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CBS News Vet Emerson Stone Dead at 86

Emerson Stone, 86, the former CBS News executive credited with producing the first live call-in radio show with a sitting U.S. President—Jimmy Carter in 1977—has died of complications from a fall at his home in Greenwich, Conn. He retired from CBS in 1986.

Stone spent most of his career—nearly 35 years with CBS—on the radio side. He was named head of the radio department in 1967 and VP in 1971, in charge of all radio broadcasts.

He was also the first executive put in charge of news practices at CBS—in September 1982. That followed CBS' airing of “The Uncounted Enemy: A Vietnam Deception,” which drew criticism and a lawsuit. Stone's role was to "examine and respond to significant criticism of the entire range of CBS News broadcasts as well as examine and review matters involving editorial standards and practices.”  

Stone began his career in the CBS mailroom and would go on to win two Peabody awards in a career at CBS that included writer, editor and producer for radio and TV.

Among Stone's accomplishments was recognizing a talented local radio newsman, Charles Osgood, and brining him to CBS News. “Emerson Stone was one of the best bosses I ever had,” said Osgood of his former mentor.  “Always thoughtful and friendly, but uncompromising when it came to keeping standards high. Much of what I know about broadcast news I learned from him.”

Stone was born Feb. 15, 1928, in New Haven, Conn. He graduated from Yale with a BA in English in 1948.

Survivors include his wife, Louisa, a sister, Diana Stone, and three daughters.  His brother Jon, who died in 1997, was a head writer and director on Sesame Street.

A celebration of Stone's life is planned for Jan. 17 at the Round Hill Community Church in Greenwich. Contributions can be made to Doctors Without Borders or Yale University.