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Home / Articles / Best Of / Best of Utah /  Best of Utah 2012: Media & Politics Page all
Best of Utah

Best of Utah 2012: Media & Politics Page all

By City Weekly Staff
Posted // March 28,2012 -

Best Inspirational Newsie
Mary Nickles, KUTV 2
Most news reporters do anything they can to avoid being part of the story, but this KUTV 2 morning anchor couldn’t avoid doing so when a mammogram she got to show viewers how easy the procedure was ended up showing some malignant cancer cells. Nickles (center) kept right on working after a lumpectomy and through chemo and radiation treatment, and kept Channel 2 viewers appraised of her ordeal via a blog, MarysCancerStory.blogspot.com.
KUTV 2, weekdays, 5-8 a.m. & noon, Connect2Utah.com

MaryNickles.jpg
Mary Nickles (center), KUTV 2

Best TV Anchorman RC_bug.jpg
Mark Koelbel, KUTV 2
Years before KUTV 2’s ratings resurgence, evening anchor Mark Koelbel was handily winning this category—so, in a small way, City Weekly can take some credit for helping 2 finally become No. 1. You’re welcome; give us a wave across Main Street. Why do our voters keep coming back to Koelbel, even when shiny new suit-and-tie challengers are popping up all the time at competing stations? One newscast will make anyone a believer: He’s got the look, the skills and the rhythm (as we’ve mentioned before, Koelbel is a damned fine drummer) that most news-desk jockeys can only hope to emulate, much less match.
KUTV 2, weeknights, 5 p.m. & 10 p.m. Connect2Utah.com
2. Dan Evans, Fox 13
3. Ron Bird, KUTV 2

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Hope Woodside, Fox 13
Guess what? This makes 15 wins in a row for Fox 13’s Hope Woodside—any contenders for the Best TV Anchorwoman tiara (actually, it’s a plaque, but we may have to make a crown for this landmark occasion) had better get comfortable; you’ll have to pry this from her cold, immaculately manicured fingers. “Winning this for 15 years feels awesome—especially when the competition is so tough,” Woodside humbly says. “Winning would give anyone a big head, but there’s always Facebook. Just before I got the news of this award, I was reading a comment from a guy who informed me my roots were showing! It keeps you humble.”
Fox 13, 5 p.m. & 9 p.m., Fox13Now.com, Twitter: @HopeWoodside
2. Mary Nickles, KUTV 2
3. Shauna Lake, KUTV 2

Best TV News Reporter RC_bug.jpg
Chris Vanocur, ABC 4
First, a plea to ABC 4: Give Chris Vanocur’s weekend talk show, On the Record, a better timeslot—8:30 Sunday mornings just doesn’t work for us. How about 11 p.m. Sunday, after Sports Zone? Or on sister station CW30 as a lead-in to Saturday Night Live? Set him up with a comedy monologue and a band—could be good. In more reasonable hours on ABC 4, Vanocur the reporter is your No. 1 source for local political news and, more pressing, liquor-law wackiness—seriously, he’s like the John Stossel of booze news, minus the mustache. Perhaps you other reporters should get your priorities in order.
ABC4.com, Twitter: @CVan4
2. Ben Winslow, Fox 13
3. Chris Jones, KUTV 2

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KUTV 2
Proving its 2011 rise to dominance wasn’t a fluke (or the result of truckloads of freebie giveaways), KUTV 2 finished strong again this year—both in local ratings and, more importantly, our readers’ Best of Utah voting. Being affiliated with network powerhouse CBS doesn’t hurt, but KUTV’s uniformly solid newscasts and slick presence across mornings, afternoons, evenings and weekends, not to mention a relatively low turnover rate that keeps familiar faces on the screen, can’t be discounted. We’re still not sure what that afternoon “All-Lady Newscast” promotion was about, but who are we to argue with a media outlet that grabs these kinds of numbers?
Connect2Utah.com
2. Fox 13
3. KSL 5

Best Weather Reporter RC_bug.jpg
Debbie Worthen, KUTV 2
When you’ve got a talented employee, it’s smart to get as much out of him or her as possible. In Worthen’s latest decade-long stint at KUTV 2—following a brief traffic-reporter gig in the late ’90s—she has been an appealing meteorologist for 2 News This Morning. But she has also lent her energy and enthusiasm to remote spots out in the snow, in-studio shenanigans and hosting the daily Fresh Living program. That’s one versatile weather-guesser.
Connect2Utah.com, Twitter: @DebbieWorthen
2. Brett Benson, Fox 13
3. Damon Yauney, Fox 13

Best Pairing of TV Reporters
Scott McKane & Cristina Flores
Fox 13 reporter Scott McKane and KUTV 2 weekend anchor/reporter Cristina Flores may spend their workdays chasing down stories for different TV stations, but when they get home, the story they’re focused on is what’s going on with their three kids—the reporters have been married nearly 15 years. The secret to their success? McKane says it’s a work in progress: “We make it up as we go along.” Flores says it’s a juggling act. “We work opposite shifts and, until very recently, had no common days off. Otherwise, our children would spend most of their lives in daycare. We hope someday they will appreciate what we do for them and find us a nice nursing home.”
Scott McKane, Fox13Now.com; Cristina Flores, KUTV 2, 6 & 10 p.m.

Best TV News Hottie RC_bug.jpg
Nineveh Dinha, Fox 13
Sure, it’s a silly category—they can’t all be as deadly serious as Best Salad. Fox 13’s Nineveh Dinha literally owns this Best of Utah title, having won it all four years of its existence, but the reporter/weekend anchor doesn’t know the toll it takes on her co-workers. “It happens all the time,” says fellow reporter Ben Winslow. “I’ll go out on a story, and people will come up to the Fox 13 news truck and ask, ‘Where’s Nineveh?’ Or I’ll show up for an interview and get a look of disappointment because ‘they didn’t send Nineveh—she’s so beautiful.’ I’ve learned to roll with it. After all, I sit next to her at work: Besides being radioactively hot, she’s incredibly smart and a damned good reporter.”
Fox 13, weekends, 5 & 9 p.m., Fox13Now.com, Twitter: @NinevehDinha
2. Kim Fischer, ABC 4
3. Kerri Cronk, Fox 13

Best Weekend Weatherman
John Goulet, Fox 13
He’s done time with KUTV 2 and KSL 5, but weatherman John Goulet (no relation to Robert, as far as we know) seems much more at home in the looser weekend environs of Fox 13. His loopy, unpredictable delivery never fails to surprise viewers and, occasionally, his fellow newscasters. Also, his Twitter feed is the most entertaining of any local meteorologist’s: “Summer breeze … makes me feel fine. I think Snoop sang that,” “Morning showers and afternoon T-storms. Oh, the rapture. I miss Saturday,” and the hits don’t stop.
Fox 13, weekends, 5 & 9 p.m., Fox13Now.com, Twitter: @JohnGoulet

Best Local Cable Show
Big Movie Mouth-Off
Jeff Vice and Jimmy Martin have fast become the biggest names in televised movie reviews in the Salt Lake City area, and it’s no mistake. Filmed at one of our favorite watering holes, Brewvies, their funny, beer-fueled Big Movie Mouth-Off is funny, entertaining and insightful, even when they’re dead wrong about a movie. And their Facebook page is the site of dozens of movie giveaways every month, as well as offering a daily reader poll, making it a must-like.
Comcast 6 and Xfinity On Demand, Facebook.com/BigMovieMouthOff

Best Weekday Wake-up
Jamie Gadette, KRCL 90.9
The standard morning banter and news rips are fine for most, but sometimes all you need from your radio in the a.m. is straight-up good music and a less talk/more rock touch—and no one on the local FM airwaves does that better than KRCL’s Jamie Gadette. She knows her stuff (after all, she was City Weekly’s music editor for five years), striking the right balance of current indie-hipsters and classic rockers and the best of everything in between, making segues from Joan As Policewoman into James Brown seem as natural as her leading the Black Keys into Little Richard. If over-over-overplayed Top 40 hits and “morning zoo” noise leave you cold, this is where you should be.
90.9 FM, weekdays, 6-10 a.m., KRCL.org

Best Comeback
Kerri Cronk, Fox 13
In August 2011, Good Day Utah anchor Kerri Cronk was involved in a hit-and-run incident; her on a bicycle vs. a car whose driver has yet to be caught. Cronk suffered fractured neck vertebrae, a separated shoulder, a concussion and other injuries, but was back on the air by October, as cheerful and positive as ever. “I feel like I want to give the driver the benefit of the doubt,” Cronk told City Weekly shortly after the accident. “That there is some legitimate reason as to why they left, because if not, then they left not knowing whether I was dead or alive, and that’s heartbreaking that another human being could do that.” Almost as heartbreaking: The thought of mornings without Cronk—thanks for coming back so soon.
Weekdays, 6-9 a.m., 11 a.m., Fox13Now.com

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Kerri Cronk, Fox 13

Best Anchors Away
ABC 4 News
After ABC 4’s news team came in fourth in the November 2011 sweeps, station management decided on another kind of “sweep” for its anchors. A substantial shuffle resulted in amiable staffers Brent Hunsaker and Kylie Conway heading up the 10 p.m. news. Anchoring the 5 p.m. newscast is former a.m. anchor Don Hudson and Kim Fischer, from KXAS in Dallas. Dan Plante, from KUSI in San Diego, and Ann Sterling from Los Angeles’ KCBS/KCAL were brought in for Good Morning Utah. And then there’s the new weather guy, Jim Kosek, a Penn State alumnus known as a forecasting wizard. Let’s hope the fickle winds of TV ratings don’t blow them all away.

Best Radio Resurrection
101.9 The End
After 101.9 The End dumped its DJs and moved to “Gen-X” music in 2010, some listeners mourned and some rejoiced. But most, apparently, moved on from the station, which became a bizarre mishmash of Puff Daddy, Pearl Jam, Backstreet Boys and Ace of Base. The End eventually returned to the “alternative” format, and is now again pumping out the intense electronic sounds of The Cure, Depeche Mode and Duran Duran on an hourly basis. Our moody, alternative ears are grateful.
101.9 FM, 1019TheEnd.com

Best Radio Station RC_bug.jpg
X96
We asked midday DJ Marci Wiser to give us a reason why Best of Utah voters still love alternative-rock station X96—she gave us 10: “1. X96 isn’t corporate, and we don’t take anything too seriously, except our listeners and the music we play. 2. Bill Allred’s abs are hot. 3. If we play a crappy record, trust me, our listeners rip our heads off—we’ve learned to avoid musical mistakes. 4. Who needs ESPN? Gina Barberi’s sports reports are incredible. 5. If you don’t listen, Kerry Jackson and the Geek Show will force you to read comic books. 6. Richie Steadman … He’s not a reason people like X96, but I had to give him a plug. 7. Sean Demry’s too new to hate, so we’re good there. 8. Corey O’Brien gives stuff away all night. Who doesn’t like free stuff? 9. The suits upstairs are afraid of the DJs, so it’s like a keg party downstairs. People like keg parties. 10. I pay people to listen to my shift. Actually, we’re just really lucky to have kick-ass listeners—we’re all a great big happy, dysfunctional family.”
96.3 FM, X96.com
2. KRCL 90.9
3. KZHT 97.1

Best Locals-Only Radio Show
The Salt Lake Soundcheck, KBER 101.1
Since 2005, host Helmut Von Schmidt (and, for the past couple of years, partner-in-rock Metalhead Murphy) has spun and interviewed local bands Saturday nights on KBER 101.1; if you don’t follow the tightly formatted commercial-radio biz, you don’t realize what a rarity Utah has in The Salt Lake Soundcheck. The hour-long show, like KBER, leans toward rock, but SLS is open to all comers regardless of genre—as long as it doesn’t suck, your band is eligible for 3 1/2 minutes of weekend fame. So send Helmut and Metalhead your non-sucky songs, already.
101.1 FM., Saturdays, 6-7 p.m., KBER.com

Best Radio Immigration Advocate
Doug Wright, KSL Radio
When it comes to the subject of immigration, KSL talk show host Doug Wright, who usually leans right to our left, is the voice of reasonableness in the face of often irate irrationality. After yet another caller demands to know why Wright doesn’t understand the meaning of the word “illegal,” you can all but hear his teeth grinding as he struggles to stay cool while explaining both the history of immigration in this country and the role that immigrants, documented and not, play in society, economically, socially or culturally. Keep it up, sir!
KSL 102.5 FM/1160 AM, weekdays, 10 a.m.-noon, KSL.com, Twitter: @DougWrightShow

Best Public Radio Station RC_bug.jpg
KUER 90.1
Whether it’s that velvety smooth voice of RadioWest host Doug Fabrizio, the late-night jazz stylings of Steve “Daddy-O” Williams or the station’s varied coverage, readers and listeners find KUER the ultimate in compelling radio content. Discussions range from the life of van Gogh to the fight for public lands in Utah, plus spotlights on comedians, touring acts and local theater productions. KUER also provides regular updates from the Legislature and various campaign trails, making it the go-to spot on the dial for local and national issues.
90.1 FM, KUER.org
2. KRCL 90.9
3. KCPW 88.3

Best Local on Twitter RC_bug.jpg
Ben Winslow, Fox 13
Did you jump on Twitter, follow a bunch of celebrities and people imported from your e-mail, and then wonder why Twitter is so boring? Well, you’re doing it wrong. The best way to fill up your feed—and keep up with everything you need to know about Utah news—is simply to follow Ben Winslow. The Fox 13 reporter tweets upward of 40 times a day, a mix of on-the-scene breaking news, replies, retweets of other news sources, song recommendations and photos of himself reporting from remote Utah locations. He’s truly outstanding in the field.
@BenWinslow
2. @OccupySaltLake
3. @WWJDinSLC

Best Local Podcast RC_bug.jpg
Geek Show Podcast
This year we thought, “There are plenty of new local podcasts being produced; maybe we should un-retire the category now that Geek Show has some competition for votes.” Oh, and GSP panelist Shannon Barnson accosted us in a bar and demanded it. Turns out you can’t beat the Geeks when it comes to weekly audio goodness—another year, another landslide. Geek Show Podcast’s spirited (read: alcohol-boosted) debates and news bites about sci-fi, comics and video games are endlessly entertaining, even if Barnson, Kerry Jackson, Jeff Vice, Leigh George Kade, Scott Pierce and Jimmy Martin are only in it to crack one another up.
GeekShowPodcast.com
2. Soundwaves From the Underground, SLUG
3. Thank God I’m Atheist

Best Lefty Podcast
The Left Show
The label “lefty” would probably be considered “moderate” in any other state besides R-rated (Raging Right-wing Red) Utah. The first time City Weekly recognized commentator J.M. Bell with a Best of Utah award in 2010, he was promptly canned from his weekend slot by KSL Newsradio—related? It’s open to speculation (but not really). In summer 2011, Bell came back louder and left-er with a new roundtable crew (including Jake Winegar, Forrest Shaw, J.C. Carter and Eric Ethington) and The Left Show, a weekly self-produced podcast that takes the piss out of conservative politics, local and national, with equal parts vitriol and comedy, making for an hour-plus “radio” show (complete with swear jar) somewhere between The Daily Show and Real Time With Bill Maher. Making fun of Utah Republicans is an easy job, but someone has to do it.
TheLeftShow.com

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The Left Show

Best Dynamic Radio Duo
Elaine Clark & Benjamin Bombard, RadioWest
Admit it, you’ve got a little crush on Doug Fabrizio, don’t you? Sure you do. The venerable host of KUER’s RadioWest—which celebrated 10 years on the air in 2011—is a maestro of the airwaves, after all. But do you know where all that Fabrizio mojo comes from? Credit veteran producer Elaine Clark and boy wonder Benjamin Bombard, who go sleepless in Salt Lake City several nights a week to maintain the show’s reputation as the most well-oiled hour of news and information on the dial.
RadioWest, KUER 90.1/KUER.org, weekdays 11 a.m. & 7 p.m.

Best Pain
Paul Rolly, The Salt Lake Tribune
You know a columnist has made a mark in a community, especially a watchdog columnist like Paul Rolly, when people and politicians calculate their actions and hope they “don’t end up in Rolly.” That means Rolly keeps those people and politicians honest—or at least as far as honesty can be measured in Utah. Some people are so powerful or arrogant that they don’t care. But it’s a rare bird who wants to wake up only to find his or her name affixed to some kind of malfeasance or hypocrisy uncovered by Rolly and published in the Sunday-morning paper. Luckily for Rolly, there’s no shortage of human foibles or bad form for him to write about. To some amazement, he’s been covering Utah politics for decades and is still standing. The larger amazement: not only is he standing, but he also still cares.
SLTrib.com

Best Fat-Cat publisher
Utah Stories
Richard Markosian first published Utah Stories online in 2006, then later began printing it as a monthly pamphlet with an emphasis on content, not life-support ads, looking at everyday life and local business trends. He just kept chugging. Now that Markosian is cramming more and more ads into Utah Stories (a story in itself), we’d like to anoint him as the newest member of the Fat-Cat Publishers Club.
UtahStories.com

Best Retro “Radio” Station
KCQNUtah.com
Chat Tapp may have been “formally dismissed” from Simmons Media years ago after the great KJQ relaunch crashed and burned, but his love of New Wave music lived on, along with his passion for broadcasting. Much to his surprise, many of the town’s former radio talent felt the same way, which served as encouragement for Tapp to launch KCQNUtah.com. It’s an online radio station built in the same format of the original ’80s KJQ, with music of the era and hosted blocks and drops from personalities such as Stacee and Mister West.
KCQNUtah.com

Best MMA Watchers
FightingOutOf.net
Utah’s mixed-martial-arts scene is big, diverse and hard to keep up with. Luckily for fight fans, Jeff Dutcher’s FightingOutOf.net is a handy resource for keeping track of who wins every fight in Utah’s MMA scene and what local fights are coming up. Here you can see hometown favorite Josh “The People’s Warrior” Burkman duke it out in a Showdown event and track regional tournaments like the brutal Last Man Standing, showcasing the punchout/chokeout artistry of local fights like Brandon “The Murderer” Melendez. Local MMA aficionados who are looking for a fight to see need go no farther than this site.
FightingOutOf.net

Best Dance Your Assk Off
A.S.S.K. Radio
DJs of old Kenn Burrola and Sam Smith—once staples on the KRCL FM airwaves—didn’t fade from view when KRCL changed its format. They kicked off this soulful Internet radio station in 2010, bringing in pals like John “J.Mack” McNeil and Richard Reed (aka Uncle Jamm). DJs have their own playlists, but listeners can “ask” and their favorites will be played. Groove to jazz, soul, gospel, classic rap, hip-hop, R&B, Old Skool, house, club and underground tunes.
ASSKRadio.com

Best Self-Promoter
Bryan Young, Lost at the Con/Shinebox/Big Shiny Robot!
Bryan Young is, hands-down, the busiest guy in Utah media that you’ve never met. Aside being a founder of Shinebox Media and Big Shiny Robot! (as well as a contributor to City Weekly), the writer and producer has a long list of projects that makes you wonder when he sleeps. Included in that list: Geek Show Podcast panelist, Huffington Post correspondent, author of five fictional novels, nationally regarded Star Wars expert (he’s received personal invitations to Skywalker Ranch), independent film director, pub-quiz host, and soon—we hope—seller of an energy drink of whatever is keeping him going.

Best Local Blog/Site RC_bug.jpg
Gavin’s Underground
For all the grief some CityWeekly.net commentors give Gavin Sheehan, no one is out there more aggressively promoting local arts, businesses and bands, giving them a forum to reach an audience eager to hear about them. Being an artist can often relegate your message into white noise, but Sheehan has helped craft a way around that, allowing the spotlight to be shown where it deserves to be on a weekly basis.
CityWeekly.net/Underground
2. BigShinyRobot.com
3. IndieOgdenUtah.com

Best Hashtag With Legs
#letjeremydunk
Second-year Jazzman Jeremy Evans caught the attention of fans for his wide smile and his astonishing vertical leap, leading the always-brilliant local TV commentators to dub him the “Human Pogo Stick.” Stupid nicknames aside, a grass-roots Twitter campaign helped Evans get into the 2012 Slam Dunk contest, part of the run-up to the NBA’s All-Star Game, where his spectacular dunks captured the fan vote to secure him the Slam Dunk trophy. Next up: #letjeremyplay?

Best DIG-IN Podcast
The Let’s Go Eat Show
In case the wit and wisdom you can glean from Bill Allred every day via the Radio From Hell morning radio show on X96 just isn’t enough, here comes a big ol’ dash of Bill untethered, chatting over a meal with various movers and shakers from Salt Lake City. It’s a treat to listen to Allred dig into, say, the harsh professional landscape for older radio personalities with Tom Barberi, or the mind behind Sister Dottie Dixon, actor Charles Lynn Frost. If you haven’t joined Allred and his guests via your earphones, you’re missing out.
TheLetsGoEatShow.com

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The Let's Go Eat Show

Best Weber County Spotlight
IndieOgdenUtah.com
Ogden might reside somewhat in the shadow of Salt Lake City, but there’s more offbeat funkiness to O-Town than meets the eye. Mikaela Shafer and Jenny Shaw, as well as a slew of local contributors, explore the unique corners of their city on this website, from local music and recreation to reviews of new restaurants and spotlights of locally owned businesses. If you want unique experiences in unique places, they know how to point you in the right direction.
IndieOgdenUtah.com

Best Surprising Sidekick
Matt Harpring, Utah Jazz TV Color Man
When Matt Harpring was playing for the Utah Jazz, he seemed the embodiment of what former coach Jerry Sloan wanted in a player. He was kind of a hard-ass, a former college football player who took to the court, even when he was injured, and wasn’t afraid to mix it up with bigger, more athletic guys. Put Harpring behind a microphone and next to play-by-play stiff Craig Bolerjack, though, and suddenly he’s a light-hearted goofball, waxing on about his bad hair days and cracking wise during his live on-air commercials for things like a Jazz Cruise. Who knew he had it in him?
Twitter: @MHarpring15

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Matt Harpring

Best “Behind the Poster” Video
JimmerPoster.com’s “Making-Of”
Whenever I buy a poster, I know the first thing that comes to my mind: How in the world was this work of art created? The creators of an officially licensed Jimmer Fredette poster wanted to let us know last spring, when the website JimmerPoster.com featured not only an opportunity to buy a poster of the BYU hoops star, but a chance to see how it all went down, from applying makeup to figuring out whether it was better to be holding two balls (!) or just one (whew). The domain name has vanished since then, suggesting the phenomenon has run its course, but the 46 seconds of magic worthy of a DVD “extras” package fortunately lives on via YouTube.

Best Booster
Real Salt Lake Fan Jonah Gomez
Don’t get us wrong: Leo’s a fine mascot. But the real lion’s heart belongs to a pint-size soccer player named Jonah Gomez, who hasn’t let a rare blood disease—sickle hemoglobin D disease and pyruvate kinase deficiency, to be precise—affect his passion for Real Salt Lake. And the team has responded in kind, helping organize fundraisers and other events for the tiny hero, who has undergone open-heart surgery and is waiting for a bone-marrow donor. The team’s players have all been tested to see if they’re a match—and you should be, too: Go to DKMSAmericas.org for more information.
RealSaltLake.com

Best Fight Fan
Taylor Leavitt
When you talk to Taylor Leavitt about pro mixed martial arts or pro boxing—the two sports he and the other four commissioners of the Pete Suazo Utah Athletic Commission oversee—his face lights up with a fan’s passion. Describing his enthusiasm as “hokey,” Leavitt nevertheless displays an extremely in-depth knowledge of local fighters and fight lore. Watch him at work at a fight card, and he carries his authority with a gentle sincerity that has otherwise testy fighters listening attentively. As long as Leavitt is involved with the PSUAC, fighters know they have at least one voice in the commission who’s got their backs.

Best Little Soccer Club
Pride F.C.
In West Valley City, on Tuesday and Thursday nights, Latino children gather in a public park to pursue their dream of one day playing for Real Salt Lake. Their tutors and mentors are often their own undocumented fathers, organized by a father and son duo who also do not have citizenship. When City Weekly drew attention to their struggles to educate, discipline and ultimately serve Latino youth through soccer, a donor came forward with nets and balls. Along with dignity and focus, Pride brings a sense of hope to a community that has long been without such expectations.

Best Inspirational Sports Story
Utah Mexican Bobsled Team
In 2010, Mexican athlete Juan Jose Carlos Ruiz set up the Mexican Bobsled & Skeleton foundation to encourage kids of Mexican descent in Utah to train to represent Mexico in the 2012 Youth Winter Olympics. Ruiz gathered 11 hopefuls, some of whom have never been to Mexico, to train in Park City. Four were chosen to represent Mexico in the Youth Olympics. One of them, now 16-year-old Mia Mora, has gone through homelessness with her mother to achieve dreams she never would have thought of just a few years ago.
Facebook.com/MexicanBSF

Best Indie Football Team
Utah Blitz
For those of you looking for some football action between the regular NFL, college, high school and (if you can stomach it) the Blaze, Utah has one more team around, in the form of a Women’s Football Alliance team: the Utah Blitz. But don’t go looking for powder-puff or bikini-clad players; these women are real gridiron fighters, some of whom can and will hit and run as well as anyone playing college ball today. Their inclusion in the league has already spawned a second team in West Valley City, the Jynx, whom the Blitz will play twice during their third season.
UTBlitz.com

Best Way to Remain Relevant
Relevant
Landing somewhere between Project Runway and the Sundance Film Festival’s Labs series, Relevant is a unique model in the visual-arts world. This student-residency program simultaneously helps raise funds for the Kimball Arts Center during Park City’s Kimball Arts Festival and redefines how the center is transformative in the arts. The selected artists live in Park City for 10 days and are each paired with a mentor/established artist. They are given a theme, a budget and a deadline, then create a piece of art to be sold at the festival gala. It’s a stylish mix of stress, discovery, learning and growth.
KimballArtCenter.org

Best Place to Learn to Write Good
SLCC Community Writing Center
It’s been 10 years since the Community Writing Center opened its doors, and these pencil-pushers celebrated with a little shindig in October 2011. In conjunction, the CWC published a collection incorporating community-created work spanning the decade of local expression that they’ve helped create. The center believes everyone has a voice, and the staff strive to help people find theirs through writing groups, workshops, one-on-one mentorships, thematic classes and more. This is the place to learn to dot your t’s and cross your i’s—or something like that.
210 E. 400 South, Suite 8, 801-957-2192, SLCC.edu/CWC

Best Contender
Jose Haro
For his small, slight frame, you’d perhaps expect Jose Haro to be an artist or a dancer. He is both of these, but his artistry and footwork are dedicated to the sweet science of boxing, rather than more soulful endeavors. His steady advance as a pro-fighter has resulted in a six-win, no-loss record. With Utah’s boxing fans yearning for someone to root for, Haro just might be their man.
http://citywk.ly/GKQI4z

Best Museum Passion
The Leonardo Staff
After the Leonardo museum’s long-delayed opening in October 2011, it’s obvious how committed the staff is to breathing life into a concept that many were skeptical about. The enthusiastic volunteers who guide visitors around the interactive museum, and staff members who talk you through exhibits and activities all display the same smile of happiness that the museum has finally arrived.
209 E. 500 South, Salt Lake City, 801-531-9800, TheLeonardo.org

Best Radio Show RC_bug.jpg
Radio From Hell, X96
It doesn’t matter how many times we threaten to retire this award; loyal friends of the program would continue to vote Radio From Hell in, even if Kerry Jackson, Bill Allred and Gina Barberi have retired and the 30-year running Richie T. Experience is the only show left against The Cyborg Grant 3.0 & Amanda II, broadcast live from KSL’s moon station. A year’s worth of ratings dominance, two podcast spin-offs and their own Red as Hell Ale Squatters beer have helped solidify Radio From Hell’s position in the local community and culture for decades to come—you can’t “focus group” that.
96.3 FM, weekdays, 6-10 a.m., X96.com/rfh, Twitter: @RadioFromHell
2. RadioWest, KUER 90.1
3. Maximum Distortion, KRCL 90.9

Best Ritualistic Feeling
Mudson, Masonic Temple
Does the thought of being a part of something as it’s unfolding make you all tingly? What if the experience took place in the Salt Lake Masonic Temple on South Temple? Now you’re listening. Mudson, a series of works-in-progress dance pieces, was based on New York City’s Judson showcases. Choreographers show pieces in a low-tech setting to see the audience’s reactions and receive feedback before taking them to a stage. In 2011, Ashley Anderson, Juan Aldape, Sam Hanson, Emily Haygeman and others conjured up ritualistic feelings in the main hall, which is adorned with Old World Christian crosses, former Masons’ photos and eerie masks—a perfect backdrop for art.
LoveDanceMore.org/Mudson

Best British Accent
David Ivers, Dial M for Murder
Along with his duties as co-director of the Utah Shakespeare Festival, Ivers also shines as an actor, no more so than in 2011’s production of Dial M for Murder. What was most striking was his booming lead performance as a long-faded tennis star turned aspiring murderer. With his angular frame, his hands thrust in his trouser pockets, Ivers was the epitome of a scheming yet debonair Brit, complete with a perfect English accent. Ivers recognized that the character’s true nature was in his voice—bullying, loud, bombastic, authoritarian—and he executed it with true aplomb.
Utah Shakespeare Festival, Bard.org

Best Artistic Charity
Submerged In Art
While most consider The Road Home a seasonal charity, the truth is that it helps those in need every day. Every year, for one day, a group of talented artists and musicians take over Sugar House’s The Tap Room, as well as the vacant space above the bar, to perform and sell their works; all the proceeds go to The Road Home. The list of local artists and musicians who have contributed their time and work is a who’s-who of local talent, all coming together to help folks in need.
SubmergedInArt.com

Best Outdoor Champion
Peter Metcalf
Peter Metcalf co-founded and has presided over the fledging Black Diamond employee-owned outdoor-gear company since 1989. He moved BD to Salt Lake City in 1991 and helped grow the company until it was acquired in May 2010 for $90 million, becoming Black Diamond Equipment, a publicly traded company. Some worried the acquisition would be an end to an era, that BD had sold out, but it appears to be the opposite. The company is healthier and more visionary than ever. Thus, Metcalf’s stake in seeing Utah conserve its public lands has never been greater. Metcalf continues to lambaste elected officials for their misguided public-land policies and advocate for wilderness as if his career and that of 300 BD employees, as well as thousands of Utah jobs, depended on it.
BlackDiamondEquipment.com

Best New(ish) News Anchor
Kylie Conway, ABC 4
ABC 4 evening news anchor Kylie Conway arrived in Salt Lake City one year ago, preceding the station’s dizzying 2011 influx of new hires and musical chairs. By fall, the Ohio transplant had graduated from reporter to weekend anchor; as the year closed, she’d snared the weeknight anchor chair alongside local news veteran Brett Hunsaker. Her quick ascension was a no-brainer: Conway has that rare TV-news talent to move from bright and bubbly to serious and solemn seamlessly between stories—and, more importantly, come off as genuinely sincere, not an Anchorman knock-off.
ABC 4, weeknights, 4, 6 and 10 p.m. ABC4.com

Kylie.jpg
Kylie Conway, ABC 4

Best Local Comic-Con Experience
Anime Banzai
If you’re tired of wasting piles of cash to get down to San Diego every year, then take a breather, as Utah’s own Anime Banzai brings you all of the excitement of a real convention without all the pretentiousness, hefty prices and waiting lines for more waiting lines. The anime-centric convention has branched out beyond appreciation for the cartoon genre, adding karaoke competitions, art contests, dating games, trivia, fighting demos, and the ever-loving appreciation of women dressed up as their favorite characters. Sexy Metroid? Sexy Link? Sexy Peter Venkman?! Yes, please!
AnimeBanzai.org

Best Celtic Harper
Cynthia Douglass
Many Salt Lakers associate the harp with Elizabeth Smart. And yes, she plays a mean pedal harp. But there are other harps, such as Celtic, electric and cross-strung, for which Salt Lake City has a resident expert in Cynthia Douglass. Douglass was drawn more than 20 years ago to the harp’s harmonies and its healing effect on listeners. Not only has she taught harp and formed three harp ensembles in Georgia, Alabama and Utah, but she also performs locally with Waking Erin in Salt Lake City, where she has lived since 2006.
CynthiaDouglass.com

Best Astrologer
Christopher Renstrom
Utah has been blessed with many resident stargazers who’ve kept the lights on, astrologically speaking, in a town where that hasn’t been easy to do. But Salt Lake City landed a big fish when Christopher Renstrom moved to Utah a few years back. Author of the book (and website) Ruling Planets and daily horoscope scribe for the San Francisco Chronicle, Renstrom is a font of astrological lore and history, both ancient and modern-day. A respected national conference speaker, Renstrom’s focus on ruling planets sets him apart. Locally, he offers classes and readings, and he headlines a monthly astrology slam. His fluent delivery, sense of humor and grasp of the planetary portents will align you with your stars.
RulingPlanets.com

Best Dystopian Twist
Christine Seifert, The Predicteds
In a genre where the best-selling series centers on women’s inability to control their destiny, safety and sexuality, The Predicteds, by Westminster professor Christine Seifert, puts a twist on what’s popular and turns questions of (men and women’s) fate into a social experiment. Seifert’s book is for young adults who want to explore the issues of human nature, prejudice and young love without having to wade through thousands of pages of abstinence-only propaganda. Seifert does all of this through the lens of a strong female character, snarky teenage dialogue and an engaging plot wrought with suspense. It’s a read-in-two-sittings kind of book.
ChristineSeifert.com

Best Environmental Huddle
Community Foundation of Utah Chautauqua
The nonprofit Community Foundation believes in “smart philanthropy,” offering innovative ways for members to invest in Utah, from donor-advised funds to permanent endowments. In November 2011, the foundation sponsored a “Chautauqua” to spark a statewide dialogue on environmental issues. Titled “Our Natural Heritage,” the gathering at Canyons Resort in Park City invited diverse environmental nonprofits—animal-rights, hunting and fishing groups; governmental and faith organizations, and corporations, with the goal of helping citizens be informed and getting opposing sides to talk to each other.
6550 Millrock Drive, Suite 125, Salt Lake City, 801-559-3005, UtahCF.org

Best Movie Making
Benjamin Gourley
Homegrown Benjamin Gourley is a 2003 BYU grad who’s written, directed and/or acted in a half-dozen feature films. He got his start in the Mormon cinema bubble in Pride & Prejudice (2003) and Saints & Soldiers (2003), then wrote his own scripts for Moving McAllister (2007), Repo (2010) and The Kane Files (2010), which he also directed and filmed in Salt Lake City. Cohort of Napoleon Dynamite’s Jon Heder, he moonlights as a visual artist who displays his work in downtown SLC galleries. He may also be the only movie guy you know who proudly resists owning a cell phone.

Best Poetic Injustice
Jesse Parent’s Second Place
In October 2011, Jesse Parent—computer programmer by day, improv comic and slam poet by night—attended the Individual World Poetry Slam in Cleveland, Ohio, and took second place overall, for the second year in a row. Yeah, it was second place. But not too shabby for a guy whose first slam performance took place in 2006 in a downtown SLC coffee house. Since arriving in Utah with his wife, Julia, in 1997 for what was envisioned to be a short stay, Parent has honed the craft of storytelling and audience engagement through his animated use of language and metaphor. Beating out more than 75 international competitors over a three-day period to garner second place two years in a row? That makes him the best in our eyes.

Best Utah Politician RC_bug.jpg
Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker
Ralph Becker’s living the charmed life of a re-elected Democratic Salt Lake City mayor. With a more-than-80 percent approval rating prior to his election, Becker’s low-key way of getting work done makes him quite likable. His new public-safety building is under construction, and he continues to get ducks in a row for a new downtown theater. When he realized the city’s watershed could be threatened by the proposed SkiLink connection between Canyons and Solitude ski resorts, he rattled more than a few cages in Washington, D.C., where the idea was being considered. Downtown is rising on Becker’s watch, and that means fortune (and sales-tax revenues) will smile upon him. What Utah politician wouldn’t envy Becker’s political track record and the trust he inspires in voters?
SLCClassic.com/Mayor
2. Ben McAdams
3. Jim Matheson

Best Political Insider
Bob Bernick, UtahPolicy.com
You can take the reporter away from the Hill, but you can’t take the Hill away from the reporter, a lesson learned when the Deseret News took veteran Legislature and politics reporter Bob Bernick off his beat in 2010, prompting his retirement from the paper shortly before it shed almost half of its staff. Now Bernick’s byline appears on UtahPolicy.com, where he provides political junkies an insider’s look at not just the substance of proposed bills and budget cuts, but also the politicking and power plays behind them—he’s covered redistricting in the state since ’91. From congressional maps to the Legislature to the 2012 elections, Bernick has the institutional memory to know what the next moves are and why they’re being made, and he’s finally got a forum where he can just tell it like it is.
UtahPolicy.com

Best Departing Anchor
Bruce Lindsay, KSL 5
His impending June retirement from KSL 5 probably won’t be met with the same hype that Dick Nourse received when he stepped down from the anchor chair in 2007, but the departure of 34-year Utah-news vet Bruce Lindsay will be noticed. Few TV viewers in the West wouldn’t know the dignified anchor and his authoritative delivery. He’s the last of a breed—not just here, but on newscasts across the country—and his experience will be missed on the local airwaves.
KSL 5, weeknights, 5, 6 and 10 p.m. KSL.com

BruceLindsay.jpg
Bruce Lindsay, KSL 5

Best Political Shoeshine
Johnny Peppinger
As the adage goes, you can tell a lot about a man by his shoes. If that’s the case, Johnny Peppinger has more dirt on Utah’s politicians than anyone around. But that’s not why he shines legislators’ shoes with his Capitol Hill drop-off bag service. For him, it’s therapeutic. By day, Peppinger works as a counselor; by night, he decompresses at home by Zen-ing out with some shoes—it’s his own therapy. Peppinger’s drop-off is located in the Capitol Hill Association in the basement of the Capitol.

Best Bridge-Burning Resignation
Brett Clifford, State Wine Coordinator
Brett Clifford spent 37 years navigating the murky waters of Utah liquor laws to create a top-notch wine selection in the state’s government-owned stores. When he saw new Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control administrators aiming for cuts in Utah’s fine-wine collection and haphazardly (in his view) firing quality employees, Clifford just couldn’t take it anymore. In his resignation letter, which he helpfully also sent to media outlets, Clifford cited “secret interrogations, closed meetings, forced retirements, layoffs and firings” as demoralizing the staff, and he worried that the quality of wines offered in Utah will suffer, negatively affecting tourism as well.

Best Architect of Hispanic Youths’ Future
Jose Enriquez, Latinos In Action
In 2010, Mountain View High School’s vice principal Jose Enriquez was awarded Volunteer Administrator of the Year by the Utah Commission on Volunteers, an award that was richly deserved. As director of service group Latinos in Utah, Enriquez has spearheaded and developed a program to train bilingual Latino teens to mentor kids in elementary and junior high schools. Latinos in Action already covers more than 35 schools in the Beehive State. The mentors earn community-service hours while breaking down barriers with Latino youth, proving that Latino youth, while sometimes needing help, can be inspirational leaders.
LatinosInAction.org

Best Political Stick-to-It-ness
Occupy Gallivan Center
Things weren’t looking good for the Occupy SLC movement after the Salt Lake City police gave occupiers the boot from Pioneer Park. But while many in the movement decided to address their goals via meetings at the library or protests on Capitol Hill, a small group wasn’t dissuaded from sticking out the winter, setting up camp at the Gallivan Center and staying there through the holidays and winter months. They’re still there, ready to educate any passersby who want to know what this whole 99-percenter thing is all about.
OccupySLC.org

Best North Temple Stewards
Stacy & Witbeck
During the years-long upheaval that the North Temple development imposed on local businesses, the speed, care and professionalism shown by public-transit contractors Stacy & Witbeck resulted in those same businessowners acknowledging through gritted teeth that, whatever else, the contractors have done a good job. While the jury’s still out as to whether North Temple will evolve into a upscale district of warehouse-converted apartments, stores and restaurants, Stacy & Witbeck have done its best to ensure the new North Temple’s transportation will be ahead of schedule and live up to the dreams touted by Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker of hooking up the city with the airport in “grand boulevard” style.
StacyWitbeck.com

Best Utahn RC_bug.jpg
Jon Huntsman Jr.
Widely regarded among reasonable folk as the only sane choice for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, Jon Huntsman Jr. never stood a chance, of course. In a season of wacky-ass GOP politics, the Newt Gingriches and Rick Santorums and Mitt Romneys made quick work of that common-sense candidacy. But good for him for trying! Huntsman was a decent Utah governor, with a talent for bridging harsh political divides—a skill that would have come in handy for any potential White House occupant, considering the polarized state of Congress these days. Hell, even China likes him. And that’s saying something.
Jon2012.com
2. Rocky Anderson
3. Tim DeChristopher

Best E-Government
Salt Lake City Government
The Web wizards at City Hall are serious about getting the public engaged in every planning and zoning meeting, city-council meeting, public open house, workshop and public hearing possible. That’s why Salt Lake City has been going high tech with its forums and using Open City Hall as a means of posting discussions on critical city issues ranging from e-billboards to the city’s good landlords program. Beyond that, the city has stepped up efforts by creating Speak Out SLC, a page where residents can post their own ideas on what needs to be improved in the city. Users can “like” the good ideas and city planners can see what issues residents are most passionate about. Here’s hoping the city continues to digitally go where few other local governments have gone before.
SLCGov.com

Best Saint of Southern Utah
Sandra Asbury
In the farthest southeast corner of Utah, rural residents have to travel miles for affordable food. That’s why in San Juan County, advocate Sandra Asbury and her four food banks are an oasis of support to the region’s low-income citizens. In any given month, 700 families rely on the boxes of food her organization helps collect and distribute. But Asbury isn’t just a food advocate; she also runs Transitions, a Blanding-area center for developmentally disabled youth. The youth get a chance to socialize, learn new skills and work on community projects—their first successful project was Blanding’s first food bank, which opened in 2006. In San Juan County, residents may be few and far between, but Asbury’s name and character cover hundreds of miles among the desert communities that celebrate her charitable organizations and the heart and soul she invests into her work.
29 E. Center St., Blanding, 435-678-3741

Best Political Pizza
Redistricting
No matter how you slice it, the Utah State Legislature’s redistricting efforts were a gerrymandering hack-job. The Republican-dominated Legislature cut up the state’s most populous (and most Democratic) county, combining those pieces with much larger swaths of redder territory in an effort that few even bothered to pretend wasn’t political. Democrats had hoped for something quite different: small urban districts surrounded by large rural ones that would have preserved areas of ethnic, social and political identity. “We asked for a donut, expected a pizza and were given instead a plate of scrambled eggs,” Democratic Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon complained. “This is downright rigged, and everybody knows it.”

Best Sports Reporter RC_bug.jpg
David James, KUTV 2
Over the course of nearly two decades in the Salt Lake City market, David James has had a chance to show plenty of sides to local sports fans. Anchoring sports for KUTV news and Talkin’ Sports, he’s the consummate professional journalist, able to focus the story for viewers; as co-host of 1320 KFAN’s morning-drive DJ & PK in the Morning show, he gets to be sharp, off-the-cuff and playful. It all adds up to yet another victory for the hardest-working guy in Utah sports.
KUTV 2, weekends, 10 p.m., Connect2Utah.com, Twitter: @DavidDJJames
2. Dave Fox, KUTV 2
3. Rick Aaron, Fox 13

DavidJames.jpg
David James, KUTV 2

Worst Utahn RC_bug.jpg
Sen. Orrin Hatch
The hapless Sen. Orrin Hatch gets qualified love from most supporters these days. Once a darling of the Republican establishment, the sextillion-term senator seemed safe from any political storm—but that was before the Tea Party monsoon. Now even members of his own party seem hell-bent on taking him down. No help from moderate Democrats, either— they’ve learned that whenever Hatch starts rhapsodizing about bipartisan cooperation, it heralds a frenzy of vicious partisan backstabbing. Who will stand up for Hatch? If quack-remedy manufacturers and his, er, colleagues in the music industry remain mute, it will be a costly endeavor to weather this hurricane.
OrrinHatch.com
2. Gary Herbert
3. Mike Lee

Best Roller Derby League
Junction City Roller Dolls
Since most of Utah’s derby leagues have turned recreational and the most high-profile one in Salt Lake City took the season off to build a new rink, derby fans had to trek up north to see some of the hardest-hitting games in the state, delivered by Ogden’s Junction City Roller Dolls. After becoming a member of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association in 2011, the JCRD had its biggest season turnouts. It was all capped off with a hard-fought battle for the interleague championship and the formal announcement of the O-Town Derby Dames merging into the JCRD league, making them the biggest derby league in Utah.
JCRDolls.com

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Junction City Roller Dolls

Best Videogamers
Avalanche Software
With its origins tracing back to the fallout from Acclaim Studio’s demise, Avalanche Software spent years working as an underground developer. But things picked up for the company when it was purchased by Disney in 2005 and subsequently became one of the leading companies for many of the Pixar games that have hit consoles. The move has kept the company in the national spotlight as games developed for the Cars and Toy Story series have sold well, while their theatrical counterparts earn millions at the box office.
AvalancheSoftware.blogspot.com

Best Sexy Veto
Gov. Gary Herbert
Who says Gov. Gary Herbert won’t listen to reason? Besides the majority of his other decisions? After much outcry from Utah citizens who don’t take their marching orders from a mysterious, all-knowing voice in the sky (i.e. the Eagle Forum), Herbert vetoed HB363 in March 2012, which would have shut down classroom discussion about sex, contraception and homosexuality—as sponsoring Rep. Bill Wright so eloquently put it, “This is not like all our kids are going to die if they don’t learn promiscuous behavior.” But, just when we thought the Guv was going to roll over and take it (with or without a condom), he stepped up and did/recognized the right thing: “Existing law respects the ability of Utah parents to choose if and how their student will receive classroom instruction on these topics,” Herbert said. “I am unwilling to conclude that the State knows better than Utah’s parents as to what is best for their children.” We applaud you, Gov. Herbert ... on this one.
Governor.Utah.gov

Best Provo Recording Studio
Black Pyramid Recording
The “100 Block” of downtown Provo is already highly regarded for its influence on the local music scene, but in 2011, the area received more cred and a boost in attention when a new recording studio moved in around the corner from the city’s two most prominent venues. Taking over the former home of June Audio, Cade Thalman and Bret Meisenbach restored the building to its former glory it once had as a studio. Notable bands that have recorded albums in the space include The Archer’s Apple, Book on Tapeworm, Lady & Gent and The Glowing Head.
39 W. 200 North, Provo, 801-623-3002, BlackPyramidRecording.com

More Best of Utah 2012:

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REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // April 2,2012 at 13:04

Thanks to whoever suggested us! It's a great honor!

 

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Posted // March 30,2012 at 10:58

still so stoked!!!! thanks for supporting indie ogden

 

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Posted // March 29,2012 at 11:38

What a joke.  No wonder no one cares about City Weekly.  This article is pathetic.

 

Posted // March 29,2012 at 13:43 - Aw, another sore loser got his vagina hurt.

 

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Posted // March 29,2012 at 10:21

Uh, Cronk hit the car when it pulled out in front of her, right? Why do people keep referring to this accident as a hit and run?

 

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Posted // March 28,2012 at 21:59

People who do not nominate or vote have no right to complain

 

 
 
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