Heldman Quitting as Publisher in Wichita

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Lou Heldman, publisher of The Wichita Eagle, announced his retirement Thursday in a newsroom meeting.

Heldman, 58, told employees he planned to retire by the end of the month.

“I’ve been a change agent in newspapers for 35 years,” he said. “And now I’m changing me.”

Bob Weil, vice president of operations for The McClatchy Co., said he and his colleagues at corporate headquarters had a great deal of respect for Heldman and his achievements in the business.

A national search for a successor will begin immediately, he said.

When the newspaper was transitioning from ownership by Knight Ridder Inc. to ownership by McClatchy, corporate officers wanted to send Heldman to Columbia, S.C., to take over the newspaper there.

“He called me on a Sunday, said he loved it in Wichita, and could he stay?” Weil said.

Weil said he was happy to arrange it.

“What we got was great stewardship here after the Knight Ridder sale, and Lou got to stay in a city he’d grown fond of,” he said.

Heldman planned to stay in Wichita after retirement.

After 35 years in one industry, Heldman said he decided that now was the time. He also wanted to retire now, because the newspaper has begun planning its 2008 budget.

“There are a lot of business decisions that have to be made for 2008, and I wanted to give McClatchy the opportunity to name a new business leader to make those decisions,” he said.

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