Wayne State University looks for new home for WDET public radio station

A corner office with windows on the ground level in the Simons building could provide a community-facing studio that could be used for WDET shows and possibly recording audio books for WSU Press, Zatina said.

The location also includes green space that could heighten visibility for WDET and the publisher, serving as a space for community programs and concerts, she said.

“That might be an example of some kind of synergy we could have,” she said.

“Why wouldn’t we put a fabulous, 30-person gospel choir there in their beautiful robes or whatever and pipe the music out onto the street so people could watch… and we could broadcast it live on WDET?”

WSU Press leaders and staff are excited about the possibility of having a more active and vibrant workspace that celebrates the rich diversity of thought, cultures, news and information in Detroit, Director Stephanie Williams said in an emailed statement.

“When Mary and I began to discuss the possibility of WDET moving to the Simons building, we soon realized that we had an opportunity to deepen our relationship with the Detroit community and to strengthen Wayne’s footprint in the cultural corridor. We hope that co-locating these two legacy media institutions will benefit both organizations and allow us to better serve our communities.”

There are still many details to be worked out, but the organizations have already discussed opportunities to leverage the knowledge of their staffs and the cultural and social impact they each have, she said.

“This might be events we can host in the space, audio projects, and public projects working with written text and audio or music,” Williams said.

WDET’s move, if approved and funded, would coincide with big plans Zatina has for the station.

The public radio station, which was named station of the year recently by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters, provides news, public affairs, programming and music, along with a sub channel that reads aloud newspapers, books and grocery store circulars for the blind and print -handicapped community.

WDET draws listeners from all over the US and 47 countries, many more tuning in since the Don Was show launched a year ago, Zatina said.

“This summer, we think we’re going to be the source for delivering three significant concerts to listeners all over the world: Concert of Colors, Detroit Jazz Fest and we think we might do the techno fest,” Zatina said referring to the 2022 Movement electronic music festival.

The station operates on a $5.2 million budget including WSU’s in-kind support. It ended the past two years in the black after prior year losses and posted an excess of $770,000 last year with a Paycheck Protection Program loan and extra money that came from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Zatina said.

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