Houston Public Media launches new site combining TV and radio offerings

By Ben Mook

Workers prepare a billboard for the launch of Houston Public Media’s new brand and website. (Photo/HPM, Erich Schlegel)

Workers prepare a billboard for the launch of Houston Public Media’s new brand and website. (Photo: HPM/Erich Schlegel)

Houston Public Media unveiled a new website this week as part of its ongoing effort to converge its radio, TV and digital operations.

The site launched March 1 alongside a six-month marketing campaign that combines billboard ads and direct mail, aiming  to raise awareness of the pubcaster’s multiple offerings under one brand.

The website was developed by outside consultants and provides an online portal to HPM’s television and radio stations, including news/talk 88.7 FM and classical 91.7 FM, all owned  by the University of Houston.

The Houston stations were managed separately until a 2011 reorganization that adopted  a converged pubcasting model along the lines of Cleveland’s ideastream and San Diego’s KPBS. With the March 1 site relaunch and promo blitz, HPM consolidated its branding and marketing, offering memberships and selling underwriting for Houston Public Media rather than the three individual stations.

“This has been a big undertaking for us,” HPM G.M. Lisa Trapani Shumate said. “It’s a big message change, but we think it’s really important for us to go forward.”

The new site meshes the digital arms of the TV station and two FMs into one location. Previously, online visitors would see a splash screen inviting them to choose among the separate sites for Houston PBS, news station 88.7 KUHF-FM, or classical 91.7 KUHA-FM. On the new site, the stations are rebranded as TV 8, News 88.7 and Classical 91.7.

“The old site just kept the silos in place,” said Shumate. “It was time to take those silos down. It didn’t make sense to for the stations to be in three different places.”

The rebranding includes a new HPM logo, which features a streak of white moving upward, much like the vapor trail from a jet engine. The design was inspired by NASA’s Johnson Space Center, home of Mission Control — the “Houston” that astronauts talk to during space missions.

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