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Detroit Public Television Unveils New Name and Announces Move

April 19, 2024

Detroit Public Television has announced that it has changed its name to Detroit PBS "to reflect our commitment and connection to the ‘Most Important City in America.’"  The announcement was made in a release dated April 18.  In addition to the name change, the organization announced that it will "return to its roots by moving its headquarters back to Detroit.

From the press release:

Our history as the state’s largest and most watched public media station is a testament to what can happen when vision, conviction and commitment converge. We had a vision to relocate back to Detroit and overtly distinguish ourselves as a PBS affiliate. This coming Tuesday marks this momentous occasion in our station’s history as we announce we are realizing these goals by moving back to the city of Detroit and changing our name to Detroit PBS. 

Thank you for your constant support, your indefatigable leadership and of course, the unparalleled PBS programming. As we make these monumental steps a reality in our station's journey,  we can only just imagine the possibilities.

As the community-owned, nonprofit media organization that has served Southeast Michigan since 1955, Detroit Public TV is moving its headquarters back to the City of Detroit as part of a new community media campus in the Milwaukee Junction neighborhood.

At the same time, we are changing our name to Detroit PBS, to demonstrate our decades-long commitment to engaging the community and to the standards of quality, trust and fairness that have been the hallmark of PBS.

We purchased the property at 234 Piquette Avenue, between John R and Brush Streets, where we will renovate and expand an existing building to serve as much more than a traditional television station. The campus will provide an ideally situated home for our organizational headquarters, video production and broadcasts, 90.9 WRCJ radio production and broadcasts, arts performances, journalism hub and community events space.

The new building will uniquely combine features from leading public media facilities in Boston, Denver and Austin, showcasing innovation by integrating them all under one roof.

We have been a leader in community engagement in the PBS system, and that is one of the reasons we have the most diverse viewership in the PBS system. The focus of our content and engagement starts in the city and then extends outward to the far reaches of Southeast Michigan, becoming a unifying force in the region. 

We expect to begin construction later this year, with an opening scheduled for Fall 2026. This announcement comes nearly 20 years after we announced a headquarters move to Wixom, driven by a federal mandate at the time to cost-efficiently convert to digital television broadcasting.

However, our broadcasts and other activities did not stop originating in the city. Over the past two decades, 90.9 WRCJ has continuously broadcast from Detroit, and significant television production has taken place in the city via studio partnerships and field production. The expanding journalism bureau has been stationed in Detroit, first at the Detroit Historical Museum and now at Marygrove, and the Education team’s various family workshops have been a welcome and regular fixture in neighborhoods throughout Detroit.

Among this new life will be an even greater emphasis on serving the media needs of the region by providing a space for ongoing engagement with the community, including the type of feedback sessions that members of the One Detroit team have conducted for years in Detroit neighborhoods to learn what matters most to their residents. We plan to expand community programs like media mentorship and training to community partners to help them hone their messaging and distribute it effectively. With dramatic shifts in the media industry, it has become more important than ever for community organizations to find ways to make their voices heard.

Additionally, alongside the announcement of the relocation, our flagship broadcast channel, WTVS-TV, affectionately known as “Channel 56” for generations, and our other operations will undergo a transformation and be rebranded as Detroit PBS. This decision, informed by two years of audience research, underscores our dedication to community engagement and building viewer trust.

Members of the public continue to say consistently that despite all that is new with their media habits, their respect and appreciation for PBS remains as strong as ever. In the most recent national research, mirrored by local viewer surveys, Americans say that PBS is the “most trusted” source of information for the 21st consecutive year. Viewers of all political stripes share trust in PBS and its member stations, especially those in the Detroit market.

In addition to the rebranding to Detroit PBS, The Detroit Education Television Foundation, the 501(c)(3) entity that governs our operations, which include WTVS-TV, 90.9 WRCJ, multiple digital television channels, including the Michigan Learning Channel, and all of its online properties, along with national initiatives such as PBS Books, will now be known as  Detroit Public Media, to reflect the nature, beyond television, of our mission. Detroit Public Media is governed by a board of trustees comprised entirely of Southeast Michigan residents. The vast majority of our funding, approximately 70 percent, comes directly from community members who live in the region.

As Detroit PBS, we are now associating the phrase, “Imagine the Possibilities,” with our new name to communicate the power of our programming, platforms and community outreach. This phrasing serves as a positive affirmation and emotional connection to our community, especially the children who have long been inspired by PBS shows.

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