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Published: Wednesday, 1/17/2007

Worn down by crime beat, Channel 13's Hurtt to join O-I

BY RON MUSSELMAN
BLADE MEDIA COLUMNIST

Erica Hurtt improved a lot in 2 1/2 years at WTVG-TV, Channel 13.

She started as a general assignment news reporter in July of 2004, and took over for the departed Diane Wilson five months later on the crime and courts beat.

Hurtt, 31, developed into one of the most reliable and accurate reporters at the ABC affiliate.

She also filled in capably as a co-anchor on several evening newscasts.

But Hurtt grew tired of covering crimes and tragedies. And with little or no room for advancement at the station, she opted for a career change.

Hurtt will sign off WTVG on Jan. 31, and will start her new job in sales and marketing at Owens-Illinois on Feb. 5.

"The crime beat wears you down after a while, and they didn't seem to have any other place to put me," Hurtt said. "I am sure I am going to miss all the people in the community, the police, the firefighters, and the folks that I deal with every day in court.

"But I definitely need a new challenge."

Two of Hurtt's favorite stories had to deal with local soldiers stationed in Iraq, including Matthew Drake of Sylvania and Alan Wilson of Waterville.

"Matthew Drake was wounded during a suicide car bombing in 2004," Hurtt said. "He and his mother were just amazing people. They just give you so much hope, so much promise.

"And Alan Wilson was able to come home for the birth of his first child. He not only surprised his wife, Vanessa, he surprised everyone in his family."

Hurtt also spent some time trailing Tom Noe. One particular episode turned out to be quite adventurous.

"We went down to Florida and took a canoe out into the ocean trying to get pictures of his house," she said.

Before coming to Toledo, Hurtt worked as a reporter at WIFR-TV in Rockford, Ill. She is a graduate of Loyola College in Maryland and holds a master's degree from Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism.

"Erica is a good reporter," WTVG news director Brian Trauring said yesterday. "We're certainly going to miss her. She has been tremendous for us. But she got a good opportunity outside the business and she's looking forward to it.

"We're looking for someone to replace her. We've had a few people in already."

•Another Channel 13 news reporter, Elisa Amigo, will be leaving the station on Feb. 13. She is headed for Fox affiliate WJW-TV in Cleveland. Amigo joined WTVG in February of 2005 and is still a little rough around the edges, but she will be going from the 71st market to the 17th. "It's a great accomplishment for her," Trauring said.

•WTVG weekend morning anchor Sashem Brey yesterday joined forces with weekday anchors Jeff Smith and Rebecca Regnier.

The three-anchor arrangement will give Brey, an up-and-coming star who graduated from Ohio State University, more exposure on the station's top-rated morning show, which has ruled the roost locally for four straight years.

"She was already doing 'Alert Center' updates for the weekday morning show three days a week, so this is a natural progression," Trauring said. "Sashem adds another level of energy to a very good show. She is very popular and works very hard."

•Hakem Dermish, the No. 3 sports reporter/anchor at Channel 13, said he doesn't plan to re-sign with the station when his two-year contract expires April 5. Dermish joined WTVG in April of 2005 after just 10 months at WLUC-TV in Marquette, Mich.

•Tim Miller has been hired as a general assignment news reporter at WTOL-TV, Channel 11. Miller, a Greensburg, Pa., native, has been an anchor/reporter at WATE-TV in Knoxville, Tenn., for almost four years. Miller, who starts Jan. 29, replaces Joe Nugent, now the weekend sports anchor at Channel 13.

•Anna Kooiman is the new morning anchor at WNWO-TV, Channel 24. Kooiman, who has been at WWAY-TV in Wilmington, N.C., since the summer of 2004, is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. She will start at WNWO on Jan. 29 and replaces Jennifer Stacy, who left the station to become the health reporter at WINK-TV in Fort Myers, Fla.

•Arielle Berlin began working Monday as a general assignment news reporter at Channel 24. Berlin, a native of West Bloomfield, Mich., is a recent graduate of Syracuse University, where she was working part-time at WSTM-TV.

•Troy Michaels, the morning drive guy on WRWK-FM (106.5), is leaving the station after two years to become the SeaGate Convention Centre's building manager.

Ron Musselman is The Blade's media columnist.

Contact him at: mussel@theblade.com or 419-724-6474.



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