My Co-Anchor Is Pawing at the Door: Back to You in the Studio
Scott Connell, a Missouri weatherman, was trying to record a tease last month, but Maple, his Cavalier King Charles spaniel, had other plans.
“Three, two, one: More cold air ——” Mr. Connell, the chief meteorologist for KSDK in St. Louis, manages to say on the video before the dog’s barks interrupt him.
“Cold air continues across the area tonight; potential for some frost and freeze for some of us,” he starts again, and Maple barks again. Mr. Connell claps his hands and calls the dog over. He is finally able to complete the tease, but not before Maple gets a few more barks in.
Like many people forced to work from home because of the coronavirus pandemic, TV reporters and meteorologists have had to adapt to a new normal, including unfamiliar professional settings. So have their pets, who sometimes join them, crashing their reports and mugging for the cameras.
On March 20, in an early working-from-home pet cameo, Kim Powell, a reporter for the Phoenix broadcaster Arizona’s Family, was delivering a news report about coronavirus testing when Zipper, her cat, abruptly strolled in front of the camera.
“Hi, this is my cat — that is the perks of working from home,” she said with a laugh during the segment.
On at least two TV stations, pet cameos have turned into regular appearances.
On WTVT in Tampa, Fla., Brody, a golden retriever, has become a fun distraction during Paul Dellegatto’s home forecasts for the Fox station.
“As Fox 13’s reporting staff joined most of the rest of Florida in working at home over the last month, many of our viewers got to know Brody, the show-stealing pup who loved to crash chief meteorologist Paul Dellegatto’s weathercasts,” the station wrote on a YouTube clip reel of Brody’s recent appearances.
“Up, up,” Mr. Dellegatto told Brody during a report on April 16 as the dog leapt on his lap, disrupting the weather graphics on his laptop. “The maps aren’t going to move because he just whacked the computer with his head, so let me just verbalize the forecast.”
As he continued his report, the dog yawned in his face. “Didn’t mean to keep you up,” Mr. Dellegatto deadpanned to the dog. Brody then jumped off his lap and began looking out a window to find a cameraman who was posted outside.
“This is the best weather forecast in the history of television news,” the reporter Andrew Feinberg wrote on Twitter.
It’s not only dogs who are disrupting broadcasts. Betty, an 11-year-old cat, has become a sort of co-anchor for Jeff Lyons, the chief meteorologist at WFIE in Evansville, Ind.
In mid-April, Mr. Lyons brought a green screen home and began setting up in the dining room when his white and gray cat came in.
“I picked her up and the guys in the control room saw it and said, ‘Put her on TV,’” recalled Mr. Lyons, who has worked at the station for 32 years. “I fluffed her tail and flew her around. The rest is history.”
“More Betty!!” one person demanded on Facebook.
During the opening of a weather report last month, Mr. Lyons cradled the fluffy cat in front of a map of Indiana. “The outpouring for this silly cat has been crazy,” he said. “This is Betty, my cat — she’s gone viral, my nieces and nephews tell me.”
The station recently created a “Betty the Weather Cat” graphic for the lower portion of the screen — an acknowledgment of what “an essential fixture” she had become, Mr. Lyons said during the report. He described Betty as a mix of Maine coon and Norwegian Forest cat.
Mr. Lyons sometimes holds her up as he discusses rain, freeze and frost warnings. The station has also used the cat in weather graphics. On Saturday, when local temperatures were in the 80s, a graphic featured an image of Betty with sunglasses, her tail pointing to the temperatures.
Mr. Lyons has set up a pedestal with a blanket for her at-home TV appearances.
“When I turn the lights on in the dining room, she comes right in,” he said.
Once Mr. Lyons is able to work in the studio full-time again, he said, he does not plan to take Betty to work.
But, he said, “she will probably be a fixture on my social media now and forever.”