On-air personality Joey Naples, AKA “King of Cool,” passed away on May 17. CONTRIBUTED/Via Facebook

Nominations for the inaugural Best of Upper Keys are a few days away. Upper Keys residents and others have the chance to choose some of the best food and drinks in town, the top businesses in town and the brightest within the island communities. 

For one local radio personality, a campaign to nominate the “King of Cool” as a finalist for best celebrity began more than a week-and-a-half ago. 

Voting for the Best of the Upper Keys’ 50 categories began on Sept. 16. Not long after the release of categories, Thunder Country radio’s Dougie Hitchcock took to Facebook, urging people to put his name in for best celebrity. But he started to think, talked to other people and decided to stop the effort. 

Hitchcock decided to put up a different post, this time urging people to vote the late Joey Naples as best celebrity. 

Naples passed away at the age of 61 on May 17, 2022 after a long battle with cancer. 

Naples’ 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.

“I would love it. I know his son would love it too. All his fans would love it,” Hitchcock said. “Everybody loved Joey. He was there for everybody no matter what a good mood or a bad mood he was in. He was always ready to have a cocktail with you, give you his shirt off his back and help you with whatever you need help with. And he was a great damn entertainer too.”

Naples 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’s Sandbar Rooftop Bar and other local establishments and events. He also supported community events, including the annual Toys for Tots drive and Relay for Life. 

“He was just such a lovable person. You couldn’t help but like Joey,” Rick Lopez, general manager at Florida Keys Media, told the Keys Weekly following his passing in May. “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.”

Hitchcock said if there’s a perfect person who deserves to be the best celebrity in the Upper Keys, it’s Joey Naples. 

“It would be a great thing,” he said. 

People can vote once per day for all categories now through 11:59 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 30. So visit daily throughout the rest of the nomination process to propose your favorite finalists. The top three nominations in each category are placed on the finalists’ ballot. (We do not create the top three — a commonly asked question.)

The top three nominees in each category make the finalists’ ballot. The highest vote-getter among the finalists in each category receives the Best of the Upper Keys Award. Voting for the finalists in each category begins at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 7 and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 24 at
During this stage, voters can submit one ballot per day. So visit often throughout the process and submit one ballot a day. Updates and reminders will be provided at, in our daily e-blast, Upper Keys Weekly print editions and social media. The winners’ celebration is Nov. 5 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Whale Harbor Events.

Jim McCarthy is one of the many Western New Yorkers 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 he graduated from St. Bonaventure University in 2014. In his 4-plus 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. As writers, we are the ones who paint the pictures in the readers minds of the emotions, the struggles and the triumphs.” Jim is past president of the Key Largo Sunset Rotary Club, which is composed of energetic members who serve the community’s youth and older populations. Jim is a sports fanatic who loves to watch football, hockey, mixed martial arts and golf. He also enjoys time with family and his new baby boy, Lucas, who arrived Oct. 4, 2022.