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Published: Monday, 7/16/2001

Hebert comes back home to Channel 24

Toledo kept tugging at Lou Hebert's heart. And for all the right reasons.

"Toledo is home and it's where we have many friends and family," he said. "What else is there?"

Not much, except for your job.

Thanks to WNWO-TV, Channel 24, Hebert is able to complete the triple play. He has been hired as news director of the NBC affiliate, succeeding Michelle Sloan.

Hebert has spent the past three years in Phoenix, serving as vice president/news director of Metro Source, a news service operated by the Westwood One radio network. Before moving to Phoenix, Hebert was news director at WSPD-AM (1370).

Ironically, Hebert's first television job was at Channel 24; he was anchor/producer in 1978-79 at the former WDHO. He was a television reporter in Denver for most of the 1980s and returned to Toledo in the mid-'90s as a reporter/producer at WTOL, Channel 11. He is considered one of the best writers ever to work in Toledo television.

"He certainly paints a picture with words like no one I've ever seen," said WNWO sports anchor Jim Tichy, who started at Channel 24 in 1972. "He is highly respected by everyone."

Hebert, 51, describes his news philosophy as "rather old-fashioned" and his management style as "very hands on." With WNWO a distant third in the ratings - behind WTOL and WTVG (Channel 13) - the job won't be without challenges.

"I like to be involved in all aspects of the coverage," Hebert said. "I am shamelessly passionate about the craft of visual storytelling and like to engender that passion in others."

Hebert, who starts a week from today, has watched recent WNWO newscasts on videotape. He likes what he has seen.

"I am encouraged by what I view as a solid foundation of strong talent, excellent production, and a general atmosphere of vibrant enthusiasm," he said. "Most of the basic elements of a good TV newscast are in place."

ON THE MOVE: Mel Stebbins, WTOL's general manager for the past eight years, is being promoted by Cosmos Broadcasting. He will be senior vice president and general manager of WIS in Columbia, S.C. (which is Market 85; Toledo is Market 67). Bob Chirdon, WTOL's general sales manager, will succeed Stebbins as general manager.

HELPING HAND: Gary Brown, former news director at WUPW-TV, Channel 36, is halfway through a two-week consulting stint at WPRI and WNAC in Providence, R.I. (Market 49). The stations are owned by Sunrise Television, the same company that owns WUPW. Brown said he is "not sure yet" if he would be interested in WPRI's vacant news director position.

NEW GIG: Dave Moore, former associate editor at Toledo City Paper, was recently hired as WNWO's day assignment editor. He joins another ex-City Paper associate editor in Channel 24's newsroom; Erin Kramer is an associate producer for the morning newscast.

CRYSTAL BALL: On Wednesday, during local TV newscasts, these were the high temperatures predicted for today: 85 (WNWO), 86 (WUPW), 88 (WTVG), and 94 (WTOL). How did they do?

Russ Lemmon's column on the local media appears Mondays. Readers may contact him at 1-419-724-6122, or e-mail rlemmon@theblade.com.

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