FOR someone who couldn't get admitted into the University of Oklahoma School of Journalism, KWTV-9's Shon Gables has come a long way in a short time - a fast track she hopes will take her to the networks.
Gables, weekend morning anchor and weekday reporter, is leaving KWTV to become a weekday morning anchor and reporter at NBC affiliate WDIV-4 in Detroit, the nation's ninth biggest market. Her last day at KWTV will be April 13, her 29th birthday.
As bad as the May 3 tornadoes were for parts of the metro area, they were a blessing for Gables, who graduated from OU in 1992 with an economics degree. She was inundated with job offers from stations that had seen KWTV's tornado coverage, turning down bids from stations in New York and Los Angeles, the No. 1 and 2 markets.
The Detroit station offered her the opportunity to report and an appealing work schedule. Monday and Tuesday she will work long days, reporting after her morning show. But the rest of the week, the single mother will get off at 9 a.m., allowing her to spend time with her son, Ryan, 4.
WDIV is the home of former KFOR-4 anchor Devin Scillian, who ironically received numerous job offers following another Oklahoma City tragedy - the 1995 bombing.
Gables' path to Detroit contains numerous detours that almost derailed her career dreams. A native of Hobart and 1988 graduate of Geary High School, she struggled as a freshman at OU, making Cs and Ds and lost her scholarship.
"I went from being the ugly duckling - I couldn't get a boyfriend if I walked down the hallway naked - to being Miss Socialite."
After a semester at the University of Central Oklahoma, she returned to OU and studied economics. She also enlisted in the Army, spending seven years in the reserves.
After graduation, she briefly was a sales representative for Clairol. She and husband, Bryan Abrams, lead singer for "Color Me Badd," moved to New York.
"We had this jet-set lifestyle. I did every frivolous career in New York," she said.
That included modeling, hosting the "Soul Train" TV show, serving as an airlines ticket agent and a clerk in a law firm.
"I had a bad habit," she said. "If I got mad at someone, I would just quit. My husband made so much money. I told them, 'Oh, if you don't want me, I'll just quit.'"
In 1995, Gables hit rock bottom when Abrams left her shortly after the birth of their son. She returned to Oklahoma City after ballooning to 210 pounds and desperate to get her life back together.
"I just basically rededicated my life to Christ," she said. "I took the Scripture and leaned on it. It said, 'Be faithful to the small and I'll make you master over many.'"
After taking a job as a leasing agent, she broke into the media as morning newscaster on urban station KVSP-AM 1140. KWTV hired her as an assistant news producer, making $6 an hour. She took a reporter's job at Wichita station KWCH and was the host of a public affairs show.
Gables returned to KWTV in 1997 when news director Joyce Reed decided to take a chance and give her the weekend morning anchor job, although she had no anchoring experience. Reed admired her determination.
"She has such a strong ambition and she is willing to work really hard," Reed said.
Reed's faith paid off. Gables has helped boost the station's weekend ratings while making her a hot TV commodity with attributes the networks like. She's articulate, a female minority and attractive. Her weaknesses: she needs seasoning.
KWTV worked hard to keep her in Oklahoma City, offering her the morning and noon newscasts. She has signed a three-year contract with WDIV, but she hopes she won't be there that long. She has an escape clause if the networks come calling.
"My dream is to do a network morning show," she said. "I love talking. I'm a chatterbox. I think that's my strength."
Gables hopes her life will be a testimony for others who have gotten off track.
"If anything, I should be the child that gives anyone hope," she said. "Put them in the Army. Put them in church. God can turn it around."
Staff writer Mel Bracht can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com or by calling 475-4106.Archive ID: 797859