WDET celebrates 75 years of public radio in Detroit

WDET celebrated 75 years of broadcasting during an event at the Jam Handy in Detroit.

WDET staff and guests pose for a photo at the Jam Handy.

WDET staff and guests pose for a photo during the station's 75th anniversary party on Feb. 13, 2024, at the Jam Handy in Detroit.

Detroit Public Radio 101.9 WDET marked its 75th anniversary during a celebration at The Jam Handy in New Center on Tuesday.

WDET staff, supporters and special guests — including Wayne State University President Kimberly Andrews Espy and Michigan State Rep. Mike McFall (D-Hazel Park) — gathered at the former production sound stage to discuss the station’s past, present and future. The event gave guests a chance to meet the on-air talent they regularly hear on WDET, including the recent additions of music hosts Shigeto, Waajeed, Liz Warner, Jeff Milo, Mike Latulippe and Kaleigh Wilder.

WDET Program Director Adam Fox said the expansion of the station’s music offerings reinforces its history of providing diverse content to metro Detroiters during an address to the audience 

“WDET’s music programming legacy has been a foundation of the station’s history, and adding more voices to join Ed Love, Ann Delisi, Ismael Ahmed, Rob Reinhart, Jon Moshier, Don Was, Jay Butler and Chris Campbell in the mission of curation and reflection is a big piece of our strategy,” Fox said.

WDET News Director Jerome Vaughn, a veteran of the station for over 30 years, outlined one of the news department’s major focus for 2024 — the presidential election. 

“We’re putting together a wide range of stories in advance of the presidential primary on the (February) 27th,” Vaughn said on stage. “We’re talking about the process of early voting — looking at why primaries happen — and the strategies the two major parties are using at this point in the year.

“And that’s just the start. For the first time ever, we’ll send reporters to the Democratic and Republican national conventions to tell listeners how Michigan representatives are making a difference in the process of selecting a president. And of course, we’ll have dozens of interviews and features leading up to the general election in November.”

Rep. McFall also addressed the audience and presented WDET General Manager Mary Zatina with a special plaque on behalf of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer commemorating 75 years of service.

“The importance of WDET and its mission is local news,” said McFall, who represents House District 8. “A lot of our local news sources have gone by the wayside. But we can always count on WDET to not only report local news, but do it in an in-depth manner.”

WDET was founded by the United Auto Workers union and started broadcasting regular programming on Feb. 13, 1949. The station was later sold to Wayne State University in 1952, who has held WDET’s broadcast license ever since.

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