… Nick Kosir, still on the TV news, still randomly breaking out into so-dorky-they’re-cool dances while wearing a buttoned-up suit and tie.
You shouldn’t need to ask who Lil Nas X is at this point. The country-rap sensation has the most ubiquitous song of 2019 (and perhaps of this decade) in “Old Town Road,” which in July set the all-time record for longest reign atop Billboard’s Hot 100 pop chart. Ever. Even if the title of the song doesn’t sound familiar to you, trust me: You’ve heard it before.
Nick Kosir, meanwhile, isn’t necessarily a household name — unless 1) those in your household regularly watch Fox 46’s morning show, “Good Day Charlotte, for which he serves as meteorologist; or 2) you’re among the 934,000 (and growing, fast) users who now follow him, on Instagram, thanks in large part to the series of gotta-watch-’em dance videos he started making on the show’s set in April.
When the Observer profiled him that month, he had “only” 320,000 followers.
In the months since, the mild-mannered 35-year-old husband and father of one has continued forecasting the weather for Fox 46 by day while routinely checking things off of a bucket list he never knew he had in his moonlighting gig as an Instagram star.
Monday night’s cameo on the MTV Video Music Awards wasn’t even necessarily his single greatest achievement as “the dancing meteorologist” — just the latest.
What viewers saw: After an introduction by Billy Ray Cyrus (Miley’s dad, who is featured in “Old Town Road”), Kosir delivered a pre-recorded “news report” announcing that Lil Nas X — who in this particular future is the sitting president of the United States — has just released the 3,162nd remix of “Old Town Road,” featuring artists like Yung Sandwich, the Ghost of Benjamin Franklin and Old Thug. “Old Town Road” started playing and confetti rained down while a cowboy-hatted Kosir hit a quick series of goofy dance moves.
It all clocked in at under 30 seconds, then it was Lil Nas X’s show. (The artist performed his more-recent hit, “Panini,” dressed like a “Tron” character.)
We spoke with Kosir on Tuesday morning by phone to get the scoop on how this opportunity came to him, and also learned what other recent event in his life matches the MTV moment, and how he feels about the idea of leaving his day job to chase even greater social-media fame. Here’s what we learned:
1) Kosir got on Lil Nas’s radar by way of — what else? — his Instagram dance videos. “He took my last dance, the Lottery Challenge, and edited it with his song ‘Panini’ over the video, and I saw that he shared it on his Instagram. Obviously, that really got my attention because he’s right now, like, the biggest artist on the globe. So just taking a shot in the dark, I commented under his post, ‘Hey, thanks for sharing. Would you like to come on Good Day Charlotte?’ He responded back and said, ‘Where and when?’ I couldn’t believe it. I told him I would DM him with some more info, and I did. That was probably like six weeks ago.
“He didn’t respond. But then two weeks ago, I got an email that said, ‘Nick Kosir / Lil Nas X / VMAs’ in the subject. And I thought, What the heck is this? And I read it, and it was his manager reaching out to me for an idea they wanted to do for the VMAs. And I thought at first maybe it was spam or junk, or maybe it was some kind of virus. … Turns out it wasn’t a virus, or a fake email — it was the real deal. Long story short, three days later, they booked a flight for me to go to LA.”
2) It was a state secret. “Yeah, that was big-time part of the agreement. Matter of fact, (after the segment aired) some of the people that I work with here were like, ‘Why didn’t you tell us?’ I said I wanted to, but I wasn’t allowed to until after the VMAs aired it.”
3) There was no payment involved, but he did get a free mini-vacation out of it. “I had that Friday off already — (August) the 16th — but once I found out I had to fly to LA, obviously things got a little more busy for me. It was a full day of travel, then got there on set at about probably 5 (p.m.), and got done filming at 9:30. After that, I was free to do whatever I wanted in LA with no wife, no kid, for like a day and a half. On Saturday, I took a tour bus ride of the city, saw some celebrity homes. …
“I stayed in a super-swanky hotel, probably the coolest hotel I have ever and will ever stay in. I went to a pool party there, at which I was the oldest by about 15 years. So that was pretty fun — not awkward at all. (Laughs.) Then I saw a comedy show that night at the Hollywood Improv. Flew back early Sunday.”
4) The team shooting the video threw him a curveball at the last minute (although how he didn’t see this coming, we’re not sure). “They sent me the script Thursday night. They didn’t say anything about wanting me to dance when they originally contacted me on that Tuesday. And I didn’t find out until, like, Thursday night when I was already in bed that they wanted me to have a little dance prepared. … I was freaking out a little bit, you know, ’cause Friday I had to wake right up and fly. …
“I had an hour of free time between arriving at my hotel and getting a ride to the warehouse where we ended up filming that I could try to put some moves together. So the moves that were in that video I just kind of slammed together at the last minute. … Lil Nas said (my performance), ‘went hard’ — those were his exact quotes when he saw the video. (Laughs.) So that was good.”
5) Kosir never got to meet Lil Nas X in person. “I talked to him for about three seconds on a FaceTime call. I just said, ‘Hi,’ and then he had to discuss a bunch of stuff with his manager. I have texted with him just a little bit. Just to kind of say things like, ‘Thanks for thinking of me. I appreciate this.’ And he’s texted back.”
6) He and his wife celebrated the moment by watching the VMAs on the smallest screen possible. “It was kind of funny. I couldn’t get the MTV app on my Smart TV to work. … So my wife and I were just sitting there watching on the phone. I got up to go get a snack, and I was kind of half paying attention, and then I heard Billy Ray Cyrus was up there, and … shortly thereafter, the video was up. Yup, we both watched it on our individual phones. We’re such millennials, let me tell you. (Laughs.)
7) The other highlight of his summer involved a rapper more than twice Lil Nas X’s age. “I just love music. Everyone has their thing. Music is my thing. So between the ages of about 13 and 25, my life revolved around the VMAs. I remember as a kid on summer break, I would watch the live broadcast of the VMAs, and then anytime I could, I’d catch a re-broadcast. I was just captivated by it, man. So to be a part of the VMAs — even though it was a small 30-second part, and I wasn’t even there in person — it was just a dream come true. Like, the 13-year-old me is freaking out. The only other thing that could compare is when I met Nelly (backstage at the rapper’s concert at PNC Music Pavilion in July), who is one of my favorite rappers. And he actually knew who I was. I didn’t have to introduce myself to him. That was really, really, really cool to me. So those two moments are right up there, man.”
Sometime soon, Kosir will hit 1 million followers on Instagram — an enormous milestone that puts him in an uber-elite group of Charlotteans that mainly includes superstar-celebrities, people like Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and singer Fantasia Barrino.
We asked him back in April whether he’s entertained ideas of capitalizing on his fame, and at the time, he said of his job at Fox Charlotte: “I’ve got a good thing going, so I’m happy where I’m at here. … I’d rather have huge, huge ratings than go viral every day.”
On Monday, we asked the same question.
“Man, you’re trying to get me fired!” Kosir said, laughing.
“Here’s the thing: Fox 46 has been great, and not many stations would allow someone to do this, let alone celebrate it. Fox 46 is doing that. I am very fortunate and grateful to work for a company and management that is doing that for me, and I realize it. So, as of right now, I can’t complain. I have good thing going, and I don’t want to do anything to take the train off the tracks. I mean, my son loves the school he goes to, my wife has a good job here, and I enjoy working at Fox 46.
“So as of now, yeah: I stand by that quote.”
This article originally appeared in the Charlotte Observer.