Best of Utah 2016 | Best of Utah | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Best of Utah 2016 

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Best Elected Offcial
Jackie Biskupski
Even before taking oath as Salt Lake City's 35th mayor, Biskupski proved there was a new sheriff in town when she asked most city department heads to hand in letters of resignation. Since then, the 50-year-old Minnesota native has tackled issues from alternative energy and air quality to homelessness. A Democrat, she cut her legislative teeth during six terms in the Utah House—the state's first LGBTQ elected official. She's not all business, though. In August, she married her longtime partner, Betty Iverson, in a private ceremony at Log Haven. Oh, by the way, she confirms her signature curly tresses are, indeed, all natural—except the color. (LG)
2nd place: Ben McAdams
3rd place: Jim Dabakis

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Best Local Twitter Feed
Ben Winslow, @BenWinslow
A self-described "coverer of news," Winslow must be ambidextrous. While on-camera for Fox 13, he's holding a mic in one hand and a mobile device in the other—tweeting live to a devoted fanbase. Or so it seems. His 140-character snippets about breaking news are often accompanied by photos. So eat your heart out, Donald Trump! Viewers trust Winslow's earnest face as he reports on politics, polygamy and City Hall. But it's his ability to navigate multiple platforms that makes him a one-off fixture in the SLC media market. (LG)
2nd place: Kerry Jackson, @RFHKerry
3rd place: Geekshow Podcast, @GeekShow

Best Nonprofit Organization
Best Friends Animal Society
Unless you're made of ice, there's nothing more heart-wrenching than seeing an abused, abandoned or sick animal. With the credo, "A better world through kindness to animals," Best Friends Animal Society has been saving critters—from dogs and cats to horses and rabbits—since the 1980s. Crown jewel is the nonprofit's sanctuary in the red-rock canyon country near Kanab—the nation's largest no-kill facility and home to 1,600 animals. The society also has adoption centers in New York, Los Angeles ... and, of course, Salt Lake City. (LG)
2005 S. 1100 East, Salt Lake City, 801-574-2454, Utah.BestFriends.org
2nd place: The Road Home
3rd place: Humane Society of Utah

Best political scandal
John Swallow
Think War and Peace was long? Try the Swallow Saga. The legal morass engulfing the former Utah attorney general is about to enter its fourth year—with no end in sight. Well, maybe. Accused of 14 felonies and misdemeanors and facing up to 30 years if convicted, Swallow has a February 2017 trial date ... unless his lawyer appeals. Meanwhile, similar charges were dropped this year against his mentor and predecessor, Mark Shurtleff. But Swallow and Shurtleff's names are forever intertwined. Like, say, W&P's Natasha and Boris. (LG)
2nd place: Shurtleff/Swallow
3rd place: Mark Shurtleff

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Best Public Radio Station
KRCL 90.9 FM
Except for the most die-hard rocker or rapper, most radio listeners DO get a tad weary of the same-old, same-old on commercial radio stations. Well, there's an audio oasis on KRCL with its fresh and distinctive blend of folk, blues, indie and rock. Every hour, you'll hear at least one track by a homegrown artist. The station also trains its microphones at local arts personalities and performers—and has announced a lineup of 15 concerts on "Live at the Eccles" from SLC's brand-new downtown venue. Do we hear applause? (LG)
KRCL.org
2nd place: KUER 90.1 FM
3rd place: KCPW 88.3 FM/105.5 FM

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Best Radio Show
X96 Radio From Hell
Now in its 30th year, Radio From Hell is a bona fide institution as the longest running radio show in the SLC area, with the possible exception of Music and the Spoken Word—another institution. Hosts Kerry Jackson, Bill Allred and Gina Barberi (with Richie T. in the booth) entertain listeners with seamless and smart banter mixed with the best in rock 'n' roll. The irreverent crew stays true blue to the show's mission statement, "to belittle the stupid ... and offend as many people as possible." (LG)
96.3 FM, Monday-Friday, 6-10 a.m., X96.com/Radio-From-Hell
2nd place: ZHT 97.1 FM Morning Zoo
3rd place: KRCL 90.9 FM Little Bit Louder Now

Best Radio Station
X96 96.3 FM
X96 is the "Goldilocks" of SLC area radio: It's "just right"—sticking with a tried-and-true formula of alternative music from the '80s and '90s, peppered with some newer indie rock. From Radio from Hell in the a.m. to Corey O'Brien in the 7-midnight slot, listeners seem never to tire of classic songs and classy banter. Some fans say X96 is as comfortable as an old pair of slippers. Make that a broken-in pair of Gucci loafers. (LG)
X96.com
2nd place: KRCL 90.9 FM
3rd place: KUER 90.1 FM

Best Social Cause
Solving homelessness
Listen; when it comes to social issues, regardless of the fact that our readers voted on them, it's hard to spotlight one over the other. Salt Lake City is a beautiful place with some acute problems that need immediate action. Even after the city committed to a $30 million budget last month to help with much-needed affordable housing, the chronic homelessness problem here runs deep. Mental and physical health issues, drug addiction, recidivism, gentrification, food deserts and many other factors combine for the perfect storm. Sure, you could bitch on Facebook about it, as many other armchair activists do, or you could take a more active role and volunteer a day a week at the Fourth Street Clinic, Utah Food Bank, VOA Youth Resource Center for Homeless and At-risk Teens or many other admirable local institutions committed to being a solution. Remember the commitment you made with yourself to enact change during the Sanders campaign? The time to act on it is now. (EL)
2nd place: LGBTQ Equality
3rd place: #BlackLivesMatter

Best Sports Reporter
David James, KUTV 2News
He doesn't look like a grizzled veteran, but affable James has been covering the Utah sports beat since 1992. Viewers and listeners have come to trust his insight and nearly encyclopedic knowledge. As one fan observes, "He's everybody's buddy." In addition to anchoring KUTV Channel 2's sport desk on weekends, James also hosts the popular Talkin' Sports. Morning drivers, too, can hear him on Fox Sports' The Zone (97.5 FM/1280 AM). (LG)
2nd place: Dave Fox, KUTV 2News
3rd place: Wesley Ruff, ABC 4

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Best TV Anchorman
Mark Koelbel, KUTV 2News
After graduating college, Koelbel wanted to be a speech writer. "Then I realized that if your candidate doesn't win, you don't work," he told an interviewer. Politicians' loss was local TV's gain—and for nearly 20 years, he's delivered the news with authority and panache. Viewers instinctively know he's more than just another clone—that he's earned his journalistic bona fides amid the debris left by Hurricane Hugo and in the war-ravaged villages of Iraq. Oh, did we mention that this is his ninth BoU award? (LG)
2nd place: Dan Evans, Fox 13
3rd place: Ron Bird, KUTV 2News

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Best TV Anchorwoman
Hope Woodside, Fox 13
She might be from the Windy City, but Woodside is anything but blustery. Fox 13 audiences have come to admire her smooth and sophisticated style—plus her quick mind and wit. With Bob Evans, she co-anchors Live at 5 and News at 9, and the two are Utah's longest-running news team. In fact, they've been inducted into the Utah Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame. Every year, she's a familiar face at Fox 13's walkathon, "Making Strides Against Breast Cancer." (LG)
2nd place: Mary Nickels, KUTV 2News
3rd place: Kerri Cronk, Fox 13

Best TV News Reporter
Ben Winslow, Fox 13
Winslow is making out like a bandit this year with his two BoU wins (the other for best Twitter feed). Like a newsy octopus, he covers the courts, politics and polygamy beats for Fox 13 across all platforms known to man (and some we believe were developed by A.I. just for him)—all while maintaining an approachable attitude and a keen insider's perspective. At this point, we're not sure if Winslow cares about receiving yet another BoU award, so we'll give this one to his enviable well-groomed beard. Your beard rocks, man. No one on staff admitted to ever touching it, but we're sure it feels silky smooth and smells like manly cotton candy spun by the Baby Jesus himself. (EL)
2nd place: Big Budah, Fox 13
3rd place: Chris Jones, KUTV 2News

Best TV News Station
KUTV 2News
When network announcers intone, "And now time for your local news," many Utahns instinctively press "2" on their remotes. They know they'll get the straight, balanced and unvarnished story from a team of seasoned professionals. From anchorman Mark Koelbel's trademark smooth to Rod Deck's trademark tough, viewers can count on a comprehensive wrap-up of what's going on in their backyards and beyond. And let's not forget Get Gephardt going after those schemers and scoundrels we all love to hate. (LG)
KUTV.com
2nd place: Fox 13
3rd place: KSL Channel 5

Best Weather Reporter
Allison Croghan, Fox 13
After a killer tornado devastated Joplin, Mo., in 2011, neophyte reporter Croghan was one of the first on the scene. Almost on the spot, the U of Mississippi grad decided to make meteorology her specialty. Landing a job at Fox 13 the following year, she's been sharing her passion for the weather with appreciative viewers. Croghan navigates those maps, charts and images with authority and ease. You can catch her on the Fox 13 set—unless she's out chasing that rare Utah funnel cloud. (LG)
2nd place: Brett Benson, Fox 13
3rd place: Sterling Poulson, KUTV 2News

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Best Utahn
Jon Huntsman Sr.
Buttoned-down billionaire Jon Huntsman Sr. and flashy Frank Sinatra are kindred spirits—in one respect. "If you possess something but you can't give it away, then you don't possess it; it possesses you," observed the late crooner. And that seems to be the Utah industrialists' credo, too. Forbes estimates he's thus far given away $1.5 billion—and that doesn't count his 10 percent Mormon tithing. Most visible benefactor of his philanthropy is the world-class Huntsman Cancer Institute in SLC. His avowed goal is to dispose of 80 percent of his worth before he joins Old Blue Eyes in the Great Beyond. Among his nine children are Jon Jr., former GOP presidential candidate and ambassador, and Paul, owner and publisher of The Salt Lake Tribune. (LG)
2nd place: Tyler Glenn
3rd place: Thomas S. Monson

Worst Utahn
Gary Herbert
In May, the stench of pay-for-play still lingered in the state Capitol's marble halls—aftermath of the monumental Shurtleff/Swallow scandal—when it drifted downtown and into the august Alta Club. There, Gov. Gary Herbert huddled with campaign staffers. What if donors with deep pockets wanted to have a chummy face-to-face? "Let's just say, I'm available," Herbert was caught on tape saying. "I'm Available Jones." Contributors will get "quality time," he continued, "but we've got to raise the money." Tell that to Utahns breathing toxic air, poor folks needing more than Herbert's anemic "Healthy Utah" plan, and the Average Joe tired of paying for futile lawsuits to wrest the state's public lands from federal control. Not to mention school kids who get by on the lowest per-pupil spending in the country. (LG)
2nd place: Mike Lee
3rd place: Jason Chaffetz

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