The WGST records document the history of the station, from its founding to its eventual sale, spanning a total of 52 years. Administrative files in Series 1 document the daily operations, lawsuits, and sale of the radio station. The studio logs of Series 2 provide detailed lists of the station's programming, advertising, and public service announcements for the period from 1940 to 1970.
(223 archival boxes)
Some of the studio logs are available in photocopy only.
Permission to publish materials from this collection must be obtained from the Head of Archives and Special Collections.
70.8 Linear Feet
The WGST records document the history of the station, from its founding to its eventual sale, spanning a total of 52 years. Correspondence, financial documents and other administrative files in this collection (Series 1) document the daily operations of the station, particularly the 1947 lawsuit against CBS, the 1951 legal dispute over the acquisition of a television station, and the sale of the station in 1973-1974. Although the collection does not contain much coverage of the earliest decade of the station's history, the period from 1940 to 1970 is especially well documented in the series of studio logs (Series 2), which contain minute-by-minute lists of the station's programming, including titles of programs, lists of advertisements and public service announcements. The logs also provide documentation for the station's transition from CBS to ABC, the use of local and network programming, and the coverage of major local and national events during this period.
Further details on the content of this collection are provided in the detailed description below.
In 1922 the Atlanta Constitution founded a radio station in response to its rival newspaper's station, WSB, which was owned by the Atlanta Journal. Clark Howell, newspaper editor and owner of the Constitution, offered the station to Georgia Tech in 1923 as a gift, which President Marion L. Brittain accepted on behalf of the state. At first the station operated under the call letters WBBF. The station's license was allowed to expire in 1924, but in the following year, a new license was granted with the call letters WGST, standing for the Georgia School of Technology. After several legal battles, the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia took over operations from 1946 to 1973, when the station was bought by the Meredith Corporation.
From 1925 to 1930, the studio was located on the third floor of the Electrical Engineering Building. During this period the station operated for two hours a week, and programming was provided by the faculty and students of Georgia Tech. The Southern Broadcasting Company (SBC) signed a twenty-year lease to take control of the operations in 1930 and moved the radio station studio to the Ansley Hotel. Later that decade the studios moved to the Forsyth Building, where it would remain until a 1956 move to the Alexander Memorial Coliseum. Under the contract with the SBC the station increased its broadcast time and operated as a commercial venture, although the President of Georgia Tech retained official oversight of the programming. Georgia Tech was permitted air time for any broadcasts it required, and continued regular weekly programs. The station was affiliated with the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) from 1930.
In 1941, the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia sought to void the contract with the SBC, accusing SBC of unethical financial transactions. Governor Eugene Talmadge tapped theater owners Arthur Lucas and William K. Jenkins to take over operations of the station. SBC contested this turn of events to the Federal Communications Commission. The suit resulted in the Board of Regents assuming control of operations in 1946. In a further development a year later, CBS indicated that it would not be sponsoring WGST after its current contract ended. The court ruled that CBS did not give fair and proper notification for this plan and ordered that a one-year extension be added to give WGST sufficient time to find another broadcasting affiliation. The American Broadcasting Company (ABC) picked up the radio station in 1950. In spite of this repeated litigation, the station provided a good source of revenue for Georgia Tech, funding among other things a long-range development plan for the architecture department in 1943.
A second lawsuit took place in 1951. Atlanta had four television channel signals that the Federal Communications Commission assigned to the area and WSB owned two of them, but was putting one up for sale. A group of private citizens organized themselves together to form Broadcasting, Inc. to buy it. The impending sale came under protest from WGST, who had sought for years to obtain a channel, but the court refused to impose an injunction.
By 1973 the Board of Regents declared WGST surplus property and offered it up for sale. Although WGST broadcast Georgia Tech sports events, the station remained commercial in nature with diminishing student input and support. Further, Tech had begun its own student station, WREK, in 1968. At five million dollars, the highest bidder was the Meredith Corporation of Des Moines, Iowa. Much opposition to the sale of the radio station came from the governor, legislators, and alumni, but the Board of Regents approved the sale and in the following year, operations were turned over to the Meredith Corporation.
Arranged into two series:
A print copy of this finding aid is available in the Georgia Tech Archives reading room.
Accession number 1985.0806 for materials originally processed as MS008; accession 1999.0501 for materials added to original collection.
The photographs in this collection have been removed and processed separately as WGST Radio Photographs (VAM330). About 150 open-reel tapes will also be processed separately. One artifact has been removed to the artifacts collection.
(223 archival boxes)
Part of this collection was processed in 2000, as the WGST Radio Station Records, MS008. This collection includes the materials that were in MS008 as well as additional materials that have since been obtained by the Georgia Tech Archives. The MS008 materials comprise Series 1, Subseries 1 of this collection.
Some of the studio logs in Series 2 will be unavailable until preservation work is completed.
Yen M. Tang processed MS008 in 2000; Christine de Catanzaro and Arhant Durlabhji reprocessed as MS330 and added accession 1999.0501 in December 2007.