On the Side

In which Dwight Cooper proves that CEOs can have hobbies, too.

First, let's settle any question about Dwight Cooper's sense of entrepreneurial commitment. Or, for that matter, skill. Though Cooper started Professional Placement Resources (PPR) in 1995 with modest aspirations, by last year PPR had reached 70th place on Inc's list of America's fastest-growing companies, with $10 million in sales.

But recruiting is only one of Cooper's careers. Even as he was putting in endless days building PPR, he was putting himself at the center of noisy nights at the nearby University of North Florida (UNF), describing basketball games for local radio and television channels. Cooper had been the assistant coach of the UNF men's basketball team for five seasons in the early 1990s, a gig that positioned him unwittingly in the limelight of sports media. He fell into the role of color analyst when he bailed out an old friend by filling an absent radio seat one fateful evening. That was 1996, a year after PPR's launch. The fact that Cooper was grappling with a fledgling business didn't slow him down. Instead, he upped the ante. By 1998 he was broadcasting a full schedule of home games, and in the fall of 2000 his radio success earned him a deal to broadcast four televised UNF games on the Fox Sports Net in Florida. At first television made him anxious, he says, but "once the game actually begins, it's not that different from radio."

A double life, you say? Cooper couldn't agree more -- or be happier about it. This season he has his hands full, calling the plays on 930 "The Fox" WFXJ radio and shooting for more airtime on the Sports Net. Oh yeah, and running PPR. But he seems to have everything under control. "Juggling radio and TV around my CEO schedule is the challenge," he explains offhandedly. "I do have to miss a broadcast on occasion."

Copyright © 2002 Rebecca Dorr

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