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This dancing TV weatherman became a viral video star. Then he thought he blew it.

Nick Kosir never thought of himself as a great dancer, now he has over 300 thousand instagram followers

Nick Kosir, meteorologist on Fox 46 talks about taking on dance challenges.
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Nick Kosir, meteorologist on Fox 46 talks about taking on dance challenges.

Nick Kosir had just won the Internet.

Like, had won it in a way that people from Charlotte (people from Charlotte who aren’t already national celebrities) very rarely win the Internet.

The Charlotte meteorologist did it with a 34-second hip-hop-inspired dance and a silly grin. In a suit and tie and wingtips. On the set of the Fox 46 weekday-morning show he helps carry. During an otherwise typical Wednesday on the job that he’s been doing since moving here from Twin Falls, Idaho, with his wife Danielle and their young son Canon in 2014.

Eventually, his “Slide Like This challenge” video would be viewed more than 2.7 million times on Instagram.

“Honestly, I’m blown away, man,” says Kosir, 35. “I can’t believe people like my dancing. ... That’s never one of the things I’ve prided myself on. I’ve never been like, ‘I’m a better dancer than you.’ I just was kind of goofing around one day.”

But last Friday night — on a night when he should have been basking in victory, having just re-created his now-famous moves during a break in play at a Charlotte Hornets game — Kosir found himself sitting in his car outside of uptown’s Spectrum Center with his head in his hands.

He was about to learn, he feared, the difference between being Internet-famous for goofing around and being Internet-famous for goofing up.

A history of hilarity

This isn’t brand-new territory for Kosir, these dances.

Last July, he and then-”Good Day Charlotte” producer LaKia Starks teamed up to try their hand at the viral dance challenge to Drake’s “In My Feelings,” which was a huge local hit at the time (52,000-plus Instagram views) but didn’t really register beyond the Carolinas.

Or, you can go back two-and-a-half or maybe three decades, to that day when he and his sister forced their father to hold the family’s massive camcorder while they made a videotape of themselves dancing around the house to Michael Jackson songs. That one wasn’t much of a hit beyond the Kosirs’ living room.

Nick Kosir also is no stranger to throwing stuff at the wall to get audiences to crack a smile.

In high school, he says he came up with his first song parody, mostly to amuse himself — though he can’t remember what song he was sending up, or any of his alternate lyrics. (“I think it was topical, so it would probably make no sense now. Who knows? Probably about Napster. Or MySpace,” he says, laughing.)

And then at the University of Akron in Ohio — after an aborted attempt to walk on to the school’s Division I football team — he joined the student-run radio station, worked his way up to hosting a show and made parodies of popular songs a thing on campus. (“They were all typically urban songs — rap songs — ’cause I can’t sing.” Example: using Ludacris’ “Stand Up” as the inspiration for a holiday-themed parody he called “San-Ta.”)

But his first brush with viral-video fame would come in the summer of 2009, when he made his debut as “The Rapping Weatherman” while doing the forecast for the Fox affiliate in Beaumont, Texas. Wearing dark shades to match his suit, Kosir busted out lyrics like “Today’ll be hot, I’m talkin’ mid-90s, basically you’ll be sweatin’ off your heinies” while — yes, indeed — gesturing at his rear end.

He made it a recurring bit in Texas, and one of the rap clips he posted on his YouTube channel (which he hasn’t used in a long time, by the way) eventually soared to more than 700,000 views. The schtick went with him when he moved to Twin Falls in 2010, although it never reached the same heights there.

Then in the spring of 2014, he picked up and moved his family to Charlotte to take the morning-show-meteorologist gig at Fox 46, and he decided to play it fairly straight. For a little while, at least.

Trying to be more social

“I just wanted to come here and see what might happen organically,” says Kosir, who has been a staple of the station’s morning show since it launched in August 2014 as, at the time, “Good Day Carolinas.”

“This is a big market with a lot going on, and so we were just trying to find our footing, and I wanted to establish myself as a good forecaster first and foremost. That’s obviously the biggest part of my job.”

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Nick Kosir on his love for meteorology: “When I was in fourth grade, a guy on TV broke into the programming and he was like, ‘Tornado warning in Wayne County!’ — which is where I was living at the time in Ohio. I was glued to that TV screen. I could not stop watching this weather guy ... this feeling I had in my chest when I heard that we were in danger from a tornado, it was equal parts total terror and pure excitement. I can’t explain it. I still get that feeling when I cover severe weather. And I’m pretty sure that’s called passion.” John D. Simmons jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com

Over the next 2 1/2 years or so, he settled into a good rhythm in front of the green screen and found a way to connect with viewers without resorting to song parodies or rapped forecasts. Then, in early 2017, the station started pushing its on-air talent to go big with their social-media presences.

And at first it seemed like Kosir might have forgotten how to make ’em laugh.

“I don’t know what I was doing,” he says of the early days of being more active on Instagram on behalf of his employer. “I was really actually kind of mad. I was like, Great. ... I didn’t think I was very interesting, you know, so I was just doing whatever — just taking stabs in the dark, taking pictures of my son, or my dog.”

But eventually, he got the hang of it, and got inspired.

From August 2017 to June 2018, his running Instagram joke was to play with sarcasm or irony while standing next to road signs. His first, for instance, was a photo of him raising an eyebrow in front of a “No Outlet” sign while holding an electrical outlet. His last was a photo of him giving his son a fist bump in front of an orange construction sign that read “Bump.”

Then last July, Kosir launched a series of posts that showed him ... paying homage to? ... making fun of? ... the outlandish outfits that Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton would model on his own page.

The story behind that: “I had nothing to post that day on social. ... And I was scrolling through my Insta feed, and I saw Cam Newton posted his outfit of the day, and after about five minutes he had 30,000 likes, or something ridiculous. And I go, ‘Man, I wish I could just post a picture of my clothes and get 30,000 likes and be done with social for like a week,’ you know?

“So I looked at his outfit, and I go, ‘Well, I have those shorts ... OK, I’ll just do a quick side-by-side’ — because I’d seen these side-by-sides before online. So I did it, and I had my wife take that picture ... put it online and the next day I woke up and it had like 200 likes. At the time, that was a big post for me. So I go, ‘OK, I’m gonna start doing this now.’ ”

He’s since done more than a dozen, spending many hours (but not much money, thanks to thrift shops and arts and crafts supplies) and has branched out to also mimic NBA stars like Kemba Walker, Lebron James and Steph Curry.

Around the time he posted his most recent Cam Newton side-by-side — which featured a black peacoat with the fur collar, and the stogie in the mouth — he learned that his producer-pal LaKia Starks was leaving to take a job at Fox 5 in Atlanta. So on her last day (March 22), they hooked up for a dance encore, tackling the “Baby Shark challenge” in the studio in honor of her new adventure.

A week and a half later, he decided to make another dance video for Instagram, this time sans partner.

It would make him Insta-famous.

‘I wouldn’t be terrible at it’

The “Slide Like This challenge” is nothing new.

Inspired by an Internet-hit song titled “Slide Like This Krewlibs, Pt. 2” (created by a rapper known as Mr. Hotspot), people have been dancing to it and posting clips of their choreography for more than three years. But they seem to never fall too far out of favor — or too far away from people’s social-media feeds.

So when one popped up in Kosir’s not long ago, he thought it might make fresh inspiration for his own content.

“I saw that ‘Slide Like This challenge’ pop up in an ad for TikTok (an app for creating and sharing short videos), and I could not stop watching it. ... It’s by the Williams Family. I must have watched that 200 times. No joke. I was just like, ‘This is unbelievable.’ And I go, ‘I can do this.’ Or at least, I thought, I wouldn’t be terrible at it.”

So on April 2, he watched it on repeat before he went to bed; the next morning, he got up and rehearsed it three or four times in front of the mirror; then he went in and cut the 34-second clip in the studio in two takes. (“I like to not rehearse the dance too much, because I like to be sort of surprised if and when I hit the moves.”)

Almost immediately after he posted it, people were tagging other users in the comments, and they were doing so in large numbers — which can often be a sign that a social-media post is going to blow up. He’s only 35, but that’s ancient to kids these days, and there was just something about seeing a neatly groomed white guy in a crisp suit morph his face into funny expressions while dorkily but admirably hitting a variety of viral-dance moves to a hip-hop beat.

The tipping point for Kosir came when an account called FunnyHoodVidz started following him, and then turned around and reposted his video with the caption “Did he kill it or nah?” for its 11.9 million followers.

Eventually, two other even-bigger accounts (WorldStar Hip Hop, with 22.3 million followers, and The Shade Room, with 15.2 million) did the same.

Within 24 hours, The Dancing Weatherman — or whatever you want to call him — was a bigger deal than The Rapping Weatherman had ever been.

Twenty-four hours after that, Kosir was in his car outside of that Hornets game thinking it was all about to go south very fast.

Where to go from here?

OK, OK. Maybe this set-up is all a little over-dramatic. But Kosir says he really was sitting there having a mild bout of anxiety last Friday night.

Minutes earlier, he’d been called out onto the floor of the arena during a break in the Hornets game against Toronto as part of a skit that started with Hornets mascot Hugo struggling with the moves to “Slide Like This.” “I think we got a little help for you right now,” arena co-host Fly Ty bellowed, as Kosir trotted out from the wings.

It was his big moment, except this time there would be no chance for a reshoot. And...

“They played the song, but I could barely, barely hear it,” Kosir says. “Because everyone’s talking, and those speakers are projecting out, not down, and so I don’t know what the hell I heard — it must have been the echo bouncing from the stadium onto the court. But I almost wet myself out there. In my mind, I go, ‘I’m gonna go viral for like screwing this up now, a day after I went viral for doing it decent.’ ”

As he ran back off the floor, he heard a fan say, loudly, in a groaning voice: “Ohhh-kaayyyYYY.”

“So I ran to my car and licked my wounds in the parking lot. I thought maybe in a couple of hours I was done for.” For half the game, he sat there “contemplating my life and what it had become,” he says, laughing. But after watching the replay on his phone in the car, and giving it all a chance to sink in, Kosir realized it wasn’t as bad as he thought.

He finally held his breath and posted it on Instagram with a caption explaining the echo problem and pointing out that he was a little off-beat, then went back in to watch the rest of the game.

The Hornets won a squeaker — and Kosir did, too: The post wound up with more than 66,000 likes and more than 1,000 overwhelmingly positive comments.

This past Tuesday, he posted another viral-dance video challenge, this time to Laavado’s “Switch It Up,” to his 318,000 followers. Wait, make that 319,000. Hold on, 320,000. It’s climbing by the hour.

And to think that as recently as Wednesday of last week, right before he posted the “Slide Like This” clip, he was pretty pleased with the fact that he had 5,000.

Still, don’t expect him to try to run off and join all the other Kylie Jenner wannabes.

“I love my job here,” Kosir says. “I worked hard to get here. I love my co-workers — Jason (Harper), and Page (Fehling), and Chuck (Roads) — they’re like my family. The idea of making money on social media is very intriguing, but it’s a little bit scary, just the unknown. So for now I’m just gonna do social media and the weather. 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.”

As for when the next dance is coming to his Instagram?

“I might back off on the dancing right now, because I don’t want to overdo it. But I don’t know. Give me a month.”

A sly grin appears on his face, as if his song parodies and his rap forecasts and his road-sign jokes and his homemade Cam Newton outfits and his goofy dances are all flashing before his eyes at once.

“I’m pretty sure,” Kosir says, still smiling, “that I’ll figure something out.”

Théoden Janes has spent 12 years covering entertainment and pop culture for the Observer. He also thrives on telling emotive long-form stories about extraordinary Charlotteans and — as a veteran of 20-plus marathons and two Ironman triathlons — occasionally writes about endurance and other sports.

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