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40 years of paying WBRZ's bills: Second-generation finance manager celebrates fortieth anniversary at Ch 2

3 months 4 weeks 21 hours ago Thursday, September 17 2020 Sep 17, 2020 September 17, 2020 11:05 AM September 17, 2020 in News
Source: WBRZ TV

BATON ROUGE – There’s a joyful celebration within the halls of WBRZ Thursday as a second-generation employee celebrates forty years of paying the bills.

Tonya Hebert runs WBRZ’s finance department, a job she’s held since Wednesday, September 17, 1980.

In remembering her first years Thursday, Hebert recounted how little – almost nothing – was done on computers. Instead, the television station’s finances were recorded entirely by hand. When it was time to make payments or run payroll, Hebert would have to leave WBRZ’s Old South Baton Rouge studio for the Advocate headquarters – then downtown – to key-in checks and information.

“Forty years sounds like a long time, but it really doesn’t feel like it,” Hebert said with a smile when congratulated by co-workers in September 2020.

In an age of impermanence, Hebert and her family are figures of an era that even in memory helps keep the peace in such trying times: Life-long employees whose family is now in its third generation of working at WBRZ.

Hebert started working at WBRZ with her mother, Pat Collier, who spent 30 years at Channel 2. Collier started working soon after WBRZ signed on the air and spent her entire career greeting visitors in the lobby, managing finances and later the station’s broadcast schedule. Collier’s grandchild and Hebert’s daughter, Cagney Blanchard, is nearing 15 years with WBRZ, too. And, since Blanchard’s a mom, who knows – there could be a fourth generation within the halls of WBRZ one day!

Hebert is a life-long resident of the west side of the river and like her mom and daughter, has driven the hour-long commute from the sleepy banks of the bayous to the chaotic world of TV since starting at WBRZ in 1980.

Collier, Hebert, Blanchard and a handful of other career-long WBRZ employees have become something of an enigma in an industry that sees change as quickly as the days. Like their employees, so are the station owners, the Manship family, which have committed to local broadcasting’s future by solidifying their stake in the station and the Baton Rouge community year after year.

WBRZ signed on the air in 1955 when the Manship family of Baton Rouge added television to their newspaper business, having first owned The Advocate. WBRZ remains one of the rare, locally-owned television stations in the country.

The Manship family owns Baton Rouge TV stations WBRZ, WBRZ Plus and entertainment station WBTR along with Texas’ KRGV and Spanish-language TV station KRGV Azteca Valle.

Proof of the Manship’s local commitment can be seen when Hebert lets in on a secret – the largest check she’s ever paid? She wouldn’t specify, but said it was to a local philanthropy!

Congratulations Tonya and thanks for all you do!

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Follow the publisher of this post on Twitter: @treyschmaltz

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