In the early days of television, it was people like George Abel, who possessed multiple natural talents, who kept the medium alive.
Abel was a St. Louis native, attending McBride High School and St. Louis University, after which he set out to become an actor in local theater. When a chance came along to join the staff of Pulitzer-owned KSD Radio in 1943, he took the job and settled in as a news and sports announcer at the station.
Behind the scenes, the Pulitzer corporation had already begun laying the groundwork for the city’s first television station. Using the significant profit generated by Pulitzer’s publishing and radio operations, the company equipped television studios in a small area of the newspaper building at 12th and Olive, and on February 8, 1947, KSD-TV officially signed on with George Abel as one of its original staff members.
The infancy of the medium of television placed many demands on station employees. There were no employees who had experience in the medium because KSD-TV was one of the first stations in the country. So production techniques had to be developed in real time, during which the station was producing live telecasts. The same thing applied to announcers like Abel. He might find himself sitting in a chair reading the sports report on camera for the Bardahl Sports Report, or serving as the announcer for the Buck Eye 4 variety show or standing in as “Dry Gulch” while subbing as the host for the Wranglers’ Cartoon Club.
The variety in these assignments attested to Abel’s flexibility, not to mention the dramatic abilities he had developed during those earlier years in the theater. In 1954, his assignment for KSD-TV put him in the position of describing the theatrics of others, serving as the ringside announcer for the program St. Louis Wrestling. It was a function he would dust off and use again later in his career.
In what may have been one of his greatest professional challenges, George Abel was chosen to be the announcer on KSD-TV’s Charlotte Peters Show in 1960, a job he held for nine years. In addition to introducing the program and its segments and commercials, Abel was called upon frequently to be a part of the skits, having to go into character in an unscripted bit and keep a straight face when Charlotte pulled her crazy antics.
Opportunity knocked again for George Abel in 1962 when he was offered a job on the announcing team of KPLR’s Wrestling at the Chase series. Within two years he was elevated to the lead wrestling announcing position, which he held until 1972. He ended his television career at Channel 5 where he served as a staff announcer until his retirement in 1981.
(By Frank Absher)