When I was invited to a friend’s memorial via Facebook, I thought, “No, I just heard Chris Stanley on KUSC.” In fact the same day that I heard him on Arts Alive, he died of a heart attack. He had just moved back to Los Angeles from working as Fox News Radio’s night anchor in New York. He was a broadcaster who could get the facts straight under huge time pressure– and do it live.
I met Stanley through our friend Gail Eichenthal, when they worked together at KNX Newsradio. First, Stanley was a hard news reporter (he covered six political conventions), but he was also a passionate cinephile who loved putting together smart, efficiently-crafted arts features. Interviewing Gore Vidal, Edward Albee and Abbie Hoffman (when he was on the run) was Stanley’s idea of a good time.
Stanley grew up in Ohio, influenced by his father, a radio and television journalist. After studying drama at Pepperdine, Stanley started as a radio DJ and following a Southeast Asia stint in the Air Force, Stanley began a long career as a broadcaster at WIVK and WNOX in Knoxville. He moved from Wisconsin to Texas, San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York. Unusually, he worked at WPIX-FM, DIR Broadcasting and Pacifica Radio and put in16 years at CBS Radio, followed by KNX and Fox News.
In 2002, Stanley won a Golden Mike for a KNX series on Elvis Presley. Eichenthal and Stanley shared a Golden Mike for their KNX Oscar coverage in 2003. In 2004, Stanley’s series on Ronald Reagan won both a Golden Mike and an Associated Press regional award.
Stanley had deeply internalized 60s values. He wore a ponytail. He never bullshitted. Stanley cared about journalism enough to resent it when his bosses lowered their standards instead of raising them.
Thanks to Stanley’s long-time colleague at CBS and Fox, Bill Vitka, for biographical information.