WRAS vs WABE
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Thread: WRAS vs WABE

  1. #1

    Question WRAS vs WABE

    So I'm curious. Why has WABE stayed pretty strong in the market, yet WRAS, which GPB is now programming during the day, been so weak? I'm not in the market. Is there much difference in on-air presentation? Local news content? Any promotion/publicity happening for either station?

    I know WABE is the "heritage" NPR station. (I used to listen to it when I lived in Atlanta.) From the ratings, it looks as if WRAS is not a factor at all.

  2. #2

    Join Date
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    In a lot of cases, stations that split time between NPR and college programming are usually last-ditch efforts to simply get the important programming to a market without the expense of leasing or purchasing a station. Nowadays, college stations are keen on the idea as it reduces the burden of programming during the day when a lot of college folks are busy with classes/sleep/etc.

    GPB is a state-run operation as well. Most state-run operations these days are fairly bare-bones as it is often dependent on state budget funding and the “serve the whole state” mentality. That also generally means no local programming on these state networks. It’s hard to pay someone for locally based talk when you have to pay to maintain operations on 15-20 transmitters/translators — many of which have low listenership but can’t really be sold off without governmental approval.

    In other words, GPB is a great public radio resource if you live in rural areas where you have little to no other options. In towns where there are other serious competitors (Brunswick, Atlanta, Columbus I think as well), it just can’t compete with non-state run specialty NPR formats.
    As we used to say down in ol' Mexico City...A.M.F.!

  3. #3
    I think GPB had great expectations, and are likely equally disappointed in the results. They expected WABE to just roll over, and they haven't. Plus I suspect there's still some residual hostility about the WRAS format flip. Yes it was a small audience, yes it was a long time ago, but they were very passionate. GPB had also hoped for more money from the Atlanta audience, and I can't believe the current contributions are meeting expectations.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by AMRocks View Post
    So I'm curious. Why has WABE stayed pretty strong in the market, yet WRAS, which GPB is now programming during the day, been so weak? I'm not in the market. Is there much difference in on-air presentation? Local news content? Any promotion/publicity happening for either station?

    I know WABE is the "heritage" NPR station. (I used to listen to it when I lived in Atlanta.) From the ratings, it looks as if WRAS is not a factor at all.

    That's a great question and one I've asked myself. The answer might be that WABE has the heritage and hasn't given people a reason to switch to WRAS.

    When GPB first took over WRAS, WABE had a signal advantage. Both stations were 100KW, but WRAS was on a short tower in Panthersville, and WABE was at 1,096 feet from New Street in the heart of the market. But WRAS was able to relocate to the Chester Avenue site, much more centralized than Panthersville, and increase HAAT to 1,043 feet. By doing so, WRAS had to half its wattage from 100KW to 50KW. But except in the fringes of the market, both stations have about equal signals.

    WABE has had great morning hosts with Steve Goss and than Denis O'Hayer, both very well known in the market. Now that Denis has retired, whom they bring in has yet to be determined. I doubt, however, that the local hosts have that much to do with the ratings (except for Lois Reitzes and Rose Scott, who do local shows). WABE also has an excellent and large news staff.

    WRAS does programming for just Atlanta that is not carried on GPB throughout the state. I don't know the size or quality of WRAS's news department, but they certainly have one. Former WSB-TV reporter Bill Nigut is very visible over there.

    At this point I doubt WABE listeners have any rancor towards GPB regarding WRAS. They might just have no reason to leave WABE.
    Last edited by RoddyFreeman; 07-11-2018 at 08:53 PM.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by RoddyFreeman View Post
    That's a great question and one I've asked myself. The answer might be that WABE has the heritage and hasn't given people a reason to switch to WRAS.

    When GPB first took over WRAS, WABE had a signal advantage. Both stations were 100KW, but WRAS was on a short tower in Panthersville, and WABE was at 1,096 feet from New Street in the heart of the market. But WRAS was able to relocate to the Chester Avenue site, much more centralized than Panthersville, and increase HAAT to 1,043 feet. By doing so, WRAS had to half its wattage from 100KW to 50KW. But except in the fringes of the market, both stations have about equal signals.

    WABE has had great morning hosts with Steve Goss and than Denis O'Hayer, both very well known in the market. Now that Denis has retired, whom they bring in has yet to be determined. I doubt, however, that the local hosts have that much to do with the ratings (except for Lois Reitzes and Rose Scott, who do local shows). WABE also has an excellent and large news staff.

    WRAS does programming for just Atlanta that is not carried on GPB throughout the state. I don't know the size or quality of WRAS's news department, but they certainly have one. Former WSB-TV reporter Bill Nigut is very visible over there.

    At this point I doubt WABE listeners have any rancor towards GPB regarding WRAS. They might just have no reason to leave WABE.

    WABE beats them for a lot of reasons...heritage certainly plays a key role...but I'd offer the amount of local originated Atlanta focused programming offered by WABE is a key. I am sure that GPB would love to have better ratings on WRAS but the signal provided them with what they needed more than anything to secure donor support, especially corporate support, and that's a signal that covered Atlanta. True, WABE has a much larger Atlanta audience and they can even offer a TV signal but GPB can give you the same coverage in Atlanta on the radio and TV...plus statewide coverage on both radio and TV.
    Bill Nigut has a terrific show and if I were GPB I would try to work out a radio version of the GA Gang which airs on Fox 5-WAGA.

  6. #6

    Join Date
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    I'm a long time WABE listener, and the entire WRAS situation did rub me the wrong way. The WRAS signal is now generally better for me, but I listen to WABE on purpose. I do listen to some of the local programming on WRAS, but none of the NPR/APM programming.

  7. #7
    I too have been a long time WABE listener, but about six months ago, during bad weather, my home reception was terrible. I had been listening to WRAS/GPB off and on as an alternative (in case of bad weather effects...and pickiness about host's voices - sorry WABE), and decided to just switch my morning wake-up preset station to them. Haven't had a problem since, though I'd still like the option of getting a better WABE signal at home

  8. #8
    NPR, and their affiliates, are very aware that their audience is aging and that their programming is not attracting younger listeners/members in the numbers they need for future survival. You would think the hybrid approach taken by GPB and WRAS would help attract younger listeners. Replace the Classical music at night with college radio material. Seems like a good idea to try...right? Why has this approach NOT worked in Atlanta?
    You would think with the donald in office it would inspire more angry, youthful, NPR listening just like MSNBC and CNN have seen large increases in younger viewers. Why is NPR, and Public Radio in general, failing to attract younger listeners, and most importantly, donations from younger listeners? Which station, WABE or WRAS, is doing a better job at attracting younger listeners and donations?

    I visited the WRFG website a while back (WRFG is NOT a NPR affiliate but is Pacifica like in their programming) and was looking at pictures taken at a recent benefit. Almost EVERY person there, staff and listener, had gray hair! Not a soul to be seen under the age of 30! How long can stations like these continue to function if they're not replacing their aging demos with younger ones?


    One last question. Which station, WABE or WRAS, sounds best technically? Which station has the best audio quality?

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Apr 2006
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    Canton, GA
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    I find I am the only one who listens to any type of NPR from the sampling of people where I work. And yes, I am the oldest among the ones in the conversation. Most of the younger crowd listens to 'their miusic' (their words) in the car; I prefer to use the time to catch up on news or find something to make me smile. Because of how I listen, I cannot determine anything other than signal quality between the two Atlanta affiliates; but to be fair, Amy Kiley's voice did grate on me. I didn't wish the job loss on her, but the evening drive on WABE is better for her departure IMO.

  10. #10
    I was a long time supporter of WABE for both NPR and classical music, but I had wished that the classical music programming was evenings and weekends so I wasn't missing out on national NPR shows like Science Friday, Here & Now, etc. Things that were available via GPB outside of Atlanta. But even after WABE dropped the daytime classical music, the programming was still all local. I was surprised that WRAS/GPB didn't get some sort of bump from people that wanted the national NPR shows. GPB does a good job of balancing national NPR and some really good local programming for Atlanta and Georgia (On Second Thought and Political Rewind). I wish GPB could go 24/7 on WRAS, as GPB evening and music programming seems strong for the other GPB affiliates around the state.

    As for the public radio age gap, I wonder if that is a new development, of if public radio and things connected to art and culture like classical music or theater, have always skewed older.

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