I can still see him coming down the hallway of the Radio 2000 building, eyes flashing behind his oversized glasses.
"DAE, buddy," he would say, using the semi-secret acronym we deployed when it was time to meet for show prep: Down At Ethel's, meaning time for a quick break in the apartment belonging to the building maintenance supervisor.
"Ethel, my boy," he would boom in That Voice, the one everyone knew, and that was saying a lot in this building full of talent. Spankmeister and Julie Barry ruled the airwaves here. So did Ray Michaels and Dave Alexander. And right there alongside them was the big guy with the big glasses, Alex Stone.
Anyone who listened to radio in Springfield knew the name and the voice. He was an institution and a survivor in an industry that routinely gobbles up and destroys talented people.
Alex was unique in another way. He was a genuinely gentle man, a nice guy. He knew he had talent but I never saw him play the prima donna. He was a broadcaster and a personality, and when he opened his mic and started to speak you had to marvel at his talent.
This past year had been tough for Stoner. He lost his father to cancer, and he had to grapple with the reality of his mother being in a long-term care facility for dementia. In the past few weeks he had health problems; friends say his doctors found he was suffering from renal failure. He was supposed to have a kidney procedure on Wednesday. On Tuesday, he died.
Spankmeister posted the news as a comment to a Facebook photo showing the Radio 2000 gang outside our building at Walnut and Jefferson. There we are, all smiles and waves and peace signs. Not long after Missie first posted the pic, Alex left this comment:
An incredible array of talent in one place at one time -- the likes of which will NEVER be seen in this town again!
In that array of talent, Alex Stone stood out.
Be safe, buddy.