Philadelphia’s KYW drops Eyewitness News with rebrand focused on community

After 60 years of the famed Eyewitness News brand, Philadelphia’s KYW is making a change aimed at connecting better with its community in the digital age. 

The overall rebranding process for the station has been nearly a year in the making, starting with market research and a gap analysis of the station and its audience.

“One of the things we really wanted to know was, where was Philadelphia not being served?” said Kelly Frank, president and general manager for CBS Philadelphia. “Through that process, many things surfaced. One was that Eyewitness News really was no longer relevant to a modern news and information consumer.”

That brand, originated by Al Primo at KYW under Westinghouse in 1959 and followed by rival Action News, aimed for a faster pace of reporting with more focus on visuals, including on-scene reporting and breaking news.

“They represented a style as local news was emerging and continuing through very tumultuous times, but it represents the get in, get out kind of journalism for local news,” said Frank. “I look at the biggest pivot point, me personally, the evolution of the smartphone. And when that occurred in the early 2000s, everything that we did, was really shook a bit.”

“The overall rebranding and design is very much a market-by-market approach heavily guided by market-level research and data,” said Adrienne Roark, president, CBS Stations. “Because every market in each city is all at a different point in their roadmap … we recognize that we needed the vision, the patience, the willingness and the open-mindedness to treat each vision as its own unique entity.”

In Philadelphia particularly, the research pointed to Eyewitness News no longer being a good fit, while viewers immediately recognize the brand of CBS and the station’s over-the-air number, three.

“We did a dive into what people were looking for in a post-COVID world. … Now people want a connection, in a different way than just their feeds,” said Frank. “In Philadelphia particularly, people wanted a little more heart. They wanted to feel something, they wanted to be informed, they want the good and the bad. It’s not (that) we’re going to do soft feature-y news, but they want to understand the solution and the context and feel connected to their communities.”


This overall mindset of community has resonated with viewers in other CBS markets undergoing similar rebrands. At CBS News Detroit for example, the newscasts lean into the local communities that make up Detroit and focus on having reporters “on every corner.”

“When we interview folks now and we bring them on board, we talk about where they want to live,” said Frank. “We want people that work with us to live where they are going to tell their stories.”

Story pitches have also moved away from a reactive nature to a proactive approach that aims to find the “connection behind that headline.”

“Our idea is to give more context, connection and emotional connection to that story,” said Frank.

Carrying this new approach through is the new tagline and promotional campaign “finding heart in every beat.”

The rebrand also includes the rollout of the new CBS Stations’ group graphics package, which KYW has customized with a unique green hue.

That green, while immediately invoking imagery of a certain Philadelphia NFL team, was actually chosen to help differentiate the station given the dominance of blue in television news.

“There was intention in that and we looked at two to three different palettes. … The idea was to not be offensive, but to create balance and color that connected to what we’re trying to accomplish,” said Frank, who also noted the color was chosen to create distinction but, additionally, to connect with a digital audience.

“You don’t see as much of the traditional local news colors in those spaces, and we distribute everywhere. So we wanted to be relevant everywhere.”

“We also recognized we couldn’t just completely get rid of the three,” said Frank, while noting that channel numbers mean something different in the world of streaming. “We knew that there was recognition and affinity and value in that three… We needed to maintain that tip of the hat, that legacy, that homage to the iconic three. So we kept it and made sure that it was married to the CBS brand.”

“Each market is unique and has its own identity, but then each market still fits into the ecosystem of CBS News and Stations,” said Roark. “We know that the audience leans into both (digital and OTA) seamlessly. Looking at it from graphics, aesthetics or otherwise, it basically removes any walls so that the audience has the same experience and effortlessly leans into each.”


CBS Philadelphia worked with agency Matchstic on the rebranding with input from nearly 30 to 40 staffers, led internally by Frank, Kathy Gerrow, Will Manzano and Jorge Mondaca.

The new CBS News Philadelphia is set to debut with the 4 p.m. newscast on April 12, 2023.