Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Mid-Atlantic TV Program Wins Awards (1976)





From a 1976 issue of "Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Magazine"
Mid-Atlantic TV Program Wins Awards (1976)

The television program "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" didn't win any Oscars, Emmies. or Grammies in 1976; but they walked away with a lions share of awards in their field. In the 1976 National Wrestling Alliance Poll of television Programs, Mid-Atlantic was awarded the following:

  • Best Production, Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling
  • Best Director, Robert Parnel
  • Best Technical Supervisor, George Scott
  • Best Commentating Team, Bob Caudle and David Crockett

Many things behind the scenes go into putting together an award winning production. The camera crew, floor director, audio man, etc. The wrestling talent you see on the program is second to none, but awards are not given for wrestlers. It is the program itself that is judged. On the Mid-Atlantic program, experience is the by word.

Director Parnell has been in the directors booth on wrestling programs for over nine years. Handling that job is the toughest of any sports programing. He keeps three cameras in play at all times in trying to follow the action wherever it takes place. Sometimes that is all over the studio!

Tech man George Scott needs no introduction to area wrestling fans. He was a top mat star for more than twenty years. His job is to work with the television crew and brief them on what wrestling styles to look for in each match. During a taping, he is in contact at all times with the directors booth.

The men at the microphones, Bob Caudle and David Crockett add more experience to the team. Bob has been in radio and television most of his adult life and at the controls of the Raleigh taped program for over ten years. David has grown up around wrestling. Working in promotion and a brief wrestling career has given him an insight into what's happening in the squared circle.

By mixing all this talent and experience, you have something that spells quality and proven wrestling programing. This year it payed off in winning the most awards of any program in the country.

This week when you stretch out in front of your TV set and turn on Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrest-ling, remember that the hour you are watching has taken many hours of planning for this hand full of men. The program you are watching is the best in the country.

* * * * *
[From a 1976 issue of "Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Magazine"]

Monday, June 29, 2015

Bill Connell with Weaver & Youngblood

In 1981, Johnny Weaver and Jay Youngblood served as Grand Marshalls for the South Rowan Christmas Parade in China Grove, NC. The annual parade was held each year on the Monday before Thanksgiving.



Featured in this photo, taken Monday November 23, 1981 are Jay Youngblood, Johnny Weaver, and local radio and television personality Bill Connell. The person on the far right is David Rogers, a member of the China Grove Parade Committee presenting plaques to Youngblood and Weaver.

Bill Connell hosted local TV promo inserts for a short time at WRAL studios in Raleigh, NC for Jim Crockett Promotions in the late 1970s. He later served as play-by-play man for Nelson Royal's "Atlantic Coast Wrestling". He also did broadcasting work for NASCAR*.

On a side note having to do with title history, later that very same week, on Friday November 27, Johnny and Jay would win the Mid-Atlantic Tag Team championships from Chris Markoff and Nicolia Volkoff.

Photo credit unknown -From the collection of Johnny Weaver.
Thanks to Mike Cline for South Rowan/China Grove information.
*NASCAR/Nelson Royal info from WrestlingClasscis.com message board.

Television Wrestling History: WRAL-5 Raleigh, NC

WRAL TV in Raleigh is the studio location most closely associated with Jim Crockett Promotions and Mid-Atlantic Wrestling. Studio A at WRAL was the site of weekly TV tapings for over three decades. By 1974, all of the remaining regional taping locations (WFBC, WGHP, WBTV) had ceased, and all Crockett TV taping was consolidated into this location.


At that point, two versions of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling were taped, one hosted by long time Raleigh announcer Bob Caudle, the other hosted briefly by Sam Menacker and then regularly by Les Thatcher. The Thatcher-hosted "B" show replaced WGHP's Championship Wrestling in markets where it was also syndicated at the time. (Example: Asheville's WLOS-TV).  On October 8, 1975, a new program called Wide World Wrestling, hosted by long time Atlanta wrestling announcer Ed Capral, replaced the Thatcher version of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling. Thatcher would continue to do the local promo spots to be inserted in the local broadcast of each show. (Thatcher also produced and hosted the Southeastern Championship Wrestling program for Ron Fuller in Knoxville, TN. during this period.) Capral left the promotion in late 1977 and was replaced by Tom Miller and George Scott. On the weekend of October 7, 1978, Rich Landrum became the permanent host of the show, which was renamed World Wide Wrestling.


Bob Caudle's main co-host was David Crockett through the WRAL period. Tom Miller filled in during the summer of 1976 when David Crockett was tending to another family business with sister Frances Crockett, the Charlotte O's minor league baseball franchise. Big Bill Ward, who hosted Championship Wrestling for Crockett Promotions in Charlotte on WBTV from the late 1950s through early 1970s, briefly co-hosted with Bob Caudle on the 2nd Mid-Atlantic show after TV tapings had been consolidated to Raleigh. Lord Alfred Hayes had a brief stint as co-host in 1980.  Landrum's regular co-host on World Wide Wrestling would eventually be Johnny Weaver.

Prior to this consolidation, in the 1960s and early 1970s, WRAL was actually the site of one show only, a one-hour taping with simultaneous "dual" audio tracks being recorded. As they taped the matches, they had two broadcasters calling the action separately. Nick Pond, a WRAL sportscaster, hosted the show that would be seen in the Raleigh market (with co-host Joe Murnick much of that time, who was also the local Raleigh promoter), while at the same time one desk over, Bob Caudle called the action for a tape that was sent out to other markets in the Mid-Atlantic area that didn't have their own local TV tapings. Both Pond and Caudle also did sports and weather for WRAL television. Elliot Murnick replaced Pond on the Raleigh broadcast around 1972-1973. For most of this time, the Raleigh show was called Championship Wrestling and the syndicated show was called All-Star Wrestling. When all of the other studio locations ceased taping by 1974, Caudle became the sole host of what was now titled Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling which was now sent to all of Crockett's TV  markets including the home base of Raleigh.

Wrestling first debuted on WRAL on January 31, 1959 at 5:00 PM. The show at the time was titled Championship Wrestling. In the earliest days of wrestling on WRAL, the legendary broadcaster Ray Reeve called the wrestling action before turning over the duties to Pond, who was Reeve's assistant early in his career at WRAL. Reeve was the long time radio voice of the North Carolina State Wolfpack and was the first broadcaster inducted to the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame. (On a side note, Charlie Harville, the long time host of wrestling taped at WGHP in High Point NC in the 60s and 70s, was the 2nd broadcaster inducted into NC Sports Hall of Fame.) 

But the voice most associated with WRAL wrestling will forever be the one and only Bob Caudle, a long time employee and on-air personality at WRAL, who continued to do TV for the Crocketts when they moved production to WPCQ in Charlotte and then took the production out to the arenas. Caudle is still loved by wrestling fans today, recently receiving a standing ovation at a wrestling legends show in Spartanburg SC. He was an inaugural inductee into the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Hall of Heroes in August of 2007. Fans still call for his trademark show closer, "We'll see you next week fans, and until then, so long for now."

  - Dick Bourne


BASIC INFORMATION
Call Letters: WRAL
Channel Number: 5
Network Affiliate:
ABC  (Originally NBC, now CBS)
Began Taping Wrestling:
Late 1950s
Earliest known broadcast: January 31, 1959
Ceased Taping Wrestling: July 29, 1981 (Final Taping)
Play-by-play Hosts:
MID-ATLANTIC WRESTLING:
Raleigh telecast (1960s - approximately 1972): Ray Reeve, Nick Pond, Elliot Murnick
Syndicated telecast: Bob Caudle, Les Thatcher, Sam Menacker (briefly)

WIDE WORLD / WORLD WIDE WRESTLING:
Ed Capral, Tom Miller, George Scott, Russ Debuq, Rich Landrum
Color
Commentators:
MID-ATLANTIC WRESTLING:
David Crockett, Tom Miller, Joe Murnick (Raleigh version only) Short term: Lord Alfred Hayes, Big Bill Ward. (There were brief runs by several others including Sandy Scott, Roddy Piper, and Sir Oliver Humperdink)
WIDE WORLD / WORLD WIDE WRESTLING::
Johnny Weaver, George Scott, Tom Miller (There were brief appearances by several others.)
Ring Announcers:
Joe Murnick, Carl Murnick, Elliott Murnick, David Crockett, Jim Crockett
Local Promos:
Bob Caudle, David Crockett, Rich Landrum, Ed Capral, Les Thatcher, Bill Connell, a couple others yet identified.
The famous commercial bump "Let's take time for this commercial message about the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling events coming up in your area..." was voiced by WRAL weatherman Bob Debardelaben.
Taping night: Wednesday nights
Show titles: Championship Wrestling, All Star Wrestling, Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, Wide World Wrestling, World Wide Wrestling

Ring Introduction by Carl Murnick


If you're as old as I am, you will remember back to when Carl and Elliot Murnick did the ring introductions on Mid-Atlantic and Wide World Wrestling from around 1976-1978. They are the sons of Raleigh promoter Joe Murnick and were involved in several of the family businesses. Mr. Murnick did the ring introductions for years at WRAL, but by early 1976 had mostly turned it over to the boys.

As part of our Mid-Atlantic Gateway "Sound Bytes" series here on the Studio Wrestling website, we'll present a few sample of ring introductions from those years.

This one is from August of 1976 from Wide World Wrestling hosted by Ed Capral, who you will also hear in this clip, pitching to Carl Murnick in the ring.


Ring Introduction by Carl Murnick



The Death of Introductions from the Ring

In 1978, Bob Caudle and Rich Landrum started doing the ring introductions from the floor near their announce position using blue-screen chroma-key composting on the studio backdrops to show the wrestler being introduced in the ring. I always found this highly annoying and missed the introduction form the ring form the moment they were gone. Ring introductions should always be done form the ring. It's as if WRAL had this new chroma-key technology and just looked for any way to use it, rather than a useful way to use it. Fans never got the hang of it, and usually couldn't hear the intros that well anyway. Bob and Rich would be looking at the monitor off-screen (sort of like the weather people do when they use green-screen chroma key today) rather than looking at the ring or at the fans, so the fans sort of watched the monitor, too, and never reacted to the introductions. Those introductions most always fell flat.

TV wrestling mostly eliminated their ring introductions when they moved out of the studio to the arenas anyway, except when there was a main-event level match. But I digress.

More Sound Bytes to come.


Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Wonderful Voice of Joe Murnick


We will be adding a lot of sound clips to this blog (and over at the Mid-Atlantic Gateway), but we wanted to remind you we had a page over at SoundCloud with lots of great audio content there as well.

If I had to pick one ring announcer that was my favorite of all time (TV and arena), it would be Joe Murnick. Murnick was the local promoter in Raleigh and Norfolk and other towns for Jim Crockett. He was a pioneer event promoter in the Raleigh area. His two sons, Carl and Elliot, were also integral  parts of that business.

But he was so well suited to his on-air role as ring announcer on the WRAL broadcasts. Talk about old-school. And just the smoothest southern delivery of a ring intro you'll ever hear. The best!

Keeping those memories alive....

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Theme Music: Mid-Atlantic Wrestling - Raleigh Intro (1973)

Throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, the wrestling show taped in Raleigh was taped using a "dual" audio-track system. While the video was being taped of the weekly program, two separate audio tracks were being recorded. The first was specifically for the Raleigh market, the second was for syndication to the other affiliate TV markets in the Crockett wrestling network.

Bob Caudle was the voice of the program that went out to the stations around the territory, in cities like Richmond, Roanoke, Wilmington, Charleston, Columbia, Greenville SC, etc. These were markets that didn't have their own local wrestling broadcasts. Throughout this time, Charlotte and High Point (Greensboro market), NC, had their own local wrestling broadcast taped at local television stations.

Nick Pond was the man who called the action for the Raleigh show throughout the 1960s, with his co-host Raleigh promoter Joe Murnick. But sometime in late 1972 or early 1973, Elliot Murnick, one of Joe's sons, took over the job as voice of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling for Raleigh.

When Elliot took over the Raleigh taping, there was a custom open for his show, and extended version of the Mid-Atlantic theme music with a separate studio announcer introducing Elliot Murnick.

Here is a rare, low-fidelity recording of that open:




"It's Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, an hour of excitement and thrills..."


http://midatlanticwrestling.net/yearbooks.htm

Ed Capral in Atlanta (1972)



From the January 1972 issue of Wrestling Revue magazine. Ed Capral is at the broadcast desk with Bob Armstrong at the studios of WQXI-11 (now WXIA) in Atlanta. The photo was taken by Gene Gordon.

Capral came to Jim Crockett Promotions in 1975 to host the new program "Wide World Wrestling", and stayed there until 1978.


Thanks to Carroll Hall at All-Star Championship Wrestling for sending us these photos from his Wrestling Revue collection.


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Man Behind the Mike: Scott Clark (1970)

Here is another great entry into our series of "Man Behind the Mike" features from Wrestling Revue magazine in the 1960s and 1970s. This one appears to reference a TV show and host that very little is known about. WKTR was the call sign for a station in Dayton, Ohio from 1967-1971. It was broadcast on UHF channel 16 and was a part-time affiliate for the ABC TV network.

For at least some of that time, wrestling was taped and/or broadcast from there at the local studios. It's not clear if this local Dayton, OH, show was affiliated with one of the major pro-wrestling offices at that time. A quick Google search led to no further information about the show or Scott Clark. So we're glad this little piece of wrestling history survives.

************

MEET SCOTT CLARK - MAN BEHIND THE MIKE
Wrestling Revue - August 1970

Scott Clark, the man who comes up with all the exciting commentary on the Live TV wrestling over station WKTR-TV in Dayton, Ohio, is just as avid a wrestling fan as are the thousands of viewers who watch his show each week. This is one reason that he has become such a favorite with the listeners. He is more one of them than he is a broadcaster.

"I love wrestling," Scott is proud to say, and this comes across in his commentary on the matches. Not only does he love wrestling but he knows it, as he was an outstanding amateur and collegiate wrestler.

Scott Clark conducts an interview on WKTR in Dayton, OH
Born some 34 years ago in Long Beach, Calif., Scott grew up in Medford, Oklahoma, and went on to Oklahoma State, a hotbed of college wrestling where this 6 ft.-1 200-pounder was a member of the wrestling team. He later transferred to the University of Southern California, and upon his graduation returned to Stillwater, Oklahoma, where he became a radio announcer at KSPI.

Clark moved on to Dallas, Texas, and Los Angeles as an announcer and then served two years with the U.S. Army from 1959 to 1961. Upon his discharge Lt. Clark switched over to television with station KRLD in Dallas, and moved on as a producer to KPHO-TV in Phoenix, Arizona, in 1962.

In 1963 Clark became program director for a number of local stations that hooked up to form their own network in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

Scott left there in 1965 to join station KARD-TV in Wichita, Kansas, as a producer-director of talent and in January, 1968 he became production manager of WKTR in Dayton. A few months ago, when live wrestling came to WKTR, it didn't take Scott long to find a perfect man to handle the job behind the mike — who else but wrestling "nut" Scott Clark.

************

Thanks to Carroll Hall at the All-Star Championship Wrestling website for providing these great articles about the wrestling broadcasters to us.

Earlier "Man Behind the Mike" features:
Bob Caudle - Mid-Atlantic Wrestling (1965)
George Abel - St. Louis Wrestling (1965)

TV Station reference.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Local Promos on Briarbend Drive

Magnum T.A. and Tony Schiavone at the Briarbend Drive studio.
(Woody Smith Photo / Retro Charlotte / Charlotte Observer)
One of the studio locations rarely discussed here or anywhere else for that matter is the small makeshift studio on Briarbend Drive in Charlotte. Briarbend Drive is the fabled location of the offices of Jim Crockett Promotions in the 1980s.  It is also the scene of an infamous angle where the Four Horsemen jumped Dusty Rhodes in a parking lot in the months leading up to Starrcade '86.

But the office was also home to a small studio where the local promotional spots were taped each Tuesday. The spots were inserted into the syndicated "Mid-Atlantic/NWA Pro Wrestling" and "World Wide Wrestling" programs that were sent to markets across the territory, and later across the country.

Earlier, during the years these shows were taped at WRAL in Raleigh and WPCQ in Charlotte, the local promos were taped there in those same studios. But once Crockett moved his TV tapings out into the arenas in July of 1983 with the mobile production unit known as NEMO, they set up the small studio at Briarbend to do the marathon promo sessions there.

Tony Schiavone was the primary host of these promo sessions, but others hosted as well including David Crockett, Jackie Crockett, Big Bill Ward, and others. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

George Scott & Andre the Giant at WRAL

Click to enlarge.

This photo made the rounds online after George Scott's death. I think it was originally posted by his wife. it is a great photo of George with Andre the Giant on the set of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling in WRAL TV studios in Raleigh, circa 1976.

Prior to the switch to the larger, nicer sets in 1978, Crockett used simple back-drops for each of their TV shows. You can see here that the back-drop is on wheels and would be turned around for the Wide World Wrestling show which would tape right after Mid-Atlantic.


Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Jerry Lawler Show Postcard


The Championship Wrestling show in Memphis, taped in the cozy confines of WMC-TV channel 5 studios, was one of the highest-rated local TV wrestling shows ever.

Not only was the wrestling show taped at WMC, but Jerry Lawler's talk show was taped there, too, for its relatively short run in the mid-1980s.

If you wrote in to the studio, they would send you a postcard with a picture of Jerry on the set on the front of the card, and the WMC-TV5 logo on the back. Notice the cancellation date of September 16, 1985.



Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Les Thatcher Schools Us on WRAL Local Promo Tapings

From the Mid-Atlantic Gateway archives, we take you to one of our conversations with the great Les Thatcher who told us all about those marathon local-promo taping sessions at WRAL.

Conversations with Les Thatcher:
The WRAL Local Promo Tapings

Just as an aside, this interview was conducted in 1999, and was a part of the original material posted on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway when it launched in 2000. Les has always been a friend to the Gateway and we can't say enough good things about him.

And in this photograph, he is sporting our WRAL Studio Crew sweatshirt we gave him!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Ed Capral interviews NWA Champion Terry Funk (1976)



"In the Tiger's Den"

On the February 14, 1976 episode of Jim Crockett Promotions' "Wide World Wrestling", host Ed Capral interviews NWA world champion Terry Funk. Funk was frustrated with the fact that Paul Jones held a victory over him which took place only a few weeks before Funk won the NWA title from Jack Brisco.

Funk calls out Paul Jones and a brief confrontation occurs. Jones had indeed defeated Funk for the United States Championship less than three months earlier and was the top contender in the Mid-Atlantic area for Funk's title.

This is classic audio and a classic Terry Funk promo.

Originally posted on October 12, 2012 on The Domed Globe website.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Rich Landrum on World Wide Wrestling (1978)


Rich Landrum on the set of "World Wide Wrestling" at WRAL TV studios in Raleigh

This is one of the greatest photos of we have from inside WRAL-5 TV studios in Raleigh, the home of Jim Crockett Promotions television tapings from 1959-1981.

Rich Landrum, seen above opening another episode of World Wide Wrestling, graciously provided this photograph to the Mid-Atlantic Gateway when we did an interview with him several years ago.

The photo was taken not long after Rich began hosting the program in 1978. The show, which had also undergone a slight name change from Wide World Wrestling, began in 1975 and was originally hosted by legendary Atlanta wrestling announcer Ed Capral (who preceded Gordon Solie in Georgia.) Capral left in 1977 and was followed by Tom Miller until Rich was brought in from Richmond in the fall of 1978 to take over the show, which featured a revised name and brand new set, seen above. It was one of the sharpest, professional looking sets in all of televised wrestling at that time.

Johnny Weaver and Rich Landrum
Rich had a revolving door of co-hosts for months before settling in on legendary wrestler Johnny Weaver as his regular sidekick. Landrum dubbed Weaver "the Dean of Professional Wrestling" for the Mid-Atlantic area and the nickname stuck. Weaver was an instant hit as a color commentator with fans and was famous for singing "Turn Out the Lights, The Party's Over" after at least one match on almost every show during those years.

Landrum was the long time ring announcer in Richmond, VA at the Richmond Fairgrounds, Richmond Arena, and Richmond Coliseum. He lived in the Richmond area and continued in that role there while making the weekly Wednesday night trip to Raleigh to host World Wide Wrestling.

When the show moved to Charlotte in the summer of 1981, Landrum moved with it for about five months until parting ways with the company in early 1982. David Crockett replaced him as host, and was later followed by Tony Schiavone.

The new home of the wrestling tapings, WPCQ-36 in Charlotte, was a tiny little studio and the expansive set from WRAL would not completely fit, and so only sections of it were used in Charlotte.

Rich's photograph makes us really homesick for the friendly confines of WRAL, which I believe was the greatest studio environment for wrestling ever.




Audio Extra: Rich Landrum signs-off on "World Wide Wrestling"

Monday, June 8, 2015

Bob Caudle on WRAL's "Dateline News" (1971)

I came across this image of an ad from a 1971 TV Guide magazine advertising the six o'clock news hour on WRAL-5 in Raleigh. The block was called Dateline News and was anchored locally by Sam Beard, with Bob Caudle doing his "Atlantic Weather Show" during the broadcast at 6:15 PM.

The ABC Evening News with Harry Reasoner and Howard K. Smith began at 6:20 PM and Jessie Helms finished things off at 6:50 with his Viewpoint Editorial segment.

WRAL was an ABC affiliate at this time. They became a CBS affiliate in 1985.

What a great photo of Bob! One I had not seen before in my days of collecting memorabilia about him for the Mid-Atlantic Gateway and associated blogsites.

There are several similar ads for various WRAL news, sports, and weather broadcasts featuring Bob on this site. Another Dateline ad can be found here. To see all posts here related to Bob, simply click Bob's name in the "Crockett On-Air Talent" list on the right side of this page.

Regarding Jessie Helms and wrestling connections, he would be elected to his first U.S. Senate term the following year. Bob Caudle would later work for Sen. Helms in his constituency office in Raleigh. Johnny Weaver, one of the Mid-Atlantic area's most popular wrestlers ever, did a TV and radio spot in support of Helms' candidacy for re-election in 1978.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Bob Caudle & WRAL Wrestling Profile (1965)

The following short article is from a "Man Behind the Mike" feature in Wrestling Revue magazine in August of 1965. It spotlights the great career of Bob Caudle who was for the better part of three decades the voice of All-Star Wrestling, Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, and NWA Pro Wrestling for Jim Crockett Promotions.

There are many posts on this blog about Bob, who was without question the voice most associated with Jim Crockett Promotions of all the on-air talent that worked for the company. See the "Crockett On-Air Talent" list on the right side of this page and click on Bob's name to filter posts just about him.

Although this article was originally published in 1965 (my goodness, 50 years ago this year!), it is one of the better features ever written about him in a wrestling publication.


[ WRESTLING REVUE ARTICLE ]


Bob Caudle interviews Sandy and George Scott on the set of "All Star Wrestling" at WRAL in 1965

Over the crowd's frenzied roar booms the confident voice of Bob Caudle who narrates the wild wrestling activity which is taped every Wednesday night at WRAL-TV, Raleigh, North Carolina. Wrestling is very big in Caudle's domain, which includes Richmond and Norfolk in Virginia, and Greenville, Charleston and Columbia in South Carolina.

Bob's show is called "All-Star Wrestling" and it is one of the most unique shows in the world since there is no charge for admission and it is not held in an arena. The scene of these year-round weekly battles is a studio at WRAL-TV. Seating is limited to 300 persons and tickets are issued free, just as they are for many other TV studio shows.


Saturday, June 6, 2015

Broadcaster George Abel & Wrestling at the Chase (1965)


The following short article is from a "Man Behind the Mike" feature in Wrestling Revue magazine in October of 1965. It spotlights the great career of George Abel who was for many years the voice of Sam Muchnick's Wrestling at the Chase in St. Louis. The program aired on KPLR and at the time of this article originated from the Chase Hotel in St. Louis.

Great names from wrestling's past also mentioned in the article include Sam Muchnick, Jack Brickhouse, Lou Thesz, Wild Bill Longson, and Joe Garagiola. (Video is also included in this feature following the article.)

[ WRESTLING REVUE ARTICLE ]

From Wrestling Revue Magazine, October 1965


GEORGE ABEL is one of the most knowledgeable and popular wrestling commentators, whose "Wrestling at the Chase" programs, are television highlights of the mid-West. When you hear the clear, corn-posed, calm and articulate Abel announcing the mat shows, you'd never suspect it, but George claims that he was once one of the world's worst stutterers.

Abel finds it hard to explain, but presumes that his desire to become an announcer must have been stronger than the reason for the speech defect. The impediment disappeared just as his broadcasting career was begun.

Since November 1963 Abel has been reigning over the KPLR microphone, broadcasting the wrestling matches from St. Louis, Mo. He had some misgivings when he took over the program. "I was attempting to fill a large pair of shoes, since one of my predecessors was the inimitable Joe Garagiola, who replaced Mel Allen in the broadcasting of the N.Y. Yankees' ballgames," he confessed. "However, I'm proud to say our ratings are now bigger and better than ever."

Wrestling has never been presented in more plush surroundings than for this show. "Wrestling at the Chase" is staged in the ornate Khorassan Room of St. Louis' finest hotel, the Chase-Park Plaza. Weekly 1,500 patrons attend by invitation only and during the telecasts, the fans enjoy the matches with food and beverages.

Abel is a veteran of broadcasting and the stage. He began his radio and television careers in 1941, working as an announcer on many sports shows. While a station staff announcer, he used to watch the telecasts of Jack Brickhouse's wrestling shows from the Marigold Gardens, in Chicago. George was fascinated and impress-ed, admits he actually learned wrestling terminology from Brickhouse.

Several years ago Abel was able to put his wrestling knowledge to use, doing the hold-by-hold commentary for Sam Muchnick, a top-notch promoter who is also the president of the National Wrestling Alliance.

Muchnick's Saturday night wrestling shows were televised over a Missouri-Illinois network.
When it was decided to originate a TV wrestling show from St. Louis, Abel won the audition from among a number of candidates. He received considerable help from such wrestling greats as NWA champion Lou Thesz and former champ, Wild Bill Longson.

Abel is married and the father of two boys, nine and eleven years old.

His score of years before the mike includes many local radio and TV shows. He has been starred as an actor on a kiddie TV program, "The Wranglers," in the role of Drygulch. Abel had a fling for a year on the stage with the famed Barter Theatre, in Virginia, and appeared opposite Dolores Grey as "Sitting Bull" in the St. Louis Municipal Opera production of "Annie Get Your Gun," plus many appearances with the local Community Playhouse.

Abel is most articulate and capable at the mike. We can hardly believe that he ever stuttered, but he says he did!

[ END OF ARTICLE ]

* * * * *

Here is some rare video from "Wrestling at the Chase" featuring the play-by-play voice of George Abel. By this point in time, the television tapings had moved from the Khorassan ballroom to a smaller TV studio.



George Abel is a member of the St. Louis Media Hall of Fame and is featured on the St. Louis Media History website. More information about George and the Wrestling at The Chase program can be found on Tim Hornbaker's excellent "Legacy of Wrestling" website.

The "Championship Wrestling" art that would appear bumping in and out of commercial
breaks on KPLR in the 1960s


* * * * *

Thanks as always to Carroll Hall for providing the scanned image of the article for us. The article was from "Wrestling Revue" Volume 6, Issue 6 from October 1965. Subscription rates in 1965 were $3.00....per year!


Friday, June 5, 2015

Tom Miller and Ric Flair in Greensboro

Tom Miller and Ric Flair in the Greensboro Coliseum

This is a very low resolution pulp-magazine photo of Greensboro ring announcer Tom Miller and United States heavyweight champion Ric Flair in the ring at the Greensboro Coliseum before a title defense against Ricky Steamboat in 1978.

Miller was also a TV personality for Jim Crockett Promotions from 1976-1978, working in the television studios of WRAL-TV in Raleigh. He was co-host of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling with Bob Caudle in the summer of 1976 while usual co-host David Crockett was busy with the new family baseball business. In 1977 he followed Ed Capral as host of Wide World Wrestling, usually working with co-host George Scott, until Rich Landrum came in as host in October of 1978, when the title of the show was changed to World Wide Wrestling.

Miller is probably Jim Crockett Promotions' most famous ring announcer, being on many of the TV shows during the TV expansion years beginning in 1984 when Crockett TV went from a regional outfit in the Carolinas and Virginia to a nationally syndicated network by 1987.

For more on Truckin' Tom Miller, see this earlier post on the Studio Wrestling Scrapbook.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Feeling No Pain: A Tom Miller Memory

As I continue to collect tidbits written about my favorite Mid-Atlantic Wrestling arena ring announcer Tom Miller, the following is an excerpt from a blog post by H.A. Thompson with a memory about Truckin' Tom:

"40 years ago in 1975, I took over Ty Boyd’s morning show on WBT and he went into motivational speaking full time. At the time, the all night DJ was Truckin’ Tom Miller, who played country music, and ended his show at 6am when I arrived. Sometimes, he would hang around and we would kibitz for a half hour. Truckin’ Tom was a character!

His friends would drop off a pint of booze with the night watchman and he would deliver it to Tom. By the time I arrived, Tom was full of himself and feeling no pain. He had an incredible poetry talent. He could write a humorous poem in 5 minutes. He played the character of Professor Tillman Le Dino…a name that came from a fertilizer manufacturer. Get it? A good ole Southern Mississippi man from Mississippi Southern University."

From H.A. Thompson's post titled "Ty Boyd is not a person but a state of mind…" from his blog "Do Something Scary." The entire post is here.

Tom was a legendary character, both on local radio in North Carolina and Virginia, as well in the world of pro-wrestling in the Carolinas in the 1970s and 1980s. More about Tom Miller on this blog here.