HOLDEN, Mass. It's Tuesday night and the Holden Selectboard's meeting is about to begin taping. The microphones are laid out, the cameras are aimed, and up in the curtained balcony a familiar voice calls out to the selectmen to signal that it's time. That man behind the curtain is none other than Holden native Johnny Suire, who after nearly a decade of serving as public access director for HCTV-11 will be calling it a wrap at the end of August.
"It was a great fit right from the start and from day one it has been the ideal job for the past nine years. — so it's hard to walk away," said Suire, who came on as director nine years ago after a lifetime of getting to know the town.
"Growing up in Holden, I knew so many people in town," Suire recalled,"I still bump into parents of kids I went to high school with — so it was kind of a natural thing."
In his multi-faceted role with HCTV-11, Suire has been right there with a camera for all the action over the last nine years, a fly-on-the-wall for events like the Wachusett Superbowls — which were some of the moments that stand out for him as he looks back.
"Being in the locker room with the players and the coach, listening to the half-time speeches — I definitely wasn't a member of that team, but just being able to be that fly-on-the-wall was just fantastic."
From behind the camera, Suire has been able to zoom in on some of the many characteristics and people that make Holden unique, filming shows like "On the Road" with Jennifer Stanovich, Faces and Places with Zabelle D'Amico, and the most recent "On the Mark with Mark Ferguson."
"I've always loved being behind the scenes," said Suire. "Just trying to get a message out to residents of Holden and beyond in some cases about what we have going on here."
Along the way, Suire has captured some thrilling moments, such as when he got to ride inside the Holden Police Department cruiser and essentially film a local episode of "COPS".
"I was sitting in the front seat of the police car — instead of the back," Suire recalled. "We were out on a Wednesday, middle of the afternoon, and we pulled over a couple of guys in Papa Gino's parking lot. I heard them on the radio saying there was a prior for eluding police on a motorcycle, weapons charges, and assault on a police officer, so I definitely thought something was going to go down."
As it turned out, the man told police he was reformed, and after police determined he was clean they sent him on his way. Still, Suire was thrilled to have been there.
"I kind of get that way before every selectman's meeting, too," said Suire. "Just that going live, there's a lot to remember in the 30 seconds before you go live, and so I still get a good adrenaline rush."
Now in the field for 20 years, Suire's interest was first sparked while he was taking a Mass Communications class. Soon, Suire had an internship at Channel 3 which soon developed into a job directing the newscast.
"Channel 3 was my diving board," he said. "For thirty minutes we were on the air, calling shots — it was just so much fun. Being on the field for the Pats games — shooting the press conferences, or in the locker room so the lens is steaming up because these guys are just walking out the showers. On the field, right on the sidelines. It was amazing stuff."
Furthermore, ten years ago Johnny worked with EMC, with whom he won a Telly for his involvement with a segment following 9/11.
"We had gone down to New York City right after 9/11, because we had a lot of clients that were there in the Twin Towers. And the offices overlooked the Twin Towers, so we were shooting in this office with the windows open and the people that we were talking to had lost friends, customers. And they would say, 'yeah, we used to look out that window and see the towers there."
Suire was also recognized for his work with Kelley Gangi, the curriculum adviser for the Wachusett Regional School District.
"We started working on a video to inform the parents of students exactly what's going on in the classroom on a day-to-day basis in the K-5, focusing on the reader's workshop, " said Suire. "Those are the two highlights of my career."
The subject tied into a career Suire had always been interested in — teaching.
"We get kids in here all the time from high school and college, even adults for that matter, who want to learn video work," said Suire, who has helped those video hopefuls thrive over the years.
In fact, while Suire says he won't be a stranger to Holden, what he thinks he will come to miss most is the people who live in the town that he has come to know through the job.
"I'm leaving the position, but I don't plan on disappearing," said Suire. "I've got friends in town, I've got colleagues in town — and that's one of the things video people have, is their little niche. I'm just thankful to all the people I got to meet and become friends with, and help train and see blossom.
"I'm a very grateful person. It's been a great nine years, and I was really looking forward to the next nine years, but a great opportunity came out of the blue."
Taking over for Suire will be current public access assistant Jay Brunetta, who started as an intern at Greater Media Cable in Worcester before transitioning into a producer/director of news stories for Channel 3, where he met Suire.
Since then Brunetta has also worked at EMC, produced commercials for Comcast Cable, among other media jobs in the corporate field.
Now, he looks forward to producing programing for a community that he finds interesting.
"For me, coming on board and doing community-based television programing is what excites me the most," said Brunetta. "That and to work with any person that wants to come in, and be able to teach them how to use the equipment and work on a t.v. show they want to produce."
"That's the great thing," added Suire about HCTV-11. "It's limitless. You can do your own cooking show, you can do your own fashion show thing. You just need the equipment and the help."
To learn more about HCTV-11, visit their website at http://www.hctv11.com/main.htm.