Arizona PBS names first African-American GM in its 60-year history
March 25, 2021
Adrienne Fairwell, a proven media leader with years of communications and public television experience, has been named general manager of Arizona PBS. She is the first African-American to lead the station in its 60-year history.
Fairwell, who takes the post April 19, comes from South Carolina Educational TV and Public Radio, where she has served as assistant general manager and vice president of marketing and community development during the past three years.
In accepting the position at Arizona PBS, Fairwell said she has great admiration for the work done by the station and is eager to build on its reputation as a trustworthy, accurate, creative and inclusive information source.
“I am thrilled to join the incredibly talented team at Arizona PBS and even more excited for the opportunity to lead, execute and elevate its mission and the mission of public media and the role it plays within local communities,” she said. “With an established reputation built on trust, I look forward to collaborating with community partners and all stakeholders to expand on the great programming, delivery platforms and audience engagement.”
Arizona PBS is a member-supported community service of ASU and is operated by the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, located in downtown Phoenix. It is one of the nation’s leading public media organizations with four broadcast channels, a radio station and a growing array of digital platforms.
A trusted community resource for six decades, Arizona PBS fosters lifelong learning through quality programming, in-depth news coverage and critical educational outreach services. It is one of the country’s largest public television stations, reaching 80 percent of Arizona homes and 1.9 million households each week. It was recently selected as one of eight winners of the Greater Phoenix Chamber IMPACT Awards and captured the top prize in the Arizona Advocate/Small-Medium Business category.
As general manager, Fairwell will report to the Cronkite School’s dean.
“Adrienne brings to the Cronkite School years of experience and a deep commitment to public television. We couldn’t be happier to have her as the new leader of Arizona PBS,” said Cronkite Interim Dean Kristin Gilger.
At SCETV, Fairwell has been responsible for brand management, audience engagement, revenue activities, partnership development, multiplatform content generation, studio and field production, local and national programming, and government transparency work.
Fairwell also has experience in developing content for television, digital and radio audiences. She incorporated both long-form and short-form stories to better connect with the viewers and listeners, and she is credited with identifying new audiences with different needs and attention spans while retaining loyal viewers.
Fairwell has also been a leader in the areas of diversity and equity. She helped establish a new partnership between SCETV and Furman University’s Riley Institute to begin a series of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion classes to help train public media employees. In addition, she has led the streamlining of the recruitment process to be more inclusive of women, people of color, people with disabilities and veterans.
Fairwell was chosen from a pool of candidates during a search administered by Arizona PBS and Koya Partners, a recruiting firm that specializes in placing leaders in mission-driven roles. She replaces Julia Wallace, the Frank Russell Chair in the Business of Journalism at the Cronkite School, who served as interim general manager while a search for a permanent GM was conducted.
“Adrienne understands the critical importance Arizona PBS plays in this state. She is mission-focused and will work to serve the community in deep and meaningful ways,” Wallace said.
Fairwell earned a Master of Arts degree in human resource development from Webster University, Columbia, South Carolina, and a bachelor of arts in journalism and mass communication from the University of South Carolina, also in Columbia. She holds the internationally recognized Accreditation in Public Relations and the Certified Public Manager designations. Fairwell and her husband, Michael, and their two children plan to move to Phoenix this summer.