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BLOOMINGTON — We've heard you.

That was the message from Michelle Pazar, Central Illinois Group president and publisher for Lee Enterprises, after she named a new Central Illinois Group director of audience development.

Central Illinois Group includes The Pantagraph in Bloomington-Normal, the Herald & Review in Decatur and the Journal Gazette & Times-Courier in Charleston-Mattoon.

The new group director of audience development is Dirk Dunkle, who has 25 years of experience in newspaper circulation.

Dunkle begins on Monday, Pazar said. He will be based in Bloomington but will travel throughout the Central Illinois Group's area.

"We realize we have some service issues to fix and we are working hard to do that," Pazar said. "I am confident Dirk can enhance our operational approach to meet the needs of our readers.

"We value and appreciate our loyal readers and Dirk is the right person to work with our dedicated team that is charged with providing our audience with a seamless reading experience," Pazar continued.

Dunkle — who will be relocating from Hallsville, Mo. — comes to Lee Enterprises in Central Illinois from Columbia, Mo., where he had been regional director of audience development for GateHouse Media. That included seven paid daily and seven free weekly publications throughout mid-Missouri.

Before that, he was circulation director for the Columbia (Mo.) Daily Tribune, circulation retention manager for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, senior district sales manager for USA Today for southern Illinois and Indiana, and circulation marketing manager for the Belleville News-Democrat in Belleville, Ill.

"Customer service is paramount," said Dunkle, 50. "We need to stabilize and increase the print (readership) side and increase the digital side while improving customer and delivery services.

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"I need to get into the market and review any shortcomings," Dunkle said. "I will talk with the staff immediately ... and work immediately with the carriers to stabilize the carrier workforce and improve service.

"I'm happy to be a part of the team," Dunkle said.

Pazar said, "Dirk is a highly experienced leader for this critical part of the business. His appointment underscores our commitment to providing outstanding service to our readers."

Randy Terwilliger also has been named home delivery manager for the Herald & Review and the Journal Gazette & Times-Courier.

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Contact Paul Swiech at (309) 820-3275. Follow him on Twitter: @pg_swiech

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