Behind that trademark growl is a shrewd and compassionate human being who always shows a genuine concern for the affairs of the people around him and never misses an opportunity to show how much he cares.
By Ben Bull
Published February 26, 2007
So Roy Green is hanging it up.
After 34 years of producing and hosting some of Hamilton's most memorable radio, the burly, bald, bad-tempered morning radio show host is finally calling it quits. Unlike some RTH readers, I am going to miss Roy.
As regular readers may know, this website was born out of a monthly citizen's panel featured on Roy's show.
Beginning in 2004, Jason Leach, Sharlene Dobson, Sohail Bhatti and I took to the airwaves to canvass listeners' opinions and stir up debate on the municipal issues of the day. Roy put the group together, welcomed us on to his show, and left the rest to us.
Over the 12 months or so we were on the air we chatted with the Mayor, City councillors and staff, and enjoyed a lively exchange of opinions with an assortment of Hamilton's activist elite.
On some occasions we hit the right note, like the show about Hamilton's image where the phones rang off the hook. Other times we fell flat. But whatever the outcome, and whatever the topic, Roy always welcomed our opinions, kept his distance and let us do the talking.
There have been many criticisms levied at Roy over the years. The charge that he is 'right wing' and 'contentious' are hardly worth defending. In fact, it is surely Roy's ability to take a stand - usually a controversial one - and defend it so stoutly that has contributed to the show's success.
I don't share many of Roy's opinions. In fact, often, during our on air discussions or between segments (during those inordinately long commercial breaks) there would be many a passionate exchange about Iraqi deserters, the merits of the Bush presidency (a short discussion, of course) and - one of Roy's favourite topics - the antics of a certain Michael Moore...
Despite these different points of view I was always amazed at how patient and informed Roy proved to be. Roy Green always defended his corner, and never once blustered his way out of the ring.
As our little media experiment progressed, our group - we called ourselves 'The Green Berets' after Roy - began to understand a little better the workings of the CHML empire, and the media machine in general. We learned the hard way that the media is, first and foremost, a business. If you don't attract the listeners - and in Talk Radio this is often measured by the calls coming in - you don't stay on the air.
More importantly, as with any form of entertainment, if you upset or alienate your audience, you definitely don't stay on the air. In the end, that's what happened to us. Over the course of our twelve-month adventure our little group of non-partisan pundits (between the four of us we had every mainstream political party covered) became perhaps a little too anti-establishment, a little too 'left leaning' - as some of Roy's listeners charged - a little too engaged.
In the end it was as if the more informed we became, the less tolerant we were about the cheesy soundbites trotted out by the Mayor's office, or the editorial pages of The Hamilton Spectator. In the end, our exasperation got the better of us.
The intransigency, ignorance and downright dishonesty, as we saw it, of Hamilton's political elite ('I think Hamilton has a good image' The City's Manager of Tourism told us on one show; 'I promise to be completely open about who is financing my campaign' claimed the Mayor, during another) took the fun out of the game.
But whatever the evolution of the panel and the reasons for its demise, I never lost my enthusiasm for the medium and the show; and I never lost my respect for Roy.
What many listeners could never know is that behind that pensive, played out delivery - beyond that trademark growl - is a shrewd and compassionate human being who always shows a genuine concern for the affairs of the people around him and never misses an opportunity to show how much he cares.
The passion with which he encouraged and supported Sharlene Dobson's campaign to organize a Veteran's luncheon, so that the old guys had somewhere to go after the Armistice Day services, was remarkable and touching.
Roy's e-mails to me, encouraging me to run for office, complimenting my analysis of this issue or that, and in the end sympathizing with my decision to leave town - were always genuine, straight from the heart.
I'm not entirely naïve when it comes to Talk Radio. I understand that in an effort to generate discussion and attract an audience there is a temptation - a requirement even - to be permanently aggrieved.
I have often shared the frustration of my activist peers and neighbours as I listened to Roy praise the 'vision' and 'leadership' of President Bush, or give our ex-Mayor Larry Di Ianni a sympathetically wide berth during those oh-so-cozy weekly discussions.
More recently, I heard Roy (I still listen from Toronto when I can, the reception is surprisingly good and it is still the best spot on the dial between 9 and 12) lend a sympathetic ear to newly minted Ancaster Councillor Lloyd Ferguson's ridiculous claims that an anti-idling bylaw is 'too much government.'
But the less cynical side of me, the side which knows Roy's more thoughtful and sympathetic disposition, suspects - hopes in fact - that Mr. Green is sometimes just playing it up for his audience, seeking an argument where none really exists. Keeping those phone lines ringing...
On his show last Friday, after announcing his retirement, Roy explained that he would be taking on some new projects, and staying at CHML.
I look forward to what Roy has to offer next. I hope we will get see some less incendiary journalism coming our way. Perhaps Roy can take on the complex and pervasive issues hurting Hamilton today, such as poverty, the out-of-control meth epidemic, or the rise in gang crime hitting the streets.
There's no doubt that Roy has the courage, the smarts and the compassion to take on these 'tough' assignments.
I'll miss Roy Green. Here's hoping we haven't heard the last of him.
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