Rodger Kent, a longtime Twin Cities radio and television personality whose career ranged from delivering weather forecasts to announcing pro wrestling to hosting a hunting and fishing show, has died. Kent, who lived in Cook, Minn., was 90.
Kent's death Friday was announced Monday by the Pavek Museum of Broadcasting, which will be the site of his memorial service Dec. 14. Kent was inducted into the museum's hall in St. Louis Park in 2003.
He built a dedicated following while calling professional American Wrestling Association (AWA) matches on WTCN and around the country for 25 years. Verne Gagne's AWA operated from 1960 to 1991 and was based in Minneapolis.
The roster of wrestlers under Kent's watchful eye included the biggest names of the era: Baron von Raschke, Andre the Giant and the Crusher, among others.
Kent "was a fixture in the AWA for 25 years as one of its lead television announcers," according to f4wonline.com, a website dedicated to pro wrestling and its history. "A huge man, it was always awkward when he did interviews because he was larger than almost all the wrestlers," the site said.
Greg Oliver, in an extensive biographical piece in 2008 for the Canadian-based "Slam! Wrestling" website, wrote that Kent was recognized for "the sheer loudness of his voice, a deep, booming timbre from deep within."
Kent was known from time to time to describe a battered wrestler whose "face looks like a sack full of doorknobs," Oliver wrote.
Kent, a native of Waukegan, Ill., whose real-life last name was Vogel, moved from a radio job in Bristol, Tenn., to the Twin Cities in 1950 to join WDGY. From there, he went to KSTP as a morning radio host and also appeared on KSTP-TV, hosting the first local TV DJ show in the midnight time slot.
He worked at WCCO Radio for three years and then WTCN Radio and TV (now KARE-TV) as an announcer, newscaster and weather forecaster. In 1964, he created and hosted "The Minnesota Sportsman," one of television's first weekly outdoors shows, which aired on WTCN until 1969.
Kent's broadcast career also included stints on Twin Cities radio at WAYL, KTWN and KLBB. He counted a Peabody and a Clio among his professional awards.