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Published: Monday, 8/23/2004

New WTOL news director starts today

Shelby Croft wasn't surprised by the phone calls from former co-workers at WTOL-TV, Channel 11.

They wanted a scouting report on Mitch Jacob, who is to start today as WTOL's news director. He held the same position at KPHO-TV in Phoenix, where Croft works as a weekend anchor.

So what can WTOL newsroom employees expect?

"I just told them that Mitch really brings a sense of energy to a newsroom," she said. "He's a very high-energy person -- go, go, go all the time."

C.J. Beutien, who was WTOL's news director for nearly 11 years before resigning in April, had more of a laid-back style. He is now news director at WQAD-TV in Moline, Ill.

Jacob is returning to the TV news business after a nearly one-year hiatus. He was fired by KPHO in September and soon began work in a new field, real-estate investment.

There were times he didn't miss the daily grind of the TV news business, he admitted, but he did on the big news days.

That competitive drive is what brought the South Dakota native to Toledo and to Liberty-owned WTOL. He spent about nine years working for Liberty stations -- including stints as news director at KGBT-TV in Harlingen, Texas, and KWCH-TV in Wichita, Kan. -- before switching to Meredith-owned KPHO.

Jacob, 41, "has been a respected high-achiever from the day he joined Liberty," said Ron Loewen, corporate vice president for strategic development.

For years, WTOL's newscasts have been No. 1 in the market, which means Jacob's focus will be on fine-tuning and not on a major overhaul.

"A lot of times as a news director, you've got to look for things to fix," he said. "That's not the case here. They put out a great product."

The on-air talent -- led by news anchors Chrys Peterson and Terry Thill -- is "spectacular," he said. "It's great going into a station that has the No. 1 talent across the board, so you don't have to worry about the talent issue," he said.

Jacob has a simple strategy for the CBS affiliate's newscasts remaining No. 1: "I want us to be aggressive. I want us to be first [with the story]. When you're a news leader, you have to do that."

Once Jacob settles in, a sense of stability should return to the WTOL newsroom. Two acting news directors (John Butte and Rick Williams) filled the void after Beutien's departure.

NEW LINEUP: WUPW-TV, Channel 36, will air back-to-back comedies, Malcolm in the Middle and King of the Hill, from 5 to 6 p.m. beginning Sept. 13. They will replace the canceled On-Air with Ryan Seacrest, which bows out next month after a nine-month run.

DOUBLE DUTY: Denny Schaffer, host of an afternoon talk show on WSPD-AM (1370), filled in as host of the nationally syndicated Glenn Beck Show two days last week. He also did his regular three-hour shift on WSPD.

TV RATINGS: The ratings books for Nielsen Media Research's "July sweeps" are expected to arrive at local stations today.

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