Frosty Troy, the founder of the Oklahoma Observer and a humorous legend of Oklahoma political media, has died, according to the Observer’s editor. Troy was 83 years old.
From Observer editor Arnold Hamilton’s write up:
The seeds of Troy’s more than half-century career in journalism were sewn in his hometown of McAlester, OK, when a Benedictine sister complimented his stories that appeared in the school paper, The St. John’s Siren.
It was all the encouragement he’d need. As a soldier in the Korean War, he filed dispatches for the McAlester News Capital. He later wrote for the Lawton Constitution, the Muskogee Phoenix and the Tulsa Tribune.
But it was the humble journal of free voices, The Oklahoma Observer, for which he became most famous – a platform from which the liberal, yellow dog Democrat sought to inform and influence generations politically, socially and religiously.
Troy was inducted into the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame in 1977, more than 15 years after he had been a reporter covering the Kennedy administration in Washington.
KOSU reporter Michael Cross has covered the Oklahoma Capitol for about six years, and he hosted Troy on a radio segment called “Fridays with Frosty” after Troy had sold the Observer to Hamilton.
“He always saw things as they were,” Cross said this morning after hearing of Troy’s death. “He never tried to put it into party politics. He was always about what he thought was best for Oklahoma, regardless. I think he was just as critical of Gov. Frank Keating as he was Gov. Brad Henry.”
Cross, who now hosts KOSU’s Morning Edition, said the Fridays with Frosty series was pre-recorded and routinely featured moments where he or a producer had to ask Troy to rephrase his blunt and biting criticisms.
“His witticisms sometimes could not be aired on KOSU,” Cross said with a laugh. “One of my favorite quotes from him was when Brad Henry did something he was happy with, he said he was ‘so proud that Gov. Brad Henry had grown a tiny little testicle.'”
Cross said many younger journalists could learn important lessons from Troy, even though the veteran commentator identified as a yellow-dog Democrat in a way that most newspaper or TV reporters can’t.
“He was more than willing to call out Republicans and Democrats — and also complement Republicans and Democrats if he thought they did something right,” Cross said. “He was very nonpartisan in his praise and his criticism.
“That goes back to the old school of journalism. I think, right now, there’s too much of a fear that you can’t hold the politicians to task because for some reason they’re above everybody else. Frosty was never that way. He was a strong believer in the First Amendment and the power of the press to hold all elected officials accountable for their words and their actions.”