PBS replaced NET, a former major educational and public TV network, founded in early 1952 and incorporated in November of that year. Among their original affiliates were WETA Washington D.C., WNET New York, KCET Los Angeles, WGBH Boston, WQED Pittsburgh, KLRN San Antonio, KLRU Austin, Maryland Public Television, The Agency for Instructional Technology, Mississippi ETV, KTCA Minneapolis/St. Paul, KPBS in San Diego,and various others. Originating from The Educational Television and Radio Center from 1952-1959, and later The National Educational Television and Radio Center from 1959 to 1962, when the radio portion was dropped.
Nicknames: "The Text", "The Text of Boredom", "Multi-Colored/Tri-Colored Text", "The World's Most Generic Logo"
(May 17, 1970-October 3, 1971)
Logo: Just a black background with the Arial words:
stacked on top of each other in red, yellow, and blue as you can see in the images above.
Cheesy Factor: This logo is too plain. Not to mention the quality is also pretty bad, but considering only one video of the logo exists (save for the Calebration variant), an HQ one also exists.
Music/Sounds: None, or the opening theme. At the end of each program with this logo, MacDonald Carey or another announcer, depending on possibly the program, says, "This is PBS, the Public Broadcasting Service."
Availability: Extremely rare. It was used concurrently with the NET logo from 1970 to 1971 mid-season as a placeholder logo and then quickly replaced with the 2nd logo. Though PBS officially went on the air on October 5, 1970, the logo itself actually debuted just over a month earlier, on the Grateful Dead concert program Calebration. It also appeared on the initial broadcasts of the NET Fanfare episode "Go Ride the Music", featuring Jefferson Airplane and Quicksilver Messenger Service, as well as the fourth season of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, the second season of Sesame Street, some of the earliest known extant episodes of WNET's Soul!, and the first Masterpiece Theatre serials from The First Churchills to Pere Goriot. If you know of any available program that has this logo, feel free to bring it to our attention here.
Scare Factor: None. But it would somewhat change with the second logo...
(April 22, 1971-October 1, 1984)
Nicknames: "PBS P-Head", "The Tri-Colored Everyman P-Heads", "The Tri-Colored PBS Logo", "The Tri-Heads from/of Hell/Doom"
Logo: On a black background, an abstract-cut blue P zooms out to upper-mid screen. The "P" turns into a "P-shaped" head, facing left, with the text "PUBLIC" below this and all of the other text are set in ITC Avant Garde Gothic, and both move to the left of the screen. An abstract-cut orange B appears to the right of the P-Head, and two black dots appear in the B, the latter dot coinciding with the text "BROADCASTING" appearing below the "PUBLIC". An abstract-cut green S appears to the right of the B and black dots appear twice as well, the latter dot coinciding with the text "SERVICE" appearing below the "BROADCASTING". The final text stack reads:
- This logo was designed by Herb Lubalin, also responsible for the aforementioned Avant Garde Gothic. At first, they wanted it to be "PBS" with stars on it, then the letters "PBS" with a star-shaped vortex next to it and finally, a falcon with a "PBS"-shaped neck. They also used the colors red, white, blue, gold, teal & shocking pink in the original ideas, but they didn't look quite right. They even thought of making the "PBS" logo you see above in the same color scheme as the Star-Spangled Banner at first when they showed this idea to them (some of the logos mentioned make appearances in a late 1980s PBS promo using Lionel Richie's Say You, Say Me as its jingle.) There is even a documentary about this logo's creation seen here.
- The logo was also parodied in the Family Guy S2 episode "The Son Also Draws", where it is already formed and is still, not to mention it is in B&W and is crudely drawn and the P-Head is facing the opposite direction.
- This logo was brought back by PBS as the logo for their "PBS Digital Studios" YouTube channel.
- On the April 19, 1977 broadcast of The MacNeil/Lehrer Report, half the logo is chyroned over footage of the studio where the show was taped at the time; said footage cuts away almost immediately after the S pops up.
- A special variant of this was used on a S8 Saturday Night Live episode hosted by Robert Blake that aired on November 13, 1982, right before a spoof of a PBS commercial. Here, the words "PUBLIC BROADCASTING SERVICE" are removed, the P-Head is green, the "B" is red, and the "S" is blue.
- On some broadcasts of The MacNeil/Lehrer Report, there is a light blue zooming in effect appearing through the blue slant in the show's title name to reveal the blue "P" in the PBS logo
- There were two different endings: one with a fadeout, and one without a fadeout.
- On an episode of "Alvin Toffler's The Third Wave", the P-Head is green. This is most likely due to videotape deterioration.
- A still version was used for program breaks.
Effects: The Scanimated P-Heads' animations.
Cheesy Factor: Really choppy limited animation.
- Usually, it has a telephone-like Moog synthesizer scale descending rapidly, followed by 5 Moog synthesizer notes.
- Sometimes, it's silent.
- On We Interrupt This Week, a short lived game show produced for PBS by WNET in 1978, a special variant was used. Here, the logo plays as usual, but instead of the logo's music a choir is heard singing "Happy Birthday to You!".
- Mouth Music has an a capella version of the logo's music.
- The still version has a announcer (different from the previous logo) saying "This is PBS, the Public Broadcasting Service."
Availability: Uncommon. Due to replacement with newer logos and newer shows, it was rare to nearly-extinct in recent years. However, DVD releases have made it easier to find. The logo can be found on the DVD sets The Best of the Electric Company and Sesame Street: Old School. This logo can also be seen on the DVD of Zoom: Back to the 70s .In the latter case, this logo even replaces the NET and 1970 PBS logos on the respective episodes! Additionally, it can be found on episodes 1271, 1300, 1309, and 1324 of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, available for download or burn-on-demand at Amazon.com, and also plasters the NET logo at the end of the 1988 PBS Video release of the episode "Death of a Goldfish". The U.S.A. Home Video/International Video Entertainment release of the Hollywood Television Theatre episode "The Andersonville Trial" also has this, as do the VHS and DVD of The Scarlet Letter and a DVD for KERA's coverage of the 1981 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. The silent variant can be found on Warner Home Video's release of the Dance in America episode "Tribute to Nijinsky", featuring Rudolf Nureyev and the Joffrey Ballet. A surprising find of this logo was seen on an episode (circa 1999-2000) of Saturday Night Live hosted by Freddie Prinze Jr., in which it opened a spoof of Charlie Rose. This was very surprising, considering past sketches spoofing PBS shows have used more recent PBS logos. Two other sightings of this logo include KETC's 50th anniversary special and WTVS' analog-to-digital sign-off (although in the latter, only the last part of the logo plays, (the part where dots appear in the S with "SERVICE" appearing below) before cutting to WTVS' program intro tag from the 1970s, both with generic piano music played over the logos). The anniversary specials for KPTS and KVIE also had this logo, but, the logo just "pops" up one letter at a time in KPTS' 40th anniversary special, while a still logo can be seen in KVIE's 50th anniversary special. Additionally, it appears in at least two current PBS promos (including a promo for PBS Anywhere), each time within an old-timey TV set, and in part with the original music during a segment on Sesame Street actress Sonia Manzano towards the end of the August 26, 2015 edition of PBS NewsHour. It first appeared on Jude the Obscure, broadcast as part of Masterpiece Theatre between October 3 and November 7, 1971, and made its last appearance on the Reading Rainbow episode "A Chair for My Mother", broadcast on October 1, 1984.
Scare Factor: None to minimal. The creepy Moog synthesizer music and primitive animation are certain to unnerve more than a few unsuspecting viewers, especially if viewed in a completely darkened room or succeeding credits with a black background. The We Interrupt This Week variant is high to nightmare. The choir singing loudly will creep out a lot, especially if you were hoping to see the original version. The Mouth Music variant is None and intended to be funny.
(September 30, 1984-September 17, 1989)
Nicknames: "Split Profile", "The Everyman/Everyperson P", "PBS P-Head II"
Logo: On a black background, a blue P-head appears on the upper-mid screen, facing backwards. A piece comes out to the right and settles itself about half an inch away. The text "PBS" appears below in a slab serif font, which was designed specifically for PBS called "ITC Lubalin Graph Bold".
Trivia: Obviously using the "P" in the previous logo (and the accompanying slab serif font) was designed and animated by Chermayeff & Geismar, a firm also responsible for the Screen Gems "S" and the 1986 NBC peacock. The logo debuted at the PBS annual meeting on March 30, 1984, and made its first network appearance six months later to the day.
- On the series premiere of Square One TV, after the logo forms, the P-head and letters multiply off into the distance, with voice-overs singing "and on...and on...and on..." (taken from a song from the episode) until it fades.
- On one Saturday Night Live sketch from the '80s, which parodies a PBS show, a still 3D-rendered variant was used. This variant was created by SNL and was not actually used by PBS itself.
- There is also a still version.
- A version exists with the PBS text in yellow.
- As with the previous logo, this faded out sometimes, including on Eyes on the Prize.
- On season 1 episodes of Shining Time Station, one of the last new programs to use this logo, the fadeout was slower.
- A filmed variant exists. This variant is silent and the "P" logo is a much lighter blue color, resembling a sky blue.
- A variant exists with the piece colored red. On superimposed footage of fireworks, two CGI P-Heads (blue and red) appears from off-screen. As the P-Heads turn, the blue head is placed behind the red one, where most of it dissolves away, forming the piece in front of the blue P-Head. After the logo settles in place, the footage fades to black and the text "PBS" fades in. This was spotted on a KETC sign-off in 1991.
Effects: The P-head appearing and stretching. Simple, but effective animation.
Music/Sounds: A majestic piano chord, followed by six string pizzicato tones, and then a softer version of the piano chord. The Square One TV variant also has the same music, but associated with the "And on....and on...." vocals taken from the series premiere episode. Composed by Jonathan Elias.
Music/Sounds Variant: Very scarcely (possibly, only a couple of times during this logos lifespan), a narrator might talk over the logo. This variant was first found on a airing of Sesame Street from November 18th, 1987.
Availability: Rare. It appeared on old prints of PBS shows produced from 1984-89. Can also be found on early PBS Home Video releases from the '80s; just look for a banner with the P Head on the left and "PBS VIDEO" filling the entire rest of the banner. It allegedly made its first appearance on the Nature episode "Krakatoa: The Day That Shook the World", broadcast on September 30, 1984, and replaced the previous logo entirely on new programming the day after. The parody 3D variant can be seen on Saturday Night Live: The Best of Phil Hartmanon VHS and DVD. It made a surprise appearance on Milwaukee Public TV's 50th anniversary special. This is surprisingly easy to find on Time-Life Video tapes of Nature, most often with the 1987 WNET logo at the start, and it has also appeared on the 1995 PBS Video reissue of Pyramid, part of a series of architectural documentaries hosted by David Macaulay, even though earlier installments had this (and the earlier logo, in the case of Castle) plastered with the 1992 logo in the same reissue of the series. It also appeared on the 1997 Turner Home Entertainment release of Spaceflight, and should additionally appear on numerous other PBS Home Video releases from the '90s of programs originally broadcast at the time it was in use, including The Shakers and The Statue of Liberty. In an oddity, recent prints of the 1976 miniseries The Adams Chronicles end with both this and the 2006 WNET logo. It also showed up on the Twitch.tv prints of episodes #1417 and #1456 of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. The last known appearance of this logo on television was in 2009 on UNC-TV after an episode of Lap Quilting with Georgia Bonesteele.
Scare Factor: None. Only that if the "And on!" variant might surprise you.
(Mid 1989-July 31, 1993)
Nicknames: "3D Glass", "Transparent Blue P-Head", "Merging Glass P-Head", "PBS P-Head III"
Logo: On a black background, a side-facing transparent dark blue P-head folds to the right, leaving behind a residue trail of "P-Heads". The residue trail fades into the PBS logo from before, which settles itself in the center of the screen, occupying almost all of it. Several multi-colored lines wipe across the bottom of the screen, leaving the text "PBS" in the same font as before to the bottom left.
Trivia: Eagle-eyed viewers will notice that the residue trail has a total of seven P-Heads, including the initial P-Head.
- In an alternate version of the ident, the "P-head" appears just by fading in with the "PBS" text. No lines streak across the screen; therefore it is a still version of the ident. The same music, as in the ident's original version, is used. Once again, the announcer says "This is PBS".
- There is a 1990 Just Watch Us Now ident where we zoom out of the P-Head made of glass with light rays coming out of the P-Head's eye. Then the words "TV WORTH WATCHING" zooms out, and goes to the bottom left. The rest of the animation proceeds to this logo starting with lines wiping the word "PBS".
- A silent version was used on VHS releases of Barney & Friends season 1 episodes. This version also appeared one time on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood "No & Yes #1541".
- There is another version of the ident that fades in (with a little bit of print scratchiness) with the announcer saying, "This is PBS, the Public Broadcasting Service."
- There is a promo variant where the background is changed to white and there are multi colored shapes rotating around the P-Head. The "PBS" Text is also colored purple.
Effects: The P-head folding, the lines wiping. Great animation for its time.
Music/Sounds: A long held-out string note combined with synth bells (played on a Roland D-50 using the Fantasia preset) and chimes, followed by an announcer (probably Peter Thomas, who also did the funding credits voiceovers for The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, Nova, and A World of Ideas at the time) saying "This is PBS".
- On the still version, the same music, as in the ident's original version, is used. Once again, the announcer says "This is PBS". There is also a silent variant as well for this variation.
- A silent version was used on VHS releases of Barney & Friends season 1 episodes. This version also appeared one time on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood "No & Yes #1541".
- The still version with the lines intact uses a different male announcer saying, "This is PBS, the Public Broadcasting Service."
- On Mister Rogers Neighborhood episode 1250, the normal theme plays. However, if you listen closely, the 1971 logo's music plays quietly. This is a result of a bad plaster.
- On the white background promo variant, a synth note is heard instead and the announcer also says "This Fall, on PBS".
Availability: Rare. As with other vintage PBS logos, the chance of showing up on TV now is almost nothing, but some PBS Home Video releases from the era at libraries may have it. Just look for a square in the top-left corner of the front of the box with "PBS VIDEO" below a P-head. It also plasters the 1971 logo on Twitch.tv and Amazon.com prints of various 1971-75 Mister Rogers' Neighborhood episodes that last aired on PBS in the 1990s (final airdates here); this include episodes 1176, 1177, 1179, 1180, 1261, 1281, 1384, and 1389 on Amazon. This also plasters over the 1984 logo on episodes dating from 1984-1989 on the latter program when it aired on Twitch.tv. This may plaster earlier PBS logos on Time-Life Video releases of Nature, including "Forest in the Sea" (which preserves its original WNET logo). For its last year, it was used in tandem with the next logo, appearing on Healing and the Mind with Bill Moyers, MotorWeek '93 ,The American Experience, most 24th season episodes of Sesame Street, some 11th season episodes of Nature, all 20th season episodes of Nova, all 2nd season episodes of Lamb Chop's Play-Along, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, and many early-to-mid-'90s reruns of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. The last known appearance of this logo on television was in 2012 on KET KY (a sub-channel of Kentucky Educational Television) after an episode of Destinos: An Introduction to Spanish. This logo could also be seen up until as late as 2006 after episodes of Reading Rainbow on many PBS stations. The logo debuted after The Power of the Word: The Simple Acts of Life on September 15, 1989. It may appear at the end of later Turner-era releases of catalog PBS programs, including Brooklyn Bridge.
Scare Factor: None.
(November 22, 1992-September 1, 1996)
Nicknames: "Orange CGI P-Head", "Glass P-Head", "Pink P-Heads", "PBS P-Head IV", "Pink PBS Logo"
Logo: In a pink/orange lighted environment, several transparent ellipses revealing people faces appear and disappear one at a time. Then we zoom out through a circle, which turns out to be the eye in the PBS P-Head standing on a floor, made from glass. To the left of the P-Head, the text "PBS" rotates to face the screen.
- This is a live-action logo, captured on 35mm film. The people faces were captured on October 19, 1992; the actual logo was filmed two days later. The logo was designed by Telezign.
- Much like HBO and their famed "In Space" opening, this logo also had its own mini-documentary detailing the making of it. You can watch it here.
Effects: The animation, the zoom out, the letters turning.
Cheesy Factor: The zoom-out and animation look sped up. Otherwise, it looks nice (contrary to its first nickname, it was not computer animated, it was created on film with models; the P-Heads were frosted glass and the "PBS" text was rotated with rostrums).
Music/Sounds: A funky piano and choir boogie tune, followed by an announcer (Chris Murney) who says "This is PBS." The music was composed by Peter Fish, who has also done music for CBS News.
Music/Sounds Variant: There is a rare variant of this logo that exists without the voice-over.
Availability: Uncommon. Again, it has fleeting appearances on PBS today, but your best bet to find it is '90s PBS Home Video tapes at your local library, including the Turner releases of The Dinosaurs and Ken Burns' Baseball. It's also preserved on episodes of The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour on DVD. It allegedly first appeared on The Dinosaurs: The Monsters Emerge, broadcast on November 22, 1992. The scope of programs on which this logo appeared was widened by March 1993; until then, the only other known programs where this logo had appeared were Austin City Limits, Charlie Rose, and Masterpiece Theater. In the mid-'90s, it became the chief means of logo plastering for PBS, appearing on newer prints of Castle, Cathedral, Eyes on the Prize, How Difficult Can This Be?, and Nature, among other programs. It also appeared on a rebroadcast of Summer of Judgment: The Watergate Hearings at the end of the first half. For its first year, it was used in tandem with the previous logo, appearing on some episodes of Nature (starting in its 11th season), Sesame Street (particularly late in the 24th season), and Mister Rogers' Neighborhood (mainly episodes that premiered in 1993 as well as some mid-'90s reruns of older programs) as well as all third-season episodes of Shining Time Station, 1993 episodes of Newton's Apple, and the earliest nationally-broadcast episodes of Charlie Rose, among others. This could also be seen on various episodes of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood from 1974-1980 on Twitch.tv, its first appearance being on Episode #1362. The last known appearance of this logo on television was in 2009 on UNC-TV after an episode of Faces of Culture.
Scare Factor: None.
Nicknames: "The Blue Aurora P-Head", "Metallic P-Head", "PBS P-Head V", "Metallic Blue", "Auroras", "Aurora P-Head"
Logo: On a blue aurora background, we see dark blue lights and blue lights swirling and moving around. As they do so, we see basically the same concept as the 1984-1989 PBS logo, but the entire logo is colored light blue with a slight tint of a teal color instead of being purple and white. Also, the entire logo is still and does not move at all, the P-Head and text are metallic and the entire logo reflects the aurora and the lights moving around.
- The way the P-Head and the text are positioned in this logo harkens back to the 1984-1989 logo.
- This would be followed by one of seven themed bumpers PBS had in use back in the day, from a rebrand which PBS would later utilize in the next logo.
FX/SFX: Just the aurora and lights moving around, nothing else.
Music/Sounds/Voice-over: No music is heard at all in this logo. Instead, we only hear Chris Murney saying "You are watching PBS. Viewer-supported public television."
Availability: Extinct. This was used between programs on the satellite feed.
Scare Factor: Low. The aurora and lights might catch you off-guard, but the entire logo having an announcer with no music might just harken back to the 1970-1971 logo. The lights being the only things animated in this logo might cause some boredom, but that would be a different story with the next logo.
(September 2, 1996-December 5, 1999)
Nicknames: "The PBS Windows III", "CGI Window", "PBS P-Head V", "CGI Window, Globe and Telescope", "If PBS Doesn't Do It, Who Will?"
Logo: On a black background, a CGI window appears with a birds-eye view of the earth, a plastic globe spinning on the top right and a telescope rotating on the bottom left. The pear-colored PBS P-Head with the split colored light blue appears in front of the window and grows smaller as the window grows bigger. As the two meet each other, the window disappears. Inside the P-Head are transparent images of two globes, a feather and a telescope. The P-Head takes it's place in the top center of the screen and turns to light blue and aquamarine as the text "PBS" fades in below them.
Effects: All of the CGI in the logo.
Music/Sounds/Voice-over: A new age tune with guitars and flutes, followed by a female announcer (the great Lauren Bacall) who says "This is PBS."
Music/Sounds/Voice-over Variant: On some shows, Bacall says "You are watching PBS."
Availability: Same as before. It appears on TV sometimes, but PBS Home Video tapes are an easier way to find it. This appeared at the start and end of Turner Home Entertainment's releases of Adventures from the Book of Virtues, and also plasters the previous logo on an episode of American Experience, which was packaged with Warner Home Video's 70th anniversary Blu-ray release of Citizen Kane. It also appeared on original broadcast prints of pledge drive specials Keeping Up Appearances: The Memoirs of Hyacinth Bucket and The Carpenters: Close to You, the latter which is now distributed on PBS stations directly by T.J. Lubinsky's Timeless Collection division. Even when the next logo started to be used, it continued to be used by some programs for some time, with its last new appearance being on Doo Wop 50. Its last known appearance of this logo on television was in 2009 on UNC-TV after an episode of Faces of Culture; its first confirmed appearances were on September 2, 1996, on the daily edition of The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer and on the two-part series premiere of Adventures from the Book of Virtues.
Scare Factor: None.
(November 2, 1998-September 1, 2002)
Nickname: "Circle P-Heads", "PBS P-Head VI", "Circle PBS P-Head", "If PBS Doesn't Do It, Who Will? II"
Logo: On a computer-generated sky background, a person standing to the left covers his or her head with a black circle with the PBS P-Head on it in white. Acrobats jump from all directions off the circle. The text "PBS" appears to the right, with the URL www.pbs.org appearing below it.This is the last logo that used the words "This Is PBS". Also, throughout the ident, different things happen in the background: On all ten variants, there are tiny superimposed silhouettes of people flying in a circle behind the acrobats. On three out of ten of the variants, there are silhouettes of big wands briefly flying down behind the PBS text. And on the rest, there are silhouettes of people tip-toeing in an oval (a circle on the widescreen version) around the person.
Trivia: This logo was designed at Publicis & Hal Riney and animated at Lee Hunt Associates (Lee Hunt Associates also animated the 1999 PBS Kids logo and the 1997 Game Show Network ID).
Variants: Each time you see this logo, different people are holding the circle with the P-head on it, and the acrobats doing different kinds of tricks around the P-head circle. Here's a list of the men and women you see (that also includes the tricks the acrobats do):
- Man in gold shirt; female acrobats with orange do a backflip.
- Man in blue shirt; same acrobats from 1st variant.
- Woman in blue shirt; male acrobats with yellow shirts do a "side spin". (A widescreen version was used in 2001.)
- Woman in deep red shirt; male acrobats with Prussian blue shirts curl into a ball and spin around.
- Man in orange-tan shirt; same acrobats from 3rd variant.
- Older woman in red shirt; same acrobats from 4th variant.
- Woman in folly shirt; same acrobats from 4th variant.
- Man in dark blue shirt; same acrobats from 1st variant.
- Woman in red shirt; same acrobats from 3rd variant.
Effects: The computer effects used to shrink the acrobats and superimpose them around the circle.
Music/Sounds/Voice-over: A brief synth swell and a 3-note flute fanfare, then a new age percussion/choir tune, followed by the female announcer from the previous logo (Lauren Bacall) who says "This is PBS." If you listen carefully, you can also hear a trombone and strings in the background as well. There is also a variant that exists with Lauren Bacall saying, "You are watching PBS." This was used for program breaks.
Availability: Rare. This logo can usually be found on reruns and some PBS Home Video tapes (mainly the ones that use the Warner Home Video logo instead of the PBS Home Video logo) such as An Ice Cream Show. It is also preserved on '98-'02 episodes of Scientific American Frontiers on the Chedd-Angier website. On home video, the "man in gold shirt" variant appeared on An Ice Cream Show, and the "woman in blue shirt" variant appeared on Great Old Amusement Parks. This still appears on Workplace Essential Skills if your station is broadcasting it.
Scare Factor: None.
Nickname: "Stay Curious"
Logo: Against an orange background, we see the PBS circle in a light yellow color with the P head being the same orange color as the background. The "P" Circle slowly eases back and fades out as four green circles appear and spread around the screen revealing smaller light yellow circles inside. Four more circles appear and the outer circles merge with the other circles before they begin spreading out. The PBS "P" Circle now in the standard black and white colors appears with a blur effect. Small circles form "pbs.org" below in a white calibri font.
- A version with a blue color scheme was used between programs. Instead of the URL, the text below the PBS circle read "Stay curious. PBS".
- An extended variant begins on a blue background with a darker blue P head. The camera zooms into the pupil and the normal animation begins. The logo also has a green tint to it.
FX/SFX: Typical early 00's animation.
Music/Sounds/Voice-over: A three-note ascending tune (D, E, A), and a voiceover saying "This is PBS."
Music/Sounds/Voice-over Variants: On the blue variant, one of two tunes was used:
- Usually, the tune was played in the key of D (G, A, D) on a celesta, followed by a new age rhythmic tune played on a celesta and acoustic guitar.
- A slightly longer version of the blue variant, usually shown before the 7PM broadcast of The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, uses the second half of the CPB/Viewers Like You music of the era.
Availability: Extinct. This appears to have been used only briefly, and even then as an alternate logo, during PBS's "Stay Curious" campaign, but it ended up being retired quickly and the previous logo continued to be used for another year. As far as scarcity goes, not even the 1st logo, which has only turned up on the Internet as of writing, has anything on this one. One program on which this logo appeared was American High. Being the national station ID shown on the satellite feed, the blue logo remained in use for a while longer.
Scare Factor: None.
(September 2, 2002-2011)
Nicknames: “Be More”, “We Are PBS”, “I am PBS”, "PBS P-Head VIII", "Circle PBS P-Head III"
Logo: We see a letterboxed clip show of live-action footage, filmed on a large set with hardwood floor and a background of shaggy raw sienna-colored curtains. Culturally and generationally diverse people are employed in the variants, each giving different performances on-camera. As the last clip plays, we see the “Circle P-Head” logo animating with the word "PBS" on the right and the slogan “Be more” on the left. The text has been modified a bit after the past 18 years. Throughout the bumper, a bug for the URL pbs.org is seen in the lower left corner.
Variants: Here are some of the variations that have been seen of late, with a list of the clips in each variant in chronological order:
- Young People: A teenage girl presses her hands on her boyfriend’s cheeks and gives him a kiss; a mother plays with her baby’s feet; a dad and his little boy are holding guitars; mom and daughter are side by side; a mom runs pulling a red wagon holding her two little girls (Edie Mirman: “We are PBS”).
- Standard Variant A: A woman untangles her hair; a teenager dances; a baby walks. ("We are PBS").
- Standard Variant B: A man sits with a pile of books; a young man smiling; a close-up of a smiling young woman's head; a close-up of of the previous man smiling. ("We are PBS").
- Performers: A man sits on a stool holding a guitar; a dressy man plays his trumpet; a teenage boy is "bopping" to his headphones; a young dancer spins in her dress; an elderly man takes a bow (David Kaye: “We are PBS”).
- Activities: A man sits with a pile of books, a woman takes a picture of flowers with her camera; a young man in a wheelchair; catches a soccer ball; a man plays with his dog; a young woman hula-hoops.
- Flowers: A close-up of a smiling woman’s head; then we see her holding a large bouquet of flowers, a close-up of the flowers, and finally a close-up of the woman holding the flowers (Helen Mirren: “I am PBS". The music is given a “Baroque” arrangement).
- Daddy and Son: A dad and his little boy are holding guitars; a close-up of them playing; and the dad and son on a playground swing (Kyle Eastwood: “We are PBS”. The music is arranged as horn-spiked guitar-rock).
- Mother and Daughter: A mother and her teenage daughter are seen spinning and dancing; a close-up shot of the daughter kissing her mom; and the two hug (Edie Mirman: "We are PBS." The music used in later versions of this variant is played in a soft guitar melody).
- Generations: A mother holds her baby; an old man smiling; a young man takes off his cowboy hat. (Edie Mirman: “We are PBS.”)
- Cowboy Hat: The young man from the "Generations" variant is dancing with his cowboy hat; a close-up of him wearing it; and finally he briefly tosses it at the camera and giggles (David Kaye: "I'm PBS." A groovy country-style version of the music is played on a bass).
- Basketball: We see a facial close-up of the man in a wheelchair from "Activities"; he plays with his basketball; then we see him on the left smiling ("I am PBS." A funky hip-hop version of the music is used.)
- Young Woman: This variant features the same dancing woman from "Performers". First, we see her riding on a scooter, then smiling at the camera wearing a picture hat, and finally we see her spinning in her dress as she does in the "Performers" variant, but closer to the right of the screen so we see the logo animating ("I am PBS").
- There is also a version of the logo that has no live-action footage. A burst of light comes in from either side of the screen, and we see an outline of the "P-head" logo (in a style similar to the 1984 logo). Other lighting effects occur, and at the end the circle "P-Head" logo animates, with "PBS" on its right side and "Be more" on its left. There is no voice-over.
- On Carrier, the voice-over says “This show will return in a moment over most of these local stations. We are PBS.”
- There was another version with a voice-over saying "This PBS show will return in a moment".
- There was another version with a voice-over saying "The following PBS show is closed captioned".
- There was another version with a voice-over saying "PBS will return in a moment".
- There's also a version that appeared on Frontline. On the same background as the CPB logo of the time but darker, we see the words "Perspective. Analysis. Understanding." in white slowly zoom in and shine. Then the words "dissolve" away and the Be More PBS logo animates. In the background throughout the ident is a wallpaper-like array of transparent copies of the words seen earlier. The music is arranged in a beautiful piano solo ending in a dramatic string cadence and a male announcer (Bob Hilton) saying "This is PBS."
Effects: Mostly live action, except for the logo animating at the end.
Music/Sounds/Voice-over: A majestic orchestral tune. The same tune is always used, but is rearranged for some variants and has a different voice-over (see above for examples).
Availability: May still be found on reruns of older PBS programming, if your station has older prints. Preserved on DVDs of Nova. Though the logo officially ended on September 27, 2009, it continued to appear on Charlie Rose until 2012.
Scare Factor: None.
(September 28, 2009- )
Nicknames: "Be More II", "Be More, PBS", "PBS P-Head IX", "Circle PBS P-Head IV"
Logo: We see a video of a person or people having activities. Suddenly, the PBS logo appears with "Be More" on the left and "PBS" on the right. The word "PBS" then changes to the URL "pbs.org". A voice-over says "Be More, PBS." as the logo animates.
- Rubik's Cube: A man is walking in a street when he encounters a gigantic exotic Pine Green object that looks like a Rubik's-Cube slanted on it's corner, which twirls around quite to the man's amusement. The music is played on percussion, electric piano and celesta.
- Spacesuit: An Ecru-clad woman and her son are in a mall. The kid looks through an astronaut helmet. The music is played on an electric piano.
- Doodling Pad: A boy in a forest-green jacket is walking in a shallow lake with his doodling pad. The music is played on a harp and concertina.
- Stargazing: A family is looking through a telescope at the stars in the sky. The music is played on a piano and cellos.
- Guitarist: Calvin Keys is playing the tune on his guitar while someone films it on camcorder.
- Generations: A man and his grandson are looking at old pictures of their African ancestors in a scrapbook. The music is played on drums, piano, and electric guitar.
- Orchestra: A symphony orchestra performs the tune. The camera sees the violin, bass clarinet, marimba, cymbal and tuba.
- Supermarket: TBA. The music has the CPB logo's music playing as a backing track, albeit either a bit muffled or in a slightly different arrangement, and the main melody is played on woodwinds.
- Generic: Sometimes, there is no live action footage; instead the logo is placed on a custom background with bubbles. The background is used in four different colors: blue, green, orange, and magenta. Most often, the blue or magenta versions are used at the end of broadcasts which use this. On some shows, an announcer says, "You're watching PBS". The music is orchestrated either with the standard strings-and-keyboard arrangement (for the blue version) or with a harp (for the magenta version).
- Masterpiece: A variant appears on episodes of Masterpiece. Clips from episodes of the anthology series are shown over the blue background before the PBS logo appears as usual. The voiceover says, "Masterpiece, only on PBS." The music is played on strings and keyboards.
- Antiques Roadshow: A variant appears on episodes of Antiques Roadshow. Clips from episodes are shown together over the amber background before the PBS logo appears as usual. The voiceover says, "Antiques Roadshow, only on PBS." The music is played on keyboards and guitar.
- Public Affairs: A variant appears on episodes of Frontline and Washington Week, as well as on the special America After Charleston. Depicted over the blue background, in chronological order, are Gwen Ifill, Judy Woodruff, Hari Sreenivasan, and Charlie Rose, before the PBS logo appears as usual. The voiceover is the same as on the generic variants. The music is orchestrated in a hard rock version.
- Generic (We'll Be Right Back): As with the previous logo, the generic logo (often using the blue or green version) is sometimes shown at the start of program breaks, with a voiceover saying, "This PBS program will return in a moment." The music is played either on strings and keyboards (for the green version) or in an electronic arrangement (for the blue version).
Effects: Same as the 8th logo.
Music/Sounds/Voice-over: A 5-note tune, created by music company Expansion Team. Like the eighth logo, the same tune is always used, but is rearranged for some variants and has a different voice-over.
Availability: Currently in use on most PBS first-run shows. The variants are used randomly, as with the previous logos, on many programs, including Nova and This Old House; however, on certain programs you can always expect to see the following variants:
- Rubik's Cube: Seen at the end of American Masters and in rotation at the end of Vicious.
- Spacesuit: Seen at the end of Charlie Rose: The Week and The Brain with David Eagleman.
- Doodling Pad: Seen at the end of Earth's Natural Wonders.
- Stargazing: Seen at the end of Hometime.
- Guitarist: Seen at the end of Washington Week (until July 24, 2015), To the Contrary, most episodes of Austin City Limits, and Bluegrass Underground. Also seen at the end of concerts broadcast on PBS.
- Generations: Seen at the end of Tavis Smiley and The Civil War.
- Orchestra: Seen at the end of some current episodes of Austin City Limits.
- Supermarket: Seen at the end of A Chef's Life and The Great British Baking Show.
- Generic (Blue): Seen at the end of PBS NewsHour and in rotation at the end of Vicious.
- Generic (Magenta): Seen at the end of Charlie Rose following the 2012 election and in rotation at the end of Vicious.
Scare Factor: None.
Logo: We see American flag layers waving. A blue background with a circular hole fades in as it zooms out, revealing itself to be a P-Head. As it continues to zoom out, it starts to move to the left as the number 9 appears to the right from behind. The word "ELECTION", in a gold serif font, starts appearing from the center between the P-Head and 9 as the flag stripes move in both vertical directions to reveal a light blue/yellow gradient background, and then two of the stripes move back up, zooming out as the bottom stripe turns blue. Finally, a red split emerges from behind the P-Head, and a red 2 from behind 9, both from the right.
Effects: The flag stripes and zoom-outs, as well as the slides.
Music/Sounds: A brass/strings fanfare that wouldn't sound out of place on a news program.
Availability: Extinct. Seen on programming centering around the '92 Presidential election.
Scare Factor: Low. The suddenness of the logo can be quite startling.
Nickname: "By the People"
Music/Sounds: The standard music for the 8th regular logo, with a male announcer saying, "This is PBS."
Availability: Extinct. Seen on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, among other programs which covered the '04 Presidential election.
Scare Factor: Minimal. It may startle you if you were expecting the 8th logo.
Availability: Extinct. Seen on Charlie Rose, among other programs which covered the '16 Presidential election.
Scare Factor: TBA
(2011-December 12, 2014)
Logo: Against a purple/magenta background, an orange circle forms itself in watercolor in the center of the screen, followed by a pink circle to its left and a blue circle to its right. "PBS arts", with PBS in magenta, fades in within the orange circle, and the Circle P-Head forms itself to the left. The URL "pbs.org/arts" fades in below.
FX/SFX: The circles forming themselves.
Music/Sounds: A guitar piece.
Availability: Seen on old PBS Arts programs. Its last known sighting was on the Live from Lincoln Center episode "Curtain Up: The School of American Ballet Workshop", first broadcast on December 12, 2014.
Scare Factor: None.
Music/Sounds: A brass fanfare.
Availability: Seen on Pennsylvania Ballet Celebrates 50 Years.
Scare Factor: Minimal.
(2014-October 2, 2015)
Logo: Against a white background, objects resembling glass curtains part, revealing the Circle P-Head with "PBS | ARTS" to the right. PBS is in the usual font. Below is the URL "pbs.org/arts" and, to the right, the Twitter hashtag "#PBSarts".
FX/SFX: The glass curtains parting.
Music/Sounds: A brass fanfare.
Availability: Seen during the 2014-2015 PBS Arts season. It last appeared on a rebroadcast of In Performance at the White House honoring songwriters Burt Bacharach and Hal David.
Scare Factor: Minimal.
(October 9, 2015-present)
Logo: The camera tracks through a colorful environment full of decorations and 2D sculptures of various performers. At the end, the PBS Arts logo is revealed.
Variant: An abbreviated version appears at the end of programs.
Effects: Just the decorations and their minimal movements.
Music/Sounds: A Latino-flavored fanfare with a choir and strings.
Availability: Seen on current PBS Arts programs.
Scare Factor: None.
Music/Sounds/Voiceovers: An abridged version of the 2010 CPB music. At the end of programs, a voiceover says, "PBS, your home for independent film."
Availability: Seen on current episodes of Independent Lens and POV.
Scare Factor: None.
PBS Stories of Service
Music/Sounds/Voiceovers: A solemn yet uplifting brass fanfare which sounds like the first notes of "Taps". At the end of programs, a voiceover says, "This is PBS."
Availability: Seen on military-themed programming on PBS. Oddly enough, the opening and closing variants switch places on Debt of Honor: Disabled Veterans in American History.
Scare Factor: None.
Music/Sounds/Voiceovers: A new-age rock tune. A voiceover says, "Think Wednesday, think PBS."
Availability: Seen at the end of The Mystery of Matter, as well as first-run episodes of Earth's Natural Wonders, Nova, and The Brain with David Eagleman.
Scare Factor: Minimal, though it may surprise first-time viewers expecting to see the 2009 PBS logo.