On-air personality Joey Naples, AKA “King of Cool,” passed away on May 17. VIA FACEBOOK

OceanView Inn & Sports Pub’s Tuesday jam night wasn’t the same without local icon and on-air personality Joey Naples. A radio favorite and the “King of Cool” passed away on May 17 after a long battle with cancer. He was 61 years of age. 

“He just loved the Keys and where he was,” said Gary Dunn, owner of the OV. “Joey was responsible for basically starting jam night. I just got up and made the announcement (at jam night) that he passed. That was really hard to do.” 

Naples rocked the Upper Keys with Clear Channel Media and then with the Florida Keys Media family, which he’d been with since 2014. Before that, the transplant from West Palm Beach served as senior director for an NBC television station for 25 years. 

“He was just such a lovable person. You couldn’t help but like Joey,” said Rick Lopez, general manager at Florida Keys Media. “When he was on the air he was so positive and just loved being in the Keys, especially in the Upper Keys. You could feel it every time he opened the microphone.”

His sense of humor and admiration for music graced the airwaves on Sun 103.1 during “Joey in the Midday” from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and “Night Train” on Saturday nights from 7 p.m. to midnight. He conducted live broadcasts at the OceanView Inn and welcomed a number of guests, from law enforcement to nonprofit leaders, during remote shows at Whale Harbor Sandbar and other local establishments and events. 

Gary Dunn, OceanView Inn & Sports Pub owner, and Joey Naples jam out. VIA FACEBOOK

“He didn’t want to stop working,” Lopez said. “He told me, ‘If I stop working I’m going to die. I want to keep working.’ He wanted to stay on the air and felt he had to be there for his listeners. He did it his way.”

Naples gave back to the community in various ways, from the annual Toys for Tots drive to Relay for Life. He was also a beloved member of Florida Keys Elks Lodge 1872.

“For those who knew him personally and established a friendship with Joey, you knew it would be for life,” Ken Keidel wrote in a post. 

Naples’ good friend and Good Morning Islamorada radio show co-host, Dennis Ward, won’t forget the way the on-air personality treated people. Ward said he was always concerned about how they were doing. 

“One thing that sticks with me is you never heard him say one bad word about anybody. He always found a way to say something nice about them,” he said. “I’m gonna miss him. The community’s going to miss him. He was great for the community.”

Ward said Good Morning Islamorada will likely go on with Dougie Hitchcock stepping in as co-host. Ward said they’re looking to bring back the radio show May 31. Lopez said they’re working to determine what’s next for Naples’ other shows.

“He was a legend in the Upper Keys,” Lopez said. 

Dunn said Naples always enjoyed getting on the microphone to tell jokes and watching people laughing and dancing during jam night. Dunn said he has many memories surrounding Naples, including one following Hurricane Irma. Naples had spent 70 hours in the studio with no electricity or water, and “he just stayed on the air the whole time.”

“I said, ‘How did you survive?’ He said, ‘Well, me and Capt. Smirnoff.’”

Lopez also recalls how a generator kept Naples, Bill Hoebee and Kim Chesher on the air. 

“He had to get on air and get our information. That’s what we do in biz,” Lopez said. “He took that to heart and got that done. In one of the biggest events in our lifetime, he was a calming voice over the radio in those times.” 

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Jim McCarthy is a northerner who escaped the snow and frigid temperatures for warm living by the water. A former crime & court reporter and city editor for two Western New York newspapers, Jim has been honing his craft since his graduation from St. Bonaventure University in 2014. In his 3 years in the Keys, Jim has enjoyed connecting with the community. “One of my college professors would always preach to be curious,” he said. “Behind every person is a story that’s unique to them, and one worth telling. Behind every community is resiliency and resolve in difficult times. As writers, we are the ones who paint the pictures in the readers minds of the emotions, the struggles and the triumphs.” Jim serves as President of the Key Largo Sunset Rotary Club, which is composed of energetic members who serve the community’s youth and older populations. “It’s a group that lives by the motto ‘Service Above Self,’” he says. “We’ve done service projects at the Tavernier nursing home, sitting down and socializing with residents. “We’ve also supplied cameras to young students exploring the Keys ecosystem.” Jim loves sports, family and time exploring underneath the water depths.