|"Memphis broadcasting legend Fred Cook..." — The Daily News|
"... authentic Memphis media legend." — The Commercial Appeal
Fred Cook, 83, radio and TV announcer and executive, died December 9, 2008.
Many broadcast personalities have made their mark on Memphis for a brief time and then moved on or faded from popularity and from memory. For those who listened to Fred Cook regularly, his memory is firmly and affectionately fixed in the mind.
Fred Cook came to Memphis in 1950 to work at radio station WREC as an announcer. He worked there for more than 2 decades, rising to management positions. Cook was also the first newscaster on WREC-TV.
While Cook's down to earth style associated him with serious broadcasting: news, information, a taste in music focused on standards and easy listening, he really captured his audience when he and fellow announcer John Powell kept WREC radio on the air by simplying talking to one another while a blaze in the basemet of the Peabody Hotel, where WREC was located, was extinguished by firefighters. The witty repartee between the two announcers lead to a regular program called "The Zero Hour" in which they mostly just talked to one another with thousands of radio listeners tuned in, essentially easedropping on a very humorous conversation. The radio program was so popular that hundreds crowded hotel ballrooms to attend anniversary broadcasts. During this time, WREC mostly appealed to adults, but The Zero Hour bridged the generational gap. The Zero Hour continued for more than a decade.
Cook is well remembered for another service he provided to the Memphis community, that of the public address announcer at Memphis State University home basketball games.
As radio formats and station ownerships changed, Cook did commercials for both radio and TV, he also read for radio station WYPL-FM, which provides reading services for the visually handicapped.