Georgetown University wants to give up its controversy-plagued radio station because of rising costs and diminishing student participation in station operations university president the Rev. Timothy S. Healy said yesterday.
The school wants to transfer its license for WGTB's frequency to a Washington school, Healy said. It was offered to the Ellington School of the Arts, but a spokesman for D.C. school Superintendent Vicent Reed said yesterday thatReed had declined the offer because of unresolved "logistical problems."
A spokesman for Healy said the University of the District of Columbia is the second choice to get the station's frequency, which is highly coveted because there are no more non-commercial education frequencies to be had here.
"WGTB does not aid Georgetown University in its academic work and its other possible usefulness is limited by the fact that the University cannot invest in it the large sums of money which would change its nature," Healy said in a prepared statement yesterday.
The station now costs the university over $35,000 a year, but the rent charged by American University for having the antenna on its radio tower is rising from $300 to $900 a month, the spokesman said. The 70 or so volunteers who help WGTB's two paid staff members run the 24-hour station include few students, he said.
The university would retain equipment to broadcast within the campus, for which a license is not required.
Israel Hicks, director of Ellington School, said that it would cost less for the public school to run the station because it would operate only 11 hours a day, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. He estimated the cost to the school system as between $2,000 to $3,000 a year.
Edward Winner, deputy school superintendent for management, said the costs would be higher, but "under $10,000," and that the salary for a station manager would probably be about $15,000 a year.
WGTB started out as a routine campus radio station in 1960, but in recent years has created numerous headaches for the Jesuit-run institution. In 1975, the station manager was fired after a continuing controversy over the "alternative radio format boiled over. There were complaints to the Federal Communications Commission about obscene language on the air, and offers of information about birth control and abortion as well as programs for homosexuals annoyed the administration.
The station was closed for nearly three months in 1976, about the time Healy took over as university president.
The FCC waited nearly 18 months before it renewed the station's license last December. During that time the radio station, which is not part of any academic program in the school, and was supervised by Healy's office and board he appointed.
During the last year the board has comes up for renewal again in June), station should be lropped, he said. Rather than let the license expire (it comes up for renewal again in June), the board decided it would rather transfer the license to an educational outlet in the city, and focused on the Ellington school because it is nearby.