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New voice of the Panthers on air now

Rich Hooper is the new voice of the Panthers. The Panthers now have their very own “voice,” as new internet radio station KPTN begins its live coverage of varsity football this Friday night when Princeton takes on the Celina Bobcats to kick off the season.

KPTN is now broadcasting 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and this week’s pre-game show will begin at 7:15 p.m. with play-by-play coverage starting at game time.

According to station manager Rich Hooper, KPTN wants the community to tune in for great music, information about the community and PHS live sports broadcasts. Access the station at www.kptnradio.com.

Although KPTN will primarily feature music with a focus on soft rock, classic rock and country favorites, the station will also spotlight events and organizations in the community with a community calendar, interviews and short segments.

The idea for a local radio station has been in the works for some time.

“Several people in the community have mentioned having a radio station before, but the most recent mention was by a friend of mine who has been in radio in the Dallas market for many years, and he helped start an internet radio station for the community in which he lives,” Hooper said. “After listening to that station for a few minutes, I found myself saying, ‘We have to do this for Princeton. It’s time.’ So I mentioned the idea to several community leaders and everyone was supportive and encouraging.”

It was during a mayor’s advisory council that Hooper began formulating the role KPTN could play in the community.

“One of the main aspects we felt was missing from Princeton was the ability to tell the story of the community’s four main pillars, which are PISD, the city, the chamber and area churches,” he said. “KPTN has the ability, as a privately owned radio station, to be a neutral connector of all four areas with one goal in mind, which is to help make Princeton a better place to live, work, play and shop. There’s a sense of pride knowing that we have our own radio station that is serving our city and surrounding communities.”

Hooper’s career in radio was sparked by a Christmas present, so radio has been a passion of his since he was a kid.

“From the time I was 9 or 10 and got a Mr. Microphone and a set of radio headphones for Christmas, which shows how old I am, I became fascinated with radio,” he said.

This eventually led him to major in radio/television while attending East Texas State University (now Texas A&M-Commerce).

KPTN studio. “After three semesters, I was offered a job at KBWD/KOXE in Brownwood, Texas, and my radio career was launched,” Hooper said. “I eventually finished my degree in theology, but I also worked in radio in Ardmore, Okla., and San Angelo. However, most of my radio career has been in the Dallas market at several stations including KCBI and KLTY.”

Hooper said he has big plans for KPTN.

“Eventually we will offer a live morning show that will give weather, traffic and entertainment info,” he said. “It will be something that will be a ‘virtual neighbor’ to our listeners.”

Hooper said the biggest obstacle he faces involves technology, but the constant on-air presence presents its own issues.

“With any radio station there are many technical challenges,” he said. “And there are no holidays or weekends off, so it’s always 24/7/365. Becoming a reliable provider of content is our goal, and although we are new and still working out many ‘bugs,’ we feel good about where we are now in that process. I am already enjoying being able to help partner with businesses and organizations and be a connector in our community, which is our main goal. I am excited to see that play out.”