October 19, 2021

WDET’s new transmitter brings jolt of power and purpose to Detroit

The transmitter restores technology and brings a new level of service to Detroit’s public radio station.

WDET-FM 101.9 – Detroit’s NPR station has flipped the switch on its new transmitter, and in doing so, entered a new era for the radio station. The transmitter has been tested and fine-tuned over the past few weeks and was officially launched today, Oct. 19, which is also WDET Day of Thanks.

“This is a significant point in the station’s history,” said Mary Zatina, WDET general manager. “More than 1,000 donations — large and small — coupled with a significant grant from the Kresge Foundation provided the resources necessary to make these upgrades.”  

The transmitter restores technology and brings a new level of service to Detroit’s public radio station. Now, WDET is able to:

  • Broadcast in HD (high-density sound format).
  • Restore an elevated, clean and crisp audio experience to listeners. The highs will be higher and lows will be lower, and every tone and instrument can be heard.
  • Deliver a clearer circle to the edges of the station’s broadcast range.

Earlier this year, the station reported that both its 21-year-old transmitter had failed and that its 34-year-old backup transmitter was having severe problems, compromising sound quality and endangering broadcast continuity. WDET knew the equipment was past its prime but had hoped to extend the life of the current equipment. The total cost for the purchase and installation of the new transmitter was approximately $180,000.

“While our digital presence is important, our over-the-air signal is essential to make the station broadly available across our region to anyone with a traditional radio who can tune in,” said Zatina. “Roughly 80% of our audience listens to us via traditional radio.”

“We are happy to celebrate with WDET. We always have viewed the need for a new transmitter as an access issue for metro Detroiters,” said Wendy Lewis Jackson, managing director of the Kresge Foundation’s Detroit Program, which made a $150,000 grant to the transmitter fund. “This station is an irreplaceable local voice that’s rooted in our community; it’s a unique place for discussion of the vital issues that shape our future and for elevating arts and cultural elements that contribute to our social bonds.”

To celebrate, WDET will broadcast its local arts and entertainment program, CultureShift, live at the site from noon to 2 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 19. Additionally, the station is holding 10 drawings throughout the day for the chance to win one of 10 pocket HD radios. Winners will be drawn from WDET’s membership ranks and those who enter via WDET’s Contests and Giveaways link on its homepage.

For more information, please contact Mary Zatina at 313-577-4221.

About WDET

WDET is Detroit’s NPR station and a community service of Wayne State University. From in-depth community reporting to national news coverage from NPR, WDET is a reliable source for credible information and news. Its mix of local and national programming is produced by award-winning journalists who highlight diverse perspectives and invite local voices into the conversations. WDET’s mission is to be an authentic voice of Detroit.

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