Their careers spanned years from radio's "Golden Age" during World War II, all the way to the computer age of websites and social media. Four area communicators were inducted Feb. 20 into the St. Louis Media Hall of Fame.
Former Rock Hill resident George Abel, former Kirkwood residents Thomas Patrick Convey and John McGuire, and current Kirkwood resident Sue Ann Wood all had their names etched in local lore as icons of the media industry.
Abel, Convey and McGuire received the award posthumously.
Other inductees included:
St. Louis Jewish Light editor Robert A. Cohn; radio broadcaster (a.k.a. "Captain 11") Harry Fender; St. Louis/Southern Ill. Labor Tribune publisher Ed Finkelstein; TV news anchor/producer Don Marsh; reporter/editor/assistant managing editor James C. Millstone; advertising executive Franklin Oros; communications strategist Bob Pierce; first African-American radio host in the region Wiley Price, Jr.; ad man Del Schwinke; public relations powerhouse Paul Siemer; Sporting News publisher J.G. Taylor Spink; ad instructor Bill Tyler; and civic mover and shaker Harry B. Wilson.
The non-profit St. Louis Media History Foundation, which researches and compiles artifacts related to the advent of radio, TV and print publications, incepted the Hall of Fame.
The media history collection is housed in the St. Louis Media Archive at the St. Louis Public Library and the Missouri History Museum.
Longtime newspaper reporter and maverick managing editor Sue Ann Wood, along with family members of several other area inductees, weighed in on the award.
Sue Ann Wood
"I feel honored," Wood said. "I had a lot of fun in my career."
Physically limited by symptoms of muscular sclerosis, Wood calls up key events from her years in journalism with exactness.
"I wanted to be a newspaperwoman since I was 10 years old," she said.
The old comic strip character "Brenda Starr" had a lot to do with her ambitions.
The young journalist in the making started a newspaper for her Jefferson City neighborhood, zooming in on some puppies born next door. She made sure to note that she kept one for herself.
Acting as her high school's newspaper and yearbook editor came next, followed by journalism school at Mizzou. She graduated in 1953 and began working for the St. Petersburg Times on the copy desk.
She said that paper fueled her eventual feminism, given its liberal treatment of women reporters.
"I didn't see myself as a feminist back then, but I didn't want to end up working only on the society page," she said.
Wood joined the general reporting staff at the old St. Louis Globe-Democrat in 1955. Among her many duties, she created a St. Louis Zoo beat, visiting often and spotlighting the animal scene.
At one point, that job enabled her to meet actor Gary Grant. A Los Angeles Zoo board member, Grant hung out at the St. Louis Zoo when in town. Shaking Wood's hand after a visit to Forest Park, he told her, "I just touched a rhinoceros horn, which, you must know, is an aphrodisiac."
Even she, the tough reporter, swooned a bit, she said.
Wood covered the construction of the Gateway Arch in the mid-1960s. Before the legs were joined at the top, she and Globe-Democrat photographer Bob Briggs climbed to the top for a bird's eye view.
"I clung to machinery on the ledge and watched workers jumping back and forth with only a net under them," she said.
Wood credits former city editor and eventual managing editor George Killenberg for her rise to the top at the Globe-Democrat. Killenberg named her night city editor and then city editor. She became managing editor in the years before the Globe ceased publishing in the mid-1980s.
She was only the second woman in the country to hold that post at a paper.
Wood worked as a reporter at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for 15 years before retiring in 1999. She was married to Johnson Poor and the couple had two step-sons by him.
"My dad was a big, lovable guy with a big voice," said son Chris Abel.
A TV news anchor-turned-financial planner, Chris Abel said growing up in Rock Hill in the shadow of his dad's work proved "nothing short of amazing."
"Seeing all that my dad had going on and meeting so many celebrities of the day was fun," he said.
His father, George Abel, started in radio at KSD in 1943 and then switched to that station's TV production in the late 1940s and 1950s. He was an announcer for "Bard Oil Sports Show" and "Buck Eye 4 Variety Show."
His roles as cowboy "Dry Gulch" on the kids' show "The Wranglers Club" and Peters' sidekick on "Charlotte Peters Variety Show" during the 1960s earned him acclaim.
During the same period, he added to the antics on "Wrestling at the Chase" as that show's announcer.
Before retiring in 1981, George Abel acted as a staff announcer for KSD-TV.
Longtime St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter John McGuire had the Irish gift of gab transferred to paper, said fellow Post-Dispatch writer Bill McClellan.
McGuire's wife, Lynn, agreed that husband John was an Irish charmer, appealing to all with his wit and way with words.
Deceased since 2009, McGuire was a news and feature writer for 40 years at the Post.
Back in the early 1970s, after earning a journalism degree from Michigan State University, McGuire pounded out copy on a manual typewriter, wife Lynn said.
"He was the last holdout -- he kept putting off computer use until the bitter end," she said.
Lynn McGuire still lives in Kirkwood, where she and John raised three sons.
Citing McGuire as the Post's best reporter in 2000, a Riverfront Times article said he had "an eye for quirky details and a knack for turning a phrase."
Son John McGuire, Jr. said he and his brothers took his dad's gifts somewhat for granted.
"It was painful having a writer help us with our papers in high school," he said.
Later in life, John, Jr. read and appreciated his father's finesse with words, he said.
"He'd be both embarrassed and thrilled by this award," he said.
Thomas Patrick Convey
Former Kirkwood resident and now-deceased radio promoter Thomas Patrick Convey capitalized on radio's promise after staging a radio exposition here in 1925.
Seeing a wide open market, he moved his family from Chicago to St. Louis. Then he garnered support to start a radio station, and KMOX was born.
Convey acted as station manager for about a year, and then bought another station -- KWK -- after he fell out with some of the KMOX investors.
The animated Convey enlisted family members to play various roles on the fledgling KWK station. He also enlisted listeners to help him fight a takeover by radio station WIL. Eventually, he won that battle.
Convey started the first play-by-play coverage of baseball. He routinely broadcast games for the St. Louis Browns and Cardinals.