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Detroit Public TV changes name, buys a block in Detroit for its future headquarters

Posted By: The Detroit News on April 16, 2024.  For more information, please click here to read the source article.

Detroit Public TV has a new name and in the near future will have a new home address.

The public broadcasting station has officially changed its name to Detroit PBS and plans to move from its headquarters in Wixom for the last two decades to Detroit. It has purchased an empty block in the city’s Milwaukee Junction neighborhood that the public television station aims to turn into its headquarters.

Detroit PBS closed last week on the $10 million purchase of a long-vacant warehouse at 234 Piquette Street and an adjacent lot, which will become a parking lot, said Rich Homberg, the station’s president and CEO on Monday. The warehouse, part of which dates back to 1928, was considered obsolete a few years ago, according to city of Detroit documents. If things go as planned, the property will become a “community media campus” that will open in 2026, officials said Monday.

“We saw a real need to serve in a deeper way,” Homberg said. “Understanding the needs of our community was critical. The further we went into it, the more we realized we needed to be at the center of Detroit and the piece of land we’re talking about it literally could not be more optimized for being able to bring all of Southeast Michigan into a location.”

Its new location will be about “30 minutes maximum from virtually every city in Southeast Michigan,” Homberg said.

The announcement comes nearly 20 years after the organization moved its headquarters from Detroit to Wixom, driven by a federal mandate at the time to convert to digital television broadcasting.

The Milwaukee Junction neighborhood is on the city’s near northside, which is generally within a few miles’ radius of the intersection of Woodward Avenue and Grand Boulevard. Detroit PBS joins an influx of both large-scale investments along with new residential and small businesses moving into area.

In the adjacent New Center neighborhood, construction has begun on an estimated $3 billion mega-development involving Henry Ford Health, Michigan State University and Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores.

In October, the public television station sold its Wixom headquarters, The Riley Broadcast Center at 1 Clover Court, and five acres of land to an automotive supplier, TYC Brother Industrial Co. The $11 million sale of the facility is helping fund its renovation of Piquette street properties.

Currently, Detroit PBS operates out of several locations, including a temporary space in Wixom, while its content team works out of the Marygrove Conservancy in Detroit and 90.9 WRCJ, a classical and jazz radio station, works out of the Detroit School of Arts.

The Piquette street property will significantly expand Detroit PBS’ studio space along with its ability to hold community events.

“We’ll go from two studios to seven different video locations,” in the facility, Homberg said. “We will have a 300-seat theater-style studio. We will have a performance studio that will be both indoors and outdoors. We will have three different education facilities that we can bolt together into one large educational facility” he said.

This new space “provides new opportunities in all of our mission pillars,” said Melissa Roy, chair of the board of trustees. “Education, arts and culture, journalism and public affairs, and energy and the environment will have room to grow and deepen engagement with our community via television, online and beyond.”

The campus will become the station’s organizational headquarters, housing video production and broadcasts, 90.9 WRCJ radio production and broadcasts, arts performances, a journalism hub and community events space. Currently, those operations are spread out in various locations.

Changing the name to Detroit PBS, meanwhile, is based a couple of years of audience research, said Eric Freeland, vice president of marketing and digital.

“Many people are already thinking of us as Detroit PBS, and then others had issues trying to name us and identifying us in the crowded media landscape,” Freeland said. “We want to be very defined and we felt like having the trusted PBS in our name is really important.”

In addition to the rebranding to Detroit PBS, The Detroit Education Television Foundation, the 501(c)(3) entity that governs the organization’s 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, has changed its name to Detroit Public Media.

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