Hebert Leaving WHAS for U of L Post

WHAS-TV’s Mark Hebert, the city’s top investigative reporter who’s been at the station since 1987, is taking a communications position at the University of Louisville, and will head the school’s public relations efforts. He’ll report to Mary Griffiths, senior associate VP for Advancement.

“U of L has been talking to me for several months about heading their P.R. efforts,” Hebert said. “I’ve known Jim Ramsey for 20 years. He’s a great guy and a terrific president for U of L.”

Hebert added that his first goal on the job will be to enhance the University’s relationship with the news media. “The bottom line is that Jim Ramsey will have the final say on anything I do,” he said. “I’ll strive for a more openness and quickness in dealing with the media.”

Hebert’s departure creates a challenging situation for WHAS-TV, still reeling from the untimely death of veteran reporter Chuck Olmstead.

“Chuck and Mark with their combined experience are really impossible to replace,” said WHAS GM Mark Pimentel. “The passing of Chuck is still hard for us here, and now we must deal with losing a second institution…Mark Hebert.”

Of course, Hebert’s move to P.R. may be a relief to some newsmakers, but it’s a big blow to investigative reporting in the city.

“Mark’s understanding of the inner workings of state government and the great job he does of holding those folks accountable was outstanding,” Pimentel added.  “I remain committed to investigative journalism and will be looking for reporters who  are innately curious and have a strong track records.”

Hebert said he had nothing negative to say about the WHAS-TV newsroom and current management staff, and that he still enjoys reporting.

In his new job, Hebert will head the school’s newsroom. John Drees, who has been handling many of Hebert’s new duties, is moving to a new position as head of internal and external communications for the Belknap Campus, according to Griffiths.

“We identified Mark as a potential candidate six months ago,” Griffiths said. “The reason was his extraordinary knowledge of our community and tremendous relationship with people in Frankfort and across the state, members of our board and he has great respect among journalists. He also has tremendous integrity, energy and focus.”

Hebert starts his new job May 4.

NOTE: For those of you who don’t know, Hebert and I have been close friends since college.

28 thoughts on “Hebert Leaving WHAS for U of L Post

  1. If you can’t hide information from them, hire them.

    I guess U of L learned from Obama that is best to have potential enemies as subordinates, than have to worry about them.

    I can’t imagine that Hillary would have remained silent with some of his administration’s early stumbles, had she not been convinced to work under him. Very shrewd political move on his part to neutralize any potential dissension from within the party.

  2. Congrats, Mark. You’ll discover, as I have, that there’s a great life beyond daily journalism.

  3. Don’t worry folks, Gene Kang and Melanie Kahn are still at WHAS-TV to assume the mantle.

    Maybe Pimentel could lure Julie Tam away from Fox. She’s a journalist, you know.

  4. A second major blow to quality journalism at WHAS, and a super-duper-major blow to investigative reporting in the Louisville area, if not Kentucky as a whole.

    Can Dick Irby at Fox41, as great as he is, do it all now?

    At any rate, I think Hebert is fantastic and I wish him well.

  5. Congratulations Hebert. If you want any tips on how to function on the dark side, hit me up.

    Sad to see an icon go from the world of journalism, but sometimes its time.

  6. Heeb,
    Welcome to the other side of the fence! Glad you could leave on your own terms. You may miss the old job , but don’t worry, it only lasts for a few minutes.

  7. I first met Mark when he was doing radio news in Frankfort in the early 80’s. His then boss, station owner Leigh Allan, was accustomed to seeing his newsroom being used as a stepping stone for many who moved up and on. Leigh once said Mark was the only one he ever employed who was in the game for the right reasons. A worthy compliment.

  8. Forget investigative journalism in Louisville (or Kentucky for that matter). No, those that are really going to feel the loss of Hebert is the populace of Markhebertvilletapeland. Where will these newly orphaned tapes – who’ve called Hebert’s desk home for years – go?:


    Seriously – echoing everything said above – hard journalism in the state wasn’t just chipped at today, it was jack hammered. Any day working with Hebert was a master class on working and retaining sources, never settling for softball questions, and respecting the audience you serve.

    Good luck, Hebert.

  9. Mark is a great mentor and someone to be greatly admired for his evenhandedness and fairness… even when dealing with known con men, charlitans, crooks and politicians of all sorts. Beyond being a well of institutional knowlege, he also cracks the funniest jokes at the morning meetings and has the number you need programmed somewhere in his cell phone, if he can take it away from his ear long enough to find it. HUGE shoes to fill here, but U of L is certainly fortunate to get such a capable employee!

  10. Four years ago, I was a little know it all reporter in Evansville working the same Frankfort story as Hebert and photographer Jason Solan. We used the WHAS satellite truck to uplink our noon story. Heb watched, then walked up to the photographer I was working with, Billy.

    “Usually when we help stations, we chuckle at the stories,” Heb said with his sarcastic sly grin and trademark voice. “But your guy is good. You oughta have him send a tape.”

    The next day, Heb called a few people in Evansville to get my story. Satisfied, he suggested me to his news director. A week later I got the job.

    Make no mistake: I wouldn’t have worked in Louisville unless Heb went to bat for me. For that, I owe him a debt I’ll never be able to repay (in fact, I paid an agent a fraction of my salary for the work Mark did. Heb, that money should be yours. I’ll give you her phone number … hehe).

    I have never worked with, or ever will, a journalist as good as Mark Hebert. The man could multi-task like no one I’ve ever seen. Two years ago he got the scoop Steve Pence was asking off the ’07 Fletcher ticket, but Mark was off work so he gave the story to me. While talking to him, I heard all this background noise combined with Mark yelling “Come on! Hustle!” every few seconds.

    “Heb,” I said, “where are you?”

    “Coaching Andrew’s little league team. Don’t worry – we’re up three. Ok, so here’s the story …”

    I could gush for hours about how much respect I have for Heb as a journalist and a person. Most people don’t realize, as hard as Mark worked, he shot most of his own stories. And through all of this, he never, ever big-timed anyone in the newsroom. The fact you had two titans of journalism, Heb and Chuck Olmstead, leading the reporters but never showing an ounce of ego made everyone in the newsroom better.

    Heb’s got a great opportunity, which is fantastic, but it’s the whole field of journalism that suffers for his move.

  11. I hate to hear this news. With Hebert, you always knew that he was willing to ask the tough questions. the type that told the truth. I hope we can replace that in this state.
    Good luck Mark!

  12. Good luck Mark! You are the best at what you do and I know you will bring that same ethic to your new position.
    Never have I have seen so many tapes on one person’s desk in all my life. 🙂 …and on each one, an interview conducted in a way that no one else can.
    The TV world will miss you but embrace your new career and I wish you well Hebie!
    Melanie Snow

  13. Thanks for the fairness and the answering of the phone on the many times you have covered stories I have been apart of .
    You have served the viewers well and have earned this opportunity
    Now , what about all the secrecy with donors of Uof L and the McConnell Center.

  14. You had to get Otis to write you up real purty, didn’t you? You’ll have to apply some serious Southern finnesse now and tone down that New York State of Mind. Ha! Seriously, we wish you the very best and know you’ll do great. Since I’m retired and have purged/suppressed all memories of reporters and open records, you can call Kim Brannock for pointers. REGARDS TO YOU and THE FAMILY!

  15. Looks like it might be a good job for someone like Ed Springston. Obviously, Springston might not have the journalism background enough to do the television thing but he can definitely pull up information about what is going on. Even if you don’t always agree with his political views.

  16. I had the honor to work closely with Mark several years ago when he broke the Paul Patton story. Mark is one of the finest journalists I have worked with in my 25-plus years in the industry. He shoots. He reports. He writes. He edits videotape. He does it all. What a great loss for Louisville television and journalism. Good luck, Mark!

  17. I hope he can convince Dr. Ramsey that there’s no shame in being bald and that he should lose that combover. He’s not fooling anyone.

  18. My “source” phone list is up for auction. Highest bidder. I’ll use the cash to buy a security team to keep those pesky truth seekers off my campus!!!!
    But seriously, all of these kind words from former colleagues has got me as stunned as they were when they heard I was taking a PR job. You folks will never know how much you mean to me. Honest. It really is the people you meet along life’s path that make it worth living.

  19. Mark,
    Welcome to the so-called “dark side” although I have never viewed it as such. As one of my journalism mentors, long-time Houston TV investigative reporter John McPherson once said, “Old journalists never die, they just get PR jobs.”
    Good luck with your new job!

  20. Heeb, Congratulations on the new job! Are you going to be able to help us get basketball tickets?! Jim & Karen

  21. I hate to see him leave after all the great work that he’s done over the years, but maybe he is leaving before being pushed out the door in the next round of budget cuts. I haven’t watched WHAS TV, except on Saturday mornings, since Schulz left.

  22. Congratulations Mark on the new job!
    What a loss for the station. You leave huge shoes to fill!!!
    You were the walking encyclopedia of politics, and as good as you were, you never showed off about it.
    All the best as you begin this new chapter.

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