Sheena Ganju is a senior in Georgia Tech's Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISyE), and she is also the station manager for Georgia Tech’s on-campus radio station, WREK Radio (91.1 FM). Originally, Ganju matriculated to Tech as a student in materials science and engineering, but when she discovered that she could use skills like optimization to reduce waste and improve processes – quintessential IE work – she knew that ISyE was the degree for her.
In the following interview, Ganju discusses WREK Radio’s history – the station will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2018, as well as how she came to be involved with WREK, and the specific policies and programs she’s been able to implement as station manager.
A longer version of this interview is also available as a podcast on SoundCloud: http://bit.ly/2j3u8OD.
What led you to Georgia Tech and to ISyE?
I’ve always loved Atlanta, so the opportunity to go to school in the best city ever and pursue an engineering degree from the best school ever was what originally led me to Georgia Tech.
I got into engineering with the notion that I could make current processes better. I actually started as a materials science engineer with the notion that that’s how I would do that, but then I discovered ISyE and realized it was exactly what I want to do.
What is WREK Radio?
WREK Radio is Georgia Tech’s student-run and -operated radio station. We’re one of the only stations in the U.S. whose students are also are engineers who work on the station. We became a station in March 1968, which means WREK will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2018. Before that, a group of engineers were illegally broadcasting out of Van Leer. But we are, according to the FCC, a radio station for 50 years in 2018.
Our engineering team has been working hard to break through technological barriers since 1968. We launched our first website in 1993, which is about two years before the internet started becoming what it is today. We simultaneously started broadcasting on the internet as another radio station on that day in August 1994. That’s kind of our claim to fame; it’s on Wikipedia.
Now we can reach almost all of Georgia, and we broadcast at almost 100,000 watts ERP – the maximum power level allowed by the FCC – on 91.1 FM.
What are you going to do to celebrate WREK’s 50th anniversary?
We throw a show every year called Wrecktacular, and this year we’re making it bigger than ever. It’s going be festival-style, on April 6th and 7th, 2018, and we’re going to be doing it on a bigger scale than we usually do it – with bigger bands. I can’t reveal too many details yet, but it’s definitely something that the students of Georgia Tech should look out for. We’re really, really excited about it.
There will be music and the arts, a celebration of local Atlanta culture.
How did you personally come to be involved with WREK Radio?
A friend told me about it when I was in high school, and since I’m from the John’s Creek area, the air waves reached there. When I got here, I saw the [WREK] vault, which is a giant collection of music – the best of 50 years of music. It’s vinyl, CDs, and even reel-to-reels that have been accumulated. And when I walked in that room, I knew I was going to be here for the rest of my college career. I began as an operator in 2014, which is how everyone starts out.
What’s an operator?
It means that you are licensed to operate the boards; for example, the on-air studio is what’s actually going on air. So you can do that by yourself for any of our various programs, whether a specialty show or a regular rotation or sports.
You became WREK station manager this year. What policies and programs have you been able to implement that you’ve been most proud of?
Since it’s our 50th anniversary, we’ve been trying to improve our connection with campus. We have a very rich history and have been an essential way for Georgia Tech to connect with the Atlanta community for the last 50 years. But not enough students know about that side of us, so we’d like to spread the message. Kurt Cobain visited here one time, and David Bowie was here. Sharing that history is a very cool thing.
And another thing we’ve been trying to do is create a better culture of inclusion, making the station a place where people can feel happy and can grow in their passion for music. We attract a wide variety of people, so it’s very high priority that everyone at the station gets the best out of the station.
When you’re not studying or you’re not at the station, how do you spend your time?
The way that any college student would spend their time: I go to a lot of concerts, hang out with my friends. I love reading, and I love trivia. Trivia is one of my recreational activities.