Future Goals & Initiatives

Local and Regional Journalism

WDET’s award-winning newsroom fills a growing need for local and region-specific news and information. As news sources continue to shrink in number, WDET plays an increasingly important role as one of the few providers of local and regional reporting and journalism.

WDET augments National Public Radio’s unique and valuable news coverage with a significant amount of locally-produced news and information programming. Today, the need exists to sharpen our focus on the economy of Southeast Michigan and to tell the stories of the impressive progress to date toward the region’s economic recovery and revitalization.

WDET is in a particularly strong position to build conversations between disparate segments of the community and in addition, to build collaboration between its local journalists and the national media, beginning with its participation in American Public Media’s Public Insight Journalism initiative.

Special project funding to enable broader, deeper and more consistent coverage of news, ballot initiatives, economic impact and community concerns is needed to enable new investments in local and regional journalism including:

  • Continuing to invest in and enhance the capacities of our newsroom, one of the few local and regional newsrooms remaining in our area of the state,
  • Expanding our robust on line engagement activity through the addition of mobile applications and a re-launched web site,
  • Adding journalists grounded in Detroit’s immigrant and African-American communities, who have the language, reportorial and cultural skills to build conversations and to tell these stories,
  • Expending the capacity for enterprise journalism, which produced the influential reports on the resurgence of Right Wing Extremism and Unregulated trucking in Southwest Detroit, a series that won a prestigious Knight-Batten Award for Innovation in Journalism.
  • Adding a business and entrepreneurship reporter to our newsroom, to provide deeper and more consistent coverage of this important topic.

Goals of this initiative include giving voice to the issues most deeply felt by the widest cross section of Southeast Michigan residents, while bringing underreported issues to light in a thoughtful, comprehensive manner.

Arts and Cultural Coverage

WDET’s commitment to and involvement in the arts and cultural life of Detroit and Southeast Michigan goes far beyond simply providing music on the air and through the internet to its listeners.

Increasingly, WDET plays a role as a linchpin of cultural activity in the region, working in concert with the artists, producers and organizations who keep our arts and our audiences engaged and vibrant. In particular, WDET seeks to showcase and to support the living artists who make this region their home and to partner with the presenters and producers who bring these artists together with audiences.

WDET’s close working relationship with today’s artists and arts organizations is a benefit worthy of further exploration and investment. Special project funding in the area of arts and cultural coverage can enable such new investments as:

  • Capacity building for the STAR (Support the Arts) Program, which delivers over $600,000 of free promotional exposure to regional not-for-profit arts organizations every year
  • Supporting and enhancing WDET’s deep, long-standing commitment to locally-focused and locally-produced music programming
  • Developing more showcase opportunities for local artists, adding to WDET’s current roster of performances, community events and public appearances, like the Ann Delisi Essential Music Listening Party where music fans, musicians and journalists gather in Midtown Detroit to share, debate and promote the best new music
  • Enhancing the WDET website’s ability to serve as a portal, community resource and destination for today’s artists and their audiences,
  • Increasing much-needed online storage capacity for large down-loaded digital music files,
  • Completing the conversion of the remaining vinyl music inventory to digital media,

Goals of this initiative include diversifying WDET’s listenership beyond typical NPR demographics by developing and deepening relationships with younger listeners by approaching them through the musical artists and venues that they currently enjoy. In addition, WDET will pursue valuable future partnerships and collaborations with arts and culture organizations throughout the region. Finally, this initiative tells the story of Michigan’s vibrant cultural life, an element seldom featured in national coverage of the region.

Digital Infrastructure Investments

Public radio today serves its listeners far beyond the public airwaves. WDET is available to listeners around the world through streaming audio on the internet, a powerful medium that breaks through past barriers of geography and time zones. In addition, the popular on-demand direction of audio and video media continues to grow in importance, especially for younger consumers.

In both of these areas and in rapidly evolving new technologies that we can only imagine, WDET must continue to adapt its mission and services to broader audiences. In addition, the station must keep pace with technology as it rapidly evolves and with the changing listening preferences of its diverse audiences.

Special project funding is needed to support top current priorities in the study, testing and development of new infrastructure for today’s digital technologies including:

  • Continuing to invest in the website as a key portal to WDET’s services to the listening community, including adding social networking options to ongoing communications,
  • Continually expanding and improving WDET-TV, the stations’ web-delivered video service and another opportunity to meets the audience in their preferred space with content they cannot readily find elsewhere
  • Expanding WDET’s on demand options, such as podcasting and a robust, comprehensive on demand library of WDET’s original content
  • Continuing to invest in greater bandwidth and in equipment to meet the demand for higher-quality streaming on the internet,
  • As noted in the cultural goals, converting the current music library to digital format for broader usage,
  • Developing relationships with on-call technology experts who can enhance our staff’s expertise and assist with developing equipment, capacity and content specifications for future digital investments,
  • Developing a modest New Technology Fund, to enable testing and trial of new technologies as these emerge.

The goals for investing in digital infrastructure include exploring new programming to serve more specific needs and specific niches within our communities, building more diverse audiences by ethnicity, age, education and culture, and adding listener response options to expand our programming models from one-way into two-way communications.

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