An Apology to Mike Cooper
I was stupid when I was young.
In 1992, Cliff Dumas was doing the morning shift at 820 CHAM. I admired Cliff; his show was the only radio morning show I had known as a youngster.
So when Cliff packed up and left for CISS-FM the next year, I was sad. The CISS show was not the same. There were more voices and a different mix of music. Looking back, I want to say the show was more corporate, but I’m not sure that’s quite the right word. However, it didn’t have the same “Doomer Humor” I knew and loved. It was in a larger market and targeted a different audience.
Meanwhile, things were changing in CHAM Country, too. It was going through what seemed like endless ownership changes and management was cutting costs by piping in what was probably an automated satellite format for overnights. It certainly wasn’t local.
And there was a new morning man in town: Mike Cooper.
Introducing Mike Cooper
Mike Cooper is the legendary DJ who was bit by the radio bug early. Legendary because of his record-breaking ferris wheel ride at the CNE. Legendary because of his April Fools’ Day prank–involving a gunshot–at 1050 CHUM. Legendary for his “Stupid Joke of the Day” at 680 CFTR. Legendary for his long run on Toronto airwaves, the largest radio market in the country.
But I was 12. I didn’t know any of that. To me, Mike Cooper was just the guy who replaced Cliff Dumas.
Yeah, it was petty to hold a grudge. But I did. It put Mike at a disadvantage. He could not match Cliff for me. And it wasn’t Mike’s fault that Cliff left for another radio station.
But in this young listener’s mind, Mike was at the bottom of a hill–no, make that a mountain–he could not climb.
But Mike had already scaled that mountain.
Older and Wiser
I eventually stopped listening to CHAM. Something had changed. It was a different radio station than the one I loved. It didn’t feel as much like family as it did before.
After a few years, Mike left too and headed to 97.3 EZ Rock. And then, in 2005, with Erin Davis to CHFI.
During that period, I got older and started to gain an understanding of Mike’s long history and accomplishments in radio. So it was a pleasure when I got to work with him later on, even indirectly. He hosted a listener dinner and dance at Old Mill Toronto once a month which was broadcast live on 98.1 CHFI. I was lucky enough to be the board operator for most (maybe all) of that run–several years.
The thing I remember most about those Saturday nights is the absolute fun that was had during the commercial breaks. I wasn’t at the Old Mill, but I loved being back in the studio listening to the off-air “show” that Mike put on while entertaining and interacting with the audience while I played ads.
Of course, this was quite a different Mike Cooper than the one I remembered from his CHAM days almost 20 years before. But as I mentioned, the younger me was slightly biased and ignorant and unwilling to give “the new guy” a fair chance.
So for that, Michael S. Cooper, I apologize.
You were legendary then and you’re legendary now. After 45 years in the radio business, you’ve scaled that mountain over again and will leave at the end of this month from high on the summit. There is nothing left to prove.
Happy retirement, Mike.