Iconic PBS Programmer WGBH Rebrands

WGBH, the cornerstone of programming production for public broadcasting stations across the nation, is changing its iconic call letters and rebranding as GBH. The change is being made because more than 50 percent of users are now accessing programming digitally and on-demand. The change is effective today.

The W in WGBH’s call letters reflected that it was a broadcast licensee east of the Mississippi River for nearly 70 years, while most licensees on the west side of the river have call letters beginning with a K. 

As part of the rebrand, GBH’s affiliate WCAI, the streamable NPR service for the Cape Cod and islands, will become CAI. Likewise, 99.5 WCRB will become CRB Classical 99.5. WGBX Channel 44, which airs a wide array of British dramas as well as PBS and local programming, will become GBH 44.

While its local TV and radio broadcast stations will always be important, the new branding recognizes GBH’s commitment to on-demand and digital-first content for audiences nationwide through streaming, apps, podcasts, social media, educational curricula and virtual events, explained Tina Cassidy, chief marketing officer at GBH in Boston, Mass.

While its local TV and radio broadcast stations will always be important, the new branding recognizes GBH’s commitment to on-demand and digital-first content for audiences nationwide through streaming, apps, podcasts, social media, educational curricula and virtual events.

The new logo retains the look of the iconic “drop shadow” originally designed during the early 1970s. The font will change to the more modern Red Hat, which functions better digitally. The iconic audio mark, also known as the sting, or the sound that audiences hear at the end of GBH-produced content, will not change. 

“While our name is changing our mission remains the same: to harness the creative spirit and reach of public media to deliver compelling experiences, stories and information to audiences, wherever they are,” said Jon Abbott, president and CEO of GBH. “Our vision is to be a pioneering leader in media that strengthens, represents, and serves our community, fostering growth and empowering individuals.”

The new primary brand color will be a digital-first shade of purple. Equality, wisdom, empathy, creativity and resilience are all associated with purple and align with GBH’s core brand values, Cassidy said.

“As technology, media and consumer expectations are evolving, so are we,” said Cassidy. “Our branding signals quality and reflects a vibrant and inviting place for our audience to engage, laugh, learn and be in community with others.” 

GBH produces award-winning primetime shows, including MASTERPIECE, ANTIQUES ROADSHOW, FRONTLINE, NOVA, and AMERICAN EXPERIENCE. GBH also produces the award-winning children’s series Arthur and Molly of Denali, along with more than a dozen other primetime, lifestyle and children’s series, as well as the news and documentary WORLD Channel.

GBH has launched a number of digital-only series, including the YouTube series Career Hacks, offering career advice to new job seekers; Internet Expert, designed to engage Gen Z in the democratic process; NOVA’s Parentalogic, a YouTube series for new parents; and Keep It Social, which explores social media trends. GBH also offers a series of podcasts, including Molly of Denali, The FRONTLINE Dispatch, In It Together, Innovation Hub, Under the Radar, and The Creeping Hour, among others. 

“In the past 10 years, consumers everywhere shifted behaviors, not just video but also audio,” said Cassidy. The change is not intended to homogenize GBH as a national PBS station. The largest change consumers will see is the credits at the end of a program, she said. 

Local PBS station will still fundraise as they always have done, she said. “Local donors just thinks of us as Channel 2,” she said.