1968 425 Watt power amplifier built by Chief Engineer Geoff Mendenhall and type accepted by FCC. Coupled with the antenna gain, this gave WREK an effective power of 3400 Watts, enough to cover the Atlanta metro area. This amplifier was eventually given to WUVT at Virginia Tech when they started their FM operation in 1976. Goeff is now a V.P. at Harris Broadcasting and recipient of the 1999 NAB award for excellence in broadcast engineering.
1969 Used Gates Radio FM-7.5B amplifier is installed, raising amp power to 5000 Watts and effective power to 40,000 Watts. WREK could now be heard through much of north Georgia and even into neighboring states under the right conditions. By this time a music automation system had been cobbled together.
1970 WREK goes stereo with acquisition (gift?) of a stereo exciter for the transmission facility.With the upgrade to stereo, WREK programming shifts from a rock/acid rock mixture to “progressive”. This was not a smooth transition, bringing many complaints from a few faculty and some Greeks. Circa 1971-1972 classical music is added to the play rotation and much of the then popular “hard rock” is removed from the playlist. The purpose was to let people hear what could not be otherwise heard in Atlanta.
1971 WREK starts regular live broadcasts of local concert performances. One of the first is the Grateful Dead and New Riders of the Purple Sage.
1971 Engineers set up WREK’s first automation system, which played a continuous random sequence of songs. At some point it aquires the name “George P.”
August 14th, 1971 The stereo signal of WREK joins with the stereo signal of WGKA (92.9 FM at the time) to produce three hours of quadrophonic sound!

[See Miles O’Neal’s comments about what life was like at WREK in the early 70’s.]

[See John Conway’s comments about early Sports programming at WREK in the mid 70’s.]

1978 With the transmission equipment (and studios) in need of improvement, operations are moved to the current studios on Eighth Street. This was the old home of WGST (Georgia School of Technology), which broadcast as a Tech affiliated station from the 1920’s through the 1950’s, until the license was sold to the current commercial WGST (640 AM) in 1974. Ray Charles recorded here!At this time WREK’s current broadcast tower (300 feet tall) is built on the West edge of campus.
September 1984 “Personality Crisis” music show debuts (still going).
October 1984 “Destroy All Music” music show debuts (still going).
1985 First of four “Destroy All Music” festivals occurs.
1986 WREK staffers release “Nine/Underground”, a local experimental music compilation.
1986 Dr. Joseph Pettit, president of Tech, passes away. Dr. Pettit was a strong supporter of WREK and its independent programming philosophy. He was the real force behind the trust fund that was created from the proceeds of the sale of the original WGST license. Interest from the trust fund was used to pay for the new tower and antenna, renovation of the studios, and the microwave link to the tower.
1987 Up to now, WREK’s actual on-air programming is produced by George P., the automation system, nearly all hours of the day, with all styles of music randomly mixed together. Actual live DJ’s, or “ops”, could generally be heard during the evening specialty shows.
1987 WREK’s transmitting hardware is upgraded to professional caliber with a big investment on the part of the student government. In making this upgrade, the students of Georgia Tech decided that a change to a more “listenable” format was in order, and WREK switched to the current block format, playing specific styles of music (jazz, classical, rock, etc.) during daily time blocks, with live DJ’s at all times.Automation (George P.) can still be heard spinning away through the wee hours every night, and remains a favorite “op” of many of WREK’s diehard fans.

[See Mark Mitchell’s comments about how the current generation of oldies tapes came about.]

1991 Dean Edwin P. Kohler retires. As the chairman of the Radio Communications Board from its inception, Dean Ed was a strong advocate of student control over the station. Although he didn’t always dig WREK’s sound, Dean Ed was an invaluable supporter and advisor for WREK.
April 1993 WREK’s first web site is brought online by student Lisa Moore, a full two years before the word “Internet” means anything to anyone outside academia and the technical trades.
1997 Live at WREK CD is released to critical acclaim and brisk sales.
1999 The last printed WREKology is published, a 50+ page tome including multiple articles, interviews, programming info, and an exhaustive addlist covering two years of programming.
June 2001 WREK’s automation system (aka George P.) is reborn as a fully digital, web integrated system that allows the public to interact with our databases as never before. In fact, we think we might now be the most technically advanced non-comm station on the planet!
January 2002 WREKology is reborn as a weekly email newsletter.
July 27th, 2004 WREK signs on the air from its brand new studio in the Student Center Commons in the center of campus.
May 28th, 2005 After numerous equipment upgrades, WREK begins sending its audio to the FM transmitter digitally over a fiber-optic cable. Our fully digital soundchain provides a significant reduction in the noise floor and improved audio clarity.
March  2008 Our new Harris HT-HD+ transmitter is installed, giving us the potential to upgrade to our power in the future and allowing us to broadcast HD Radio, a digital sideband that has higher quality and more flexibility.  WREK also starts broadcasting our HD-2 subchannel, which brings even more programming diversity.
August 2011 After 33 years of service, our 12-bay Jampro antenna is replaced by a new 8-bay ERI antenna.  With this new antenna, WREK increases it’s power from 40,000 watts to 100,000 watts ERP (effective radiated power).  This is the maximum power level allowed by the FCC for an FM radio station.

As a station owned and operated solely by the students of Georgia Tech, and with broadcasting power that ranks us as having the seventh largest potential audience nationwide, WREK is in the unique position of providing the Georgia Tech student body (and the entire Atlanta metropolitan area) with seriously challenging programming, and WREK staffers are fiercely dedicated to that goal.