Little Cat Feat
It's 10 a.m. Do you know where your cats are? According to Nohl Rosen, they're probably crapped out in front of the television, enjoying reruns of Seinfeld while you're at work. Rosen is co-owner and co-operator of Cat Galaxy, a Scottsdale-based Internet radio and TV station for cats that broadcasts 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at www.catgalaxymedia.com. The station -- which Rosen swears is run by his three cats, Isis, Icarus and Jade, who hold board positions and have titles like Station Manager and Program Director -- features music shows with names like "The Thursday Night Purr Party" and "Friday Night Feline Frenzy." Its television programs include talk shows and variety hours designed to amuse a feline crowd because, based on Rosen's -- I mean Isis' -- research, a ball of string just isn't enough anymore.
Rosen, who prefers to keep his age a mystery ("I'm in my 30s" is all he'll say), is dead serious about this "cats love TV" stuff. A few days after Cat Galaxy's fourth anniversary, I visited the station, which resides in a corner of Rosen's dirty, cramped Scottsdale apartment. While the rest of the staff napped and chased dust mice, Rosen and I talked about cats as television executives, the effects of too much TV on impressionable kittens, and the importance of a good Stargate rerun.
New Times: You don't look insane. But you run a TV station for cats.
Nohl Rosen: It's Internet radio and TV. It's not the same. You have to throw away that human thinking. That's what we do here at the station. We're the only feline-run radio and TV station in existence.
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NT: There must be a reason for that.
Rosen: Yes. One day I was on the couch and Isis was meowing. She didn't want food or to play. I tuned in to what she was thinking and it was about the funk CD sitting on the coffee table. I put it in the stereo, pressed "Play," and she relaxed. And Cat Galaxy was born.
NT: Do cats need TV and radio?
Rosen: That's like asking if humans need TV. But TV for cats is not a new concept. All three of my cats like to watch TV. Lots of cats do. Some are couch potatoes -- it's a personal choice.
NT: They actually sit and watch TV? Are they following the story?
Rosen: I think they really do. Isis likes to watch Stargate and M*A*S*H and a lot of DVDs. For her birthday, I bought her Seabiscuit, so she could watch the horsies run. And she never misses the evening news.
NT: Your cat watches the news.
Rosen: Right. Just because they have four legs and a tail doesn't mean they can't understand. I push the envelope. I like to blaze trails that have never been blazed before. Isis started this [TV and radio] station, but if I had been one of those humans who shut their brain off, their heart off, if I hadn't opened up my mind and listened, there wouldn't be a Cat Galaxy.
NT: Then where would we be?
Rosen: Or there would be a Cat Galaxy, but it would be very bland: chirping birds and nature sounds and all of that. I think well beyond that. Cats are very intelligent creatures. There was one nature station that had croaking frogs. Cats listened a little bit, but then they said, "Ah, put it back on the music."
NT: Do you use TV as a bargaining tool, as in, "If you don't bury that dead mouse you brought home, no TV tonight"?
Rosen: I'm a pretty loose parent. I let my cats get away with a lot. So I haven't tried that yet. But mine might say, "As soon as you leave the house, we're turning the TV on." They might get even by throwing a party while I'm at the store.
NT: What shows should I keep my cats away from?
Rosen: Don't let them watch X-rated stuff. Or shows that are boring that might put them to sleep.
NT: But they're cats. They're always asleep.
Rosen: That's what you think. Cats have a very busy life once we leave them alone.
NT: Do you think too much TV is leading to obesity in kitties?
Rosen: Anything is possible, but we as humans have to take a little bit of responsibility for that -- nutrition and all. Cats are like kids.
NT: I see that Isis is the Cat Galaxy station manager. How does she make decisions about what goes on the air?
Rosen: If she doesn't like something, she leaves the room. She makes her choices very known, which is why we've had so much success with the station. Also because we play all kinds of music except country.
NT: Cats don't like country music?
Rosen: Apparently not. My cats have pretty much spoken. Also they don't like classical, unless it's the hipper classical stuff. But every night when I put together playlists, the cats really put them together. The one time they let me play what I wanted to was on my birthday.
NT: And how do you pay these cats for their services? Because if you're not paying them, you're just exploiting their talent for choosing the right TV show.
Rosen: They get their treats. They get toys. Whatever they want, I do what I can to get it for them. I mean, I'm not one of those people who's going to buy them a $3,000 diamond collar.
NT: Why, of course not!
Rosen: These cats like simple stuff. They've got a place to sleep, a TV to watch, a radio station to run.
NT: Okay. Are you for real?
Rosen: Oh, yeah. Very real. Channel 12 news was just here, and we proved it to them. And we're getting humans who are writing to say, "Our cats are right there at the computer when I turn it on." Cat people are kind of a special class of people who see cats as family members. You have cats. So when you go on vacation, do you find yourself thinking, "I really wish I could take my cats with me"?
NT: No. It never crosses my mind. They're cats. They're supposed to stay at home and sleep on the couch.
Rosen: Oh. Because I'm actually doing a radio talk show next week, and I wanted to bring one of the cats with me. But since my cats work [at the station] all week, they like to relax on the weekend. They like to have their weekends off. So they said "No."
NT: Maybe you can advise me. I've been having trouble with my 7-month-old kitten, who's been listening to a lot of Judas Priest and Metallica lately. I really don't want a headbanger cat . . .
Rosen: Why not? If it makes her happy, why would you want to take it away from her? Isis is an Ozzy Osbourne fan. George Benson, too -- she loves smooth jazz. And cats really love flamenco music. Icarus likes a little bit more of the harder stuff, like Jimmy Eat World. When it comes to radio for cats, you just have to open up your mind and listen.
NT: My other cat is interested in breaking into show business. Do you hire on-air talent here?
Rosen: If a cat wants to break into show business, don't do it because you want to get fame and fortune for yourself. If the cat enjoys it, yeah. I guess it's worth it. I didn't start this station to feed my own ego. It was to entertain cats.
NT: I gotta go now. If I stay away from home too long, the cats get depressed and won't speak to me for hours.
Rosen: Trust me. They're keeping themselves busy. You only think they're missing you. But what they're really doing is watching TV.
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