Steven Nichols Curcuru: television pioneer; technology columnist; Resident Wizard [UPDATE 1]

Steven Nichols Curcuru, television pioneer, technology columnist, and Resident Wizard, age 68, passed away peacefully at a friend’s home in Groton, MA on January 6th, 2013, as a result of pancreatic cancer.

Born in October 1944 at the West Point Military Hospital while his father was serving in the European Theater in WW2, Steven grew up with his parents Edmond and Patricia and two younger brothers. Although the family moved frequently during Steven’s childhood, they regularly spent summers in Southhold, NY where he raced his Lightning sailboat and worked as a lifeguard at Founders Landing Beach. After graduating early from Phillips Academy, he attended the College of William & Mary where he worked at the school’s radio station WCWM and as a folk music producer, and graduated in 1967.

Steven then moved to Concord, MA, and worked at WNAC-TV Channel 7 in Boston. In his long tenure at Channel 7, he brought many innovations to the television newsroom in the 1970s and 1980s, including designing and installing the first-ever computer network story editing systems, computer-controlled studio cameras, and computer animated weather graphics. Steven produced a number of major news events at Channel 7, including Emmy award-winning coverage from onboard the USCGC Eagle of the American Bicentennial OpSail ’76, as well as winning other Emmy awards and a New York Film Festival award. He was also a part-time journalism professor at Boston University, where he particularly enjoyed mentoring newcomers to television news production and helped to launch a number of careers in broadcast journalism. In 1993, Steven moved on to become the Resident Wizard at Mugar Enterprises, advising the company on technology investments and working to produce and expand Boston’s Fourth of July events. He wrote a regular column for PC Week, and served as a judge at Comdex computer conferences.

Steven is survived by his mother Patricia N Curcuru, his brothers Kevin H. Curcuru and Kim M. Curcuru, his son Shane Curcuru, granddaughter Roxanne Curcuru, significant other Linda Miller-Foster, and best friend Karen Coe.

A memorial gathering is planned at the end of January in Sudbury, MA for local friends and family. A private family memorial will be held at Southhold, NY in the summer. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in memoriam of Steven N. Curcuru to the Northeast Animal Shelter, to the MSPCA-Angell shelter, or to Coast Guard Mutual Assistance.

Comments or questions about arrangements posted here will be passed on to the family.

4 thoughts on “Steven Nichols Curcuru: television pioneer; technology columnist; Resident Wizard [UPDATE 1]

  1. My first encounter with Steve Curcuru was as a reporter. He was giving a presentation on television station IT at a trade show in Boston. I was blown away. Steve was by far the most knowledgeable and lively presenter I had ever seen. I made it a point to introduce myself and get his card immediately after his talk. And there of course on his card was his title, “Resident Wizard.” I called him for quotes on several articles after that.

    Imagine my delight when, a few years later, I learned that Eric Lundquist had recruited Steve to be our technology consultant and overall guru when PC Week made its initial foray into audio and then video Webcasting.

    Eric gave Steve a credit line at Radio Shack and the next thing we knew a vacant office was filled with equipment. When it was all plugged together, somehow it worked. The only way to document what was plugged into what was to take a picture of it.

    As we computer reporters and editors made the transition from print to online audio and video, Steve was right with us, offering encouragement and tips on how to do better.

    With Steve on our side, we knew that PC Week Radio and PC Week Webcast would be successful.

    One adventure was typical: We were at a major trade show in LA and Steve had equipped a van as a mobile Webcasting unit. We drove around to various receptions throughout downtown LA. We would get out, interview a bunch of people live on the Internet, then move onto another gathering and do the same thing. It all worked — back at a time when it was not so easy to get everything to work.

    If anyone can figure out how to Webcast from heaven, we all know it’s Steve.

    Stan Gibson

  2. I was very fortunate to work with Steve in the mid-to-late ’90s, as he turned his attention from the medium of television to the new, promising and somewhat perplexing medium of Internet broadcasting. The Mugars were kind enough to share him with us at PC Week in Medford, where I had taken the reins of an early webcasting project called PC Week Radio. We tested the bounds of the possible, and tried to uncover the true nature of Web communications. In the course of it, we turned vendors like RealAudio/RealMedia and Microsoft into “partners” by forcing them (often more or less willingly) to support our efforts, and to actually join us in pushing the envelope of their streaming technologies.

    We did all this without any real budget to speak of, relying on the vision and goodwill of PC Week’s leadership under Eric Lundquist, John Dodge, Sam Whitmore, and others. It was a happy experiment that involved the joint efforts of many extremely talented individuals, and touched many lives. It also forged a new course for my journalism career, as it did for many others whose orbits were altered by being admitted to Steve’s particular, ingenious universe.

    Working with Steve was a true pleasure, and often a bit of a thrill-ride. I would throw out the most far-fetched scenarios I could imagine (“Michael Dell and three other top CEOs on a stage in Las Vegas, streaming live video and taking questions from the crowd AND a “studio audience” sitting at their PCs around the world…”), and Steve would simply translate that into a shopping list for Radio Shack. We spent so much time together, and shared so many of the same thoughts and goals, we began referring to one another as our “evil twin.”

    I am profoundly grateful for his mentorship and friendship, his generosity with his remarkable gifts and knowledge, and his boundless enthusiasm for achieving new “firsts.”

    God bless you, Evil Twin. I suspect you are rewiring heaven, even as we speak.

    With love,

    Steve Kovsky

  3. I last knew Steve as a highschool classmate and friend. We shared interesting discussion and thoughts many times for a short period of time after he first came to Oxfrod, Ohio. I had since lost track of him altogether. I was pleased to read is biographical history and especially happy that he worked in his favorite mass communications medium–not to mention his success. I recall Steve talking most about his admiration for Jack Parr and The Late Night Show. Please accept my condolences at his passing.
    John Grover

  4. I knew Steve for 30 years and worked closely with him on a number of big, complex projects that we undertook at Channel 7. Only those that were at Channel 7 would remember how innovative they were because many things were well ahead of their time. From a technology standpoint, our competition was always playing “catch up”. Steve was involved with the RCA TK 76 cameras and the challenges they brought to broadcasters as the transition from film was going on. And this was no minor challenge! Putting cameras in helicopters and vans were the kind of thing Steve thought of before anyone else and he helped figure ways to accomplish these feats without any reasonable technology as we know it today. There were no bounds for Steve and how he saw the future.

    When David Mugar took the reins at Channel 7 on May 22, 1983, the fresh, local “can do” attitude that David brought to the station, along with a great capital infusion, gave Steve a shot of adrenaline when it came to innovation. Steve often frustrated news directors (to the delight of many) because he could see how things could be done so long before others and news directors wanted to make it happen with the snap of their fingers — yet nobody had ever done some of these crazy things and it took just a bit of time to make it work for “air”. When Channel 7 earned Emmy’s in the 70’s and 80’s, with innovative coverage and good broadcast journalists on the scene, quietly behind the scenes was one Steve Curcuru coming up with better ways to get to the location first and give the viewers the best story. In the mid-80’s when we decided we wanted to move into a more connected and computerized/automated newsroom, Steve Curcuru along with Brian Lay were a manufacturer’s worst nightmare. Manufacturers’ would come to Channel 7 to show their wares and tout the virtues of their system only to find Steve had already been there and the demand for more features sent them scurrying back to try to accommodate. This went on for years and helped forge the newsroom that came to be for all television stations in the coming years. Steve was there — and he could be a pain in the neck because just when you got comfortable, he had already figured ways to push the envelope even further. While most people thought of Steve as a brilliant and innovative technologist, he was always interested in the people that did the work and made television happen. He always wanted to make it better for the photographer, the editor, the producer, the assignment desk, the reporter – his goals went well beyond the technology he helped forge for television. He always wanted to make every person’s job go more smoothly with the ultimate goal in mind– improve what the viewer saw, when they saw it and the impact the story had. Steve was an example for all of us on how to think, how to have a great work ethic and how to treat others. Oh, he was sometimes a challenge as the really smart ones can be, but always a pleasure to work with. I feel honored to have had the opportunity to work with such a creative genius as Steve Curcuru. Although I am confident Steve’s impact will live on through many, we have truly lost a pioneer from the heyday of broadcast television.
    Karl Renwanz

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