Hi, I’m Kris.
For more than twenty years I’ve worked as an on-air tech reporter and expert across a number of high profile TV, radio, and web programs, performing live demonstrations and breaking down the stories behind tech headlines every week. This often means that I’m writing, directing, producing, and even editing what you’re seeing, sometimes via satellite from locations around the world.
Right now I do a live, ten-minute tech report every Thursday for Montreal Now with Aaron Rand and Natasha Hall on CJAD and then produce video clips from the show for social media streaming. We’re #1 in the ratings and have been for the thirteen years I’ve been with the station.
I started in 1999 with GG8.com, a website about video games I launched with a high school friend that quickly lead to a content deal with Chapters.ca, AOL Canada, and a television show on Global called Game Nation, which needed content for their website, but also hired me as a TV producer.
(Logo design by Kris Abel)
In 2002 I joined Canada AM and CTV News Channel as CTV’s first resident tech reporter and spent a decade introducing Canadians to new, life-changing innovations including cameraphones, mp3 players, flat-screened televisions and the online revolutions of Youtube, Facebook, Google Maps, and Twitter. We explored the arrival of piracy downloads, Flip camcorders, virus-scanners, eBook readers, fitness trackers, bluetooth, DVRs, and GPS. I was the first Canadian reporter to review the iPod, attend Steve Jobs’ launch presentations, play Guitar Hero on TV, and launched Tech Life, CTV.ca’s first blog. I predicted the downfall of Research In Motion, made the transition from Standard to High Definition broadcasts, and helped Austin Delaney cover the Virginia Tech mass shooting as it happened.
During my time at CTV I also made appearances and became a contributor for a wide range of outlets including CJAD, High School Rush, Studio 12 News, the Globe and Mail, Daily Planet, eTalk Daily, Space Channel, TVO’s Studio 2, Market News, Goldhawk Live, News Talk Radio Saskatchewan, and CBS Radio Los Angeles.
2011 brought the launch of App Central, a television series I co-created with Ashlea Kay for BNN/CP24 and co-hosted with Michael Hainsworth and Amber MacArthur. In addition to the tech demos I was known for, I produced field test reports where I used apps to test sports cars and MRIs, hacked paintings at the AGO, did push-ups on the wing of an airplane, got a tiger to use an iPad, and ate fire after joining the circus.
The show’s popularity landed me as a weekly writer for the Metro newspaper with a feature called Mind The App. At the same time I joined Moore in the Morning on NewsTalk1010, first with a weekly live report called Planet of the Apps and then a weekly feature about wild tech & science stories called Technical Knockou
(Mind the App logo design by Kris Abel)
In 2012 film critic Richard Crouse joined me to launch an experimental streaming video podcast called Hey All You Zombies, a fun, weekly chat about counter culture and unusual interests that helped us both prepare for the changes streaming services and video calling technology like Zoom would bring later.
(HAYZ logo design by Kris Abel)
In 2014 Kate Wheeler and Christine Bentley started a new show for Sirius/XM called What She Said and asked me to do a weekly tech feature. I chose to do a series about Women in STEM, using my air time to share the voices and stories of women and girls making incredible and pioneering achievements in science and technology.
In 2019 I returned to morning television with Global News Morning, first doing live reports in the studio and then as the pandemic hit, Skyping in my reviews and tech demos live from my home studio. I did reports on Covid-19, mental health, masks, and nursing tech amongst reports of the rise of toys for adults, streaming and Virtual Reality video games, Apple’s Air Tag tracking devices, and Facebook’s Ray-Ban smart glasses. I also produced a long-running series of Tech Tips that touched on serious issues including racism, disability, and privacy.
Please Note: The following contains details that may be upsetting.
I was born in Toronto and grew up in the Jane & Finch corridor. My father, an engineer & machinist, was in the early days of starting a company manufacturing instruments for Environment Canada and inspection tooling for the Auto industry. This meant that my formative years were split between watching him and his staff make things in his metal and wood-working shop and inhabiting the increasingly violent streets of a troubled neighbourhood.
At age 10 police found my unconscious body near Jane street. I had been beaten and tortured in a racist attack with rats in my underwear. I was so badly asphyxiated by the gathering of teens who attacked me that I can’t wear a neck tie or have anything tight about my neck (This is a problem working in news where if pushed I have a shirt with a black stripe that looks like a tie). This was the worst of many attacks by many different groups in the neighbourhood. In my short story Under The Thistle Tree I document a side of this reality that’s a bit easier to digest.
I’m proud to say that I’m not afraid of rats, despite the traumatic experience we had together. Very early on my father taught me to respect and care for animals. I grew up with a house sparrow living with my family and would go on to foster baby raccoons, have wonderful wildlife encounters, and appear on television draped in snakes, large reptiles, and spiders, an aspect of my life that I’ve documented in my audio book Wild Curiosity.
At age nine I woke up paralyzed. Although I quickly recovered, doctors lacked an explanation and then it happened again at age 20 when the symptoms lingered with me limping for several years and doctors diagnosing me with multiple sclerosis, a neurodegenerative disease that has no cure. Again, I recovered just as I started on Canada AM, but recently I’ve awoken with MS once more, this time half paralyzed and I seem to be slowly recovering. Such is a disease that is different from person to person, often episodic in nature.
Because my elementary school had a PET computer, I was given an early experience with computers as a boy, an interest I continued with in math clubs in high school and as a teen-aged hacker once I bought a Commodore 64 during the dial-up era.
Because I was paralyzed when I should have been going to university and starting a family, I combined my computer experience with the arrival of the internet to work from home and launched the video game review website that started my media career.
Predicting the fall of Research In Motion
Directing & performing a live tour via satellite of Microsoft’s House of The Future in Las Vegas (a favourite of Canada AM Exec Prod Lis Travers)
Helping Austin Delaney report live on the Virginia Tech Shootings, on how students used tech to help each other hide
Being the first broadcast journalist allowed inside L’Oreal’s secret Pari labs.
Being the first to hack the paintings of the AGO
Against many complaints, featuring female game reviewers & interviewing female game producers on Game Nation
Having my LEGO ART stunt duplicated by another morning show.
Getting a tiger, lion, and Eurasian lynx to use an iPad
Skiing in a wind tunnel to test an experimental suit for Daily Planet
Dancing side-by-side with Honda’s ASIMO robot.
Performing in The Nutcracker for the National Ballet of Canada
Singing for & organizing a CTV Rock Band charity performance at the Eaton Centre
Putting myself on display with the reptiles at the Ontario Science Centre
Designing the Coolest Things That Run On Batteries contest for Canada AM
Simulating a mission to Mars with Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen
Co-producing & hosting Canimators, a Canada AM spotlight on Canadian video game companies.
Eating fire & performing wire work with circus schools & Hollywood stunt teams
Going hands-on with a Blue whale skeleton recovered by ROM scientists.