Tuesday, May 13, 2008

R.I.P.: Ron Stone (1936-2008)

The word “legend” gets tossed around entirely too freely during discussions of television luminaries. But, really, when you’re talking about Ron Stone, the Houston broadcasting legend who passed away today, no other word will suffice. Ron was a great man and a grand gent, a consummate pro who evidenced equal measures of aw-shucks folksiness, probing intelligence and rapier-sharp wit throughout his two decades as news anchor for Houston's KPRC-TV/Channel 2.

When I first moved to Houston in 1982, I opted to make Channel 2's 10 pm newscast my local newscast of choice based entirely on my first impression of Stone as an ace interviewer -- I serendipitously tuned in on the night he did a long one-on-one with Leon Jaworsky -- and authoritative anchor. Years later, when I was a semi-regular on his afternoon talk show, I made the mistake of trying to get all serious by telling him – on the air – how much I respected his work. Ron looked at me, smiled that avuncular smile of his – and then, with all the mischief he could muster, said: “OK, Joe. You’ve already got the gig. You don’t need to butter me up anymore.” It’s a memory I probably would treasure even more dearly had I not made a fool of myself by cackling like a hyena in response. Fortunately, I managed to regain my composure in time for Ron to turn to the camera and say, “Well, Joe will be back – maybe – next week…”

As you can see here, I’m not the only one with Ron Stone stories to share.

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