Jim Madigan, the longtime host of news programs on WGBY, died last weekend, the Springfield public television station said Wednesday.
A WGBY spokesperson said Madigan was 65 years old and suffering from lung disease. Madigan spent 27 years at WGBY before retiring last year. Before that, he worked in commercial radio and TV, including Springfield's ABC affiliate.
Tony Dunne is a producer at WGBY who first worked with Madigan 18 years ago, when Dunne interned at the station.
"Jim really made you feel like you were the most important thing in the world at that moment when he was interviewing you," he said. "The best way I could describe his interview style was human. He cared deeply about the community and the people in it. And that was reflected in his interview style and his journalism."
In recent years, Dunne said, Madigan had developed a reputation for his skillful moderating of political debates.
"Jim was the coolest cat in the world...total grace under pressure, and was actually lauded nationally for his moderating of the Brown-Warren [2012 U.S. Senate] debate," Dunne said.
Dunne served as timekeeper during many of the debates.
"I remember distinctly one time my stopwatch dying on me, and Jim would take his watch off during every debate -- his wristwatch -- and lay it on his lap, and he would rely on that," Dunne recalled. "And this one time when the timing went askew, Jim just kept looking down at his watch and never missed a beat, while I was desperately scrambling behind the scenes to try and keep things on track."
Springfield Congressman Richard Neal released a statement Wednesday praising Madigan as a "legendary figure in public television."
"I enjoyed my discussions with him because he was a reporter who cared about the substance of an issue. He was always prepared and extremely well informed," Neal said. "On a personal level, I appreciated his decency and kindness. He was just a terrific guy."
Madigan is survived by his wife Lena and son Jimmy.