Seven listeners have sued Detroit pubradio station WDET for fraud, claiming they were tricked into pledging for a music-oriented station in October while management was planning to switch its daytime schedule to national news programming, the Detroit Free Press reported. The change took place Dec. 13. The worst time to make such a switch is after a pledge drive, commented Chicago Public Radio’s Torey Malatia, quoted in the Chicago Tribune. Via Romenesko.

StoryCorps, the oral history project launched by pubradio producer David Isay, has announced 2006 stops for its two traveling audio studios. One MobileBooth visited Gulfport, Miss., earlier this month and the other will come to New Orleans in May. The project has taped nearly 2,000 personal stories in 26 cities so far. Booths also operate at Grand Central Terminal and the World Trade Center in Manhattan.

The bones of former Masterpiece Theater host Alistair Cooke were illegally sold after his death, reports the New York Times. “At this point, we’re just reeling,” said his daughter. “It’s so horrific on so many fronts.”

NPR’s reporting is less liberal than critics charge, and The Newshour with Jim Lehrer hews close to the political center, according to a forthcoming study of media bias led by a political scientist at the University of California Los Angeles.

“I believe NPR relies too much on think tanks in general and on conservative think tanks in particular — especially when it comes to economics, and defense policy issues,” writes NPR Ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin, clarifying views expressed in his previous column.

The format change at Detroit’s WDET-FM is “a very risky move,” says former General Manager Caryn Mathes in the Detroit Metro Times.

PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler faults producers of Now for their handling of a Nov. 18 field report about wages paid to Latino electricians hired for reconstruction work in New Orleans. Complaints about the report from BE&K Inc., the subcontractor whose wage and hiring practices were examined, and the producer’s response are posted on Now’s website.

Meanwhile, CPB Ombudsman Ken Bode faults Getler for being too easy on PBS and producers of Breaking the Silence: Children’s Stories in Getler’s Dec. 2 critique.

Students at Swarthmore College and pubradio veteran Marty Goldensohn are producing War News Radio, a show about Iraq reported entirely from stateside. “We thought we were at a disadvantage not being on the ground in Iraq,” a student tells The New Yorker. “But when you hear from reporters there that they can’t even leave their hotels you start to think.”

Robert Krulwich is returning to NPR. “My feeling has always been that there’s a kind of imprinting going on if you do journalism and broadcasting for a living,” he says. “Like if you’re a duck and the first thing you see is a duck. I imprinted on NPR — it’s the duck I know and the duck I own, and I’m going back to my original duck.”

Peter Sagal tells Chicagoist how he became host of Wait Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me!: “[L]ike a lot of public radio geeks, I would sit around saying, ‘I could do that. Why don’t they put me on the air?

Bill Moyers shares his side of a “sordid little story” about Kenneth Tomlinson, Paul Gigot, and the ideological battle over Now.

Panel gets more specific about new services

A well-connected panel of business leaders, broadcasters and policy wonks last week got specific about what public broadcasting could do in the future to use its digital signals for the greatest public benefit—and to justify the increased funding that would make it possible. ¶ The Digital Future Initiative panel, convened by PBS President Pat Mitchell a year ago, released its report Dec. 15…

The Knight Foundation and PBS said today that Knight will give the network a $2.5 million challenge grant to launch a multicast Citizen’s Channel next fall and $500,000 for the pilot of a nightly show for the channel, Global Watch. The show, produced by KCET of Los Angeles and KQED of San Francisco, will cull stories from around the world. It will be followed nightly by ITVS Presents, a showcase for indie docs. The channel will also feature video blogs and vox pop segments, live coverage of major press conferences and congressional hearings and repeats of PBS nonfiction shows. PBS developed its Public Square plans with a Knight grant awarded two years ago.PBS’s blue-ribbon Digital Future Initiative panel will release its report tomorrow at an invitation-only “summit” in D.C.

New York magazine culture critic John Leonard named David Grubin’s Destination America as the best nonfiction TV program of 2005. The four-part doc debuted Oct. 19 on PBS. “This is the sort of television that puts faces on stats, but it’s also almost elegiac: These are the doors we are bolting behind us,” Leonard wrote.

Five rules from the NPR drinking game. There’s also the PBS pledge drive drinking game.

Sesame Workshop and New York-based cable provider Cablevision on Monday launched Sesame Street Games, an interactive video game service available to customers in the New York metropolitan area. The educational games, available on Cablevision’s interactive digital cable tier, feature Muppets and are designed for children ages 2-5, who will use the cable remote control to make choices on their TV screens. The service costs $4.95 per month.

Radio consultant John Sutton had a staticky introduction to owning a digital radio: “I tried everything I could to get a better signal. It all seemed so old-fashioned, so ‘analog.'”

WDET-FM in Detroit has gone all-news during middays, replacing a mix of locally originated music. “Public radio listeners let us know they’re looking to us to provide news and information, and public affairs programming,” says Michael Coleman, g.m. “That’s what we’re responding to.” (Compare with the Audience Research Analysis study, below.)