WDET-FM is a public radio station Detroit, Michigan. Licensed to Wayne State University in the city's Cass Corridor neighborhood, about a mile south of the New Center neighborhood, WDET broadcasts original programming and shows from National Public Radio, Public Radio International and American Public Media. It broadcasts on the FM dial at 101.9 MHz. The station serves Metro Detroit and is the primary provider of news involving the American automotive industry and Michigan politics within the NPR distribution network.
Wayne State University holds the broadcasting license for the station through a grant from the United Auto Workers, which originally ran the station from its sign-on (December 18, 1948) until 1952. The UAW originally broadcast public service programming on the station, under station manager Ben Hoberman. The university bought the station for one dollar in 1952 and converted it to non-commercial status. It is one of the few public radio stations in the nation that operates on a commercial frequency.
In 2004, WDET implemented extensive programming changes. They dropped many NPR-produced programs such as Fresh Air and Car Talk, as well as some popular local music shows such as Folks Like Us and Arkansas Traveler. This was done to promote more locally produced music programming. However, it was followed by a decline in listener pledges. In the fall of 2005, new general manager Michael Coleman (replacing Caryn Mathes, who departed for WAMU in Washington, D.C.) changed WDET's format again, dropping many of the new music programs in favor of a more news-oriented format, bringing back all of the previously dropped programming and adding new NPR-produced programs. Particularly controversial was the dismissal of long-time mid-day host Martin Bandyke. Local media outlets reported he may have violated conflict of interest rules by accepting gifts from record companies. Bandyke has since resurfaced in morning drive time at Adult Alternative-formatted WQKL-FM (107.1) in Ann Arbor.
As a result of the 2005 format change, some listeners filed a class action lawsuit against the station for fraudulently taking donations for programming that was planned on being discontinued. Disgruntled former listeners also held two protests. The first occurred in front of WDET's offices a few days after Christmas. The second occurred near Cobo Hall during the North American International Auto Show. Organizers promised that the rally would draw 5,000 people, though less than one hundred showed up, and a plan to protest WDET's changes during the Super Bowl XL festivities also failed to occur.
Only one weekday music show remains on WDET: Ed Love's nighttime jazz program, "Destination Jazz," which features old and modern jazz music. The station has archived recent editions of these shows as well as their weekend music programming and made them available for listening at any time via its website.
On Thursday May 11, 2006, Michael Coleman announced another major shake-up at WDET. Six employees were laid off including long-time music host Jon Moshier. Several others were forced to accept paycuts, demotions, or reductions in hours.
On Monday April 2, 2007, WDET implemented several programming changes. The following programs were removed from the schedule: "Day to Day" (which was terminated by NPR, not WDET), "Front Row Center," "Live From Studio A," "The Best of the DSO," Liz Copeland's "Alternate Take," Chuck Horn's "Seventh Journey," "The Ralph Valdez program," Mick Collin's "Night Train," and "The W. Kim Heron Program." New additions included the locally produced "Detroit Today" as well as NPR programs "Talk of the Nation," "Marketplace," "Marketplace Money," "BBC World Service," "Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!," and "The Changing World." "Destination Jazz: The Ed Love Program" was reduced from five to three hours, and Michael Julien's "Global Mix" was reduced from five to two hours. Combined with previous changes, the station moved to a more news oriented format. WDET now has less local and indie music coverage, although they continue to offer a niche for jazz, gospel, folk, rhythm and blues, and bluegrass.
On September 15, 2007 WDET added the show "Tell Me More" with Michel Martin from NPR News on weekdays at 1pm, which replaced "World Have Your Say" from BBC. "Deep River" with Robert Jones moved to Sunday afternoons, and "The Tavis Smiley Show" is now heard twice during the weekend, on Friday evenings and Sunday mornings.
The station produces news stories for local break-ins of NPR drive time news programs Morning Edition and All Things Considered. It also produces a weekday local news program, Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson, and several local arts programs: Ann Delisi's Essential Music, Rob Reinhart's Essential Music, Modern Music w/ Jon Moshier, The Progressive Underground w/Chris Campbell, Destination Jazz: The Ed Love Program, Nick Austin's New Soul Sunday, Jay's Place w/ Jay Butler (Butler was a longtime air personality on WJLB/WQBH-AM), Culture City with Travis Wright and This Island Earth w/ Ismael Ahmed. In the fall of 2013, the station replaced overnight BBC World Service programming with "Alpha," a mix of electronic dance sounds and progressive soul.
Current NPR programming includes Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Fresh Air, Tell Me More, and Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!. American Public Media programming includes Marketplace, Speaking of Faith, and This American Life. The station also broadcasts The Takeaway and Public Radio International's This American Life.
WDET currently ranks at #28 (0.7) in the Detroit market according to the November 2010 PPM ratings release. The station's HD2 feed is not currently operational, but is slated to be a 24/7 version of the station's "Alpha" overnight programming. (In May 2013, the WDET HD2 Facebook page announced that the signal was "under construction"; as of January 2014, WDET HD2 has not returned to the air.)
The Detroit Radio Information Service (DRIS) broadcasts on a subcarrier of WDET. DRIS serves the visually impaired community with live and pre-recorded readings of daily and weekly print publications.
WDET transmits its signal from an antenna 554 feet in height near the intersection of Cass Avenue and Canfield Street in Detroit's Midtown area. WDET broadcasts with an effective radiated power of 48,000 watts, and covers all of southeast Michigan and much of southwestern Ontario, reaching a potential audience of four million people.