A memorial headshot of Ron Bornstein in a suit and tie, Dec. 9, 1932 — Feb. 23, 2024.

Remembering Ron Bornstein, a Wisconsin Public Media pioneer

February 29, 2024 Erik Ernst Leave a Comment

PBS Wisconsin, Wisconsin Public Radio (WPR) and Wisconsin Public Media are saddened by the loss of Ron Bornstein who passed away last week at the age of 91.

Bornstein was a major figure in public broadcasting, both in Wisconsin and nationally. In Wisconsin, he served as Director of Telecommunications for the University of Wisconsin-Extension and General Manager of both WHA Radio and WHA-TV, now WPR and PBS Wisconsin. On the national level, Bornstein served as Vice President for Telecommunications with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and was Acting President of National Public Radio (NPR) in 1983 when he led that organization out of financial trouble and into a new golden era of public radio success. For that work he was often referred to as a “savior of NPR.”

Among Bornstein’s accomplishments in his time at WHA Radio and TV, he built the broadcasting components of Vilas Hall where WPR’s and PBS Wisconsin’s programs are still produced and built a culture of commitment and accomplishment. He took fierce pride in our work and was always an advocate for reinventing public media.

In 1993, Bornstein was inducted into the Wisconsin Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

We are all enormously proud of and grateful for Bornstein’s contributions to public media in Wisconsin and across the country. He was a public media leader, innovator and mentor to many of us. His passion for public media always burned brightly and his legacy lives on in all of our work.

We extend our heartfelt condolences to Bornstein’s family, friends and colleagues.

Read Ron Bornstein’s obituary online now.

1 thought on “Remembering Ron Bornstein, a Wisconsin Public Media pioneer”

  • As a senior at UW-Madison, I had the privilege of taking Professor Bornstein’s Introduction to Public Broadcasting class. What a fabulous person and teacher. All these years later, I am grateful. May his memory be a blessings.

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