Whitman-Hanson Cable Access Executive Director Stephen Roy is being remembered as a gifted musician, talented broadcast executive and good friend.
His loss leaves a “significant void,” in the words of WHCA Cable Access Coordinator Kevin Tocci. Roy, 65, died unexpectedly Sunday, May 15.
“He was a great boss,” Tocci said. “I was fortunate to know the guy for about 15 years and learn a lot from him.”
Roy had a vision, not only about everyday life, but about the cable access organization and how it served its communities.
“The whole region is going to miss him,” said former Whitman School Committee member Mike Kryzanek, who recalled working with Roy on a cable access program titled “Issues & Opinions.”
“He was always quite helpful, always willing to go the extra mile, a wonderful technician, but also a wonderful human being,” Kryzanek said.
Co-workers at WHCA echoed those sentiments.
“I’ve found myself lately just thinking, ‘I’ve got to ask Steve this,’ and then I realize I can’t,” said Producer Carol Brewster. “He was always the go-to guy.”
Brewster said Roy was a patient, calming influence when things go wrong.
“It is a rare commodity,” she said. “He was technically inclined and yet seemed to be able to manage people fairly well. Usually you don’t get those combinations together.”
Brewster came to cable access in 1985 after taking a course at Bridgewater State and wanted to learn more about television production.
“I think he was a very good teacher,” she said.
Roy also met his wife Michele while working at the Brockton studio where she volunteered. She said her late husband was a Kennedy Assassination buff mentioned in 13 different books and working on one of his own, as well as a musician. He was also a devoted dad of two daughters, Simone and Evette.
“It’s hard for them, but we’re going to get through it with the help of all these wonderful people,” Michele said.
For many of those people the wonder was Steve Roy.
‘Make it happen’
Tocci said Roy was all about helping residents of Whitman and Hanson put their own vision on the air.
“He had a saying, ‘Let’s make it happen,” Tocci said. “We have a mission. The mission is to provide local programming and also show people how to create their own magic.”
Whitman Selectman Dan Salvucci agreed Roy will be a hard act to follow.
“I’ve known Steve Roy probably from the time he started in Whitman at our cable studio,” said Salvucci who, as selectmen chairman at the time, was involved in contracting Whitman-Hanson Cable Access. “He did a fantastic job. … He not only knew about what went on behind the camera, he knew how to fix a camera. He was just amazing.”
Even those new to local public service, knew Steve Roy.
“I’ve known him for years,” said first-term School Committee member Alexandra Taylor of Whitman.
State Rep. Geoff Diehl, R-Whitman, who used to work in television in Los Angeles, said Roy was an advocate of getting people to do their own cable access shows.
“He ran it efficiently with a great staff,” Diehl said. “The guy really understood that content from the people in town was what would make people watch that station.”
He recalled how Whitman-Hanson Cable Access was “must-see TV’ sometimes. Diehl’s wife KathyJo Boss had been on WHCA performing with her dancing school as a kid and that viewers felt a connection with such programs as they watched the children in the community grow up.
“The good news is that he was in a vocation that he loved,” Diehl said.
There are many people in Whitman and Hanson, in all walks of life, who have worked with Roy on local programming.
“I worked with Steve Roy for over 30 years,” said Hanson resident Mark Vess. “He was an incredibly talented man. His musical abilities, his electronics abilities and his personality were exceptional.”
Wings Over Hanson
Vess, in fact, reminisced with Roy during a Hanson Selectmen’s meeting on April 19 about their production of a program titled “Wings Over Hanson,” which Roy said was one of the most popular programs he ever worked on and had one a local cable award.
“You were in the plane and you were hanging out of the plane taking the camera work, right?” Hanson Selectmen Chairman Bruce Young said to Vess during that meeting.
“That is correct,” Vess replied. “It couldn’t be done today, I don’t think.”
“Can you guess how many people were watching at home, hoping you would fall out of the plane?” Young said.
“Literally dozens,” Vess rerplied with a laugh.
Vess said Saturday that he valued the opportunity to know and work with Roy.
“I am extremely saddened at his passing, and I think there’s going to be a giant hole in cable TV communications as well as his personality,” Vess said. “He’s going to leave a big pair of shoes to fill over there and he’s very much missed already.”
Producer Paul Watson is another WHCA colleague who has known Roy “for about 30 years,” a phrase one hears a lot from those who knew and worked with him.
“I’m one of the late-comers to that one,” Watson said. “Steve was one of those guys I went to when I got stymied by something because I knew he’d have a solution.”
He also remembers Roy as “just a nice guy to talk to.”
“His sense of humor was very dry, very wry and at times, extremely outrageous,” Watson said.
Young, who had also worked with Roy since the days when Continental Cablevision was the contracted service also expressed sorrow over the loss of a man he counted as a friend.
“Steve Roy’s passing leaves a tremendous void in cable access in Hanson,” Young said. “He was the rock that really held it together for all these years and the man was a true believer.”
Young also noted Roy’s skill in passing on his knowledge of television production to those wishing to learn it.
“I have no idea how the process works, but those are going to be hard shoes to fill,” he said. “You would be hard-pressed to find anyone as skilled and as dedicated as Steve was.”