It’s Too Bad More People Don’t Know About Ralph Cooper

By Jerome Solomon
Updated: July 6, 2007
Ralph Cooper

Ralph Cooper

HOUSTON — This past Sunday, WFAN in New York celebrated its 20th anniversary as an all-sports radio station, the first of its kind in the United States.

At the time, Ralph Cooper, one of the first and undoubtedly the best of his kind, was considering making the jump from KCOH to KBME. He decided against it.

For Cooper, the host with the longest-running sports talk show in local radio, it would have meant a move from a station that offers a variety of programming — his is the only sports show on KCOH — to an all-sports station.

For many others, it would have been seen as a move from black radio to mainstream radio.

It’s interesting that no sports stations in Houston (or anywhere else that we know of) refer to themselves as white sports radio, considering the way they have seemingly regarded black and Latino callers (when they manage to get any) and black or Latino hosts (when they’ve actually hired one).

It’s not so interesting that white, er, mainstream radio hasn’t attempted to lure Cooper before now.

In 1988, longtime Houston radio man Barry Warner, then hosting a competing talk show, described Cooper as “the best-kept secret on Houston radio.” Odd that he has remained a secret to so many of those who have paid so much money to so many wannabes hoping they could learn how to do what Cooper already does so well. Odd, I’m telling you. (Hey, one of them hired me.)

Cooper’s Sports Rap has been on 1430 AM since 1984. For nearly a decade before that, he was with 1590 AM (KYOK). All-sports radio has been in Houston since the mid-1990s, yet Cooper didn’t hear from one of those stations until recently.

Deserved better

Apparently, the offer from KBME was not what a man who has accomplished what Cooper has deserves. Cooper declined to discuss it, but industry insiders say the station appeared to be hoping for a hometown discount.

There is an amount you pay a top-notch free agent on the open market, and there is an amount you offer an undrafted rookie. Cooper is no rookie.

Let’s talk about Ralph, as thousands of listeners refer to the close friend they talk to once a day.

The phone calls to his show usually begin, “Look here, Ralph,” or, “Check this out, Ralph,” or, “Oh, man, I couldn’t wait to call you today, Ralph.” That’s how you talk to a friend.

I rarely receive calls from people discussing what was said on other sports talk shows. Other than Ralph’s, that is.

When I lived outside the state, I would plan flights so I could listen to Ralph shortly after arriving at Intercontinental Airport. Welcome home. Ralph is Houston sports radio.

Over the years, the stations that have had contracts with the Astros, Rockets, and Texans (and the Oilers before them) have gotten interviews with local sports stars. So has Ralph. From young George Foreman to young Daniel Gibson, he has gotten them all.

For a moment or two, here or there, a couple of the slew of shows on local radio manage to be entertaining. Ralph does so more often.

While many local shows tend to dodge topics like I-10 traffic — hoping to be as vanilla as possible without colliding with reality — Cooper takes on all subjects and does it with class. He isn’t a screaming shock jock, and he keeps his callers in check when they get out of line.

He’s old-school barbershop, and that’s the way his listeners like it. And did I mention the so-called “black show” has listeners and callers of all types?

Man of many hats

Cooper hasn’t had a producer in 23 years. He sets up all of his interviews and runs his own control board.

He doesn’t screen callers, so when he says, “Hello, caller,” you’re on. So if you’d like to ask if George Bush is going to Scooter Libby Barry Bonds if the latter is indicted for perjury, you call Ralph.

You find it odd that the Astros have no African-American players; Ralph will let you break it down.

But don’t get the idea he does black sports radio. He simply talks sports.

Tune in to KCOH

No radio host has given more opportunities and advice to youngsters, and none has done as much work in the community as has Cooper. We’re talking all types of community service.

That brother-in-law of yours, who never seems to know what he’s talking about, could call any radio station and get yelled at. He calls Ralph, and he learns something.

Ralph will continue to be on KCOH weekdays at 5 p.m. Some will think that’s a good thing. Others think many are missing out on the best-kept secret on Houston radio.

I wonder why it’s such a secret.

NOTE: Ralph Cooper, a frequent contibutor to BASN, can be hear Mondays through Fridays 5-7 pm CT on KCOH Radio (1430 AM). To listen to the show, log on to .