Minnesota-Wisconsin PBS stations switch to new name

A northern midwest PBS member station has rebranded its primary station and satellite one as “PBS North.”

WDSE, which is licensed to Duluth, Minnesota and Superior, Wisconsin, and its satellite WRPT in Hibbing, Minnesota, switched to the new name Jan. 16, 2023, which also includes an updated logo.

That design pairs the 2019 PBS rebranding and logo updates with the word “North” set in teal with a small yellow star accent that attempts to do double duty as the crossbar in the “t.”

Meant as a reference to the North Star, “the brand is meant to evoke feelings of community, while also reminding viewers that PBS North programming is unlike any other, because they’re telling stories — our stories — like no one else can,” according to the station.

It also reinforces the station’s mission “to illuminate, inspire and enrich lives to strengthen community.”

The station points out that despite its roots in TV, much of its content is no longer viewed on traditional, linear TV. Instead, streaming and digital platforms are exploding in popularity so the station apparently decided using call letters was an outdated practice. 

Before the rebranding, the station typically stacked both call letters on top of each other, creating an alphabet soup-heavy look. It would also stylize its calls as “WDSE•WRPT” with a bullet in the middle.

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The old logo design used overly tight letter spacing that resulted in every glyph in the design touching another in what appears to be Arial, a typeface widely considered to be inferior knockoff to the classic Helvetica, something that is particularly visible based on right leg of the “R.”

The stations join a slate of other PBS member stations rebranding in the years since the new PBS branding was introduced, including ones in St. Louis; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Boston; Vermont and Washington, D.C. 

PBS stations, like their commercial network-affiliated counterparts, are not required to use the PBS logo or brand standards in their individual logos, though they made do so if they wish. There are also varying degrees to which this is done — sometimes the updated PBS “everyman” and workmark are simply tacked on to the station’s own unique look, while others opt for tighter integration.

Online, the station has switched to the domain pbsnorth.org. The domain pbsnorth.com is registered but it is not clear who owns it and it does not redirect to the station site (often organization that use a .org extension will register the .com version since it’s more well-known and redirect users who type that in to the  .org version).

It has also snapped up @PBSNorth on most major social media platforms, with the exception of Twitter where it has to use @PBS_North.

The station is owned by Duluth-Superior Area Educational Television Corporation.

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