Under the headline “Lights, Camera … Kevin” in the Oak Park River Forest High School yearbook, there’s an article about sophomore Kevin Roy, described as the self-assured and authoritative star of “Newscene” on the school’s cable channel. “Since I’ve been in fourth grade, I remember telling my parents that I wanted to be an anchor person,” 16-year-old Kevin is quoted as saying.
Noting that he already “seemed well on his way toward achieving his goal,” the article concludes: “With his ambition set, his goals in sight and guts and talent abound, Kevin has all the qualities to become a fine anchor person.”
It all came true. In one of those classic “local boy makes good” stories, Kevin Roy realized his dream and became a successful and respected anchorman at the No. 1 station in his hometown. For eight of his 12 years at ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7, he co-anchored the city’s top-rated Saturday and Sunday morning newscasts while doubling as an award-winning general assignment reporter.
Yet for reasons that many of his colleagues and admirers find hard to understand, it all came crashing to an end this week.
As first reported here, Roy, 41, was fired Monday for failing to show up for work the previous day. It was the third time in recent months that he was a no-show, forcing co-workers to scramble to replace him at the last minute. In each case, he attributed his absence to “physical exhaustion.”
Although Roy issued a statement Tuesday saying he was “profoundly sorry” and understood the reason his bosses chose not to renew his contract, some have questioned why he was terminated when other employees had been shown leniency in the past. They pointed to the case of Hosea Sanders, Channel 7’s weekday morning news anchor.
In 2004, Sanders took a month-long leave of absence and entered a recovery program for treatment of substance abuse after he’d been the target of a blackmail attempt by two men who threatened to expose drug use by Sanders and other details about his personal life. “I trusted the wrong people, people I thought were my friends, and I was betrayed and hurt by them,” Sanders said at the time. The two men who tried to blackmail him were eventually sentenced to prison.
In Roy’s case, however, there was no intimation of substance abuse or other red flags that might warrant intervention by his bosses. To the contrary, he wrote in his statement: “To those who might speculate on the reason, be assured that my problem is one of physical‚ exhaustion only; I only wish I had taken the opportunity to take some time‚ off, rather than try to muscle through.”
Since then, Roy has declined further public comment, except to post a note of appreciation — and a pitch for a new job — on his Facebook page:
“Thanks for your support and all the kind remarks. The love is felt. Now, any good job leads out there? Open to the possibilities, hopefully something that takes advantage of what I have to offer. I have loved what I’ve done in the past, and only hope to be so lucky to do something as exciting in the future.”
We may never know for sure what led Roy to squander a job he’d dreamed of — and seemed destined for — since fourth grade. Some insiders say he resented being passed over for the top weekend anchor position when Ravi Baichwal was hired to replace Rob Johnson in 2006. Others point to personal matters outside of work. No matter what the cause, it’s a sad, strange ending to what had been a golden chapter in his life. “I hope to come through this having‚ learned a valuable lesson in maturity,” Roy said in his statement.
Channel 7 bosses plan to hire a new reporter to assume Roy’s general assignment duties, but they haven’t decided whether to designate a replacement for him on their Saturday and Sunday morning newscasts. Stacey Baca will anchor solo for the foreseeable future.