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Joe Holleman is a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.


Bill Bolster in 2000 (Photo by CNBC)

Word has reached this bureau that former KSDK general manager Bill Bolster — who kept the station on top of the local ratings charts during the 1980s — died last week in Florida. 

Mr. Bolster, 75, had been diagnosed with esophageal cancer about a year ago and died June 15, the Waterloo-Cedar Falls (Iowa) Courier reported. A small family funeral is planned for Saturday in Naples, Fla.

One of Mr. Bolster's three sons, William M. Bolster, still lives in west St. Louis County. A lawyer with Lewis Rice, the son is a graduate of Chaminade High and St. Louis University law school.

A Waterloo, Iowa native, the elder Bolster came to St. Louis in 1983 and was general manager of KSDK and then president of its parent company, Multimedia Inc., until 1991.

Mr. Bolster left STL to become president of WNBC, the network's flagship station in New York. In 1996, he was named president of CNBC and then in 2001, he became chairman of CNBC International until he retired in 2003.

In a 1993 news article, Post-Dispatch feature writer John M. McGuire said:

"'Dominating' and 'aggressive' were adjectives that always seemed to go before the name William L. Bolster when he ran KSDK here. Ran it, and kept Channel 5 at the top of the St. Louis ratings heap."

Mr. Bolster was in charge of the station when the sports department was significantly revamped in 1985, when Jay Randolph and Ron Jacober had their on-air roles reduced and Kansas City sportscaster Mike Bush was brought to town.

Also described as "aggressive" by former P-D television critic Eric Mink, Mr. Bolster did not shy away from confronting even sports stars.

In March 1989, injured Cardinal pitcher Danny Cox pushed KSDK cameraman Frank Scalise to the ground after he arrived at Lambert Field from spring training. The dust-up was covered by local media and was major water-cooler talk. Cox quickly apologized for the incident.

Bolster, however, did not avoid a chance, to take a shot at the athlete when the P-D's Dan Caesar interviewed him.

"Where does Cox get off?" Bolster said. "Maybe this was the same guy who took his picture after he won the playoffs, when he was ecstatic. You have to be able to take the good and the bad."

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