Radio reporter Kevin Killeen hated February for most of his life. He didn’t realize the rest of the world did, too—until this week.
“February is the worst month of the year, but it’s an honest month,” Killeen begins a two-minute diatribe that he filmed six years ago for KMOX in St. Louis that has gone globally viral.
“It’s a month that doesn’t hold up life any better than it really is.”
The video, which has been watched nearly a million times on Twitter since it was posted there on Tuesday, struck a chord for those who share Killeen’s apathy toward the shortest month of the year. Killeen, 61, told The Daily Beast that the response has been humbling—and somewhat cathartic.
“I’m just very flattered that all this rambling meant something to anybody,” he said Saturday. “A lot of people out there feel like this is their anthem for February haters.”
The video offered an analogy for every gripe. Killeen points to St. Louis buildings standing under gray skies, comments on a broken umbrella thrown in a trash can (“The expedition is getting desperate—people are throwing things aside”), and laments the lack of people, animals, and nature along the downtown St. Louis streets.
“Nobody’s tap-dancing or breaking into a Rodgers & Hammerstein song,” Killeen says in a voiceover. “It’s their lunch hour and they’re just barely able to get across the street and hunker over a bowl of chili.”
Killeen said the idea for the video stemmed partly from his own history. His family owned a large Bible that held the names of various family members. His dad Tom would remark to him, “Look at all the people who died in our family in February” before eventually instilling a lifelong lesson: “If you lived through February, you’ll live another year.”
That creed, combined with Missouri’s usual winter weather, seemed to be a perfect setup for the topic.
“We get so many dreary stretches of days here in Missouri,” he told The Daily Beast. “All your nutrients are at a low level. By that time of year, you just feel your tank is on empty.”
So on Feb. 8, 2016, Killeen set out with his video editor, Amity Shedd, and their cameraman, setting up shots and capturing background footage to create their package. It wasn’t a tough sell to the news division, Killeen said. “I had complete autonomy.”
The “February” video wasn’t out of character for Killeen, Shedd told The Daily Beast. He would often come into work ruminating on ideas for his “Whole ‘Nother Story” AM radio segment, which had recently launched a video component. Other episodes include Killeen’s take on the 2015 film The Revenant, which featured him crawling around his office toward the coffee machine in imitation of Leonardo DiCaprio crawling on the ground after fighting a bear.
When he pitched the “February” idea to Shedd, she said, she didn’t think it would perform well, but she decided to let Killeen take the lead.
“That’s the way he thinks, that’s the way his brain works,” said Shedd, 31, who now works at an advertising agency. “That’s just classic Kevin.”
After Killeen jotted down some notes the night before, the three filmed, edited and shared the video within a day (“It was a slow news day,” Shedd said). Killeen ended the video with his father’s saying—which later struck him eerie since his father had died on Feb. 4, 2008.
“My father’s warning about February came true,” he said. “He had a one-in-12 shot of being right, but he did die in February.”
Six years later, Killeen said he appreciated how the video has resonated with a vast audience. He said he’s seen an “unusual array of responses”: People think he should seek counseling, go into a mental asylum, or marry a woman who offered to hunker down over a bowl of chili.
This weekend, he’s just reading the responses and looking forward to his favorite time of year, the first day of spring—all with a sense of humor.
“When you complain in a humorous way, you get to complain, but people around you laugh a little,” he said. “It does something for them and you in a way.”