NOEL KING, HOST:
In Kentucky, there are at least 120 cases of COVID-19, and so 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time has become very important to people who live there because that is when they get to hear Governor Andy Beshear, a Democrat.
(SOUNDBITE OF MONTAGE)
ANDY BESHEAR: All right, good afternoon. This is our 5:00 p.m...
This is our 5 o'clock...
Our 5 o'clock update on the coronavirus.
KING: Every day, he assures his constituents.
(SOUNDBITE OF MONTAGE)
BESHEAR: We're going to make it through this.
We're going to make it through this.
I want to start the way we always start, and that's reaffirming that we will get through this.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Governor Beshear's briefings started weeks ago. Erin Keane only recently realized they were becoming a thing. She is editor-in-chief of Salon and based in Kentucky.
ERIN KEANE: I was noticing that my group texts of, like, Louisville-based friends - which are mostly but not entirely women - they were citing, like, what Andy said or, you know, ooh, I have to go watch Andy; it's time for beers with Beshear at 5 o'clock (laughter).
KING: The governor's calming presence and his use of repetitive catchphrases in addition to his fast action during this crisis has led to a kind of online crush.
INSKEEP: Yeah, it's a little like Andrew Cuomo of New York - people are paying attention well beyond his jurisdiction. An ocean of memes and videos celebrates Beshear - Beshear as Mr. Rogers, as Captain America, as Ryan Gosling. Keane, who wrote a story about Beshear fandom, says the briefings have become must-see TV.
KEANE: And all the sort of, like, reassuring cast of characters, too, has suddenly injected, I think, a lot of Kentuckians with a sense of stability and predictability during a time when the news cycle is moving so fast.
KING: People in other states may be a little envious or offering to trade their governors for Beshear. And you can even get in Andy Bae-shear (ph) T-shirt.
KAYLA FUGATE: I like to call him Daddy Andy just because I look forward to 5 p.m. Eastern Time so he can tell me that it's going to be OK.
INSKEEP: Kayla Fugate is a public defender in Bowling Green, Ky., and part of a Facebook group - a 100,000-member Facebook group - that is dedicated to praising Governor Beshear's handling of the pandemic.
KING: Chase Hale (ph) of Corbin, Ky., is also impressed.
CHASE HALE: He really puts everybody at ease, and I've appreciated that he has taken some really firm action on this. He's just been very decisive and tactful with his words, and I feel like I've not been left in the dark in any way.
KING: Hale is a registered Republican, but he says he'd consider voting for the Democrat Beshear in the next election.
INSKEEP: Wait a minute - someone crossing party lines to vote? That would be the strangest development yet. This is NPR News.
KING: Can I laugh at that? (Laughter).
KING: That was really funny (laughter).
INSKEEP: Yes, you can laugh at that.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.