|This article needs additional citations for verification. (December 2007)|
|City of license||Atlanta, Georgia|
|Broadcast area||Atlanta metropolitan area|
|Branding||WREK Atlanta, Georgia Tech Student Radio|
|Slogan||Quality, Diverse Programming|
|Frequency||91.1 MHz (also on HD Radio)
Channel 17 (GTCN)
|Callsign meaning||Rambling WREcK|
|Owner||Georgia Tech Radio Communications Board|
WREK ("Wreck", from the Rambling 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 (FCC data as of October 8, 2011) ERP signal throughout metropolitan Atlanta, making it among the ten highest-power 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. It has also allowed WREK to add a second continuous channel of programming ("WREK HD2") in Fall 2008.
|This section requires expansion with: describe programming blocks, specialty shows, and programming philosophy. (February 2010)|
WREK slogans include "music you don't hear on the radio" and "quality diverse radio."
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). Locally produced programming includes Tech Talk, a talk show hosted by and focusing on concerns of Georgia Tech students; the Ramblin' Wreck Report, a Georgia Tech sports talk show hosted by students; Destroy All Music, clatter-improv with pink noise freakouts; 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; and Continental Drift, Atlanta's longest running international music radio program.
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".
|This section requires expansion with: move technical information here and describe construction permit, HD Radio, student engineering, etc. (November 2008)|
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.
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. 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 annex of the Alexander Memorial Coliseum, where it would remain until 2004. That facility was home to 920 AM WGST (from Georgia School of Technology, GT's earlier name) from 1956 until 1975, when that station's license was sold against the school's will as "surplus property" by the Georgia Board of Regents. 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 uLaw) broadcast over the Internet on November 7 of 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.
- "New Transmitter Delivered". WREK. Retrieved 2008-05-21.
- "WREKage". Retrieved 2007-04-07.
- "Best of Atlanta 2007". Retrieved 2007-09-12.
- Brittain, Marion L. (1948). The Story of Georgia Tech. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press.
- "General Manager Richard Crouch's narrative on the birth of WREK". Retrieved 2007-04-07.
- "WREK History". Retrieved 2011-10-11.
- "Mendenhall Opens RF Consultancy". Retrieved 2015-02-14.
- "wrek-net online streaming". Retrieved 2011-10-11.
- WREK homepage
- Query the FCC's FM station database for WREK
- Radio-Locator information on WREK
- Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for WREK
- RecNet query
- WREK Alumni Association - Van Leer Chapter
- WREK Air Checks
- WREK 425 Watt RF Power Amplifier Story
- WREKage - Atlanta's Metal Radio