He’s shows up on the morning news only when he feels like it. Management at the station admits he’s pampered, but what can they do? Everybody in Little Rock is talking about him.
He has more Facebook friends than the station has in total. More than many of the other station’s personalities combined. His friends follow him from as far away as Bangkok and Australia.
He can come and go as he pleases, and occasionally disappears for a day or two, leaving no word of where he is, what he’s doing or if, or when, he’s coming back.
He openly plays favorites with the female anchors.
Some viewers claim he’s cured their depression, and some employees say he eases their stress.
He only cares about his own pet projects and could care less what the station thinks of that.
He has his own agent at the station who takes care of his every need.
And many worried that when a new general manager came on board, he’d banish him from the place. But it didn’t happen even though the new GM is very allergic to cats.
Meet Joey, the news CAT-ster from KTHV, the Gannett-owned CBS affiliate in Little Rock.
“Joey just showed up,” said Theba Lolley, Joey’s momma-agent, and KTHV’s community relations director, careful to not let me get the idea that this was some sort of publicity stunt.
“He adopted us.”
Joey appeared one day at the station’s outdoor weather garden in early 2007, an area of plants and rock features just outside the station’s studio, no doubt attracted by the presence of another adopted cat named Larry.
“We think he was about 3-4 months old,” said Jonathan Nettles, the station’s promotions producer. When Larry was hit by a car later that year and died, Joey became attached to morning news weatherman, Tom Brannon.
Although Larry liked spending most of his time outside, Joey loves living inside the station.
“He knows when the morning show will start,” said Nettles, “and he’ll sit there and wait by the door for the morning folks to go out to the studio. Then he’ll jump up on the couch and join them.”
A few years ago, Joey got bone cancer, and a local small animal vet/surgeon stepped in to save his leg. The vet gave Joey a page on his web site so people could follow his progress and it got so much traffic the first day, it crashed the site.
“Joey getting cancer made people understand how important he was to them,” said Lolley, “and they could relate it to their own, or their pets’ cancer.”
Joey got lots of get-well cards and e-mails and is cancer-free today.
He’s become an advocate for hurt, abandoned animals, the poster boy for Joey’s $11 CAT-paign, a monthly fund-raiser held the 11th of every month (KTHV is Channel 11) to benefit local shelters. He’s helped raise more than $160,000 so far.
Joey has free reign to go wherever he wants and has disappeared for a couple days once or twice.
“That scares me the most,” said Lolley.
I’d be worried the competition might kidnap him, performing a cat-nip so to speak.
Here are a few comments from his Facebook followers:
I think that’s just awesome that they have Joey in the newsroom!!!
I don’t even live where you are – to watch your news show. HOWEVER I am nonetheless a HUGE FAN because of Joey and all of the people there who love him and take such good care of him.
I love watching Joey rule the Newsroom.
Here are a few more videos of Joey, including the last one which is a story about Joey that aired on Animal Planet.