Radio is generally in a constant state of upheaval. Witness the line-up changes throughout sports radio and the rise of News92 FM from the ashes of formerly all news KTRH. There are two FM music stations playing the exact same stuff every day because one was sold and not reformatted. The plug was pulled on an FM adult contemporary station after a short "experiment." KTRU was sold to KUHF and turned into the classical arm of the NPR affiliate.
But, for more than half a century, one stalwart of the Houston radio scene has remained, that is until now. KCOH (1430 AM) has been providing programming predominantly to the African American community in Houston since 1953, a decade before the heart of the civil rights movement. This week, it was announced they had been sold to the Guadalupe Radio Network, a Catholic station which states as part of its mission on its website to, "serve the Church and we endeavor to lead souls back to Jesus Christ through His holy Catholic Church, through the use of the powerful medium of radio."
According to a report in the Houston Chronicle, the station will be shuttered as is, all of its employees fired and relaunched next year with all-Catholic programming from the network owned by The La Promesa Foundation.
KCOH's programming, while barely heard and probably little known to many in Houston, had a wide variety of talk, music and sports programming aimed at the African American community, traditionally underserved on talk radio.
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One of the biggest blows is the loss of Ralph Cooper, the station's long time sports director and one of the longest tenured voices in Houston sports radio. In June of this year, I ranked Cooper seventh on my list of the top 20 sports radio personalities in Houston. In the Chron story, Cooper expressed frustration he wasn't given the opportunity to bid on the station himself.
Cooper, like the other shows on the station, was a champion of his community. He routinely brought on young student athletes to help put a spotlight on their talents. I'll admit I personally enjoyed his show and much of the programming on the station located just down the street from where I've lived over the last year.
As for the future for KCOH, it will add yet more religious-themed programming to the Houston airwaves. On their website, the Guadalupe Radio Network includes among its promises to, "Protect the sanctity of life from conception until natural death" and "Carry out the mission of evangelization as called for by Baptism."
Whatever you may think about the new network and its leanings, losing another local station to a national network is unfortunate, particularly one that has been around as long as KCOH and serves such a specific demographic.