Best of Utah 2014: Media & Politics | Best of Utah | Salt Lake City

Best of Utah 2014: Media & Politics 

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Best Neighborhood Watch for the Have-Nots
The Legacy Initiative
Since 2012, the Legacy Initiative has been filling backpacks with bottled water and burritos and doing one-on-one outreach with Salt Lake City’s homeless residents. The group started simply as a band of friends who decided to help the less fortunate with food and, more importantly, friendship. In 2013, they began doing night patrols near the downtown shelters and around Pioneer Park to help prevent crime and assist those who’ve passed out or are in need of medical attention. The Utah County group’s mission has always been service, not sermonizing, and lifting up those in desperate circumstances, not looking down on them.

Best Female Power
Real Women Run
Ready for some bummer stats? How about the fact that women make up half of all Utahns, but none hold federal or statewide office? Or the fact that only seven states rank lower than Utah in terms of the number of female legislators? The numbers get worse, but the good news is that, thanks to a partnership between several groups—including Salt Lake Community College and the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics—there are folks actively encouraging and helping women to organize runs for office. Hosting numerous training events where women can learn everything from fundraising to campaign strategy, Real Women Run is working hard to bring gender equality to Utah’s stuffy patriarchal power establishment.

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Best Anchorwoman

Hope Woodside, Fox 13
Seventeen years—that’s how long Fox 13’s Hope Woodside has been your favorite female anchor in these hallowed Best of Utah pages. Her natural warmth and confidence translates through the screen effortlessly every weeknight, and if Woodside reported that hundreds of sasquatches had swarmed the Capitol to protest the criminalization of Bigfoot unions, you’d believe her (and we’d love to see that lead the newscasts on April Fools’ Day, please). Here’s to the most trusted woman on Fox 13—after Marge Simpson, that is.
Fox 13, 5 p.m. & 9 p.m. weeknights,, Twitter: @HopeWoodside
2. Mary Nickles, KUTV 2

3. Shauna Lake, KUTV 2

Best Connections

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Susen Sawatzki
For more than 30 years, she’s known everybody—everybody who matters, that is. The founder of AdNews magazine, Susen Sawatzki is the Kevin Bacon of Salt Lake City—her connections span the ranks of everything cool and creative, and we’re at the one-degree level. AdNews brings together talented people in the marketing, communication and media sectors—we should know, having had the benefit of her bright ideas in the early days of City Weekly, when founder and executive editor John Saltas, Sawatzki and Greta Belanger deJong of Catalyst spent many hours “sitting in dark bars trying to figure it out on napkins how this might work,” as Sawatzki puts it now. Well, work it did, and the Salt Lake City media landscape is better for Sawatzki and her influence.

Best Place to Teach and Be Taught
Glendale & Mountain View Community Learning Center

A project of the University of Utah’s Office of Engagement, the Glendale Community Learning Center provides classes and services to help the community members gain access to education and connect with the people, places and opportunities around them. The center offers medical services, English-language classes and more, and those who want to be involved in building a stronger community can also help teach classes or assist those who are applying for scholarships. It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes collaboration to make our city the best it can be.
1388 S. Navajo St., Room 155, Salt Lake City, 801-974-1902,

VIP Voter
Real Salt Lake’s Kyle Beckerman

During Kyle Beckerman’s first years with Real Salt Lake—he moved to Utah in 2007 from the Colorado Rapids—he’d usually take off for wilder climes once the season ended, heading to surf off the coast of Peru and engage in other faraway adventures.

But Real’s dreadlocked captain has calmed down a bit, becoming a fan of hiking and fly-fishing. “Some of the best fishing in the world is right in our backyard,” Beckerman says. He’ll go to the Provo River and stand in the shallows for hours, flicking a line out over the water in search of rainbow trout.

Beckerman has led Real from the days when former head coach Jason Kreis switched him from being a goal-scoring forward to a midfielder who still has moments when he can sizzle in a scorcher from outside the penalty box. And he’s also absorbed Kreis’ mantra that the team comes first. That philosophy, Beckerman says, saw the core of talented young players that Kreis and general manager Garth Lagerwey put together win the Major League Soccer cup final in 2009. Every year since, Beckerman says, Real has been “a steady part of the elite in the league, always at the top of the table.”

Beckerman is at a point in his professional soccer career that while, he says, “I will play professional as long as possible,” he knows it will eventually end. He recently married a Salt Lake City woman—a former City Weekly intern—and whether or not he settles in Utah for good, he intends to keep a home here. He’s a fan of the local dining scene, usually stopping at the Park Café for game-day breakfasts.

His pride in his team and its achievements, even as Real enters a new era under head coach Jeff Cassar, remains undaunted. “If you are going to win a championship, you’re going to have to go through Salt Lake.”

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Best Public Radio Station
KRCL 90.9 FM
KRCL 90.9 is still the only real choice for local music lovers who’re not yet ready to turn their playlist needs over to DJ Spotify. Overnight programs like Vagabond Radio and Thursday Night Psyche-Out and weekenders like Afternoon Delight and Loud & Clear Youth Radio keep KRCL’s original freak-flag fire alive, and Bad Brad Wheeler’s weekday-closer A Little Bit Louder Now is the only drive-time soundtrack you need.
2. KUER 90.1

3. KCPW 88.3

Best Hardest-Working Man In Sports Radio
Bill Riley, KALL 700
Being a program director for a radio station sounds like it would be a full-time job on its own. Yet given Bill Riley’s omnipresence behind a microphone, his behind-the-scenes job for ESPN 700 might seem like it’s just a hobby. When he’s not co-hosting the afternoon-drive Bill & Hans Show, he’s calling play-by-play for University of Utah football and basketball. And when he’s not calling games for the Utes, he’s calling games for Real Salt Lake. It’s amazing he ever has a moment to catch his breath, let alone rest his voice.
AM 700,, Twitter: @ESPNBillRiley

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Best Local on Twitter
Ben Winslow
Whenever Fox 13 reporter Ben Winslow disappears from your Twitter feed for a day or so, it’s easy to feel like you’re missing out on some important information—breaking news, a legislative update, what mood music he’s listening to at the moment, etc. Winslow’s sent out more than 80,000 tweets since discovering his other medium, and yet unconsidered throwaways are a rarity (even his tunes are solid picks). Don’t let some “social media guru” sell you some cheap Twitter tricks; just follow this guy and learn.
Twitter: @BenWinslow
2. Chris Jones, @JonesNews

3. Bill Frost, @Bill_Frost

Best Legal Reading
Justice Matthew Durrant’s decision on Debra Brown
Many saw the Attorney General’s Office’s decision to take its challenge of Debra Brown’s factual innocence in a 1993 killing to the Utah Supreme Court as a dubious last-ditch attempt to slam the door on Brown, who’d already served 17 years in prison. Justice Matthew Durrant’s magnificent 29-page opinion on why the original finding was correct, handed down in July 2013, is gripping, beautifully written prose, a seemingly effortless demolition of the AG’s hollow arguments. Legal briefs can be dry as dust, but this one has the very lifeblood of justice flowing through its veins.


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Best Political Movement
Same-sex Marriage in Utah
For a short, beautiful moment, same-sex marriage in Utah was an incredible win-win for the state. It provided people who love each other the legal recognition and protection to take care of each other, raise families, and have their feelings validated—and it provided conservatives with a reason to roll around on the ground in fits. Even though same-sex marriage didn’t cause heterosexual couples to spontaneously combust, the state has persisted in appealing the case to higher courts and shelling out major taxpayer dollars to fund the case for state-sanctioned discrimination. That’s why it’s been amazing seeing the support thrown behind the folks of Restore Our Humanity, who are raising funds to cover the legal bills in the fight for marriage equality.
2. Clean Air

3. Count My Vote

Best Reinventor
Mark Eaton
You might think legendary Jazz baller Mark Eaton’s path toward basketball glory became clear the moment he shot up past 7 feet. But that’s not the way Eaton rolls. He worked as an auto mechanic post-high school until a customer encouraged him to try out for the local junior-college basketball team. He made it and was eventually drafted by the Phoenix Suns, but elected to instead return to college ball, where he rode the bench at UCLA. Still, he was drafted by the Utah Jazz, where he challenged the thinking that “the best defense is a good offense.” The best defense was Mark Eaton. He still holds the NBA record for most blocked shots in a season and the record for the highest career average blocked shots per game. Post-retirement, Eaton reinvented himself yet again—as a restaurateur. After a couple of promising starts that eventually fizzled, he struck gold with the award-winning Tuscany and Franck’s restaurants. Now, in his latest reinvention, Eaton is mining those stories of struggles and successes to make a big impact on the motivational-speaker circuit.

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