100 Creatives

100 Creatives 2013: Craig Cohen, Hockey Fan and Host of Houston Matters

In the spring, 88.7 KUHF Houston Public Radio's revamped its programming schedule, adding a new show on Friday at noon called Houston Matters, "sound-rich segments highlighting the people, places, issues and ideas affecting Houston." Segments on the show have included everything from opinions on the Astrodome to "food-deserts" in Houston's low-income neighborhood, to profiles of locally-owned businesses.

Meet the program's host and executive producer, Craig Cohen.

What He Does Cohen has spent the past 20 years working in public media. He's been everything from a film critic to reporter to manager and programmer. Before moving to Houston in March, Cohen worked as news and public affairs director for Illinois Public Media and hosted radio talk shows in Illinois and Pennsylvania.

"Houston Public Media had been looking to do something like this for a long time," he said of the show. "So I sat down with Jim Russell (creator of the public radio show Marketplace) with the goal of figuring out what kind of difference you can make with a program like that."

The station spent almost two months workshopping the show and coming up with segments, and launched in late April with Cohen as host. Since then, it's expanded to two afternoons a week, Thursdays and Fridays.

Cohen first got his start as a talk show host in Pennsylvania in 2008.

"Unlike Houston Matters," he said, "we launched that show in one day."

Why He Likes It "I love the idea of communicating ideas with a listener. Unlike television, with radio, you're focused on the ideas themselves," he said. "It's very intimate. You can develop a relationship with your listener."

What Inspires Him? "Passionate storytellers," he said. "A turn of phrase. People who seek to make the world a better place."

If Not This, Then What? Cohen, who dabbles in improv theater in his spare time, said theater sometimes informs his work life.

"I think I am a better host because of it, but I wouldn't want to do it professionally," he said. "I am doing exactly what I want to be doing right now."

In addition to improve at the Station Theater and involvement with Houston's new Moth StorySLAM readings, Cohen is also an avid hockey fan. When he was growing up in St. Louis, Missouri, his father ran a late-night rec league, and hockey has been a lifelong love.

"I might look into play-by-play announcing," he said.

If Not Here, Then Where? "I am very happy here in Houston," he said. "I'd be happy enough to return to my hometown, St. Louis, or the middle Pacific, where I lived for a decade. Somewhere with a hockey team."

What's Next? Very soon, Houston Matters will expand to three days a week, with the eventual goal of running at noon every weekday. Cohen and the show's production team are working on more regular features, such as one called "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly," where they look at some of the odder stories in the week's news, and are trying to hire more staff before the expansion.

"We've got to wait until we add another producer," he said.

More Creatives for 2013 (In order of most recently published; click here for the full page).

Mauro Luna, Poe-Inspired photographer Trond Saeverud, Galveston Symphony Orchestra music director and conductor Khrystyna Balushka, paper flower child Christina Carfora, visual artist and world traveler Sara Kumar, artistic director for Shunya Theatre Kiki Maroon, burlesque clown Gin Martini, fashion designer Lacey Crawford, painter and sculptor Homer Starkey, novelist Jenn Fox, mixed media Shohei Iwahama, dancer Erica DelGardo, metalsmith Bob Clark, executive director Houston Family Arts Center Kerrelyn Sparks, bestselling romance author Lindsay Halpin, punk rock mad hatter Drake Simpson, actor Shelby Carter, Playboy model turned photographer David Matranga, actor Crystal Belcher, pole dancer Daniel Kramer, photographer Blue 130, pin-up explosion art Nina Godiwalla, author and TED speaker David Wilhem, light painter Tom Abrahams, author and newscaster Browncoat, pin-up pop artist Kris Becker, Nu-Classical composer and pianist Vincent Fink, science fashion Stephanie Saint Sanchez, Senorita Cinema founder Ned Gayle, thrift store painting defacer Sameera Faridi, fashion designer Greg Ruhe, The Human Puppet Sophia L. Torres, founder and co-artistic director of Psophonia Dance Company Maggie Lasher, dance professor and artistic director Jordan Jaffe, founder of Black Lab Theatre Outspoken Bean, performance poet Barry Moore, architect Josh Montoute, mobile gaming specialist Ty Doran, young actor Gwen Zepeda, Houston's first Poet Laureate Joseph Walsh, principal dancer at Houston Ballet Justin Garcia, artist Buck Ross, dilettante and director of Moores Opera Center Patrick Renner, sculptor of the abstract and the esoteric Tomas Glass, abstract artist and True Blood musician Ashley Stoker, painter, photographer and Tumblr muse Amy Llanes, artistic airector of Rednerrus Feil Dance Company Bevin Bering Dubrowski, executive director at the Houston Center for Photography Lydia Hance, founder and director of Frame Dance Productions Piyali Sen Dasgupta, mixed media artist and nature lover Dean James, New York Times bestselling mystery novelist Nicola Parente, abstract painter and photographer Cheryl Schulke, handmade leather pursemaker Anthony Rathbun, Alternative Lifestyle Photographer David Salinas, computer-less analog photographer Danielle Burns, art curator Alicia DiRago, Whimseybox founder Katia Zavistovski, contemporary art curator Ashley Horn, choreographer, filmmaker Amanda Stevens, scary book author Peter Lucas, film and video curator, music lover and self-described culture-slinger Ana María Otamendi, collaborative pianist and vocal coach Billy D. Washington, comedian Michele Brangwen, choreographer and dancer Kristin Warren, actress and choreographer Kelly Sears, animator and film maker Colton Berry, Bayou City Theatrics' artistic director jhon r. stronks,dance-maker Joe Grisaffi, actor, director, writer, cinematographer Jordan "Monster Mac" McMahon, artist, designer

Shey is an experienced blogger, social media expert and traveler. She studied journalism at Oklahoma State University before working as a full-time reporter for Houston Community Newspapers in 2005. She lived in South Korea for three years, where she worked as a freelancer.
Contact: Brittanie Shey