From WGBH:

WGBH today announced new branding, dropping the broadcast-centric “W” from its name and adopting a new logo. Going forward, the organization will be known as GBH.

For nearly 70 years, the W in WGBH’s call letters reflected that it was a broadcast licensee east of the Mississippi River (while most licensees on the west side have call letters beginning with a K). But with more than half of its audience impressions coming via digital platforms, the public media pioneer dropped the “W” to better reflect its leadership in the new media environment.

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’ that Chermayeff & Geismar originally designed in the early ‘70s. The font will change to the clean and 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. The new primary brand color will be a vibrant, digital-first shade of purple. Equality, wisdom, empathy, creativity and resilience are all associated with purple and align with GBH’s core brand values.

“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.”


From Current

To change with the times, WGBH drops its ‘W’ and pivots to purple

WGBH in Boston is removing the “W” from its branding to become “GBH.”

The new branding, which includes a color and font change, will be unveiled across platforms this week. Among other updates, WGBH News will become GBH News and 89.7 WGBH will be GBH 89.7.

Credits for national programs produced by the station, including American ExperienceFrontlineNovaAntiques Roadshow and This Old House, will also change.

The brand refresh accommodates the broadcaster’s evolution beyond television and radio, said Tina Cassidy, chief marketing officer. More than half of the station’s audience impressions come from digital platforms, Cassidy said, so the goal is reintroducing the brand to a wider audience, especially younger consumers.

Cassidy said that when she joined the station last year, she didn’t intend at first to push for a change to WGBH’s brand. She grew up in the New England area and was familiar with the “Channel 2” branding that accompanied some of the station’s services. But in her first few months on the job, she noticed that audience members were confused about the station’s offerings in the streaming era. The change gives the station a chance to show audiences its additional services, she said.

“I realized that our brand had become somewhat diffuse,” Cassidy said. “Many people did not have a clear sense of what we did or who we were. Were we TV, were we radio, were we a national producer? It had become somewhat confusing. The real underlying rationale behind this brand refresh was to embrace the aspects of our brand that people know and love, while also sending a very clear message about the future, about where we are going.”

20 Comments

  1. Lo Hartnett on September 19, 2020 at 10:53 am

    Has always been ‘GBH…in my mind and out of my mouth since day1. …Finally

  2. Susan Dangel on September 11, 2020 at 2:18 pm

    I actually think many organizations should lose their “w’s”,
    Just think: Hole Foods; Alt Disney; Almart. And we could have totally done without the President who had a W in the middle.

  3. Susan Kubany on September 5, 2020 at 12:01 am

    I was near bottom when I met Sylvia Davis: the cat and I were sharing a half can of veggies or whatever for dinner.
    I met and began dating Ray Welch, one of the greats of Boston advertising and he told me about a job doing PR for the Episcopal archbishop, put in a good word. I’d done temp secretarial work (and offered lot of jobs I did not want) but I was holding on to…. …..something.
    Finally, the word came back: I did not get the job with the church. I burst into Ray’s office, crying, and blamed him. Poor Ray was stunned, unknowing how to console me.
    He went to Sylvia Davis and said, “I think I know a young you.” Mostly, that was all it took for Sylvia to hire me to try to save The Advocates, too little watched and in danger of cancellation. It still took another six months for her to find a modest budget for my salary.
    I fought hard for The Advocates, a series I came to admire tremendously. At one point, in a meeting with Sylvia and Michael Rice, he said, “I know. Let’s call it the PBS Fight of the Week. Joe Namath, Howard Cosell and Muhammad Ali can do the promos.” And they laughed.
    I went back to my desk. Howard Cosell was steadfast in his refusal to help, but I got Ali and Namath to agree. I rounded the third spot with John Havlichek.
    Russ Morash produced the promos and the Ali one, done at the training camp in Dear Lake Pennsylvia was especially brilliant.
    But, The Advocates died and, then, Sylvia gave me a new series, NOVA, to launch. I watched the first handful and loved them, but went to her with “a problem.” NOVA will die, regardless how brilliant, because folk will not tune in the first time to more boring talking heads from Boston. Sylvia understood and we came up with the subhead, “Science Adventures for Curious Grown-ups” and presented the idea to Michael Ambrosino, the executive producer, who turned green and almost vomited in the meeting. “No!” he said.
    Fortunately, with Sylvia “blocking” for me Ambrosino did not have the power to fire me – which he badly wanted to do. And, thus, for NOVA’s first four seasons all the publicity material and chirpy press release copy featured “Science Adventures for Curious Grown-ups.”
    I like to think that those successful early seasons with strong viewership gave NOVA the foundational base upon which it has now built its lasting success.
    Although Sylvia could be a powerful advocate she was also capricious and mercurial. “No, I hate the beginning of this press release, Re-write!” Two days later, it was “No, the first job was better. Change this sentence and it’s publish….”
    But, I liked her. She was strong and she was creative. ….And, for a time, powerful.
    I left ‘GBH when I began to sniff, understand, the strong, one-sided political perspectives. A liberal myself, I was uncomfortable about a disdain for discussion. Sadly, that persists, mostly at NPR today. “What? Voter fraud?” (Bat eyelashes remotely.) “Why ah never heard of such a thing!”
    Sylvia Davis was a mentor, an annoyance, a friend and a woman I will never forget. RIP.

  4. John Beck on September 1, 2020 at 5:47 pm

    @ChristopherSarson While the transmitter location was important, and the old general manager shouldn’t be forgotten, the cabalistic meaning God Bless Harvard lingers on…

  5. Karen Johnson on September 1, 2020 at 9:44 am

    I remember the meeting in Studio A when DavidIves, Michael Rice and Chris Pullman introduced the new chunky shadowed logo, to cheers. I don’t think anybody missed the old Swishy “2”. This change looks good to me. And we’ve been calling it GBH for years. There was even a poster one time of the leather clad British punk band Grievous Bodily Harm with their GBH on their backs, used for our own GBH.

    • Angela Lifsey on September 4, 2020 at 3:34 pm

      LOL. Karen, I remember that image vividly. What’s old is new again. It was always ‘GBH. – Angela

    • Susan Presson on September 5, 2020 at 1:20 pm

      ‘GBH? WTF? OMG! BTW. LOL. Oly 3 ltr per wrd. And the pple? pls. lok lke a est egg gne bad.

      • Dan Beach on September 11, 2020 at 2:15 pm

        Perfect Susan. Makes me recall something from the ’70s’ sung to the tune of The Mickey Mouse Club: “M.I.T., G.B.H., L.I.C.B.C.”

        • Laurie Everett on September 18, 2020 at 2:13 pm

          Yes, and if only there hadn’t been the fire, perhaps GBH would have retained its science, engineering, and technology emphasis, being influenced by its proximity to the MIT campus (as in across the street from the main Building 7 entrance at 77 Mass Ave) instead of moving to Harvard’s backyard. With 20+ years at GBH and now starting my 20th year at MIT, I often wonder how GBH would have evolved if it had stayed at 84 Mass Ave. And I wonder what actually caused the fire…..



      • Karen Johnson on September 12, 2020 at 9:36 am

        Ha! Grt, sus. Grvs bdly hrm/gd bls hvd be dmd!

  6. Jon M on September 1, 2020 at 12:15 am

    Seems that that W was really holding the organization back. If I were G, I’d be very very afraid.

    • Jon M on September 2, 2020 at 5:09 pm

      Heard a rumor that H turned on W. So much for thinking that that H was silent.

  7. Kathryn Dietz on August 31, 2020 at 9:36 pm

    And Grievous Bodily Harm! I find this an insubstantial change, but hope for the best for my favorite station.

  8. Greg Fitzgerald on August 31, 2020 at 9:02 pm

    Deja Vu all over again? GBH was launched for radio back in the 70’s. We were GBH FM90. It didn’t keep for long, though.

    • Greg Fitzgerald on August 31, 2020 at 9:04 pm

      I don’t think the FCC was pleased with the rounding error. ;)

      • John Beck on September 1, 2020 at 5:44 pm

        Not many digital tuners then!

  9. Jack Gill on August 31, 2020 at 7:18 pm

    We SHALL CONTINUE as WGBH Alumni. Some good things will not change. (May I not have cause to eat these words in the future!)

  10. Lance Ozier on August 31, 2020 at 6:56 pm

    I get (and don’t mind) losing the W, but I am sad that “digital” dictates the loss of the original font for GBH. Call me “Old School.”

  11. Charles Kelley on August 31, 2020 at 6:32 pm

    Feels a bit like a loss in the family, frankly. But, consoled by Chris Sarson’s reminder that the Great Blue Hill lives on!

  12. Christopher Sarson on August 31, 2020 at 5:39 pm

    I’m glad we’ve not lost the association with Great Blue Hill and God Bless Hartford!!

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