WBEZ’s pre-summer pledge drive gets catty

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“Research says cute cat videos make people happy,” according to Chicago’s WBEZ. And happy people donate to public broadcasting stations. So guess what? For your enjoyment, videos of cats posing as pubradio personalities. Don’t miss Terry Gross’s wig.

UPDATE: Justin Kaufmann, executive producer of WBEZ’s Midday Talk, tells Current that the videos have been up about three weeks now, with new additions weekly. The idea bubbled up in brainstorming session that included the web team and development staff; filmmaker Steve Delahoyde directed and edited. “He came up with the plan on how to efficiently wrangle and film cats,” Kaufmann said. “He has a future in nature documentaries.”

So where did the cats come from? “We did four days of intense workshops, auditions and callbacks — no, wait, check that. A co-worker had three cats,” Kaufmann said. “We went to her basement and filmed on location.” Cats would rotate in and out, when one would quit or refuse to get in the box. Production techniques included “a lot of cat treats, shouting (‘Joey! Joey! Look up Joey!’) and laser pointers.”

Judging from retweets and Facebook shares, the videos are a hit. “We definitely have succeeded in raising awareness for the WBEZ brand and the fact that we are raising money.”

The biggest negative comment? “Why cats? You should have used dogs.”