Wednesday, August 1, 2018

R.I.P.: Multi-Faceted Tampa Radio Personality Carson Cooper

Carson Cooper
Longtime radio personality Carson Cooper, who was the honeyed voice of one of public radio’s signature shows, NPR’s Morning Edition on WUSF 89.7 FM, died Saturday after a long illness, the radio station reported Tuesday.

He was 58, according to

Cooper, an award-winning radio fixture in the Tampa Bay area for three decades, had been WUSF’s Morning Edition host since 2000, but had been off the air since February dealing with a health issue. He also had hosted the WUSF show Florida Matters since its inception in 2006, but had stepped back from that since last summer.

When the station in June announced that Jessica Meszaros would be taking over as host of Morning Edition, JoAnn Urofsky, WUSF’s general manager, held out high hopes that Mr. Cooper would return.

Urofsky remembered him as a soothing on-air partner.

Carson Cooper
"It was like playing tennis with someone who was better than you, your game gets better," Urofsky said. "I learned so much from him. He was just a consummate radio host."

A native of Tennessee, Mr. Cooper moved to the Tampa Bay area in August 1981 to work at WSRZ­ 102.5 FM, then in Sarasota. And he remained at that same frequency when it changed to WHPT and its adult contemporary and then classic rock format until 1999. He then spent the next 18 years on public radio, racking up awards as host and for current affairs on Florida Matters.

He had a side gig that also started in 1999 as a host and programer of Jimmy Buffett’s Radio Margaritaville, now on SiriusXM satellite radio. The station, created by Buffett, plays a range of reggae, tropical country and a variety of world music and classic singer-songwriters from the ’70s and ’80s.

Tomalin said one of her favorite memories of Mr. Cooper was hanging out at Jimmy Buffett shows. A serious journalist having a side project of programing a Jimmy Buffett channel, "I think was a reflection of what a Renaissance man he was."

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