WOSU Public Media announces new general manager
Ronnie Agnew to lead organization beginning in 2022
The Ohio State University
The Ohio State University has named Ronnie Agnew as the new general manager of WOSU Public Media. Agnew brings more than 35 years of experience working in, and leading, media organizations. He most recently served as the executive director for Mississippi Public Broadcasting (MPB), a role he held since 2011.
“I consider it an incredible honor to be chosen to lead WOSU, an organization with an outstanding national reputation in public media,” Agnew said. “I am committed that WOSU will continue to capture the vibrancy of the region and connect with its diverse audiences. This is a special moment for me, to be back in Ohio where I was a young journalist, leading an organization that is so respected by the residents of central Ohio.”
“Ronnie brings an impressive mix of experience in broadcasting and print journalism and has a proven track record as an organizational leader,” said Jay Kasey, senior vice president for Ohio State’s Office of Administration and Planning. “I also want to thank Tom Rieland for his more than 19 years as WOSU’s general manager. Ronnie inherits a thriving organization and a new WOSU headquarters that will foster strengthened connections to our community.”
As executive director for MPB, Agnew led statewide radio and television programming that reached every Mississippi household; had oversight of the agency’s legislative, education and digital initiatives; and managed its $12 million budget and 94 employees.
Agnew’s achievements during his tenure with MPB include:
- Leading a $1.3 million three-state news collaborative funded by National Public Radio and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting
- Developing a fifth channel for instructional teaching in collaboration with the Mississippi Department of Education to support K–12 learning during the coronavirus pandemic
- Developing a strategy to increase audience engagement by producing more than 20 hours of local radio programming per week
- Growing digital content, including 50,000 downloads of the MPB app and more than 1.5 million podcast downloads
“As chair of the Friends of WOSU board, I look forward to welcoming Ronnie to WOSU Public Media and central Ohio,” said Kyle Anderson, director of marketing and communication, State Auto Insurance. “Ronnie’s deep experience in public media and journalism will help ensure continued positive momentum at an important moment in WOSU’s history. We’re deeply appreciative of Tom Rieland’s stewardship of the organization and will fully support Tom and Ronnie through this transition.”
Agnew will be just the sixth leader of WOSU in its 100-year history. WOSU recently opened a new broadcast headquarters located at 1800 N. Pearl St. in the 15+HIGH University District. The five-floor, 52,000-square-foot building is designed to be accessible and to inspire innovation, collaboration and community connections. The purpose-built facility was designed flexibly to allow for change as media evolves, as well as to offer opportunities to engage the community in experiential activities and events. Grand opening events are planned for early 2022.
Agnew will begin his role Jan. 10, 2022, and takes over for a retiring Tom Rieland.
“Ronnie is a veteran journalist and a remarkable leader in public media. I just left the PBS Board after six years of working alongside Ronnie and can tell you he will bring incredible insight and knowledge to leading WOSU and will do so with a keen focus on how to best serve all the citizens of central Ohio,” said Rieland, who retires from his current general manager role on Jan. 31, 2022.
An endowment in Rieland’s honor has been established and Agnew will become the first person to hold the “Thomas Rieland Endowed WOSU General Manager” position. The endowed position will support the role of general manager at WOSU in perpetuity while providing future general managers annual discretionary funding.
Agnew recently finished a second term on the national PBS Board of Directors and remains on PBS’ editorial standards committee, where he was instrumental in a major revision of the standards. He also chaired PBS’ 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 joined The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi as managing editor in 2001, then served as executive editor from 2002 to 2011. For four years prior to that, he served as executive editor at The Dothan Eagle in Alabama. He is familiar with Ohio, having worked as the metro and suburban editor of the Cincinnati Enquirer from 1986 to 1993. During his career, he has won numerous industry awards and covered major events such as Mississippi civil rights and Hurricane Katrina. In 2018, Agnew was named by Our Mississippi Magazine as one of the 25 most influential African Americans in the state. He graduated from the University of Mississippi with a Bachelor of Arts in English/Radio and Television in 1984.
The public media executive recruiting firm NETA Consulting successfully conducted the national search that resulted in this naming of WOSU’s next general manager.