Sports Radio Legend and Longtime On-Air Personality Got His Start at the Forward Times
One of Houston’s longtime on-air personalities and sports radio legends, Ralph Cooper is being inducted into the Texas Radio Hall of Fame.
The Texas Radio Hall of Fame is an organization dedicated to honoring the greats in Texas radio. Nominees must have worked within the borders of Texas during their broadcasting career, and made a significant impact on their community, the industry, and those around them.
Cooper began his career as a journalist at the Houston Forward Times newspaper, covering community issues; Harris County Courts; the jails; and eventually junior high school sports.
“It is an honor to be recognized by the Texas Radio Hall of Fame in 2020, during a time like no other when all of your skills are needed to broadcast in a professional manner,” Cooper tells the Forward Times. “This induction into the Texas Radio Hall of Fame is a salute to all who believed I could do great things to enhance others via media; it is a salute to the 1969 Forward Times Staff, such as the owner, Mr. Julius P. Carter; Mr. Varee Shields; Mr. Sonny Wells; Bud Johnson; C. Boy Vaughn; and the managing editors at the Forward Times who hired and gave me a chance. It is truly an honor to be in the Hall of Fame with the greats of the industry.”
Cooper states that he learned to respect the pioneers and inventors who carried out their great dream at the Forward Times. He didn’t just read what they did; he states that he actually saw the long hours, the battles, and their overall concern for their community and for Black people. He also saw them handle maintaining their families, while creating a media platform that was respected, not only in Houston, but across the nation.
“I learned so much from these Black men, who taught me courage via their examples,” said Cooper. “Having them serve as examples for me swayed the positive thinking of a young man who grew up respecting the Forward Times. As a ten-year-old, I sold door-to-door Jet Magazine, Ebony, and the Informer Newspaper. But it was the Forward Times in 1960 that took my salesman skills to a new level. I sold the Forward Times, never dreaming I would become a journalist with them, and definitely not the broadcaster reporter I am today.”
While forging his journalism career at the Forward Times, Cooper knew he wanted to cover sports. After taking on assignments to cover the Harris County Courts and Jail, it took approximately six months on that grind before he got to cover sports. It all started with them taking a chance on him as a reporter. The success he experienced at the Forward Times was parlayed into a broadcasting career thanks to people in that industry.
In 1973, the Houston native and Worthing High School graduate got into the radio business at KYOK Radio, where Rick Roberts, KYOK’s program director at the time, took Cooper under his wings and mentored him. In 1984, Cooper moved to his new home at KCOH 1430 AM, where he has been a primary staple with a huge following ever since.
Within two years of becoming a broadcast journalist, Cooper would go on to interview some giants in the world of sports. Over the course of his illustrious career, he has interviewed many high-profile local, national and international sports figures such as Willie Mays; Satchel Paige; Hank Aaron; Roberto Clemente; Kenny Houston; Kenny Burrough; Jesse Owens; Muhammad Ali; George Foreman; Joe Louis; Wilma Rudolph; Sugar Ray Robinson; Evander Holyfield, and many more. Cooper also interviewed Eric Dickerson; Earl Campbell; Clyde Drexler; Zina Garrison; Mike Singletary; and the late George Floyd, when many of them were in high school, and even middle school. He has also mentored many Black youth, who have gone on to do great work in the fields of journalism and sports.
Although he is humbled by this Texas Radio Hall of Fame recognition, Cooper believes that during these challenging times, people are seeking hope and are clueless about what the future will look like. He believes the positive and informative broadcasting he delivers regularly can be uplifting during these tough times and he wants to continue setting the bar higher for others to follow.
“I’ve tried to set an example for others, via hard work and dedication, to continue to do what the late Pastor Manson Johnson preached, which is to ‘STAY ON TOP’,” said Cooper. “I will continue to show the world through my gift as a radio personality, the great things that Black people do in and out of sports. This is a history that many don’t want shared. I won’t stop sharing it for as long as I can.”
Cooper joins his fellow local Black radio cohorts – Don Samuel, Michael Harris, Skipper Lee Frazier and Wash Allen – in the Texas Radio Hall of Fame.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Texas Radio Hall of Fame Induction Celebration will be held virtually and 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, which is their traditional induction weekend, and always the first Saturday in November.
Joining 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
As usual, Ralph Cooper can be found hosting his longtime, popular radio show, Sports Rap, every Monday through Friday from 5pm-7pm, on KCOH 1230AM – The Source.
The Forward Times would like to salute legendary trailblazer and Houston sports radio icon, Ralph Cooper, on his induction into the Texas Radio Hall of Fame, as part of the 2020 class.