Photo Credit: Clay Reynolds
Akeeme Martin, the general manager at WUOG 90.5 FM, the student-run University of Georgia radio station, has been dismissed for "violations of the station's constitution, including a series of events that the Board felt misrepresented WUOG as a whole," according to a press release.
Staff Advisor Donielle Bell sent Flagpole a copy of the dismissal letter, which outlines the violations in question. According to the letter, Martin falsely claimed he was a UGA student, which in fact he was not for much of his tenure on the executive board. All WUOG staffers must "be enrolled as a student in good academic standing with the university," per the organization's constitution.
Additionally, the letter states, he exaggerated his role at the station in an attempt to land a prominent headliner for WorleyFest, an ambitious festival Martin had spearheaded and which was set to take place this fall.
"Akeeme misrepresented WUOG in a negative fashion and misrepresented himself as the decision authority for obtaining a performer," the letter reads. "Further, his communication was unprofessional and damaging to WUOG’s reputation with our community partners.
"After being told not to contact anyone on behalf of WUOG, to cease activity and planning of WorleyFest, and officially resigning from his position on Thursday, June 19, 2014, Akeeme was insubordinate by continuing to work on behalf of WorleyFest," the letter continues.
An attempt to overturn the dismissal via an appeals process was unsuccessful. According to WUOG's constitution, a dismissal is followed by a grievance period, during which the staffer may "fully discuss the situation, develop the facts, state their contentions, clear up any possible misunderstandings and attempt to formally resolve the dispute."
A dismissal can only be overturned by a majority vote from the entire, student-run grievance committee. According to a source on the committee, Martin's non-student status was the chief factor that led to his ouster.
"Permanent dismissal means that Akeeme Martin will NOT be able to obtain a position at 90.5 FM at any time in the future, including any positions on the WUOG alumni board," reads the letter.
Martin became WUOG's general manager in 2013 after nearly 10 years at the station and three on its executive board. He was instrumental in bringing hip hop and R&B to local airwaves, as the host of the popular "Halftime Hip Hop Show," which often featured in-studio performances from local and regional artists.
But his tenure on the WUOG board coincided with tough times for the 41-year-old station, which has been plagued by staff shortages, scheduling inconsistencies and technical problems over the last several years; it has become common to tune to the station at any given point during the week only to hear static or dead air.
Reached for comment, Martin gave the following statement:
"A 10 year career has come to a close. If I wanted one thing for people to remember when it comes to my 'legacy' there, it would be that any and everything that I have ever done has been for the love of [WUOG] and, more importantly, each and every person that I may have impacted during my time there. WUOG will always be in my heart, and no one can ever take that away from me."
Former Publications Director Lawson Chambers, who will serve as general manager for the remainder of 2014, writes in an email, "I'm very excited to serve WUOG—not as a leader, but as a representative. The station has always operated with open communication and transparency, which is important in ensuring that everyone feels like they're a part of it.
"The WUOG executive board and I are already continuing our work to improve the station and provide outstanding alternative programming to the community," he continues. "I look forward to what we will accomplish this year."
The shake-up at WUOG follows the drama at another bastion of college radio 70 miles west. WRAS 88.5, the student-run station at Georgia State University in Atlanta, recently entered into a controversial partnership with Georgia Public Broadcasting.
The deal, which emerged from what many saw as back-room discussions between GPB and GSU from which student staffers were deliberately omitted, led to the public radio entity taking control of WRAS' airwaves during the prime hours of 5 a.m.–7 p.m.