Consumer investigator Steven Cooper, who left WKMG-Channel 6 last week after 14 years, is putting marriage ahead of career. He moved to Atlanta to be with his husband, Paul Milliken, a former reporter for Central Florida News 13.
"My No. 1 priority is to be with my spouse," Cooper said in an email. "We were married two years ago this month, and we've been commuting to see each other for just about the entire duration. Luckily, we have planned for this so I'm really not under intense pressure to define my next move. I've been talking to people in television, but I've also been talking to people in other industries that interest me."
Cooper also has written three novels, including "Deadline."
"Paul fully supports my writing career and would like to see me spend more time on that; that's a blessing, really," Cooper said. His first few books each took a year, but his fourth book has taken three, Cooper said.
"This novel has required infinitely more research than my previous ones. I do not have a publication date," Cooper said.
WKMG bid farewell to Cooper in a short piece that aired Friday. Anchor Gaard Swanson called Cooper "one of the best" for eye-opening investigative reports. Swanson highlighted Cooper's reporting on homeless families in hotels and on-camera confrontations in pursuing consumer issues.
Anchor Lisa Bell noted that Cooper exposed problems with various vehicles and performed his work with integrity and wit. Cooper's consumer reporting helped return thousands of dollars to consumers. He also won the Edward R. Murrow Award and an Emmy.
Cooper said he was proudest of exposing racial discrimination at an apartment complex in Volusia County. "Our undercover investigation prompted action by both state and federal authorities," he said. "Ultimately, the U.S. Department of Justice stepped in and sued the apartment owners and managers, and after a lengthy battle, settled with significant penalties and fines, including monetary awards to the aggrieved woman who tipped us off to the story originally."
WKMG's bosses gave Cooper the freedom to report on the homeless issue, he said. "We were able to show real-life stories of homeless families living in hotels along the tourist corridor not far from Disney," he said. "We were able to show the lives of people living in homeless camps in the woods. This was years before the stories turned up on '60 Minutes.' "
Cooper said he would miss his Orlando neighbors and his teaching at Rollins College, which he did as an adjunct while working at WKMG.