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Ronnie Agnew joined Mississippi Public Broadcasting in August 2011 as the agency’s executive director after a career in the newspaper industry spanning nearly three decades. At MPB, a state licensee, Agnew has oversight of radio and television programming and the agency’s legislative, education and digital initiatives.
During his time at MPB, Agnew has successfully overseen the launch of new shows that further the agency’s mission of delivering strong content across all platforms, focusing on issues affecting Mississippi, with an emphasis on early-childhood education, job skills training, healthcare, and Mississippi politics. 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.
From his long stint in newspapers, Agnew has brought a sense of urgency to MPB that has led to strong legislative support and an aggressive schedule of new initiatives, including more than 20 hours of local radio programming each week, new television productions, an expanded news department, and the addition of several podcasts. MPB’s Education Department has broadened its reach as well, implementing the Ready to Learn literacy initiative, Workforce Development programs, and Parents Are Teachers, Too, a program that helps parents work closely academically with their children. The Education and Television Departments also have developed Mississippi Classroom TV, recorded television segments designed to bridge the broadband divide in the state.
Agnew is also active in national journalism circles. He has judged the Pulitzer Prize four times and is a former diversity chairman of the American Society of News Editors, now the News Leaders Association (NLA). Agnew also served six years on the board of directors of the Associated Press Media Editors, which has since merged with the NLA. He is the recipient of four President’s Rings, which recognized the best editors in the Gannett Co. Inc. He is the recipient of the Silver Em Award, one of the highest recognitions for journalism excellence awarded by the University of Mississippi. Agnew is in the Ole Miss Alumni Hall of Fame, his alma mater, and in the University of Southern Mississippi Journalism Hall of Fame for contributions to that program.
Agnew has been elected to leadership positions on several national public broadcasting boards. In addition to serving on the national PBS Board of Directors, Agnew is board chairman of American Public Television. He served as board chairman of America’s Public Television Stations, and as chair of the executive committee of the National Educational Telecommunications Association. He also is a member of the Organization of State Broadcasting Executives.
Agnew is passionate about helping student journalists and those interested in media careers. He served as an adjunct communications professor at Belhaven University in Jackson. He is advisory board chairman for the journalism program at Jackson State University. He is also on the journalism advisory boards for the University of Southern Mississippi and the School of Journalism at Ole Miss. He was named by Our Mississippi Magazine and blackmississippi.com as one of the most influential African Americans in Mississippi.
Agnew holds bachelor’s degrees in Radio/TV and English from the University of Mississippi. He is married to Melodie Billups Agnew and is the father of three children, Christopher, a middle-school English teacher; Victoria, a mathematics teacher; and Rachel, a ministry school student, who holds an MBA from Jackson State University.