CHICO — Former Action News Now weatherman Anthony Watts helps launch “Animal Calls,” an animal-centric call show from animal behaviorist and former Paradise resident Karpathia Kingsley.
The radio show adopts the traditional call-in format and uses a lifetime of education and animal experience to answer listener questions. The show is scheduled to begin on July 16, airing from KKNW in Seattle and will stream live online and will be available as a podcast.
Watts is a meteorologist who spent 15 years at Action News Now and KPAY Newstalk Radio for almost 20 years. Never meeting one-on-one, he formed an unlikely business pair with Kingsley, an animal behaviorist living near the Canadian border who once lived in Paradise.
“I met her on Facebook before the campfire and we became friends and chatted for a bit,” Watts said. “We were going to meet once in heaven but she ended up moving out after the campfire so that never happened.”
After the campfire, Kingsley left Paradise for Oregon and then the Olympic Peninsula in Washington where she shelters her animals and runs a bed and breakfast.
“Out of the blue,” Watts said, “she announced that she had enrolled at the University of Washington for animal studies and was going to get a certificate in animal behavior. She had already said: ‘I want to do radio, I want to do something but I don’t know exactly what. Being near Seattle, helping people with animal issues, and having a credential–all of a sudden, it hit me–the Frasier for the animal world.
Watts said that as conversations with Kingsley progressed, the potential show was cemented as a “Frasier” met “Dr. Doolittle-type show.”
After finding a direction, they found a radio station – KKNW Seattle – open to new broadcasts.
“I flew to Seattle in March and met her for the very first time. Then we went to KKNW, met the people at the station and they loved the idea,” a- he said. “I recorded an open-ended sample, kind of mixing the Dr. Doolittle stuff with a whimsical theme that goes back to my growing up in Indiana…(Kingsley) loved it, the radio station loved it. So we decided ‘OK, we’ll give it a try’.
Watts told this newspaper that the potential audience for the show is virtually endless.
“(Kingsley) is able to speak at length on a variety of different animal topics and we think it will be a hit. First of all, it’s never been done before. Second, everyone has a pet “, he said. “And then everyone always talks about something their pet did or didn’t do or acted strangely or made them laugh. Then they want to try to figure out, “what is my pet thinking – why is my pet acting this way?”
Kingsley, who’s been around animals his whole life, said you’re kind of the “Dr. Dolittle type” for understanding what an animal thinks.
“It’s like a double thing that I have the education and the practical experience. It’s been my whole life,” Kingsley said. “Since I was a child, I have been training animals and living on a farm in the countryside. I grew up with animals and as a kid who didn’t play with other kids, I really learned to read their feelings, emotions, and reactions to a wacky degree.
When Kingsley met Watts through Facebook, she was still living on her ranch in Paradise with an assortment of animals. When the campfire hit, Kingsley said she wasn’t sure what was next for her.
“When the town burned down, I had to evacuate my entire ranch on my own, which included my horse, my goats, all my chickens, my geese, my dogs, my finches, my parrot, my rabbits – everything. I had,” Kingsley said.
After spending a week at Gridley Fairgrounds in a borrowed RV, a friend offered to come and help her move to Oregon.
“My house didn’t burn down, but I didn’t know if I could ever go home,” Kingsley said. “I had taken out all my animals, so instead I had to go back to living in a disaster area where everyone is getting sick, all your friends are gone, your job is burned, everything is gone and decimated, and the water is toxic. So after a week of living in this hell, I’m like, ‘OK, let’s go to Oregon.’
Concerned about the potential for a campfire-like event, Kingsley found her permanent home in the Olympic Peninsula where she was able to expand her farm and run a bed and breakfast. She also went back to school to earn a degree at the University of Washington where she earned a certification in Applied Animal Behavioral Science.
“When I told (Watts) I was watching the University of Washington, he was like, ‘This is it! This is what we’re going to do – let’s do an animal show.’
With everything ready to go, all that’s left to do is launch, Kingsley said. In preparation, she said she will have topics on hand as the show works on building listeners.
“I’ll have topics and things that I’ve seen, because when you start a phone show, it can take a while to build an audience.”
But Watts isn’t concerned, in fact, he put his own money into the launch.
“Very few, if any, radio stations in the United States will let you come in and start a show and try it out,” Watts said. “I pay for airtime out of my own pocket.”
More important to potential success, Watts sees a subject that transcends ideologies.
“The best thing about it is that it doesn’t follow any political lines,” Watts said. “I don’t know anyone who has a pet that’s Democrat or Republican.”
For more information about Animal Calls, visit https://animalcallsradio.com and to donate, visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-launch-animal-calls-radio-program.