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WDSE-WRPT rebrands as 'PBS North'

Duluth's public media brand is no longer just a TV station; it's "a multi-platform entertainment and educational programming provider."

The front hood of a white SUV shows PBS North logo. Bare trees are reflected in the hood, and snow has accumulated near the windshield wipers.
The new logo of PBS North is seen on a company vehicle parked in Duluth on Tuesday.
Jay Gabler / Duluth News Tribune
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DULUTH — The corporation running Duluth's public television channel WDSE and its Hibbing satellite WRPT has taken a new name. Instead of "WDSE-WRPT," the organization will be called "PBS North."

An exterior view of a low, rectangular brick building in a snowy setting. Signage on the building and on a standalone sign indicates WDSE-WRPT with the PBS logo.
Signage at the PBS North office in Duluth on Tuesday shows the nonprofit's former branding as WDSE-WRPT.
Jay Gabler / Duluth News Tribune

In a news release, the nonprofit emphasized its forward-looking orientation as "a multi-platform entertainment and educational programming provider." Those platforms include streaming online video and a radio station, The North 103.3. That station, formerly known as KUMD, was purchased from the University of Minnesota Duluth by WDSE-WRPT in 2021.

"We are proud of the ways we’ve innovated to meet our viewers where they are, providing them exceptional, educational and entertaining programming on their televisions, tablets, phones and computers," PBS North President Patty Mester said in a statement. "Since we are no longer tied exclusively to the television set, we felt it was time to update our brand to better reflect these innovations."

As Mester went on to acknowledge, Duluth's main public TV channel has been called PBS North for the past eight years, so it won't be a stretch for locals to start using the new name for the company overall. The new name comes with a new logo, incorporating the iconic PBS logo centered on designer Ernie Smith's "P-Head" image.

The radio station is now called The North 103.3 FM. Dual ownership of TV and radio stations is uncommon in public media; the purchase is the first of its kind in Minnesota.

The company now called PBS North was incorporated in 1957 as the Duluth-Superior Educational Television Corp. That company began broadcasting on WDSE, Duluth's VHF Channel 8 in 1964. WRPT was added in 2008, extending the station's reach across the Iron Range.

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The St. Paul-Minneapolis public television corporation, formerly known as TPT, made a similar rebranding move in 2015 when it became Twin Cities PBS. The Minnesota affiliates' new brands are part of an overall push by PBS to strengthen its identity in an increasingly crowded media landscape.

"We want to be there for every American, regardless of background, age, or geography," PBS executive Don Wilcox told Fast Company in 2019, "whether you’re getting us with rabbit ears in the Blue Ridge Mountains or an optic connection in Austin."

Or, as the case may be, with a dipole in Duluth.

Related Topics: DULUTHTELEVISIONRADIOMEDIA
Arts and entertainment reporter Jay Gabler joined the Duluth News Tribune in February 2022. His previous experience includes eight years as a digital producer at The Current (Minnesota Public Radio), four years as theater critic at Minneapolis alt-weekly City Pages, and six years as arts editor at the Twin Cities Daily Planet. He's a co-founder of pop culture and creative writing blog The Tangential; and a member of the National Book Critics Circle. You can reach him at jgabler@duluthnews.com or 218-279-5536.
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