Just as with any business, there is a history. Where it all started, how it started and how it became who they are today. Long before the first "Welcome to Cooper Music" ever chimed the ears of a piano buyer, the history of the Cooper Family began. For the next few months, I will share with you, every Friday a special blog, containing the history of the Cooper family and creation of Cooper Music. We hope that you enjoy reading as Cooper Music is brought to life with memories.
INTRODUCING RADIO STATION WKPA 1150 ON THE DIAL
John Cooper, stayed home on his own course, which was rebuilding Cooper Music’s financial strength. Coopers’ were experienced in radio sales and remote telephone broadcasts. They employed an ingenious radio technician, Winslow “Wink” Neeley, a World War I wireless marine radio operator, and inventor. He urged John and brother Charles “Bus” Cooper to go into the radio broadcast business. Brother Will, not in favor and not in good health, declined.
The first “bootleg” unlicensed station, with chief engineer Wink Neeley, went on the air in 1937. Polite, but stern, letters from the FCC advised they should apply for a commercial broadcast license. A commercial station required an investment larger than brothers John and “Bus” could provide. However, they found financial interest from Mayor Dick Reeser, City Engineer Frank Recco, Police Chief Dan Zeloyle, and Attorney Don Hankey A successful private offering with these local investors formed the Allegheny-Kiski Broadcasting Co Inc
Construction of modern studios in the Cooper building and a 250-foot transmitter tower was completed in 1939, introducing WKPA, 1150 on the AM dial. One of the first broadcasts was of the election results for the third term of President Franklin Roosevelt. Local business officials, churches, schools and musicians enthusiastically took advantage of the new radio station. The fortunes of the Coopers and the radio station were improving but not without notice.
The WKPA financing partners, seeing the success of the project, initiated a devious takeover attempt to remove the Coopers and gain control of Allegheny-Kiski Broadcasting Corp. The dissenting stock holder strategy, led by City Engineer Frank Recco and Mayor Dick Reeser included purchase of the 810 5th Ave building,
The building had been repossessed in 1933 and held by the bank. Their strategy was to force a Cooper sell out. The property housed not only the radio station but also Coopers’ music store. John and Charles “Bus” Cooper were at the double barrel risk of a forced sale of their radio station interest, and certain eviction from the building if the minority holders had their way.
The Coopers had to move quickly. An old marker from Sam Manerino, New Ken operator of numbers racket, bootlegging, and assorted illegal activities, was called. Coincidently, Manerino and Charles “Bus” Cooper had been high school football teammates. “Bus” Cooper, lionized by teammate Manerino, was nicknamed “Bus” for his hard running and scoring. Later, during Prohibition in the twenties, Coopers had been competing for coin operated phonograph sales in some unsavory locations with Sam Manerino. In a friendly way it was suggested to the Coopers that they should give up their profitable, but rough and tumble, jukebox business. The Coopers were relieved to agree. In 1940 the favor would be returned via WKPA.
Without hesitation the loan to buy out the positions of the dissident holders was done. The loan from Manerino not only returned ownership of the building to the Coopers and the radio station but also sent the dissident shareholders on their way. The City Engineer and the Mayor, dependent upon the political campaign support of Manerino, found it in their interest to the “right thing”. The City Engineer Recco and Mayor Reeser sold out to brothers John and “Bus”. The transactions put Coopers in majority control of their music store real estate and radio station WKPA.