Host: Nobody in Manatee County politics gets spared by the anonymous makers of “The Real KVO”. Marc Masferrer, the former Bradenton Herald editor and now blogger and fan, calls the cartoon character the “most-hated puppet in Manatee County not controlled by a real estate developer”. The Real KVO is a furry, blue Muppet-like character with a high-pitch voice, and KVO is short for Kevin-Kyle Kaczynski Von Oswald. Kevin-Kyle could be well on his way to eclipsing the original KVO – that’s Kevin Van Ostenbridge, the county commissioner who is running for re-election. Eclipse, at least on the World Wide Web. Our news team took a close look at the “Real KVO”.
Johannes Werner: That’s the intro of every episode of the Real KVO.
It’s more than just a character. It’s a whole brand that takes a lot of work, and probably money to put together. The Real KVO is a cartoon character. It’s a cartoon series, now in its sixth episode. It’s a fake campaign website. It’s a merch store. The website even comes with a donation button that actually works, with the plea of “It’s hard out here for a puppet”.
And it’s a mystery so far — because no one, at least with name, address and phone number, claims ownership of the Real KVO.
There is an instant messaging tool on the website. Using that tool, we asked who is producing that tool. Hours later, we got this response:
“Greetings and salutations. My name is Kevin-Kyle Kaczynski Von Oswald XVII. Myself along with my campaign team have been documenting and producing the videos as a go along the campaign trail.”
We did not get a response from County Commissioner Kevin Van Ostenbridge.
The cartoon episodes are chockfull of details about local politics that leave even some insiders scratching their head. There are dozens of spoofs of day-to-day politics in Manatee County (which has been entertaining, even before the appearance of the Real KVO).
Colorful characters aside, it’s one-party rule and its excesses, culture war, and suburban sprawl that are driving the jokes. The main targets are sitting county commissioners and their unconditional support for developers, attempts to impose their power on smaller towns, and strife within the one party that runs, well, pretty much everything in the county. Some of the characters are Angry Little Kevin, Uncle Cruise, Cousin Raranda, DJ Satcher, and Sgt. Balding. It’s your turn to figure out who they’re mimicking.
The first episode is dedicated to the Manatee County Commission’s controversial decision to reduce wetland buffer protections. According to the Real KVO makers, the final vote and decision went down like this.
Angry Little Kevin: I would like to go – Cruise is on the board. Uncle Cruise:. Angry Little Kevin: But it’s rubber. So as I was saying, I would like to put to a vote and … Sgt. Balding: I forced it! Angry Little Kevin: I guess it’s decided. The wetland buffer will be reduced to three inches, and … Cousin Raranda: Do you need a ruler to measure? Angry Little Kevin: … as is, with a vote of 6-1, with Uncle Cruise as the dissenting vote., this one’s for you! And now for a message from our sponsors.
JW: That vote is followed by a little excursion into culture wars.
Angry Little Kevin: … for a second agenda item, because Amanda with an ‘R’ has something that she would like to discuss with us, don’t you cousin Raranda? Wink, wink. Cousin Raranda: … and then violence. Yeah, yeah. Ban the books! Ban the books! To all the Manatee County residents, let me ask you: Would gay people have rights, if they didn’t know how to read them? Chorus: Oh, hell no!
JW: You get the gist.
Nobody gets spared. The targets of the jokes are also former politicians, candidates, even journalists. Mitch Malley, editor of the hard-hitting Bradenton Times, seems to be the subject of a t-shirt for sale on the merch page. It features a “Bitch O’Malley” logo in front, and his likeness, surrounded by the letters “Hot Ones” and a circle of fire on the back.
While pretty much everybody is the butt of jokes, the makers of the Real KVO have one political goal. Here it is, in the voice of the main character.
The Real KVO: My name is Kevin-Kyle Kaczynski Von Oswald XVII. I’m running for Manatee County Commission. Join me and vote this commission out, out out!
JW: Stay tuned: We’ll try to get to the bottom of this!
Reporting for WSLR News, this is Johannes Werner.
This story first aired on WSLR News and has been transcribed from a Feb. 2, 2024 radio broadcast.
WSLR News aims to keep the local community informed with its 1/2-hour local news show, quarterly newspaper and social media feeds. The local news broadcast airs on Wednesdays and Fridays at 6 pm. To learn more visit: wslr.org/news/
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