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Emerson Remembers Channel 5’s Joe Roche ’87

Joe Roche '87 was remembered by colleagues as a hardworking journalist and a fun guy. Screenshot/WCVB-TV

Joe Roche ’87, an assignment manager for WCVB-TV Channel 5 in Boston, died on January 12 after a long battle with amyloidosis, a rare disease that affects internal organs.

Roche, who was highly regarded in the journalism community, made editorial decisions for the station, where he was known as “a wonderful personality, an exciting, electric man,” News Anchor Ed Harding ’75 said in an on-air piece on Roche broadcast on Tuesday.

The three most important things to him were his family, Channel 5, and “every Boston sports team,” Harding said.

Roche graduated from Emerson College in 1987 with a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism. While at the College, he was a member of Phi Alpha Tau and was a DJ and news anchor for WERS-FM.

WCVB Assistant News Director Gerry Wardwell ’80 said that Emerson, and in particular journalism faculty member Marsha Della-Giustina, prepared Roche well for a career in competitive TV news.

“He was one of the hardest working people in our newsroom—in Boston TV news,” Wardwell said. “He was always on, 24/7.

“When JFK Jr.’s plane crashed, he called me at what seemed like 5:30 in the morning and said, ‘Are you watching TV?’” Wardwell recalled. “Of course, it was 5:30 on a Saturday morning, so [I wasn’t].”

Roche also was able to persuade families of crime victims to talk to WCVB reporters through his compassion, Wardwell said.

He began his career at WNEV-TV, now WHDH-TV, as an associate producer/assignment editor, according to his LinkedIn page. From 1987 to 1991, he was a producer at WLNE-TV in New Bedford. He had been at WCVB since 1991.

“He was genuine, sincere. He was a good person to work with and be friends with,” Wardwell said.

He leaves his wife, Joanne, and four children, Brendan, Conor, Ryan and Chiara, according to his obituary.

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