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On-Air Tribute To Former St. Louis Public Radio Forecaster Ben Abell, Dead At 86

St. Louis Public Radio

A legendary St. Louis broadcaster with strong ties to St. Louis Public Radio has died.

Meteorologist Ben Abell started providing forecasts when the station went on the air in 1972. He spent years broadcasting weather reports as a volunteer while also serving as a professor of meteorology at St. Louis University.

Abell's daughter, Olga Hunt, confirmed the death, noting that he had been battling health problems for some time, saying he died last week at the Mary, Queen and Mother Center in St. Louis.

“My father was the weatherman,” Hunt added. “He'd get real excited about really cool weather things that were coming up,” she said.

But he did not like the negative impact of storms.

“He hated that bad weather affected people, and that sometimes people were hurt," Hunt added.

In announcing his retirement several years ago, Abell said he wanted to spend more time writing and researching. He planned to spend a few more years teaching at SLU.

Abell’s forecasts often included his signature phrase, “I can’t rule it out.” He also did weather reports through the years on KFUO-FM, KMOX, KHTR, and KCFM. He was inducted into the St. Louis Radio Hall of Fame in 2006.

Longtime St. Louis Public Radio employee Mary Edwards spent years working Abell. She said he usually did his forecasts remotely.

"We realized in 1979 that no one on staff had ever met him. We invited him to a pre-fund-drive public event, and he was the hit of the party," she said.

His overall impact on St. Louis was recognized on Feb. 2, 2000, when then-Mayor Clarence Harmon declared it Ben Abell Day.

Abell would have been 87 on March 1.

A funeral is set for that day at Kutis Funeral Home in Affton.

Burial will be at Jefferson Barracks. Abell served as an Army intelligence officer during the Korean War, long before becoming St. Louis’s favorite forecaster.

Follow Wayne Pratt on Twitter: @WayneRadio

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Wayne is the morning newscaster at St. Louis Public Radio.
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