JANS – Ronnie Agnew, executive director of Mississippi Public Broadcasting for 10 years, is leaving the agency to become general manager of WOSU, the public media station in Columbus, Ohio.
“Mississippi is and always will be my home,” said Agnew, who will be at MPB through December. “It was a very difficult decision not only to leave my home state, but also my MPB family. I have been blessed to work with a team of professionals who are passionate about telling Mississippi’s stories.”
“The WOSU opportunity was too good to pass up. The staff is moving into a new 52,000-square foot building that is beautiful and built for the future,” Agnew said. “The station has a number of loyal followers and donors who generously support the vision. This is an exciting next step in my career.”
As MPB’s executive director, Agnew’s goals included celebrating the great things happening in Mississippi and utilizing the power of MPB’s statewide infrastructure to produce programming that made a difference. The son of sharecroppers, Agnew has been an avid supporter of the agency’s education focus, particularly in the state’s underserved areas. Agnew emphasized MPB’s responsibility to connect Mississippi’s diverse communities with programming that was responsible, informative, and educational.
“We are extremely grateful for Ronnie’s leadership and love for MPB. He has brought focus, purpose, and excellence to the executive director’s position. He’s earned the right to choose the path for his career and his family. We’re just happy that we were able to hold on to him for so long. The people at WOSU are fortunate to have him,” said David Allen, the agency’s board chairman.
Agnew, the second-longest serving executive director in MPB’s 51-year history, will replace WOSU’s longtime general manager Tom Rieland, who is retiring after leading the station, which is licensed to Ohio State University, for 19 years.
Before joining MPB, Agnew served as executive editor of The Clarion-Ledger, the state’s largest newspaper. Under his leadership, The Clarion-Ledger won dozens of awards for investigative reporting and was among the Gannett Co. Inc.’s most decorated newspapers nationally for coverage of civil rights issues.
Agnew has received many honors in his media career, including being featured in “HistoryMakers,” a non-profit and educational research institution that records the “personal stories of both well-known and unsung African Americans.” Agnew’s “HistoryMakers” segment is housed at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Agnew is a member of the University of Mississippi’s Alumni Hall of Fame and the University of Southern Mississippi’s Journalism Hall of Fame for professional contributions to their programs. At Ole Miss, he was the 50th recipient of the Silver Em Award which recognizes a top journalist in the state.
Since joining public media, Agnew has been actively involved with several organizations. He recently finished a second term on the PBS Board of Directors and remains on PBS’s editorial standards committee, where he was instrumental in a major revision of the standards. He also chaired PBS’s Diversity and Nominating committees. Agnew is former board chairman of America’s Public Television Stations (APTS) and was executive committee chairman of the National Educational Telecommunications Association (NETA). Agnew recently finished a term as board chairman of American Public Television, the largest syndicator of content to U.S. public media stations. He is a member of the Organization of State Broadcasting Executives.
Agnew is passionate about mentoring student journalists interested in media careers. He is advisory board chairman for the journalism program at Jackson State University and serves on journalism boards for the University of Southern Mississippi and the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss), his alma mater. He is a former adjunct instructor at Belhaven University in Jackson, Miss. He is also a board member of the Overby Center, a journalism thinktank housed at Ole Miss. In addition, Agnew serves as board chair for the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting.
Agnew holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in Radio/TV and English from the University of Mississippi. He is married to Melodie Billups Agnew. He has three adult children: Christopher, a middle school English teacher; Victoria, a middle school mathematics teacher; and Rachel, who holds an MBA from Jackson State University and is in ministry school.