Cover photo for Ronald C. Bornstein's Obituary
Ronald C. Bornstein Profile Photo
1932 Ronald 2024

Ronald C. Bornstein

December 9, 1932 — February 23, 2024


Bornstein, Ronald C., of Madison WI, died on February 23, 2024, at age 91. He is survived by his loving wife and soulmate of 64 years, Lorraine, daughter Carol Bornstein (Gene Ungar) of Arden, NC, sons Robert Bornstein (Kristen) of Cedarburg, WI and David Bornstein (Shelley) of Verona, WI, and eight grandchildren (Samuel Bornstein, Alexander Bornstein, Eli Bornstein, Victor Ungar, Bennett Ungar, Madeleine Ungar, Grace Bornstein, and Kaitlyn Fueger).


He was a highly respected public broadcasting executive, higher education administrator, and executive search consultant. Born in Detroit, MI on December 9, 1932, he earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Michigan and served in France as a member of the U.S. Army. His public broadcasting career included posts as Production Manager of the University of Michigan Television Center, assisting in the development of Hawaii Public Television, General Manager of WHA Radio and Television and Director of Telecommunications for the University of Wisconsin-Extension, Vice President for Telecommunications at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and Acting President of National Public Radio.


He was nationally acclaimed as "the man who saved NPR" for his leadership in bringing back National Public Radio from the brink of bankruptcy during the 1980's and guiding the organization back to its deserved status as the gold standard of radio journalism. His higher education career included posts as Professor of Communication Arts for the University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of Wisconsin-Extension, Acting Vice Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Extension, and University of Wisconsin System leadership assignments as Vice President for University Relations, Senior Vice President for Administration, and Chief Operating Officer. 


He was the founding partner of NETA Consulting, a national public media management consulting and executive search firm. His professional and community service included membership on the boards of directors and executive committees of the Association of Public Television Stations, Public Broadcasting Service, and National Public Radio. He was a long-time member of the State Educational Communications Board and president of its foundation. 


A firm believer in "paying his civic rent" by advancing his community, he was a board member and president of the United Way of Dane County, the Rotary Club of Madison, the Madison Club, the Wisconsin Special Olympics, and the Madison Art Center. He also was a long-time member of the Advocates Club, a mini-Rotary style group of active community members.


During his retirement in Tucson, he served as a volunteer for Handi-Dogs, Inc., the University of Arizona Medical Center, the Northwest Medical Center, the Friends of the Library, Arizona Public Media, and the Sin Vacas Property Owners Association. His professional honors included an American Bar Association Silver Gavel Award, a National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Emmy Award, the Edward R. Murrow Award for Distinguished Service to Public Radio, and election to the Wisconsin Broadcasters Hall of Fame.


Memorial contributions may be sent to: Wisconsin Public Radio and Television, 821 University Avenue, Madison, WI 53706, the M.D Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe Blvd., Houston, TX or the Attic Angel Community, 8301 Old Sauk Road, Middleton WI 53562. A memorial service will be announced at a later date. 


The family expresses its special thanks to UW Health Dr. Dennis Maki, a legendary UW professor and internal medicine specialist for his consistent concern and compassion during some challenging times. His availability and advocacy were major positive factors. An additional special thanks to Attic Angels and Agrace Hospice for their professional, compassionate and dedicated residential care.


We welcome you to share your memories of Ronald here on his tribute wall. 

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6021 University Ave. Madison

(608) 238-8406





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