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Published: Monday, 9/20/2010

Stay Tuned: Kelly Heidbreder

BY KIRK BAIRD
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Kelly Heidbreder is the morning anchor for WNWO-TV. Kelly Heidbreder is the morning anchor for WNWO-TV.
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You have heard their voices on radio and seen their faces on TV. Now The Blade goes behind the scenes to introduce you to your favorite media personalities. Stay Tuned appears the third Monday of every month.

First job: Floral design assistant at Royal Expressions in Blissfield. It is a fancy title for the person who sweeps the floors and cleans out the slimy mess in the flower coolers. My boss, Debbie Royal, taught me many skills I still use today, like how to hold a rose stem without getting stuck by thorns, making mums change color from white to lavender without using spray paint, and that the customer is always right. I'll bet I can still make a corsage with my eyes closed.

First salary: My first TV job was producing the noon show at WTVG-TV, Channel 13. Lee Conklin was the weatherman back then, and Susan Ross Wells was his co-anchor. I got up at 2 a.m. and worked from 3:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. for a whopping $25,000 a year and loved it!

My idol is: Oprah Winfrey. She started out as a host of a little TV show and has changed the lives of many people over the decades. I think she is a compassionate interviewer and shrewd businesswoman. She has the talent to bring the best out of people and has that “pay it forward” mentality. I just wish she would discover me before she goes into retirement!

Most embarrassing TV moment: Two years ago, I really wanted to cover the shrimp harvest at Duke Wheeler's farm in Whitehouse. But the only person that could do the story was the weekend meteorologist … me! I checked the radar and saw a storm approaching, so I was rushing to get the video shot before the downpour. Since I hadn't used our camera equipment before, I was praying that I had the settings right as I lugged the gear out of my car. Of course, five minutes after setting up, it started to pour, so I was soaked within minutes. But the best part was when I tried to shoot my own standup for the story. I like to get my hands dirty, so I planned to show how to clean the shrimp. I had the shrimp skinning skills down, but couldn't figure out how to extend the camera's tripod. So with a crowd of about 20 people watching, I had to run behind the camera to hit the record button, run in front of the lens and crouch into the camera shot, remember how to clean the shrimp and say my lines, then run back and turn off the camera again. All the while, my hair was dripping and my makeup was running. Uh, yeah, it took about five tries to get it right, but everyone felt bad for me and cheered at the end.

Highlight of my career: I consider it the moment that will stay with me for the rest of my life more than the highlight of my career. It was June 5, 2010. It was my last night as weekend meteorologist at NBC 24 before moving to the morning show as anchor. A couple of huge storm cells were heading our way and I was on the air for seven hours straight, mapping out the storm's track and warning people to take cover. Five tornadoes were raging our way to cause some of the worst damage our region had seen in decades. For the first three hours, it was just my director, Brian Murray, at the controls and between the two of us, we were going from maps, to Doppler radar, to phone interviews. We had our chief meteorologist, Norm VanNess, and anchors Chance Walser and Hubert Wiggens out in Lake Township with cameras. Reporter Lou Hebert and assignment editor Brian Schwartz came back in to help after midnight. I was focused on being the calm voice and the experienced scientist to help people get to safety. But in the end, six people died and I still wish I could have done more. After 24 hours at work, I was heading home and cried the whole way.

My favorite thing to do outside of work: Be the paparazzi for my kids. I also am addicted to gardening. I am always on the hunt for more plants to add to my landscape and experiment with new ideas for my column in The Blade. My poor husband has a very long honey-do list.

I think Toledo's best-kept secret is: J&G's Pizzeria in Sylvania. It is also the spot where my high school sweetheart and current husband took me on our first car date.

People may be surprised to know that: I have been a wedding singer since I was 12 years old. I just sang in a wedding a few weeks ago.

In five years, I see myself: Still writing my garden column for The Blade, which appears every Wednesday (by that time I will be going on my 17th year), still anchoring a morning show and maybe even a home and garden show; maybe even dabble with publishing a book.

My dream job is: My current job anchoring a morning show, doing the weather in my home area, and also writing a spunky garden column for the largest newspaper in the region. But if I had one wish, it would be to have a home and garden show discovered by Oprah and taking it worldwide. Does anyone have her cell phone number?

Contact Kirk Baird atkbaird@theblade.comor 419-724-6734.



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