Weather for the Birds
- March 6th, 2011
- in Lifestyle
How a meteorologist and his feathery sidekick from snowy Pennsylvania claim their stake in the Caribbean.
By Dan O’Connor
When I interviewed weatherman Joey Stevens last month, he was anticipating a heavy snowstorm. “One foot,” he tells me. It’s a fair prediction from his studio in Erie, Pennsylvania. This winter has been a particularly brutal one for the northern half of the United States—one for the record books, as a weatherman would commonly say. But as a BVI resident, something just doesn’t sit right when Joey tells me this. Usually, I hear Joey say it’s going to be about 85 degrees Fahrenheit and either sunny, partly cloudy or a chance of rain. Never snow.
But when it comes to reporting the weather, Joey has a split personality. At 5 pm, he’ll throw on one of his dozens of loud, tropical shirts and strap on his life-size puppet of a red macaw—a sidekick he calls Bob the Parrot—and rattle off weather reports for Cuba, through the Leeward and ABC islands, and down to South America.
“Grand Caymans, Cayman Islands—a beautiful place and beautiful people—you’ll be at 84,” he predicts during a February broadcast. “Santo Domingo, the heat is on! Ninety-three, so find a place in the shade or under those partly cloudy skies because it’s hot!”
“Hot, hot, hot!” his sidekick squawks.
Throughout the weather report, Joey makes sure to give shout-outs to his friends working at the popular bars and tourists destinations he’s visited along his travels. For seven years, Joey has worked for OneCaribbeanWeather.com. He broadcasts his weather report to 32 different countries, including 22 Caribbean nations. In the BVI, his show usually airs at 6 pm or 8 pm weeknights on BVI Cable channel 10.
After filming for his OneCaribbeanWeather.com slot, Joey shakes off Bob the parrot, and trades in his tropical garb for a suit and tie. Then, it’s time to tell the greater Erie area if the groundhog’s predictions over in Punxsutawney will hold true or not. The 30-year meteorology veteran takes his work very seriously. He says he enjoys the variance that reporting the weather from snowy Pennsylvania to the tropical Caribbean affords him.
The OneCaribbeanWeather report has become the most popular weather broadcast in the region—and Joey says he owes it all to Bob.
“Bob’s the real star of the show,” he tells me. “I kind of just work with Bob.”
I can’t help but chuckle at this sentiment.
“Don’t laugh,” he interrupts. “As far as a marketing or branding, [Bob] has exploded in the Caribbean. Yeah, it’s kind of hokey and cheesy, but it really has become a big thing.”
The weatherman says his trusty sidekick has helped him to extend his viewership to children and to brand the parrot to a family-friendly market. Soon, he says, he’d like to branch out into children’s television programmes. Without the famous parrot, Joey says the show wouldn’t be where it is today.
“When I started, I got to thinking to myself, I really need to have some kind of gimmick, or some kind of shtick,” he says. “I once had a monkey named Jocko—and even thought about dressing like a pirate … but I finally went to a party story and got a parrot that clipped on to my shoulder.”
However, the fragile parrot didn’t last very long, he explains.
“I was doing the weather, and turned around really quickly. He fell off and broke his leg—and I said, ‘Look, the parrot’s drunk’,” he says, adding that he’d eventually replace the clumsy parrot with the sturdy, life-size puppet that has since stayed loyal, firmly attached to his right hand.
“When I came back, I told everyone it was Bob on steroids,” he says of his first round with big Bob. “And the parrot really has become really the big thing of the show. Everywhere I go, people know him.”
Joey hasn’t made it to the BVI yet, but he says he has recently been in contact with BVI Tourist Board representatives about sponsoring a OneCaribbeanWeather trip in the near future.
“I get a lot of feedback from down there, and they all say ‘When are you going to go to the Soggy Dollar and come see us in Road Town,” the jolly weatherman tells me. “I’ve been truly blessed, and I mean that in all sincerity. I get to travel to the most beautiful places in the world.”
Bob the Parrot refuses to work with Joey. [VIDEO]