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Ernest Hooper, Times Columnist/East Hillsborough Bureau Chief

Ernest Hooper

Ernest Hooper is the East Hillsborough Bureau chief and columnist at the Tampa Bay Times. Hooper joined the Times in 1992 and has worked as a prep sports writer and editor, TV/radio sports columnist, NFL writer, news columnist and unofficial ambassador, representing the Times as an emcee, judge or keynote speaker at hundreds of nonprofit events and civic functions. Hooper added the role of East Hillsborough Bureau chief in 2012. He oversees news content for the Times' regional edition east of Tampa, the SouthShore & Brandon Times, and writes two columns a week. His commentaries about family, community issues and political perspectives have helped Hooper connect with readers over the years, but he's probably best known for his signature tagline: That's all I'm saying.

Phone: (813) 661-2440


  1. Hooper: Empathy, not insults, needed in the days ahead

    Human Interest

    Speechwriter Jon Favreau recently tweeted he's thought often of my late grandmother, who lived to be 107, and the words he penned for President Obama to honor her on the night of his first election in 2008.

    "If my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see?" the president asked that night. "What progress will we have made? This is our chance to answer that call."...

    hooper012317: Ann Nixon Cooper celebrated her 107th birthday and being honored in President Barack Obama's election night speech before passing away in 2009. Photo courtesy of Ernest Hooper
  2. Sunday Conversation: Plant High graduate comes home to make a positive impact

    Human Interest

    Tampa native Jim O'Connell appeared to be building a resume that would take him away from his hometown. With a White House job sandwiched between his undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University, and two years at England's Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, O'Connell aimed his sights at joining the Navy.

    But through a mutual relationship developed during a trip to Israel, he connected with Jeff and Penny Vinik, owners of the Tampa Bay Lightning....

    Plant High and Wake Forest graduate Jim O’Connell, 26, became the CEO of the Vinik Family Foundation five months ago.
  3. Castor earns prestigious Parke Wright Award

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — Jane Castor says she never directly sought leadership roles.

    The former Tampa Police chief, a two-sport star during her college days at the University of Tampa, said her ascension into leadership was borne out of a competitive drive that helped her succeed in sports and eventually rise through the ranks of the department.

    "I never had to be No. 1, I just couldn't be No. 2," Castor recently said. So I'm a little bit competitive, but I never, ever aspired to be chief of police. I just did the best I could in the positions I held and the best I could on any promotional examinations."...

    Former Tampa Police chief Jane Castor was named the winner of Leadership Tampa Alumni’s prestigious Parke Wright III Award.
  4. Hooper: Can somebody in this radio market give us Adult R&B


    My local radio dream has come true.

    Sort of.

    iHeart media launched a Throwback 94.5 (St. Petersburg) and 105.9 (Tampa) station this week, bringing to our local airwaves a blend of hip-hop and R&B from the late 1980s to the early 2000s.

    It's not quite the adult R&B mix that I long for, a format featuring Stevie Wonder, Luther Vandross, Jill Scott, Anthony Hamilton and Chaka Khan — to name a few — but delivering Puff Daddy, Arrested Development, old JayZ and DMX adds to the diversity of our airwaves. ...

    Local airwaves need a platform from classic tunes by Prince, Jill Scott, Alicia Keys and Stevie Wonder.
  5. Hooper: King breakfast speaker urges choosing community over chaos

    Human Interest

    The Rev. Dr. Otis Moss Jr. stood on the dais at the Tampa Organization of Black Affairs' Martin Luther King Leadership Breakfast on Monday, holding a copy of King's book, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?

    In the book, autographed by his friend King, the civil rights leader wrote, "This may well be mankind's last chance to choose between chaos and community."

    Fifty years later, those words strike me as even more prophetic than they were in 1967. As I examine our political discourse, our world views and our concern about the nation, those two extremes are emerging as our only choices....

    The Rev. Otis Moss Jr. said Monday that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. left a foundation for others to build on.
  6. The time to stand against bigotry is still before us

    Human Interest

    Someone scrawled neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic symbols on sidewalks outside of Chabad of Clearwater, Temple B'nai Israel and Congregation Beth Shalom recently, reminding us again that the United States' social progress continues to be dogged by those who want to mute our growing evolution of acceptance.

    Drunk on Haterade, these inebriated individuals spread their divisiveness through heinous acts and the echo chamber of social media. Those of us hell-bent on combating such hatred have to do more. We need to push beyond Facebook and Twitter, our own comfort zones, embrace our neighbors and stand against bigotry....

  7. Hooper: Doyle-Melton's truth-telling awakens hearts in Clearwater

    Human Interest


    Glennon Doyle Melton turned Temple B'Nai Israel into a virtual reality ride Sunday evening.

    She didn't need 3D glasses, Disney animatronics or elaborate lighting to pull off the feat. The best-selling author took us through the highs and lows of her life by literally kicking off her heels and guiding us down a path of truth-telling that drew from the crowd warm laughs, knowing nods and roaring applause....

    Glennon Doyle Melton has written two best-selling memoirs.
  8. Sage Steele's rise from Tampa to ESPN


    TAMPA — Sage Steele sat outdoors on the ESPN Sports­Center set Monday, a pristine Raymond James field behind her, and dispensed information while handling interviews and waltzing through the adrenaline rush of a one-hour live broadcast.

    "I'm having a blast," said Steele, who serves as lead host for SportsCenter on the Road. "When you're on the road, in the elements, with things changing, with potential technical issues, you take a deep breath and you say, 'Here we go' and you talk sports, and you don't try to make it bigger than it is."...

    ESPN’s Sage Steele and former Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd chat on the set of SportsCenter at Raymond James Stadium.
  9. Given special chance, Clemson receivers went from sideline to big stage

    Human Interest

    Amid a swirl of reporters, recorders and cameras, Clemson receivers Ray-Ray McCloud and Deon Cain patiently answered all manner of questions during Saturday's media day for the College Football Playoff National Championship game.

    But when the name of Ricky Sailor entered the interview mix, a telling smile crept across their faces. Both McCloud, a Sickles High graduate, and Cain, a Tampa Bay Tech graduate, credit Sailor for helping them reach Clemson and tonight's pinnacle....

  10. Welcome, Alabama and Clemson, and please complain about the transportation


    Dear College Football Playoff Officials:

    I'm writing for two reasons: to express confidence that you will enjoy your time in Tampa Bay, and to ask a favor.

    How can I be so confident? Well, we live for big events here. No one rolls out the red carpet like Tampa Bay. Our various municipalities and visitors bureaus pull together. Our elected officials morph into a singular team and the hospitality industry revs up the fun....

    Visitors traveling the Howard Frankland Bridge will want to leave early if they intend to tailgate at the College Football Playoff. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  11. Mourning celebrity deaths is personal, and it's real

    Human Interest

    As we enter 2017 and exit 2016, we leave a teeming number of celebrity deaths in our wake and a bit of backlash from those who can't comprehend the overwrought emotions stemming from "strangers" passing away.

    From my view, and I was deeply saddened by the death of Prince, we mourn the creative gifts extended by artists more than the actual person. We express appreciation because they chose to share their art with us, and we choose social media to mourn because it's great for connecting us to others who share our pain....

  12. Hooper: The 2016 edition of 'You haven't lived in Tampa Bay until ...'

    Human Interest

    Every year we celebrate the grandeur of Tampa Bay with a mix of suggested experiences and witty observations.

    The obvious — Cuban sandwiches, grouper delicacies, sunsets on the beach — are a given. Add these suggestions to the traditional staples of bay area living.

    Remember: Don't just reside here, live here.

    You haven't lived in Tampa Bay until you've . . ....

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Ernest Hooper says you haven’t lived in Tampa Bay until you’ve rediscovered the secret sauce at the reinvigorated Goody Goody in Tampa’s Hyde Park Village.
  13. Hooper: "No more next times'' in 2017


    Chaka Khan.

    Those two words fill my mind with melodic harmonies and songful comfort. In the '70s, I grooved to her lyrics as she starred as the lead singer of the funk troubadours known as Rufus.

    In the '80s, the ballads spawned from her solo work often stirred my youthful yearnings for love and romance. I still remember playing her cover of Michael Jackson's Got To Be There on the jukebox in the old Broward Hall cafeteria at the University of Florida....

    Chaka Khan performed at the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival on Oct. 25. Columnist Ernest Hooper fulfilled a bucket list wish by watching from the VIP section.. ERNEST HOOPER | Times
  14. Hooper: Here are Tampa Bay's Most Intriguing People of 2016

    Human Interest

    From simple notes of news to full-blown symphonies of success, certain newsmakers strike a chord of curiosity with me every year.

    In 2016, many contended for a spot on my annual list of Tampa Bay's Most Intriguing People, including Fentrice Driskell, Ken Hagan, Cesar Hernandez, Mickey Jacobs, Jack Mariano, Sean Shaw and Andrew Warren.

    But in the end, here are the ones whose performances created the most memorable tunes this year. Let the countdown begin:...

    Laila Abdelaziz resigned her post as as CAIR Florida's Legislative and Government Affairs Director
  15. Mississippi State strength coach Nate Peoples embodies perseverance at St. Petersburg Bowl


    I spent the first 15 years of my career covering sports, including four as an NFL writer.

    People ask what I miss most, expecting me to lament about no longer sitting atop megastadiums and watching the game's best stage three-hour real-life dramas.

    Yet it's covering high school sports I miss most. The simple charm of a Friday night football game still resonates. I continue to appreciate the wide-eyed players who got excited after the game, knowing I would share their exploits with our readers. And the teammates who stood behind them, calling out to me: "Put my name in the paper. Put my name in the paper."...

    Former Armwood High linebacker Nate Peoples, here during his days as strength coach at Western Michigan, is an assistant strength and conditioning coach at Mississippi State.