WABE launches a major rebranding with new logo, music, slogan

The new slogan: Amplifying Atlanta.
The new WABE logo is featured on a T-Shirt. WABE

Credit: WABE

Credit: WABE

The new WABE logo is featured on a T-Shirt. WABE

Starting Wednesday, Public Broadcasting Atlanta is revamping its branding for its radio station, TV station, website and app, using the WABE moniker for everything.

The TV station will now be known as WABE instead of Public Broadcasting Atlanta. In fact, the corporate name will be WABE as well, effectively retiring the name Public Broadcasting Atlanta.

The changes, with help from a local branding company Matchstic, include a fresh logo, updated ID music and a new slogan: “Amplifying Atlanta.” This replaces the five-year-old radio slogan “Where ATL meets NPR.”

The move is in part to combine different brands ― including radio station 90.1/WABE-FM and TV station ATL PBA/Channel 30 ― under a single umbrella. The TV station website www.pba.org will be merged with www.wabe.org starting Wednesday with wabe.org being the primary site.

Focus groups initiated by the organization showed WABE was by far the strongest brand name.

“We know that the simplicity and elegance of WABE will help us be more effective in building awareness about our shows,” said Jennifer Dorian, the CEO and president of WABE. She joined the operation a year ago after a long run at Turner Broadcasting.

In essence, she added, “it’s about strengthening our position in Atlanta and eliminating confusion.”

In metro Atlanta, WABE competes directly with Georgia Public Broadcasting, which relies heavily on government subsidies but also has to serve the entire state with nine TV stations and 19 radio stations. (About 41% of GPB’s annual budget comes from a state appropriation.)

In comparison, a vast majority of WABE’s funding comes from individuals and corporate underwriting.

GPB’s TV station in Atlanta on Channel 8 is the dominant force in town and generates far bigger ratings than WABE’s PBA/Channel 30. On the radio side, eight years ago, GPB took over daytime FM programming from Georgia State University’s 88.5/WRAS-FM, which offers much of the same national programming as WABE. But WRAS has not been able to make much of a dent in WABE’s radio dominance over the years, generating about 15 percent of listening compared to WABE.

Doran is happy that the WABE flagship radio station has a relatively young listenership, with a median age of 44. The station’s demographics also reflect the city of Atlanta as a whole, with 35% of its listeners Black. About 7% of its listening is through streaming and she hopes to grow that to 20% in the coming years.

Jennifer Dorian, president and CEO of Public Broadcasting Atlanta, took over in early 2021 for Wonya Lucas, who went to the Hallmark Channel. She had a long run at Turner Broadcasting. WABE

Credit: WABE

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Credit: WABE

The new WABE logo in 2022.

Credit: WABE

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Credit: WABE

Dorian would like to add more local content to its TV station, something PBA has not done much of in recent years while the organization focused on building its digital presence and its podcasting division.

One of its recent efforts, a talk show featuring Atlanta social activist and hip-hop legend Killer Mike called “Love and Respect with Killer Mike” is now available on the WABE TV station and has just started a second season. His first guest this year is Bernice King. The TV show has also been turned into a radio show available at 4:30 p.m. on WABE every Sunday.

“We want to translate some of our talent and our shows from radio to television,” Dorian said. Examples she cited include “Closer Look with Rose Scott,” “Political Breakfast’ and “City Lights with Lois Reitzes.”

WABE is seeking to hire a podcast director and wants to add more podcasts to its current lineup, which includes the Peabody Award-winning “Buried Truths.” “Podcasting is a vital platform for us,” Dorian said.

Another new event WABE is planning: a monthly music show at City Winery called “Sounds Like ATL” starting in February. “Its our goal to create a property in the long run as important and successful as ‘Austin City Limits,’” Dorian said.

WABE’s revised embed music, created by local musician Chelsea Shag, is funkier. The new logo is more playful. “I think it looks fresh,” Dorian said. “It looks friendly, not corporate.”

Sheri Daye Scott, senior vice president for marketing and communications for WABE, said she hopes the logo is “something people in the street will be proud to rock on a T-shirt or cap.” (WABE will be giving away swag in the coming weeks at different events.)

In its latest audited financial report for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2021, WABE is financially healthy.

The non-profit organization showed significant revenue growth, hitting a record high $17.6 million, with revenues exceeding expenses by about $600,000. The station also received a Paycheck Protection Loan of $1.4 million that was forgiven. As a result, total assets grew from $11 million to $12.8 million.

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