Frequently Asked Questions

What is WDET Public Radio?

WDET is the non-commercial listener-supported public radio station licensed to Wayne State University in order to serve the Southeast Michigan region. Broadcasting from its on-campus location in Detroit, WDET maintains its own staff of news and music producers and produces its own local and regional programming. In addition, WDET is a member of the National Public Radio network and broadcasts NPR features in addition to those of other producers and programmers including the BBC.

What is the mission of WDET?

The mission is to reflect the intellectual and cultural diversity of Southern Michigan by serving listeners, voters and residents with free, unique and valuable audio programming that enriches, informs, educates, and entertains our audiences.

As a community nonprofit, what services does WDET provide to the community?

On the “terrestrial” radio station and in global audio service streaming on the internet, WDET Public Radio provides programming free to the public and free of commercial interruption 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 52 weeks per year. WDET Public Radio functions as an important regional journalism outlet, delivering news and information, and also as a cultural partner, showcasing a wide range of music from classical to contemporary, including serving as one of the region’s top showcases of local musical artists.

Does WDET receive public funding or support from the University?

WDET Public Radio receives partial support from Wayne State University in the form of office and studio space on the campus along with some personnel benefits. WDET Public Radio receives no funding from the State of Michigan or the City of Detroit.

Are individual donors like me important in keeping WDET on the air?

Nearly 60% of annual expenses are met by the generous annual gifts from loyal WDET members. Individual listeners and donors are the most important ingredient in WDET’s success, independence and impact.

What impact will my gift have at WDET?

Your annual gift keeps the lights on, powers the computers and broadcast feeds, pays the salaries for the 32 staff members. Your gift enables reporters, engineers, webmasters, announcers and support staff to plan and execute news and music programming on the air and on the web 24 hours per day. In addition, your gift makes possible WDET Public Radio’s local journalism right here in Southeast Michigan and pays for national and international programming from National Public Radio, the BBC and other prestigious sources.

Can I designate my gift to a special program or project?

Gifts up to $9,999 go toward WDET’s annual operations and cannot be further designated. Gifts of $10,000 and up can be restricted at the donor’s request. If you wish to begin a conversation with a gifts officer about a possible restricted gift, please call Lea Thomas at 313.577.4226.

What is the relationship between donors, both corporate and individuals and the feature stories that WDET chooses to air?

By policy, WDET maintains a “firewall” that separates its underwriting and fund-raising functions from its journalism and programming functions. When news stories involving underwriters or donors do occur, an internal policy process is set in motion to guarantee that the news will be reported fairly and completely. WDET Public Radio’s major support and partner relationships will always be disclosed when these are relevant to broadcast content.

How can I be sure that WDET will use my money effectively?

WDET follows the rigorous Wayne State University policies and procedures in its financial management and is supported in this process by University finance officers as well as community volunteers who contribute their expertise and advice to the station’s governance practices. In addition, independent auditors annually review the station’s operations and financials.

Is my donation to WDET tax deductible?

Yes. As provided by law, your gift may be deductible if you itemize your Federal taxes and may also qualify for the Michigan Tax Credit. Please be sure to decline any thank-you gifts or services if you wish your entire gift to be eligible for such a deduction and look a mailed tax receipt two weeks after your gift is processed.

Can I pay my pledge in installments?

We are happy to set up installment payments, as well as to accept payments by credit card, or gifts of appreciated securities. Many donors join our Sustainer Program, setting up an automatic payment at convenient intervals. If you wish to begin a confidential conversation with a gifts officer about the most convenient way for you to handle a pledge to WDET, please call Lea Thomas at 313.577.4226.

Does WDET accept planned gifts or bequests?

We encourage every member and listener to consider making a meaningful gift to WDET as part of estate planning. For most members, a bequest or planned gift can offer significant tax advantages as well as the satisfaction of helping WDET Public Radio to remain strong and independent into the future. You can also explore annuity gifts that will guarantee a set level of annual income to you and your spouse, no matter how the markets perform and no matter low long you both may live. If you wish to begin a confidential conversation with Meg Callow, our Major Gift Officer about a possible bequest or planned gift click here to send her an e-mail message or call her directly at 313.577.4031.

Does WDET have a permanent endowment?

No. At present, WDET Public Radio has access to only the most modest of cash reserves and must raise every dollar of annual operating expense in full every year. The building of cash reserves for the station is cited as a long range goal in our current plan.

What benefits does offer to major donors?

Donors of $1,000 and more annually are members of the station’s Leadership Circle. Leadership Circle members are often invited to private gatherings to see the results of their philanthropic gifts and to meet the producers and journalists who advance WDET’s mission of service to the community. In addition, Leadership Circle members are thanked by name on the air, in publications and on the website.

Who can I contact with questions or to explore making a gift to WDET?

Lea Thomas, our Membership Manager, will welcome your inquiries, answer any questions you may have and help with your gift decision. Send her an email or telephone her at 313.577.4226.

What are the top future priorities that have emerged from WDET’s long range planning process to date?

In addition to the short-term goal of building sustainable annual income for the station, three over-arching goals are being explored for the future.

  • To build upon the current leadership role in local and regional news by expanding the journalism team to enable locally-produced and expanded local news and information programming with higher citizen engagement,

  • To further enhance arts and cultural coverage by seeking new and innovative partnerships with local artists and cultural organizations and by supporting the small cultural nonprofits who contribute so much to our region,

  • To invest in digital infrastructure by expanding and enhancing the station’s internet-based services including more online music and more on-demand programming.

With your help, these new future initiatives can strengthen WDET Public Radio’s community impact and provide greater service to its listeners.

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