Roy Alan Hammond, ‘Visions’ executive producer and aerial director, dies at 69

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Hammond (Photo courtesy of Laura Savini)

Hammond (Photo courtesy of Laura Savini)

Roy Alan Hammond, a 40-year veteran of public broadcasting, died Feb. 11 at his home in Garrison, N.Y., in his editing studio doing the work that he loved. The family has not released a cause of death. He was 69.

Hammond was v.p. of national production at WLIW-TV in New York City until leaving in 2010. He is best known in public broadcasting as executive producer and aerial director of WLIW’s award-winning Visions aerial series, with more than 25 hours of programming covering Europe, Great Britain, Israel, Canada and more. These pledge specials raised millions for public television stations through PBS pledge drives, ranking as the second-largest fundraising vehicle for stations in public television history when they aired. He produced dozens of award-winning national pledge specials and was a pioneer in the production of national pledge events, producing on-location breaks that drew viewers into seamless viewing experience.

Hammond was also the executive producer and heart and soul behind WLIW’s acclaimed series of ethnic heritage specials, including The Italian Americans, The Chinese Americans and The German Americans, as well as performance specials including The Irish Tenors: Ellis Island and Mariachi: The Spirit of Mexico.

“Roy Hammond was a prolific contributor to the PBS program schedule. In addition to a number of programs celebrating ethnic heritage, he produced 13 episodes of the Visions travelogue series, resulting in more than $8 million in contributions to stations around the country,” said Joseph A. Campbell, v.p. of programming at PBS, who worked with Hammond during his tenure at WLIW.

While at WLIW, Hammond was at the helm of productions that won numerous accolades and awards including Emmys and New York Festival awards, with series including New York the Way It Was and Health Chronicles and local productions including weekly public affairs programming and a talk show with Jackie Mason.

Hammond began his public television career at KEDT-TV in Corpus Christi in 1972, coming from a background in medical television in Houston. Within his first week at the station, Hammond was deep into the heart of local public broadcasting, directing KEDT’s first television auction — without ever having seen one himself.

His innate ability to connect with public television’s audience as a producer and director raised him quickly through the ranks, and he soon became v.p. for production and acting general manager at KEDT before leaving his home state of Texas for his two-decade career at WLIW. A highlight of his work in Corpus Christi was the eight-part PBS series Lone Star, starring Larry Hagman, for which Hammond was executive producer and manager.

Terrel L. Cass, former president and general manager of WLIW and KEDT and now an independent producer, shared a strong bond of friendship and collaboration with Hammond. “I worked with Roy for 43 years — he was one of the most dedicated, hard-working public television professionals I ever met,” Cass said, “Whatever insane ideas we came up with, Roy artfully figured out a way to pull it off. Most importantly, he was incredibly honest, ethical and mission-driven.” Hammond was a quiet but strong force who backed up Cass and was central to the team that boosted WLIW’s production of programming.

One would walk into his office to find maps strewn about and Roy working with a mathematical compass and charts, carefully choreographing the path of the sun and a helicopter’s flight with the ruins of Greece or the hills of Austria for an upcoming Visions special. He was an artistic yet exacting producer. While on location, every moment was scheduled. He worked his team with no frills and few sit-down meals, but the experience was rewarding. Hammond and Cass taught their teams to be fearless and that all was possible.

Hammond was born Dec. 17, 1946, in Fresno, Calif. He lived his adult life in Texas before moving to New York in 1990,

Roy is survived by his wife, Linda P. Vaughan; children Eric Hammond (wife Jennifer), Ashley Pelham Vaughan (wife Noelle) and Jennifer Vaughan Hall (husband Aaron); grandchildren Brooke, Brinn, Andy, Emily, Kali, Alexa and Ashlyn; sisters Sandy and Bonnie; and his cherished English springer spaniel, Katy.

A celebration of Hammond’s life will be announced in the near future, to be held in Corpus Christi. Contributions in his memory may be made to Memorial Sloan Kettering in NYC, P.O. Box 5028, Hagerstown, MD 21741-5028, or online.

Susan Hellman is a station relations consultant and publicist who began her public television career at WLIW, leaving as director of station relations and communications. Laura Savini is president of Untamed Hair Productions and is co-producer at Connecticut Public Television for the national music series Infinity Hall Live and The Kate. Savini was part of the team at WLIW for 21 years, 16 years as vice president of marketing and communications.