Overnight and online, WDET turns listeners on to Detroit’s techno music

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WDET-FM in Detroit drew on the Motor City’s musical heritage by devoting its overnight broadcast schedule to Alpha, a new music block combining “electronic and progressive soul music.”

Alpha airs on WDET from midnight to 5 a.m. and can be streamed round-the-clock from AlphaMusicDetroit.com. WDET partnered with  three music companies to create the service and unveiled it May 22 in advance of the Movement Electronic Music Festival in downtown Detroit.

WDET’s J. Mikel Ellcessor described Alpha as a collection of music built on “unlikely pairings of influences and sounds,”  and said decisions about how to program it were simple given Detroit’s role as the birthplace of techno music.  The electronic musical style was pioneered in the late 1970s by three high school students from Belleville, Mich., a small city between Detroit and Ann Arbor, home to the University of Michigan, but took root and flourished in Detroit’s club scene.

With Alpha, WDET and its partners hope to bottle the hybrid spirit of techno’s roots and present what Detroit can sound like.

“While this show isn’t all about techno, Alpha is a Detroit show — with a broad appeal,”  said Ellcessor, WDET g.m. who previously worked on launching public music stations in Milwaukee and Pittsburgh.  “It feels really good to have a project like this that is so rooted in our region.”

Three partners provide content for Alpha: the Ann Arbor-based record label Ghostly International, Detroit’s “electronic music web station” Paxahau and the Toronto-based music collective StudioFeed.

WDET’s late-night airshift is a perfect fit for Alpha, according to Ellcessor.  “It’s a time of day that was less trafficked for us,” he said. “So, we’re turning it into beachfront property for people who love this kind of music.”

During Alpha‘s launch week, WDET had to triple its server capacity because the site drew higher than expected web traffic, Ellcessor said.

Lansing is the state capitol of Michigan, not Ann Arbor, as erroneously reported in an earlier version of this post.

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