ATLANTA – Central Georgia will soon have local news coverage and programming on Georgia's public radio network, announced Nancy Hall, interim executive director of Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB). Through a partnership with Mercer University, GPB will have a radio studio located at the university's campus in Macon that will be connected to the network's 100,000-watt transmitter in Cochran, Ga.
"GPB is excited about this new partnership with Mercer University that will allow us to better serve the citizens of middle Georgia with more local news and information as well as share programming from the region with the rest of the state and nation," said Hall.
The new operation in Macon is part of an initiative of the GPB Board of Directors, led by Macon businessman Lowell Register, who serves as Board chairman, to strengthen the public radio network around the state and better serve the information needs of Georgians. Register, who is president of Register Communications and owns WPGA-Channel 58 (ABC) in Macon, sees the establishment of studios in Central Georgia as a major step in helping citizens better identify with public radio as well as providing an educational opportunity for students attending middle Georgia educational institutions who might be interested in broadcasting as a career. Since being appointed to the Board by Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue in 2003, Register has overseen the acquisition of a new station in the Rome/northwest Georgia area, which comes on-line June 30, the establishment of bureaus in Columbus and Demorest, where there were GPB radio stations, but no staff, as was the case in Macon.
"Establishing a GPB radio station in Macon is important to our Board's overall efforts to build closer ties to the communities across Georgia served by GPB radio and television," said Register. "We have long had a powerful radio signal in middle Georgia, one of the strongest in the network; however, it has been operated from the Atlanta headquarters. We are extremely pleased that through this partnership with Mercer, we will now have a physical presence in the area, as well as the ability to provide local news and cultural programming to Macon and surrounding communities – in addition to the quality programming currently provided by GPB.
"The new studios at Mercer will also allow our communities to share more of the many newsworthy and exciting things happening in central Georgia with the rest of the state," he continued. "I particularly appreciate the leadership and support of Dr. Kirby Godsey in making our goal of a stronger network a reality for Georgia Public Broadcasting.
The radio frequency will continue to be 89.7 on the FM dial; however, the call letters will soon change to WMUM, upon approval by the FCC. The station is one of the strongest in the now 16-station network – WGPB FM 97.7 in Rome comes on-line June 30 – reaching listeners from south of Atlanta to Americus to Swainsboro.
"Mercer is very pleased to be a partner in this important initiative in Central Georgia," said Mercer President and CEO R. Kirby Godsey. "The station will have its independence, yet will have the many resources of the university available to it. Internships at the radio station will also offer great educational opportunities for students from Mercer, as well as other institutions in central Georgia."
The station will continue to provide all the well-known and popular programs from NPR, PRI and American Public Media, such as the Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Marketplace, Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor, Car Talk and the Metropolitan Opera, as well as GPB programs, such as Georgia Gazette, Music Americana, The Green Island Radio Show, and many others. In addition to providing localized news, the studio will have the opportunity to develop programming, showcasing some of the activities and culture of the area.
A regional advisory committee is being developed to enable the public radio operation to be connected with Central Georgia leaders. Members of the board include representatives from area colleges and universities, arts and cultural organizations and community leaders. GPB is currently searching for a bureau chief for the Macon location and expects the studio to be in operation this summer.
About Georgia Public Broadcasting: Your PBS station serving all of Georgia; your source for great music and NPR news; and Georgia's source for top-quality multiple media educational products and services. Stations in the GPB Radio network include: Albany – 91.7 FM, Athens – 91.7 FM, Augusta – 90.7 FM, Brunswick – 88.9 FM, Carrollton – 90.7 FM, Columbus – 88.1 FM, Dahlonega – 89.5 FM, Demorest – 88.3 FM, Fort Gaines – 90.09 FM, Macon – 89.7 FM, Rome – 97.7 FM, Savannah – 91.1 FM, St. Marys – 1190 AM, Tifton – 91.1 FM, Valdosta – 91.7 FM, Waycross – 90.1 FM. For more information, visit www.gpb.org.
About Mercer University: Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education, the University has 7,300 students; 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies; major campuses in Macon and Atlanta; four regional academic centers across the state; a university press; teaching hospitals in Macon and Savannah; an educational partnership with Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins; an engineering research center in Warner Robins; and a NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit www.mercer.edu.