WDET-FM listeners were outraged when they donated money during a pledge drive, only to see the station replace locally produced music shows with national talk and public affairs programs.
Kevin Ernst, the lawyer representing the listeners in the class-action lawsuit filed in Wayne County Circuit Court last week, told the Tribune, "This is a public radio station, and their decision just completely disregarded the public and the community that is loyal to the station and financially supports it. People contributed for those local programs, not national programs."
Listeners want the daytime music programs the station canceled on December 13 to be reinstated. Failing that, they want the money they donated in a fall pledge drive returned, added Ernst, who called the situation "outright fraud."
Nationally, many NPR stations are broadcasting more news programs in the hopes of attracting a larger audience. But the Detroit listeners resent what they call "the same cookie-cutter format" of other stations being imposed on them, according to the Tribune.
Listeners at WDET-FM contribute about 90 percent of the station's annual budget. Michael Coleman, WDET's general manager, said in a statement to listeners, "Regardless of how you feel, know that these decisions were painstakingly difficult. The rationale for the changes were very straightforward—to save and strengthen this important public radio service."