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The Albany Herald hires general manager

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY -- John Hetzler, who parlayed a part-time college job as an errand boy at his hometown newspaper into a distinguished newspaper career, joins The Albany Herald Monday as its general manager.

Hetzler will report directly to Mike Gebhart, publisher of The Herald and executive vice president of Triple Crown Media, the Herald's parent company.

"I'm thrilled to have someone of John's caliber join us here at The Herald," Gebhart said. "I've been aware of John's professional accomplishments for over 20 years.

"We actually worked for the same media company in the early '90s. He's a proven newspaper executive with a wealth of talent. I know he's going to make an immediate impact, particularly as he oversees our advertising department."

Hetzler will be second in command at The Herald and will be responsible for the advertising, circulation and information technology departments. The news department and production department will continue to report to Gebhart.

Hetzler, who most recently was vice president of advertising for Freedom ENC Communications in New Bern, N.C., said much has changed since he walked into the Dayton, Ohio, Daily News in 1969.

A student at the University of Dayton, Hetzler was looking for any job. He signed up for a job as a messenger. His most important duties were driving around in a company car delivering advertising proofs to customers.

Hooked on the newspaper business, Hetzler remained with the paper all through college and became a junior salesman after graduation.

"The clear thing about our business is that it's not what it used to be," he said Wednesday while packing for the move to Albany. "You cannot do things the way you used to do even five years ago."

Hetzler said newspapers must adjust to a changing market or become irrelevant.

"I don't think we're in the newspaper business; we're in the media business," he said. 'We have so many platforms we have to sell and offer."

When he started selling newspaper advertising, Hetzler said newspaper dominated most markets without much competition.

"You can't expect the business to roll in your door now," he said.

Newspapers continue to have the best product and offer the highest value, Hetzler believes, both in the printed product and on the Web.

Hetzler says he expects his sales professionals to do a needs analysis for every customer.

"Finding out what the customer really needs sounds simplistic, but I think that gets lost along the way sometimes," he said. "You build a program around the customer's needs, not just programs on how they feel to you."

Hetzler has served as a newspaper publisher in California and as a general manager for newspapers in New England. He has considerable experience in advertising management in Ohio, Texas and Washington.

Hetzler is not the only member of his family with a sales and entrepreneurial spirit. His wife, Carol, is a real estate broker and sells for AFLAC Insurance.

While Hetzler will report for duty Monday, Carol will remain temporarily in North Carolina to handle the sale of their house. Their son, Zach, is a sophomore at North Carolina State University.