Maurice "Moe" Guillerman, a retired station manager and sales manager at WWL-TV for more than 25 years who helped build the station into a nationally-respected broadcasting operation, died Aug. 10. He was 88.
Mr. Guillerman, known as “Moe,” began his career at WWL-TV as a sales account executive, hired just one year after the station signed on in September 1957. He rose through the ranks, becoming national sales manager, general sales manager and assistant general manager, before retiring in 1985 as station manager after 27 years with WWL-TV.
“When I came on board I told the station that I didn’t intend on having a long career there,” he told The Times-Picayune when he retired. “It’s been a marvelous, very successful career.”
Working with legendary general manager J. Michael Early and news director Phil Johnson, Mr. Guillerman helped build WWL into the powerhouse station it became during the 1970s and 1980s, by recruiting top talent both in front of and behind the camera.
“Moe was an elegant gentleman who loved WWL-TV. He was Mike Early’s right hand man as they grew Channel 4 in the early days to the award-winning station it would become,” former anchor Angela Hill said Tuesday.
Former WWL station manager & sales manager "Moe" Guillerman dies
Many of the station’s longtime sales executives were recruited or hired by Mr. Guillerman.
“When I started making sales calls after he hired me, people were still raving about him and asking about him even though he had become a top executive by that time. That’s how well-regarded he was by clients,” said Billie Bonnett, a former sales manager at the station who became the first female salesperson at WWL when Mr. Guillerman hired her in the 1970s.
“He was very involved in everything the station did, not just sales,” Bonnett said. She mentioned his strong support of local programming and also innovative marketing techniques that enhanced the station’s reach outside of New Orleans into the surrounding suburban areas.
While colleagues credit him with building the station into the powerhouse it would become, they also remember Mr. Guillerman on a more personal level – including as a dashing, debonair figure who could have been a TV anchor himself.
“Moe was all class. He had style and grace and made you feel important,” remembered current WWL-TV president and general manager Tod Smith, who began his career at the station in the 1980s. “What I remember most about him was that he was a true gentleman and always had time for anyone – no matter what your job was at the station. I remember he liked jazz, especially Bill Evans. That was something we shared in common and he took the time to know that about me, even as a young production assistant.”
A native of Kentucky, Mr. Guillerman first came to New Orleans to attend Loyola University as a college baseball player. He graduated from the university in 1953, then served in the U.S. Army, where he developed his public relations and production skills. While in the service, he produced a television show called “Your Army in View.”
He returned to New Orleans as an account executive for the now-defunct Item newspaper. When it closed in 1958, he was hired by WWL, which had just signed on the previous year. Mr. Guillerman began his career at the station as a sales account executive, rising through the ranks before ultimately retiring as one of its top executives.
In retirement, he and his wife, Betty, who died in 2007, were active supporters of many charitable organizations, including St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, St. Joseph Abbey and the Discalced Carmelite nuns. Mr. Guillerman spearheaded many fundraising campaigns for the nuns and their monastery near Covington.
Mr. Guillerman enjoyed playing tennis and golf, as well as caring for the gardens at his home in Folsom, his daughter, Robin Hurston, said.
In 2012, Loyola University’s School of Mass Communication honored him with induction into the school’s Den of Distinction, honoring distinguished alumni.
In addition to his daughter, he is survived by a son, Scott; as well as 5 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren.
A funeral Mass will be celebrated Saturday, Aug. 19 at 2 p.m. at St. Joseph Abbey, 75376 River Road, St. Benedict, La.