NEXT VMS Mentor, Tee Hooper may speak softly, but he wields a big influence in the Upstate.

In khakis and sport shirt, Tecumseh “Tee” Hooper Jr.’s attire matches his demeanor — quiet, unassuming, and laid back. But in that same under-the-radar way, Hooper has left his mark on more than a half-dozen businesses, an impressive array of community organizations, and the state Department of Transportation. And he did it all without ever raising his voice.

After leaving the military, you went to work with your father, who owned WQOK, a Greenville rock ’n’ roll station. Was it your plan to go into the family business?

I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I really did not want to grow up to work with my father. I went to graduate school and then the Army, and I still didn’t know what I wanted to do. And he wanted me there, so that kind of helped me make my decision. I had some opportunities, but I just wasn’t sure.

My father had worked in sales and administration at the radio station but bought it from the owner in the early ’70s. But we had an AM station, and this was during the time period when FM started to become more prominent. We competed against a couple of large FM stations and tried to buy an FM station, but that deal fell through. I didn’t feel we could be competitive without FM.

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