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Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Ralph Cooper celebrates 55 years on-air in Houston

Ralph Cooper, a true Houston sports media icon, is celebrating 55 years on air this March 2024.

"Since 1969...started with pen, paper, tape recorder...all obsolete [in] 2024," he posted on Facebook.

Cooper has interviewed legends such as Hank Aaron, Muhammad Ali, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Jesse Owens, and George Foreman. But, he is known to be just as plugged-in to the Houston high school and college sports worlds, even helping younger middle school athletes with his “Stars of the Future” program.

His radio career began with 1590 KYOK, where he was hired by program director Rick Roberts.

"There was a time when I was the only Black guy in the press box during a game at the Cotton Bowl, and now you look around and see the Stephen A. Smiths of the world in the business," Cooper told the Houston Chronicle's David Barron in 2020. 

In 1984, Cooper moved to 1430 KCOH (now 1230AM), where he remains to this day, now in a 6 p.m. timeslot.

"(Station owner) Mike Petrizzo gave me the chance at KCOH," Cooper told Barron. "When I came to KCOH, they signed off at 5 p.m. and had just gotten permission to go to 7 p.m. I worked from 5 to 7 and didn’t have any commercials for a month or two, and it took a moment to build it up. But he believed in me, too."

For many years, starting in 1992, the Worthing High School graduate also worked on television with Westbury High School grad Bob Allen for various ABC13 KTRK sports shows. 

When asked the most unforgettable sports stories he has covered in his career, Cooper told the Defender's Marilyn Marshall, "One was in 1975 when Astros pitcher Don Wilson was found dead in his car inside his garage. The other was in 1980 when Astros pitcher J.R. Richard suffered a stroke that ended his Major League Baseball career."

Cooper was honored by the Houston Association of Black Journalists (HABJ) in 2010. He was inducted into the 2020 Texas Radio Hall of Fame class a decade later.

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