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VOL. 123 | NO. 239 | Monday, December 8, 2008

Memphis Broadcaster Fred Cook Dies

By Bill Dries

Print | Front Page | Email this story | Email reporter | Comments ()

Memphis broadcasting legend Fred Cook died this morning of heart failure. He was 83.

Cook was best known for a 50-year career in Memphis radio, mainly at WREC-AM. He was also the first newscaster at WREG TV when Channel 3 went on the air in the 1950s.

At the time, the radio and television stations were owned by the same company and had the same call letters. The television industry was so new that Cook’s TV duties were considered part time to his full-time radio job.

A 1962 fire at The Peabody hotel led to the creation of “The Zero Hour,” a WREC radio program that paired Cook with fellow announcer John Powell.

The two were teamed up to continue broadcasting from the radio studio in the basement of The Peabody during a fire at the hotel. As everyone else was evacuated from the Downtown landmark, the two filled time by talking back and forth and playing an occasional record. Reaction was so favorable the pair returned to the air later on the regular basis and the show was called “The Zero Hour.”

Cook was also the public address announcer for University of Memphis Tigers basketball home games for two decades spanning the team’s time at the Mid-South Coliseum and its move to The Pyramid in the early 1990s. Cook’s voice is also the recorded announcement for the daily march of the ducks at The Peabody.

Cook continued doing voice work through 2007 until health problems persisted.

Originally from Waterbury, Conn., Cook settled in Memphis after his service in World War II.

He died this morning at Baptist Memorial Hospital.

Read more about Cook’s broadcasting career in Wednesday’s edition of The Daily News.

RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 57 280 1,209
MORTGAGES 55 244 916
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 0 45 144
BUILDING PERMITS 0 541 2,593
BANKRUPTCIES 0 120 581
BUSINESS LICENSES 0 65 264
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 0
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 0 0