Mississippi Public Broadcasting Executive Director Judy Lewis has resigned, Mississippi Authority for Educational Television Chairman Bob Sawyer said today in a press statement.
The statement tout's MPB's success over the last year, but offers no details on why Lewis resigned.
"The MAET Board of Directors will now begin the process of conducting a thorough review of candidates to fill the position," Sawyer said. "Business as usual continues at MPB. The agency remains hard at work conducting business with our partners and connecting with Mississippians at every corner of the state."
While serving as executive director, Lewis was involved in MPB's July 8 decision to pull the nationally syndicated show "Fresh Air," for what it deemed "inappropriate content," after comedian Louis C.K. answered questions from about wearing his shirt during sex. On July 27, the station announced it would return "Fresh Air" to its radio schedule in a new 9 p.m. time slot.
"Comments from concerned listeners are what led to my decision to remove the program, but I want to give equal attention to listeners who enjoy the program," Lewis said in a July 27 press statement. "Please know that I will not be driven by the slander, threats, curses and total misrepresentations I have received from many over this one radio program. Thoughtful, intelligent, and sincere feedback is certainly helpful, though."
MPB fired reporter Carl Gibson in July after the station searched its mail servers, discovering that Gibson forwarded an internal e-mail to the Jackson Free Press using his work account. (Gibson freelances for the JFP and is friends with staff members.) The e-mail showed that MPB's decision to pull "Fresh Air" came less than 24 hours after its July 7 show aired with a reference to sex.
Lewis, a native of Morton, Miss., served as executive director of MPB since August 2009. Prior to working at MPB, she was a communications professor at Mississippi College. Lewis received her master's and bachelor's degrees in education and speech communication from Mississippi College, and her doctorate in higher education from the University of Mississippi.
Read the JFP's previous stories "MPB Cancels 'Fresh Air' for 'Inappropriate Content'" and "'Fresh Air' Returning to MPB."
Here is the full press statement:
JACKSON, Miss. – Chairman Bob Sawyer today released the following statement on behalf of the Board of Directors of the Mississippi Authority for Educational Television (MAET).
“The past year has been one of success and growth for Mississippi Public Broadcasting. The agency has been reorganized so that its operations are streamlined and an appropriate focus is placed on education. The work of MPB has been focused on three main priorities: education, emergency preparedness, and programming that promotes all things Mississippi. All programs at MPB are now released with a corresponding curriculum. The agency’s emergency preparedness plan is refined and MPB stands more ready than ever to provide Mississippians with up-to-date disaster information. MPB's "All Things Mississippi" motto runs through all the programs the agency produces, whether those aimed at addressing Mississippi's obesity epidemic, or those focused on the state's cultural treasures. In the past year alone, MPB has been recognized with over 20 awards on the local, national, and even international level. Much has been accomplished in the last twelve months to set the foundation for a strong future at MPB.
“That is why it is with disappointment that the Board of Directors of the Mississippi Authority for Educational Television announces that Dr. Judith Lewis has resigned as Executive Director of the agency. We wish Dr. Lewis the best.
“The MAET Board of Directors will now begin the process of conducting a thorough review of candidates to fill the position.
“Business as usual continues at MPB. The agency remains hard at work conducting business with our partners and connecting with Mississippians at every corner of the state. MPB has a team of over 120 individuals who are committed to working together to provide Mississippians with high-quality educational and broadcast media services. We are looking forward to the bright future of public broadcasting in Mississippi.”
- Lacey McLaughlin