Best of Utah 2013: Media & Politics | Best of Utah | Salt Lake City

Best of Utah 2013: Media & Politics 

Pin It
click to enlarge art17303.jpg


Best TV News Reporter
Chris Vanocur, ex-ABC 4
Fear the wrath of a newsman canned. In 2012, ABC 4 fired several employees right before Christmas(!), but the most attention-grabbing was veteran Utah reporter Chris Vanocur, a 30-year fixture on local news, a wry and recurring presence in City Weekly’s pages and, perhaps most importantly of all, Zion’s No. 1 source for the latest in state-legislated booze shenanigans. Since Vanocur (pictured here in The Avenues Bistro on Third’s Speakeasy basement) has won our Best Reporter award for as long as we can remember, he likely would have had it in the bag again, anyway, but Vanocur took to Facebook and Twitter, inviting friends and followers to rock the vote and stick it to his former station. Consider yourself stuck, ABC 4—by such a landslide that we couldn’t even consider excluding him from the category just because he’s not currently “employed.” You’re on notice, KUTV 2, KSL 5, Fox 13, Univision, et al.: If you make only one reporter hire in 2013, Chris Vanocur is your much-beloved man.
Twitter: @NewsVulcan
2. Ben Winslow, Fox 13
3. Chris Jones, KUTV 2

Best TV News Station
With its range of solid anchors like Shauna Lake, Ron Bird and Heidi Hatch, and a plethora of go-get-’em reporters—including Chris Jones’ crime coverage and Matt Gephardt’s enthusiastic reworking of his father’s legacy—KUTV 2 never fails to deliver intriguing news without the gimmicks, mannered histrionics and moralizing of its competitors. Having once again kept onetime-giant KSL in second place in the ratings, KUTV proves that it truly understands the news pulse of this town.
2. Fox 13
3. KSL 5


Best TV News Hottie
Nineveh Dinha, Fox 13
Despite a smattering of complaints that this category is insulting and just plain stupid, it’s also one of Best of Utah’s highest vote-getters, so you can’t blame us … well, not entirely. Fox 13 reporter/anchor Nineveh Dinha (pictured at Atomic Arcade) has won this category since its inception five years ago, and, even though she’s a serious journalist who’d much rather be voted Best Reporter (hint for 2014), she still appreciates the notice her exotic Assyria-via-Sweden looks afford her here. “There’s nothing insulting about being called a hottie! It’s flattering, and it’s a fun category,” Dinha says. “After years of political reporting, I know people recognize there’s more to me than ’TV News Hottie’ … but I’m not complaining.”
Fox 13, 5 & 9 p.m., weekends,, Twitter: @NinevehDinha
2. Kim Fischer, ABC 4
3. Amanda Jones, KUTV 2

Best TV Anchorwoman
Hope Woodside, Fox 13
It’s Fox 13 news anchor Hope Woodside’s Sweet 16: Sixteen years in a row winning this Best of Utah award. It’s been reported that back in the day, when the station lured her to Salt Lake City in 1995, Fox 13 chose Woodside from over 300 potential candidates to co-anchor News at Nine with Bob Evans. TV news management anywhere has probably never made a better call than that. Still, every year around Best of Utah time, she never sees it coming: “Sixteen? Wow! I am so honored—especially since this was the first year Fox 13 is in high definition,” Woodside says. “That means you can see every imperfection—there’s no hiding anything under these lights! I love you, City Weekly readers! Thank you!”
Fox 13, 5 p.m. & 9 p.m. weeknights,, Twitter: @HopeWoodside
2. Mary Nickels, KUTV 2
3. Shauna Lake, KUTV 2


Best TV Anchorman
Mark Koelbel, KUTV 2
Given how Mark Koelbel wins best anchor year after year, there has to be more to this man than his urbane style and sharp suits. The past 12 months have seen a slew of dire news stories, from the seemingly eternal inversions to allegations of corruption at the Attorney General’s Office, but what makes Koelbel (pictured at Atomic Arcade) so effective is his unflappability, no matter the story. He parses the daily tragedies of our town with a mix of sympathy and erudition that makes tuning in to his nightly broadcasts reassuring, no matter how troubling the times.
KUTV 2, 5 p.m., 6 p.m. & 10 p.m. weeknights,
2. Ron Bird, KUTV 2
3. Dan Evans, Fox 13

Best Miss Manners
Ellen Reddick

Did you know that etiquette calls for a woman to take off her baseball hat when being introduced, but if it’s a fashionable hat, it’s OK to keep it on? You probably didn’t. Thankfully, Utah has a patron saint of dos and don’ts of etiquette in the form of Ellen Reddick. She gives seminars and sends out a free weekly newsletter, “You Are the Message,” packed with tips and tricks to help people navigate the subtleties and nuances of business etiquette and protocol. You’ll never text during a meeting or make a bad first impression again.

Best Music Television
BYU TV's Audio-Files & The Song That Changed My Life

A few years back, nationally renowned rock bands might have wanted to be on BYUtv about as much as they wanted to be on C-SPAN. But “video guy” Matt Eastin and executive producer Sam Cardon are changing that. They launched Audio-Files, a music documentary series, which has featured Billboard chart-toppers like Neon Trees and Imagine Dragons, in addition to music stalwarts like Low. The docs were so successful that BYUtv launched another, shorter music series, The Song That Changed My Life, where rock stars talk about that one song that changed everything.

Best Utah County Video Series
The Angel Murkurker

It all began with a tickle fight. “It’s where the business ends and the fun begins/ It’s your average tickle fight,” sang comedians Chris Duce, James Alexander and Jeremy Warner in their first comedy short, in 2011. Since then, the funny trio has produced all manner of wry, awkward skits in The Angel Murkurker series, like “People Who Drink,” “Skate Park Bullies” and “A Death in the Family,” ranging from musical anecdotes to the silent and sassy. It’s the lighter side of Utah County ... and it’s as strange as you might assume.

Best Weather Reporter
Brett Benson, Fox 13
Welcome Park City native and BYU grad Brett Benson to the Best of Utah first-timers club: We’ve singled him out before, but this is the lanky Fox 13 meteorologist’s debut at the top of the vote. Maybe it was Benson’s easygoing charm and humorous patter that swayed our readers this year—anything to make Utah’s recent Wintergeddon even a little more bearable. Or it could have been the “Frankenweather” nickname that he now, in retrospect, probably wishes he’d never played along with—it’s going to stick, Brett, best accept it. We can even inscribe it on your award, if you’d like.
Fox 13, 5 p.m. & 9 p.m., weeknights,, Twitter: @BensonWeather
2. Debbie Worthen, KUTV 2
3. Jim Kosek, ABC 4

Best Wrestling Organization

Who needs the WWE or TNA when we’ve got our own growing organization throwing its own shows every week? UCW-Zero showcases some of the top wrestling talent in the city, putting on monthly spectaculars as well as weekly showcases for live audiences, which then find their way to local TV. With its own school on the west side of town, talent who have received local press over the past year and a growing audience that shows up in droves to watch, it’s only a matter of time before Utah creates its first professional-wrestling territory.
47 Orange St., Salt Lake City, 801-699-7977,

Best Sports Reporter
David James, KUTV 2

We’ve called KUTV 2’s David James the hardest-working man in local sports news before, as he pulls double duty on 2’s Talkin’ Sports and KFAN 1320 AM’s morning show, but is it really work when it looks like you’re having this much fun? Scoreboard says yes—you don’t win our Best Sports Reporter award five straight years by just showing up and running your mouth. There’s nary a pro, college or otherwise sport that James can’t speak authoritatively on (or at least fake it—which takes even more skill), even though we’re still anxiously awaiting his take on local women’s roller derby. Get on that, DJ.
KUTV 2, 10 p.m., weekends,, Twitter: @DavidDJJames
2. Dave Fox, KUTV 2
3. Wesley Ruff, ABC 4

Best Bobby Flay Slayer
Chef Viet Pham

It takes a lot to be an Iron Chef—a combination of ingenuity, creativity, skill and grace under pressure. So it was amazing to watch Viet Pham, local chef and co-owner (with Bowman Brown) of the award-winning restaurant Forage, slay Flay with utter calm and culinary flair on a recent episode of Iron Chef America. Considering that Pham had won the coveted Food & Wine’s Best New Chef award in 2011, it wasn’t too much of a surprise to see his innovative dishes (beef-fat ice cream?!) beat Flay’s prosaic fare of burgers and skewered meats.
370 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-708-7834,

Best Local on Twitter
Ben Winslow, Fox 13

A fan of Ben Winslow tweets: “If you aren’t following @BenWinslow, you should be ... outstanding #utleg coverage.” With more than 8,000 followers and a tally of 57,000 tweets, it’s obvious the Fox 13 journalist owns a mansion in the Twitterverse, engaging with his followers at a level few reporters can achieve. From his blow-by-blow accounts of breaking news to photos of himself driving through a snowstorm to sublime newsroom chatter (“Just got told in the @fox13now newsroom my laugh sounds slightly evil... ), well, we just know this guy. And we like him.
Twitter: @BenWinslow
2. Bill Frost, City Weekly
3. Scott D. Pierce, The Salt Lake Tribune

Best “Keeping it Real” Apostle
President Henry B. Eyring

The highest-ranking apostles in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints tend to shy away from the informal, whether in person or during General Conference talks. But listen to Henry Eyring talk about his early youth in New Jersey—in his New Joosey accent—and you’re in for a charming tale of hoops and friends from across the racial divide. With his beaming smile and erudite conversation, stereotypes and preconceptions fall away to reveal a man who might be the LDS Church’s greatest asset when it comes to charm.


Best Face of Change
Larry Krystkowiak

The Utes have some of the most impressive stats in NCAA basketball—historic stats, that is. Though the team has made the NCAA Tournament 27 times, there hasn’t been much to cheer about in recent years, thanks to losing seasons and a near exodus of players—after Larry Krystkowiak was announced as head coach in 2011, eight players left the squad and the team went 6-25. But Krystkowiak’s nearly brand-new team made huge strides in 2012-13, ending the season on a sweet note by beating No. 19 Oregon and scoring upset victories over USC and Cal to take them to the Pac-12 semifinals. The Runnin’ Utes are actually running again, and we know we have Krystkowiak, the intense, 6-foot-9-inch figure stalking the sidelines, to thank for the program’s promising future.

Best Radio Station
Aside from constantly winning this award to the point where we could name it after them, X96 has had plenty to cheer about over the past year: a huge crowd for the Big Ass Show, the return of Todd Nuke ’Em, continued ratings dominance, the launch of Squatters’ Red as Hell Ale and, of course, turning the ripe old age of 21. And we’re sure spinning Mumford & Sons until the MP3 wore out played a part in there somewhere. It’s clear that X96 has a firm hold on the market and the listeners—have a drink to celebrate now that you’re legal, guys.
96.3 FM,
2. 97.1 ZHT
3. 101.9 The End

Best Radio Show
Radio From Hell, X96

It was almost a foregone conclusion that Radio From Hell was going to win this award again. The show’s combination of news, guests, popular recurring segments and sensationalized bickering always bring in the listeners, but this year, the show amped up the drama—first by nearly suffocating Kerry Jackson in a breathing machine, then by sending Bill Allred to climb the base camp of Mount Everest only to come back with a buzzed haircut, and topping the year off with Gina Barberi getting a concussion while skating. Look for the 2013 addition to the show for even more drama: Omar, the sassy black intern from Panguitch.
6-10 a.m. weekdays, 96.3 FM,
2. RadioWest, KUER 90.1
3. The Morning Zoo, ZHT 97.1

Best ’80s Radio

Who says you need a broadcast tower to reach the masses? KCQN has been doing a great job for nearly two years, raking in the online listenership with classic new-wave tracks, a genre once thought to be disposable. With a familiar cast of Utah’s radio past, including founder Chet Tapp, Mister West and Cuzzin Brad, the station serves as both a reminder of better days for older listeners and an education in music and broadcast history for the younger crowd.

Best Public Radio Station
KRCL 90.9

City Weekly readers feel that KRCL is the best and only alternative to the commercial clones glutting the local dial. It’s sometimes easy to forget that KRCL has some of the best, most original and unpredictable programming in the country, especially at night, with longtime shows like Circus Brown’s Not a Sideshow, the all-metal Maximum Distortion, Dr. Johnny Fever’s Dirty Boulevard, SLC hip-hop institution Friday Night Fallout and many more—and that’s not even including the weekends. If you love music, KRCL really is the only local station you need.
90.9 FM,
2. KUER 90.1
3. KCPW 88.3

Best Way to “Blair” the Radio
Courtney Blair, KRCL 90.9

Among the many bright spots on KRCL’s schedule, even after 2012’s reformatting, is Courtney Blair and her show, Afternoon Delight (Saturdays, 1-4 p.m.). Blair plays the latest indie and underground music that Pitchfork hasn’t yet been able to discredit, giving her show a unique blend of unknown gems and risky music that KRCL and Salt Lakers should be thankful to have.

Best Forum for Questioning Mormons
Mormon Stories Podcast

John Dehlin, the founder of the Open Stories Foundation, knows exactly how hard it is for questioning members of the LDS Church to find a place to ask questions and find unbiased answers about their faith. With church apologists and anti-Mormons spouting blind faith or blind disbelief, Dehlin realized there needed to be a safe, scholarly and civil forum to discuss the more taboo elements of the religion. His Mormon Stories podcast has been downloaded tens of thousands of times by listeners curious about the legacy of polygamy, the church’s pre-1978 ban on giving the priesthood to black members, and other misunderstood topics. The podcast balances controversial discussions with faith-promoting talks and profiles of famous Mormons, walking the fine line of respecting Mormonism’s traditions and culture while also seriously examining it.

Best Salty Blogging
Salt City Sinner

Liberal outrage in the city of salt is not uncommon, but it’s nice to see a blog that knows how to hone its outrage into katana-sharp slices of wit against the dominant conservative culture. Whether taking on Mitt Romney—“Given the astonishing political inexpedience of writing off half the country as lazy moochers, I almost feel sorry for Mitt. A man can only take so much junk-punching”—or saying local conservative think-tank leader Paul Mero’s tortured logic is the “intellectual equivalent of watching a drunken clown hopped up on methamphetamine juggle live snakes,” this blog knows how to season the local cultural landscape with a much-needed dash of acerbic wit and analysis.

Best New Podcast
I Am Salt Lake

Reclaiming the long-lost role of the solo broadcast interviewer, Chris Holifield took it upon himself in 2012 to buy a bunch of podcast equipment and start interviewing people from the Salt Lake City scene. His podcast covers local businesses, art, music, film and anyone or anything he finds intriguing. Holifield asks questions that explore the person and what drives them to make Salt Lake City a better, more vibrant place. His podcast has struck a chord with listeners, who download the twice-weekly podcast to catch Holifield’s unique slant on Salt Lake City.

Best Historical Music Tome

With a music scene growing so big it’s starting to look like a Jiffy-Pop bag ready to burst, Provo has come into its own as the place to find the freshest Utah indie music. With so many bands and showcases coming and going, you’ll never know when the next new band will pop out of Utah County. Thankfully, Chris Coy founded, a website dedicated to archiving posters, photos, tickets and all sorts of memorabilia from the 100 Block and beyond to show how powerful the down-south music scene has become.

Best Local Blog
Gavin's Underground,
Whenever Gavin Sheehan drops a new post on Gavin’s Underground at, we never know what it’s going to be about. Really, we have no damned idea what’s coming. It could be about a local band, a jewelry maker, a podcast, a print shop, a brewery, a stand-up comic, a theater production, an author, a clothing shop—hell, he even found something cool in Cedar City, heretofore thought impossible. Sheehan’s relentless dedication to spotlighting everything in all of the local scenes and miles-long Q&A transcriptions are unique not only to this market, but to most others as well. You—and we—are lucky to have him.
2. Big Shiny Robot
3. Indie Ogden

Best Commitment to the Cause
Diana Lee Hirschi

At 74, Hirschi remains one of Salt Lake City’s most treasured activists. Battling the political complacency that has long gripped much of Utah, she refuses to back down from ideals even in these days of partisan rhetoric and political packaging. She runs a monthly honk & wave—a social street-corner protest movement—a reminder of the power of commitment.

Best Friend to Addicts
Pat Fleming

There’s a touch of the mad professor about Pat Fleming as he rushes from one meeting to the next. But all that rushing is because there’s so much at stake in getting help to folks in the throes of addiction. The head of Salt Lake County’s behavioral-health division, Fleming oversees substance-abuse programs and county funding. He cares with such a passion that you get the feeling that, if he could, he would just reach down and scoop up those struggling with addiction from the streets and administer to each and every one of them himself.


Best Politician
Ben McAdams
Even Utah’s 2012 “Romney Tsunami” couldn’t wash away Democrat Ben McAdams, the victor in the tight Salt Lake County mayoral race. Given McAdams’ chops for getting things done, it’s not surprising that he was able to hang on. He spent years passing more bills at the Legislature than most Republican lawmakers while not shying away from important progressive battles, like education funding and discrimination protections for LGBT Utahns. With all that, plus his squeaky-clean campaign for county mayor and years of local government experience while working for Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker, it’s no wonder he came out on top., Twitter: @BenMcAdams
2. U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson
3. Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker

Best Eccentric
Conde Kieateen Teargon

Many people might recognize Conde Kieateen Teargon from the Utah Arts Festival, where he sits in the middle of the festival looking like a hippie Santa Claus, wearing colorful, eccentric garb as he shakes a noisemaker and holds up his ornate cane. Or from, as legend has it, the No. 2 UTA bus. He told City Weekly in 2012 that he’s a 756-month-old Sufi mystic from the land of Kookamunga. Wherever he comes from and whatever he might do besides go to festivals and ride buses, we thank him for adding a little color to downtown.

Best Unsung Advocates
Disability Law Center

Before two attorneys from the Disability Law Center did the first health & welfare check on Jeremy Haas, a mentally ill inmate in the Utah State Prison, in 2012, it had been some time since anyone had made such an effort to address inmates’ mental health. It’s no surprise that it’s the DLC that’s now carrying this torch; the organization is made up of people who work tirelessly to advocate for those with disabilities, whether that means tracking pertinent bills in the Legislature and encouraging the community to speak up about issues like traumatic brain injuries, or representing people who’ve been fired, abused, denied medical care or discriminated against. The passion and perseverance of these attorneys keep a light on for the disabled that, we hope, won’t ever go out.
205 N. 400 West, Salt Lake City, 801-363-1347,

Best Way to Rule the Planets
Christopher Renstrom

Utah may be the mothership to Mormondom, but it also boasts a big-shot astrologer. Since being named Best Astrologer by City Weekly in 2012, this Salt Lake City-based stargazer has become a TV star himself. Renstrom recently appeared on Patti Stanger’s Millionaire Matchmaker TV show, counseling a lovelorn millionaire. He’s also the official astrologer for Stanger’s site,, where he writes a weekly column, plus three others at Not one to put down his pen, Renstrom’s daily horoscopes show up in the San Francisco Chronicle, and he is busy writing a second book about the history of astrology in America.

Best City Council Coverage
The Valley Journals

As more and more newspapers tighten their belts, there are fewer reporters covering public meetings where tax dollars are assigned to various projects and services. Without a reporter in the room, decisions could be made to benefit friends and associates of those serving on the board or council—and taxpayers would never hear about it. One group of newspapers still dedicated to covering city councils is The Valley Journals. With 12 papers in The Valley Journal group, that means at least 12 city councils in the Salt Lake Valley are being given a closer journalistic look when they meet. Thanks, Valley Journals, for keeping an eye on the public’s business.

Best Use of Lungs
Salt Lake Scots

St. Patrick’s Day has come and gone, but the effect of Salt Lake’s premier pipe band resonates throughout the year. Touting some of the region’s best pipers, you can find the Salt Lake Scots at local parades and community events, plus national competitions, where these wind-blowers proudly represent Utah. When you watch their performances, keep an ear out for their impressive rendition of “Amazing Grace.”

Best Language Powwow
Shoshone/Goshute Youth Language Apprenticeship Program

For the past four summers, during six magical weeks, Shoshone and Goshute high school students have come to a house on the edge of a grassy park near the University of Utah and marinate themselves in the language of their ancestors. Under the direction of associate professor Marianna Di Paolo and The Center of American Indian Languages, the students work on projects for the Shoshone/Goshute Youth Language Apprenticeship Program, such as creating a Shoshone/Goshute & English bilingual dictionary. At a time when the day-to-day use of the Goshute language has sharply declined, this program sends young minds enriched by the linguistic and cultural treasures of their past back to their tribes in Utah and Nevada to help revitalize and even teach their language.
1995 A De Trobriand St., Salt Lake City, 801-587-0720,

Best Care For Those in Need
Fourth Street Clinic/Volunteers of America Outreach Program

A walk in the shoes of the Fourth Street Clinic’s team is an eye-opening journey into homelessness and the struggles of Utah’s indigent population simply trying to survive. “Dr. Joel” (as his patients call him) Hunt is more than a medic, he’s a friend. He’ll go to the side of the road with tweezers and a magnifying glass to aid someone who’s gotten a burr stuck in his ear after sleeping in a field for a night. Hunt, his assistant Leticia Vasquez and the legendary Ed Snoddy, a 10-year veteran of these mean streets, have patched up countless grateful souls, found them a roof to live under and, if nothing else, shared smiles, warmth and snack bars with folks whom most of us don’t even bother to see.
404 S. 400 West, Salt Lake City, 801-364-0058,

Best Political Scandal
John Swallow
Utahns learned this year of a scandal that involved an alleged six-figure bribe, Utah Attorney General John Swallow, an Internet-marketing wheeler-dealer and a fateful meeting held, of all places, at an Orem donut shop. Swallow, while chief deputy attorney general, allegedly counseled businessman Jeremy Johnson to pay as much as $600,000 to get Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada, to halt an FTC investigation into Johnson’s business. Swallow says the money—of which Johnson paid only $250,000—was sent through a third party to “lobby” Reid on Johnson’s behalf and was not any kind of bribe. There’s a federal investigation under way to determine the true scope of the scandal, but what is certain right now is that, guilty or not of the allegations, Swallow has started his first term as attorney general hobbled by controversy.
2. Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control
3. Greg Peterson

Best Take on Mitt Romney’s “Bane” Capital
Bane Capital
—The Dark Knight Rises (and Election 2012)
Timed with the release of The Dark Knight Rises, the Utah County filmmakers of the YouTube channel Warialasky released three minutes of delicious political satire casting Batman’s foe Bane—complete with sinister voice, gas mask and expensive suit—as the head of “Bane Capital.” It’s League of Shadows meets Fortune 500 as Bane doles out ruthless business advice to some terror-stricken suits at a board meeting, including a choice moment when Bane punishes a lackey for bringing him coffee—”When this economy is in ashes, you have permission to die.”

Best Political Tough Talk
"Uncle Joe" Fabiano for Congress

While many conservative Utah politicians talk tough when it comes to fighting the federal government, “Uncle Joe” Fabiano’s campaign took tough talk to borderline threats of violence. The campaign website for Fabiano’s failed bid for Utah’s 1st Congressional seat features a photo of Fabiano, baseball bat in hand, along with talking points like, “Congress is in for a thrashing” and “When I see the violation of my liberty, my children’s liberty and my countrymen’s liberty, you better believe my hand tightens into a fist.” And last, but not least: “To the members of Congress, I’m bringing a clear message from We The People ... ’Get out of our way, or we’re coming for you!’”


Best Geek-Girl Podcast
Hello, Sweetie!

Most geek-related shows will try to pass themselves off as the “cool kids” who just happened to be nerdy growing up. However, Danielle Alles, Kristal Starr Nielsen, Rebecca Frost (City Weekly digital editor Bill Frost’s daughter) and Charity Mack own being nerdy. When off-air, you might find them in cosplay at an event, drinking fellow geeks under the table, nailing every Doctor Who reference you can think of, or “pwning” you at a video game. The show’s mix of geek news and information paired with the ladies’ penchant for off-topic hilarity makes Hello, Sweetie! one of the funniest and knowledgeable podcasts in town.

Best Reality-Accepting Editorial
American Fork Citizen

In a surprisingly candid editorial, Danny Crivello, editor of Provo’s Daily Herald blog American Fork Citizen, reflected on gay acceptance in the country and within his own LDS faith after The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints launched, its website for gay members. While Crivello didn’t quite say that his church has erred, he situates the debate about gay acceptance in a personal and important historical context: “My grandpa served in Hitler’s army. I remember growing up ashamed of being the son of a German,” Crivello wrote. “I’m a member of a church that, in my lifetime, has discriminated against blacks. You could say that I know a bit about being on the wrong side of history.”

Best Immigrant Advocate
Centro de la Familia de Utah

Under the leadership of former activist and small-business guru Gonzalo Palza, Centro de la Familia weathered restructuring to emerge as a professional advocate and service provider for migrant workers. As Utah’s only Head Start program for migrant workers, serving low-income and mobile migrant families from one end of the valley to the other, Centro is both a trusted name in Latino advocacy and a powerful tool in improving the lives of some of the Beehive State’s most marginalized residents, along with encouraging Latino entrepreneurial talents to study and contribute to the community. Viva Centro!
525 S. 300 West, Salt Lake City, 801-521-4473,

Best Doomsday Preppers
Transition Salt Lake

If your vision of the end is based on a breakdown of the fossil-fuel-driven economy rather than on hellfire and brimstone, then you might be interested in checking out Transition Salt Lake. This small end-days group teaches free monthly “re-skilling” classes, with lessons in self-reliance this current generation can’t get an app for: gardening, building solar ovens, canning fruit and more. Learn how to take care of yourself and your community at the same time, with no tinfoil hats or machetes required for membership.


Best GhostBusters
4 Element Paranormal Investigations

You never know when a serious haunting might strike your home, business or that weird cabinet you bought from a gypsy lady at the fair. Luckily, Utah is the home of 4 Element Paranormal Investigations. Founded by Timothy Shirley and Lindsay Urry, this small team of spookbusters has all the necessary tools and gadgets and has studied Utah’s scariest places. For no charge, they’ll investigate anything that seems out of the ordinary, so you can sleep a little better tonight.

Best Party for Queer Women
Sex-Ed Conference & Tie One On Party

The annual October Sex-ed Conference is a space for queer women (and their allies) to become educated about sexual-health issues pertinent to those in diverse, queer and women-identified communities. Workshops offered at 2012’s conference included Let’s Be (Lisa) Frank: Safe Sex for Womyn, and a panel discussion on nonmonogamy for those curious about open relationships. In the evening, there is a speed-dating event called Tie One On, which includes prizes for the sexiest tie, and a dance afterward.

Best Communal Change
Revolution United

Everyone speaks of revolution, but few take real action, making Revolution United inspirational for the local community. The nonprofit uses transparency, group involvement and public donations to fund projects and events that help the community in small ways, such as cleaning up the community, adding temporary artwork to the streets, supporting rallies and creating a public forum for change, all from pocket change and spare cash.

Best Activist
Tim deChristopher
It’s been a long journey since that fateful day in late December 2008, when climate activist Tim DeChristopher derailed an oil- and gas-lease auction of federal land, only to be sent to prison for his troubles. Released to a halfway house in Salt Lake City in October 2012, DeChristopher currently works at Ken Sanders Rare Books and is planning his first public address in two years upon the official completion of his sentence in April. But the symbol of civil disobedience in the West has remained a potent figure for our readers even during his forced silence. He was the subject of the independent documentary Bidder 70, and activist groups inspired by DeChristopher’s actions have continued shaking up the status quo in support of environmental causes.
2. Homeless-advocate Pamela Atkinson
3. LGBT advocate Troy Williams

Best Environmental Power Play
Outdoor Industry Association's Call for Canyonlands National Monument

With Utah’s lawmakers burning through tax dollars in longshot lawsuits to try to grab public lands in Utah away from the federal guv’ment, another group is proposing the feds grab Utah land to preserve it. Following the re-election of President Barack Obama, the Outdoor Industry Association, a group that meets and brings more than $40 million annually to the local economy, petitioned Obama to use his executive authority to create a Canyonlands National Monument to protect 1.4 million pristine acres from the state’s drill-crazy developers. With a simple signature, the president can make such a designation without congressional approval, and that’s why companies like Patagonia and local biz leaders like Black Diamond and are going all in to ask the president to pardon Utah’s most beautiful lands from the state’s drill & destroy crowd.

Best Political News Site
Utah Political Capitol

Formed by political junkies Eric Ethington and Curtis Haring, Utah Political Capitol looks to hook Utahns into the latest news, analyses of legislative bills, election coverage and more. Besides translating the dense double-talk of political laws and bills, the site also offers a podcast and a handy citizen-empowering feature called One-click Democracy, which allows users to simply type in their addresses to be directed to their elected representatives, where they can write a message about the bill affecting them most and send it off immediately. What this means to you is that taking an active role in the democratic process now requires the same amount of time as making a Netflix pick.

Best Utahn
Jon Huntsman Jr.
He may not have set the national political stage on fire with his short-lived presidential campaign, but the perfectly coiffed Utahn remains dear to our readers’ hearts. He embodies the hope that many moderate Utahns have for a better political future. Who can forget how he dragged Utah’s antiquated liquor laws shivering into the light? As he continues to publicly push issues like gay marriage, he might struggle to get Republican buy-in. But he’ll certainly gets our readers’ vote for representing the best this state has to offer.
Twitter: @JonHuntsman
2. Gov. Gary Herbert
3. Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker

Worst Utahn
Shannon Barnson, Geek Show Podcast

How does a mild-mannered(ish) podcast panelist and geek-trivia host beat out veteran Utah villains like Orrin Hatch and Gayle Ruzicka for Worst Utahn? At first, Shannon Barnson’s large-margin victory looked like a gag pulled by the Geek Show Podcast and their online minions. At second glance … yeah, still a gag. But, when you look at it from a different angle, it makes sense. As Barnson explains, Worst Utahn can also mean not complying with local stereotypes: “I don’t have a giant insulated mug that I fill with soda every morning. I hate snow. I’ve never been mountain biking. I’ve never been to Moab, Zion or any of those dumb outside places. I call one person ‘brother’—my brother. I’ve never stood in line outside a new chain restaurant after one opens in Utah. I’m 41 and have one child. I’ve never voted for a Republican, and my underwear isn’t magical.” See? He really is the Worst.
2. U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch
3. Gov. Gary Herbert

Best “Chi to Your Day” Personal Trainer
Lya Wodraska

The female equivalent of Clark Kent, Lya Wodraska is an unassuming newspaper reporter by day, covering sports for The Salt Lake Tribune. But in the evening and early morning hours, Wodraska rips off her glasses and her tweed jacket to reveal her inner superstar as a personal trainer and fitness instructor. Not only does she lead 6 a.m. spinning classes at Bodywise Fitness at Foothill Village, but as a Paul Chek exercise and holistic lifestyle coach, Wodraska is able to help her clients awaken to their “chi” and learn what makes their bodies tick. Her emails about nutrition, whole-food discounts and free classes on how to use fitness products are further evidence that she’s a trainer with great concern for her clients.


Best Un-Firing
Todd Nuke 'Em, x96

Everyone makes mistakes. While the radio bosses might not come right out and say it, it was pretty clear that the December 2011 dismissal of original X96 DJ Todd Nuke ’Em was a terrible move. Within a matter of months, it was evident in the response (and the ratings) that Todd’s removal fixed nothing and simply pissed off listeners. Within six months, Nuke ’Em was back on the air in his old shift, cranking out his endless supply of Depeche Mode B-sides and helping people make it home through the evening drive.
96.3 FM, afternoons,


Best Local Podcast
Geek Show Podcast

Fighting off several other contenders to the throne, including a dozen other geek-related podcasts, Geek Show Podcast rose to prominence by gathering an A team of well-versed personalities who know their genres and can make fun of them, too. Holding hard the Mystery Science Theater 3000 mantra of “it’s just a show, you should really just relax,” the show goes beyond just covering geek news and discussing it. On top of all this, April 2013 will mark the show’s five-year anniversary, a major feat for anyone in the podcast medium.
2. The Let’s Go Eat Show
3. Hello, Sweetie!

More Best of Utah 2013:








Pin It

More by City Weekly Staff


    Temporary Museum for Permanent Change: Refiner's Fire, Salt Lake Film Society Studio Backlot Motor Cinema: The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Sackerson: Cherry Wine in Paper Cups, and more.
    • Sep 23, 2020
  • MUSIC PICKS: Sept 24 - 30

    Oktoberfest Must Go On, SoFar Sounds Free Streams, Early Autumn in Urban Lounge's Backyard, and more.
    • Sep 23, 2020

    TedX Salt Lake, Felipe Esparza @ Wiseguys Gateway, Front Row Film Roast Online Edition: Fight Club, and more.
    • Sep 16, 2020
  • More »

Latest in Best of Utah

  • Best of Utah 2020

    • Aug 13, 2020
  • Best of Utah 2019

    Our 30th annual ode to the people, places and businesses that make life in the Beehive State great.
    • Nov 21, 2019
  • Best of Utah 2018

    An ode to the people, places, products and services that make life the Beehive State exceptional.
    • Nov 14, 2018
  • More »

© 2020 Salt Lake City Weekly

Website powered by Foundation