100 Creatives 2013: Craig Cohen, Hockey Fan and Host of Houston Matters
In the spring, 88.7 KUHF Houston Public Radio's revamped its programming schedule, adding a new show on Friday at noon called Houston Matters, "sound-rich segments highlighting the people, places, issues and ideas affecting Houston." Segments on the show have included everything from opinions on the Astrodome to "food-deserts" in Houston's low-income neighborhood, to profiles of locally-owned businesses.
Meet the program's host and executive producer, Craig Cohen.
What He Does
Cohen has spent the past 20 years working in public media. He's been everything from a film critic to reporter to manager and programmer. Before moving to Houston in March, Cohen worked as news and public affairs director for Illinois Public Media and hosted radio talk shows in Illinois and Pennsylvania.
"Houston Public Media had been looking to do something like this for a long time," he said of the show. "So I sat down with Jim Russell (creator of the public radio show Marketplace) with the goal of figuring out what kind of difference you can make with a program like that."
The station spent almost two months workshopping the show and coming up with segments, and launched in late April with Cohen as host. Since then, it's expanded to two afternoons a week, Thursdays and Fridays.
Cohen first got his start as a talk show host in Pennsylvania in 2008.
"Unlike Houston Matters," he said, "we launched that show in one day."
Why He Likes It
"I love the idea of communicating ideas with a listener. Unlike television, with radio, you're focused on the ideas themselves," he said. "It's very intimate. You can develop a relationship with your listener."
What Inspires Him?
"Passionate storytellers," he said. "A turn of phrase. People who seek to make the world a better place."
If Not This, Then What?
Cohen, who dabbles in improv theater in his spare time, said theater sometimes informs his work life.
"I think I am a better host because of it, but I wouldn't want to do it professionally," he said. "I am doing exactly what I want to be doing right now."
In addition to improve at the Station Theater and involvement with Houston's new Moth StorySLAM readings, Cohen is also an avid hockey fan. When he was growing up in St. Louis, Missouri, his father ran a late-night rec league, and hockey has been a lifelong love.
"I might look into play-by-play announcing," he said.
If Not Here, Then Where?
"I am very happy here in Houston," he said. "I'd be happy enough to return to my hometown, St. Louis, or the middle Pacific, where I lived for a decade. Somewhere with a hockey team."
Very soon, Houston Matters will expand to three days a week, with the eventual goal of running at noon every weekday. Cohen and the show's production team are working on more regular features, such as one called "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly," where they look at some of the odder stories in the week's news, and are trying to hire more staff before the expansion.
"We've got to wait until we add another producer," he said.
More Creatives for 2013
(In order of most recently published; click here for the full page).
Mauro Luna, Poe-Inspired photographer
Trond Saeverud, Galveston Symphony Orchestra music director and conductor
Khrystyna Balushka, paper flower child
Christina Carfora, visual artist and world traveler
Sara Kumar, artistic director for Shunya Theatre
Kiki Maroon, burlesque clown
Gin Martini, fashion designer
Lacey Crawford, painter and sculptor
Homer Starkey, novelist
Jenn Fox, mixed media Shohei Iwahama, dancer
Erica DelGardo, metalsmith
Bob Clark, executive director Houston Family Arts Center
Kerrelyn Sparks, bestselling romance author
Lindsay Halpin, punk rock mad hatter
Drake Simpson, actor
Shelby Carter, Playboy model turned photographer
David Matranga, actor
Crystal Belcher, pole dancer
Daniel Kramer, photographer
Blue 130, pin-up explosion art
Nina Godiwalla, author and TED speaker
David Wilhem, light painter
Tom Abrahams, author and newscaster
Browncoat, pin-up pop artist
Kris Becker, Nu-Classical composer and pianist
Vincent Fink, science fashion
Stephanie Saint Sanchez, Senorita Cinema founder
Ned Gayle, thrift store painting defacer
Sameera Faridi, fashion designer
Greg Ruhe, The Human Puppet
Sophia L. Torres, founder and co-artistic director of Psophonia Dance Company
Maggie Lasher, dance professor and artistic director
Jordan Jaffe, founder of Black Lab Theatre
Outspoken Bean, performance poet
Barry Moore, architect
Josh Montoute, mobile gaming specialist
Ty Doran, young actor
Gwen Zepeda, Houston's first Poet Laureate
Joseph Walsh, principal dancer at Houston Ballet
Justin Garcia, artist
Buck Ross, dilettante and director of Moores Opera Center
Patrick Renner, sculptor of the abstract and the esoteric
Tomas Glass, abstract artist and True Blood musician
Ashley Stoker, painter, photographer and Tumblr muse
Amy Llanes, artistic airector of Rednerrus Feil Dance Company
Bevin Bering Dubrowski, executive director at the Houston Center for Photography
Lydia Hance, founder and director of Frame Dance Productions
Piyali Sen Dasgupta, mixed media artist and nature lover
Dean James, New York Times bestselling mystery novelist
Nicola Parente, abstract painter and photographer
Cheryl Schulke, handmade leather pursemaker
Anthony Rathbun, Alternative Lifestyle Photographer
David Salinas, computer-less analog photographer
Danielle Burns, art curator
Alicia DiRago, Whimseybox founder
Katia Zavistovski, contemporary art curator
Ashley Horn, choreographer, filmmaker
Amanda Stevens, scary book author
Peter Lucas, film and video curator, music lover and self-described culture-slinger
Ana MarÃa Otamendi, collaborative pianist and vocal coach
Billy D. Washington, comedian
Michele Brangwen, choreographer and dancer
Kristin Warren, actress and choreographer
Kelly Sears, animator and film maker
Colton Berry, Bayou City Theatrics' artistic director
jhon r. stronks,dance-maker
Joe Grisaffi, actor, director, writer, cinematographer
Jordan "Monster Mac" McMahon, artist, designer