CHARLESTON — Effective on Jan. 1, the West Virginia organization that provides educational programming to more than a million people each year phased out the other names it has been known by and calls itself exclusively by one name: West Virginia Public Broadcasting.
The organization plans to transition away from the use of the names West Virginia Public Radio and West Virginia PBS over the next six months.
“We currently market ourselves under three names: West Virginia Public Radio, West Virginia PBS and West Virginia Public Broadcasting,” Scott Finn, executive director, said in a press release last month. “But we have been one organization and one team for a long time. We have decided to unite under one brand, West Virginia Public Broadcasting, and phase out the use of the others.”
West Virginia Public Broadcasting started out in the 1960s and 1970s as separate TV and radio stations: in TV, WMUL at Marshall, WWVU at WVU, and WSWP in Beckley. (WMUL later became WPBY, and WWVU became WNPB.)
Each of these stations has a proud history of serving the public with innovative educational programming. One well-known alumnus of WNPB in Morgantown is Mark Samels, executive producer of the PBS series American Experience.
Meanwhile, public radio stations throughout the state united into one network, West Virginia Public Radio. It too has a long tradition of excellence, producing Mountain Stage and journalists such as WNYC’s Anna Sale and NPR’s Giles Snyder.
Around 1996, the three TV stations and the radio network merged into one: West Virginia Public Broadcasting. This reduced many business-related inefficiencies and led to creative cross-platform programming that serves radio, TV and online audiences.
“Although we were united as an organization internally, we never got around to calling ourselves by one name with our audiences,” Finn said.
“We held onto the old brands because of our proud association with them. This has led to some confusion. More than once, people have told me they heard an NPR story on West Virginia PBS, or watched a British drama on West Virginia Public Radio,” Finn said.
“The decision to use one brand name throughout wasn’t made lightly,” Finn said. “We spent a year talking with staff, our boards, our audience and other stations. In the end, we embraced the name that’s brought us together for almost two decades: West Virginia Public Broadcasting.”
To reflect this change, the organization has changed the call letters for its Charleston radio station to WVPB. It is also in the process of changing the call letters for its Charleston-Huntington TV station to WVPB as well.
“So whether you watch, listen or read our news and original productions, our name will be the same,” Finn said. “And wherever you find us — on wvpublic.org, YouTube, a mobile app, radio or TV — you will see one name, reflecting our united commitment to telling West Virginia’s story.”