Friday, January 30, 2015

Cooper Lawrence And The Cult of Celebrity!

Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone's face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let
go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and the life to come.
Henri Nouwen

Cooper Lawrence is a radio personality,author, psychologist, and all around cool lady. Several years ago, she wrote an incredible book called The Cult of Celebrity: What Our Fascination With The Stars Reveals About Us. America’s fast-growing religion is—let’s face it—celebrity worship. From gossip magazines to entertainment TV, from blogs to ads featuring famous faces, the stars are our new gods and goddesses. But why are we so quick to put them on pedestals? Why are we even more spellbound when they topple back down to earth?
Roday, however, I am putting the focus on Cooper! I celebrate her body of "worth"!
Cooper started desiring to pursue a career in the theatre. At nineteen, she was Shelly Winter's personal assistant!
Early on, she was also a playwright and she was working with Wynn Handman, the Artistic Director of The American Place Theatre. He put up a play that Cooper wrote and she was just beside herself. The play came and went and then she was back to bartending and waiting tables and she thought, "Oh! I see...So if you have one play, it means nothing.This gets you nowhere." She had a lot of friends in radio and they had been telling her for a while that she should consider a career in radio, a little more stable than a career in play writing.
So, Cooper made a tape and auditioned. She lived a few blocks from Q104 and she thought this is convenient. She sent her tape over and they hired her! That's not how radio works anymore. Cooper is not sure it worked that way then either. She considers herself lucky that she was the right "sound" for what they were looking for at that moment. So, she started out at Q104.
After a short period of time, that station flipped formats. Now, Cooper had tape from a major New York radio station. The world was her oyster. She was able to work anywhere. There was a job opening on a station on Long Island. It was on air. She also drove the van and did promotions. She did everything at that station that there was to do. She owes it all to Lynda Lopez, Jennifer's younger sister.She was the music director at the station at the time. She got a copy of Cooper's demo, loved it, and went to the program director, and said, "Hire her!" and she did!
Lynda was the impetus and Cooper's first mentor.
That was in 1996.
I asked Cooper what she does when she needs a little "nonsense" in her life. She has started running triathlons, which she says is ridiculous, because she really isn't an athlete.She swims and she runs and she bikes. 
She says for a woman in her forties to start doing that feels like "nonsense"! She thinks about that when she jumps into the pool with the swim team. So, as ridiculous as that may sound to some, since she is not an athlete, exercise is complete "nonsense". BUT, she DOES IT, AND SHE LOVES IT!
What does she want more than anything? There are so many things she is not sure if one stands head and shoulders above the others. She wants what everyone else wants, to be loved by others and to be able to love back.
Cooper's career has so many spokes and goes in so many different directions. Out of all the directions she goes in, she gravitates more towards radio. She learned early on that the connection she has with her listeners is very unlike the connection she has with her readers or her viewers when she does television. There is something about radio that is so personal. She really reveals herself to her listeners and they do the same thing back.
Sometimes they do that on Facebook if they are afraid to call. It is more intimate than perhaps talking about a celebrity on Entertainment Tonight or writing a relationship book. Those are very one sided relationships as opposed to doing radio. She feels like everyday she makes new friends.

She is currently getting back to doing her own syndicated radio show. She is being in charge of her own content again. She is working towards things that have value for her. Not only is she making money for her company, she is working towards something that she really enjoys and believes in.
Cooper is ONE HUNDRED PERCENT certain that she is doing exactly what she SHOULD be doing at this point in her life. After being in theatre and realizing how difficult that is, there came a time in her life when she realized that when she was banging on doors and they weren't opening, that it was time to knock on the RIGHT doors. In radio, she has never had to look for a job. She has gone from one station to getting a calling asking her to come to a different station. She has worked consistently from station to station flawlessly and painlessly.
Her goal, when she first started, was that each year she would be better and do better than she did the previous year. Thus far, she has achieved that goal for eighteen years straight.
If Cooper could change ONE THING about the profession, she would love to see more women in the decision making process.
Cooper cannot imagine not having the career she now has. For her, if she was not in radio, she would feel that her life would be a little bit more empty and a little bit more sadder because she wouldn't have found her voice and found where her creativity is best utilized.
As a syndicated talk show host Cooper has been the person at the helm of the show with male producers and male side kicks. In radio, traditionally, men are the hosts and women have to take the "giggly sidekick girl" role, something that doesn't fit Cooper or her personality. The fact that she has been able to forge a reputation on her name alone, and not on somebody else's back, is unique in radio. There just isn't enough women leading shows and making decisions. It is changing but it is not like it should be in other careers and in other industries.
There are definitely trends in radio and it's a matter of how reluctant one is to go in those directions. If one is doing music radio and they see
that FM talk is the next thing, and they are reluctant to follow that next trend, then they are stopping themselves from opening up their career and having more. Cooper is always willing to do everything. She says no to nothing. She has a lot of great mentors and advisers, so when they say, "You should go and do this next", she does it. She feels she owes part of her career to her innate talent and then the other half of it is having people around her who have given her great advice and she has been smart enough to follow.
Cooper thinks it is very interesting how her opinion of the industry has evolved over the years. She believes that her generation was the last generation to get in and be able to have opportunities on a much higher level. Her first job was at a New York radio station. Then she was at another New York radio station after that. She thinks that now those opportunities are not there because you have the biggest name personalities voicing radio stations in smaller markets. There is not a lot of promotion from the next generation up. It is a lot of switching around and taking turns doing the same things. If she leaves one station, someone she knows will probably come there and Cooper will go to their job.
Cole Luterek helping Cooper Lawrence with her wetsuit
There isn't a lot of the next generation being promoted.
I asked Cooper if there is anyone special in her life right now. There is a boyfriend of five years. How does she balance a career with a personal life? His schedule is pretty flexible as is Cooper's. The good thing about radio is that you work a shift just as if you were a bartender. So, she had a morning show shift, and she was done by 10 AM so she had plenty of time to see him. Now, she will be working a night shift. She will be around to have breakfast with him. Her schedule is more flexible than his is. That's another good thing about radio. Your life is part of your prep for radio. The more she sees him and the more they have strange circumstances or funny experiences, even fights, she can take all that "stuff" on the air. It is really important to maintain relationships for that reason.
If Cooper could change one thing about Cooper Lawrence she would be taller, 5'2"! She would spend her life towering around in four or five inch heels. She
admires these women who just walk in in ballet flats and not worry about it.
Trust me, Cooper already towers above most. I am looking forward to the next chapter!
Follow Cooper on Twitter.
Thank to ALL mentioned in this blog for the gifts you have given to the world and continue to give!
With grateful XOXOXs ,
 



 
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