The Houston Sun
Houston radio-television professional journalist Ralph Copper, 72, has been selected to be inducted in the Texas Radio Hall of Fame at its 20th anniversary on November 7. The Texas Radio Hall of Fame (C) is an organization dedicated to recognizing broadcasting greats in the Lone Star State.
“I am honored to be selected and be among prestigious radio personalities inducted in the Hall of Fame and the among the talented people in Texas,” he said. Cooper named local Hall of Famers Michael Harris, Skipper Lee Frazier, J. Thomas Smith, Don Samuel, Wash Allen, Anita Martini, Barry Warner, and Tom Franklin. He is joining four Hall of Fame members associated with KCOH 1230 AM Radio, Don Samuel, Michael Harris, Skipper Lee Frazier, and Wash Allen.
According to Cooper, the celebration will be a virtual event in late November.
Cooper grew up in Sunnyside, graduating from Worthing High School. He attended South Texas Junior College, (now UH Downtown) and Houston Community College, where he studied History, English, Speech. “I got into the media when I saw an advertisement in the Forward Times after returning from Dr. [Martin Luther] King’s funeral. He explained, "While at Dr. King's funeral, I was talking to young people my age, and they asked me what I was doing in Houston? I told them that I was going to school and had two jobs.” With energy, he said, “I was jumped on by people my age, and they said that I was not doing enough! I had been a paperboy for the Forward Times, the Informer, Ebony, and Jet.”
So, after reading an advertisement in the Forward Times, he asked the paper for a job. “I told Varee Shields, the editor, that I wanted to write sports,” Cooper said. Older men took that position, he explained. Shields, however, said that they were looking for a writer to cover the courts. “He sent me to the courthouse to interview people and write a column about what I saw. Varee Shields was my clean up editor. He paid me,” said Cooper. He continued, “After a year, they let me cover junior high sports and the [Houston] Astros games. I noticed that the black reporters rarely went on the field to do interviews before and after the games, and players were skeptical about what you would write. So, I got a tape recorder and recorded my interviews, and Skipper Lee Frazier asked me to use them.” Reflecting, he said, “Back then, local black reporters were not pursuing the players consistently.”
Cooper continued, “Later, Rick Roberts at KYOK was interested in my work and asked me whether I was recording the players.” With Cooper’s yes response, Roberts asked him for his taped interviews. Roberts was looking for sound bites to play on KYOK Radio. He gave Cooper a five-minute morning and afternoon show that ran from 1972-1984. "That is when I realized that I wanted a talk show. I got a break with Magic 102, and I started doing a talk show with KCOH 1230 AM from 1984-present.” Cooper’s talk show is called SportsRap.
At the beginning of his professional sports journalism coverage, Cooper became known as the tech guy because of his not depending on writing what the athletes were saying. "Writers would sometimes get it wrong, and the players would be upset about that," Cooper said. With his tape recorder, he became the trusted source for players to make comments. He has interviewed an unlimited number of sports talents. Among the legendary athletes interviewed are Satchel Paige, Muhammad Ali, Joe Louis, Wilma Rudolph, Jimmy Wynn, Bob Watson, Astros, JR. Richards, Zeke Moore, Kenny Houston, Oilers, Calvin Murphy, Zina Garrison, Jesse Owens, Willie Mays; Hank Aaron, Eric Dickerson, Roberto Clemente, Mike Singletary, Kenny Houston; Earl Campbell; Kenny Burrough, and Clyde Drexler. Other athletes were George Foreman, Sugar Ray Robinson, Evander Holyfield, and Jump Yard Dog, the wrestler, who would call for an interview before he arrived in town for his match. "Dog would keep calling until I responded. He wanted to like other athletes to hear his voice on the radio,” said Cooper. Beyond interviewing stars and celebrities, he supported the community.
Cooper stated that he worked with the late George Perry Floyd, who was murdered by Minneapolis police in May. Floyd was in his youth Stars of the Future Tournament for middle school students. The sports program emphasized, “Stay in School and Prepare for High School and College”. Cooper said, “Floyd played at Ryan Middle School, and they won two championships back-to-back. He was a big tall boy when he was in middle school and high school." Cooper said that he has also mentored many Black youths, who have gone on to do great work in journalism and sports.
Paris Eely, an owner of KCOH 1230 AM Radio, applauded Cooper saying, “Ralph with his knowledge, broadcast skills, understanding and empathy for the community is astronomical, and the people of the Texas Radio Hall of Fame made the right choice to recognize his work.”
The Jewett, TX native, received two messages from excited Hall of Famers, one from Barry Warner, the other from Tom Franklin about his honor, and Michael Harris announced it on the radio before the official announcement. “I look at it as a blessing. I am still blessed to be broadcasting SportsRap on KCOH 1230 AM 5–7 pm Monday through Friday, AM B-NET Digital Radio, Thursdays 3–4 pm and 1 ½ hour on KTSU, with Devan Wade Saturday, 8–9 am. It is a blessing."
He continued philosophically saying, "You needed to be around to do your job at this time during COVID-19, and to be saluted at the same time by my peers is important. Somebody has got to show the way.”. Ben Hall, a digital radio station owner, congratulated Cooper by saying, "Absolutely long overdue! Ralph Cooper is the best and most competent radio personality I have ever had the pleasure to know...Congratulations, Ralph!!!”
“I was born in Jewett, TX, and my parent moved to Des Moines, Iowa, but the cold weather ran them back to Texas, passing Jewett in route to a much warmer city, Houston, TX.”, he said. Even though the move happened when at the age of four, Cooper still recalls the cold weather in Des Moines and is happy with his parents' decision to bring him to Houston.
His family is excited about his award. He is thankful to them because they played a significant role in his success through inspiration and sacrifices, he said.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year's Texas Radio Hall of Fame Induction Celebration will be held virtually. The group will be producing an interactive induction program, complete with their trademark introduction pieces, and acceptance remarks from most of the 2020 inductees themselves for everyone to enjoy. The event will be held on November 7, 2020, their traditional induction weekend, and always the first Saturday in November.
According to its website, The 2020 Texas Radio Hall of Fame event will go on! It, however, will be in a bit different form than customarily.
The Texas Radio Hall of Fame will produce an interactive induction program, complete with our trademark introduction pieces, and (hopefully) acceptance remarks from most of the 2020 inductees themselves for all to enjoy. It will be available on their traditional induction weekend, which is always the first Saturday on November 7, 2020.
The organization realized the importance of this achievement for its 20th-anniversary inductees. It will be taking significant steps to ensure this will still be a memorable experience for them.
Cooper will share the joy with his family, colleagues, and friends in the virtual setting on November 7. At the same time, keeping safe in this unpredictable time of novel coronavirus is vital.
COVID-19 pandemic or not, Cooper's fans can find him on KCOH 1230AM Monday-Friday from 5 pm-7 pm talking sports.
The class of 2020 inductees who will join Ralph Cooper (KCOH) as part of the Texas Radio Hall of Fame Class of 2020, are:
Bill Gardner (KVIL/KLLS/KNUS)
Greg Sax (D/FW Based A&R/KEGL/WACO)
Chris Arnold (KKDA/KRLD/KTCK)
Jimmy Stewart (WBAP/KSCS)
Fred Peavy (KKBQ)
Hal McClain (KENR/KULF/KMCO)
Mike Cannon (KENR/KIKR/Astros Radio Network)
Neal Talmadge (KTRH/KILT/Texans Radio Network)
Pam Kehoe (KTRH/KILT/KKBQ)
Bama Brown (KVET/KPEZ)
Rick Upton (KONO/KITY/KTFM)
Gil Garcia (KEYI/KERV/KZFM)
Bill LeGrand (KLDE/KRMX/KULF)
Blanquita Cullum (KTSA/KITE/KSJL)
Paul Beane (KSEL/KFYO/KRBL)
Steve (Steve-O) Donohoe (KOLE)
Zack Owen (WACO/KCLE)
J.C. Stallings (KEEE/KJCS)
Jim Gibbs (KIVY/WFAA