Charleston radio icon “Super Duper Charlie Cooper” has died.
He was 74.
Cooper, born Howard Irving Russell in 1946, grew up in Ohio and began his radio career in Akron at WSLR-AM. His early years in radio took him to Texas and then back to Ohio before coming to WKAZ in 1973.
Through the 1970s and early 1980s, Cooper was the popular drive-time host for the station and a much-in-demand DJ for local dances and events.
In 1975, he started Admix Studios, a recording studio that produced commercials and materials for businesses.
Cooper left WKAZ in 1982 to focus more on his recording studio and work as an emcee at dances, but he remained a presence in Charleston, DJing dances and high school reunions and playing music at area fairs and festivals like South Charleston’s Summerfest, the annual Rod Run and Doo Wop in Charleston and many more.
In 2007, Cooper was inducted into the West Virginia Broadcasting Hall of Fame.
Over the past several years, Cooper was involved with Danny Webb’s “Apples of Gold,” holiday radio dramas broadcast in Charleston and in Raleigh County and distributed to nursing homes around the state.
Webb met Cooper through his church, where Cooper helped with sound support. Later, he hosted Webb and his casts at Admix Studios, where he helped produce and edit the radio dramas.
“He was always so professional and kind of a hub for our productions,” Webb said.
They became friends and worked on many productions together.
Webb said Cooper had Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. He thought Cooper hadn’t been well for a while, but that the actual diagnosis must have come very fast.
They spoke by phone maybe two weeks ago, Webb said. Cooper told him he had two weeks to live, but also asked about some time they’d scheduled at his studio.
“He didn’t want to record something and then not edit it,” Webb said.
The session had been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, he added.
WCHS and WVAH anchor and reporter Kennie Bass remembered Cooper as a friend, mentor and the man who helped him get his foot in the door to broadcast news.
In 1978, Cooper let Bass phone in half-time and end-of-game reports at Nitro High School for WKAZ-AM. At the end of the season, Cooper gave the 15-year-old Bass a job on a public affairs program where the teenager interviewed governors, senators, and community leaders.
“Over the years, we stayed friends and I was always amazed at how smart he was about radio and everything connected to it. He was talented and had a great voice, but most importantly he was kind,” Bass said. “He was a nice guy who would take time for you and let you know that you really mattered.”