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Radio Hero: Derek Cooper

Coop (courtesy Your Radio)

Coop (courtesy Your Radio)

Sometimes my radio heroes are market leading megastars – sometimes they’re people who influenced me along the way. But other times I’m simply blown away by their creativity and their willingness to go the extra mile.

My daily routine 16 years ago was to get into Qfm’s less than bijou studio in Paisley, prep my own show and then do the mail. This was before the days of zillions of emails pinging around. I would chat to the news guys, catch up with what sales were up to and stick on any cassette demos that landed in my in tray. That was always a great part of the job. You never knew what you were going to hear next. One ran the obligatory five minutes and I didn’t get round to switching it off. 30” of silence was followed by some non-RA language. That person got a polite reply!

The one that really sticks in my mind from that time is one that almost made me late for my show as I listened to it thee times. The guy had a ridiculously broad local accent, but his command of the language was spot on. ‘This guy can communicate’, I thought. He did all the DJ bits really well. But what really jumped out of the speakers was his creativity and his ability to tell a story. A couple of hours later I was on the phone to Derek Cooper with a view to getting him in ASAP for a chat. Days later he found himself doing an overnight shift (those were the days) which I stayed up way to late to check out. He was superb. Long story short, Coop jumped the queue and became a real project – rising to every challenge we threw at him On top of that, anywhere we scheduled him he built audience and really engaged with his audience. In many ways he was 10 years ahead of the social media curve as the things he would do lent themselves to the way people like to programme now. The things he chose to talk about were almost always spot on and he could take the slightest thing and give it talkability. (“So why… why am I doing tonight’s show naked. It’s all because of a bus.”)

I was moved on and eventually Coop moved on as the revolving door of radio turned. Replaced by a great jock with the smoothed-out tones of the typical Scottish broadcaster. The fact that people who sound different and don’t have a classic ‘radio voice’ do really well (Jonathan Ross? Graham Norton?) was overlooked in favour of sounding as much like the competition as humanly possible.

One of the most ridiculously talented people I ever had the chance to work with makes way more money in retail than some of the daytime jocks on big stations could hope to earn. But he’s back, once a week on a chippy little radio station just outside of Glasgow. Your Radio’s Friday nights sound unique, special and local.

When I’m out and about (and after ‘Any Questions’ has ended on Radio 4) he does a show that feels like Friday night ought to. He’s loving it – and I have a feeling the listeners do too. I just don’t understand why he didn’t pop up on the ‘big’ brands in the Central belt. An enormous talent that’s just a little different.

And that’s why he makes the list of my Radio Heroes.

Author: johnco

Born in 1963, been involved in radio since 1977.

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