HERE. The following is a story Tonja Burke wrote:
It's a difficult time at WBIR.
We are mourning the loss of our
co-worker and friend, Randy Stephens, the man literally responsible for
keeping WBIR on the air, but so much more.
Randy, who was 49, died
suddenly over the weekend of an apparent heart attack, leaving his
family and friends in shock and a giant hole in all of our hearts.
came to WBIR from WATE in 2001 as our newsroom operations manager. In
that role, he was in charge of keeping everything from computers to cell
phones in working order. You probably saw
Randy over the years, at the
wheel of WBIR's satellite truck as he traveled to cover breaking news,
special events, or Live at Five at Four road shows.
In 2015, Randy
was named WBIR's Director of Technology and Operations, using his
expertise to ensure that the station's technology, building, and
equipment was in working order.
Randy loved his work at WBIR, and
everyone that ever worked with Randy loved him. He was always ready with
a smile, a joke, or a silly story. Even in the midst of an often
stressful job, he was the calm in the storm that steadied those around
him. He worked long hours, often spending the night in the satellite
truck or on the floor of his office at the station. There were many
times he was called in the middle of the night to get us back on the air
if there was a technical issue. You could count on him for anything,
and one of the most common phrases you heard at the station was "Ask
We will miss him.
Outside of work, Randy was devoted
to his family--- his wife, stepsons, mother, siblings, nieces and
nephews. He and the love of his life, Tanvia, enjoyed camping, going to
bluegrass festivals, and spoiling their dogs.
Randy did more than
listen to bluegrass. He was an accomplished bass player, and you could
always find him playing with other musicians at various events in East
Tennessee. He was also on the board of directors for his favorite radio
He loved the Great Smoky Mountains, and spent weeks
every year camping in Cades Cove, fixing up delicious meals for friends
or anyone who happened by. We were particularly fond of his peach
cobbler, which he served up on more than one occasion on a Live at Five
at Four camping trip.
He and Tanvia were avid dog lovers. They had
three very spoiled pups--- Hank, Argos, and Willie G.
But their furry
brood was often added to by foster dogs, who they would love and care
for until a permanent home could be found.
Randy was the epitome of Straight from the Heart.
Manager Jeff Lee said, “Randy kept the trains running on time. He was a
steady man. Someone you could always count on to advance ideas into
realities. Randy was a dependable leader and friend. He will be greatly
His Facebook page was filled with pictures and stories
from friends and family all over the country.
You could see the impact
he had on so many lives, both personally and professionally. We can't
believe he's gone, but know the legacy he left will live on in all of
We send our love and our continued prayers to Tanvia and the rest of Randy's family.
family will receive friends Wednesday from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at Smith
Trinity Chapel in Maryville. The funeral service will immediately
follow, with Bill Williams officiating. The graveside service will be at
11:00 a.m. on Thursday at Grandview Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers,
donations can be made to WDVX (wdvx.com/support or 301 S. Gay Street,
Knoxville, TN 37902) or SOS Beagles (sosbeagles.org or 814 Judith Lane,
Atco, NJ 08004), or Recycled Best Friends
(www.facebook.com/recycledbestfriends/ or 4040 Forest Glen Drive,
Knoxville, TN 37919).