Best of Utah 2011: Media & Politics | Best of Utah | Salt Lake City
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Best of Utah

Best of Utah 2011: Media & Politics


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Best Reporter
Stephen Dark, City Weekly
Many great reporters have worked the keyboards at City Weekly. Combined, they've won hundreds of journalism awards. But few have had the raw ambition to get better with every piece of writing, with every assignment, with every story. Stephen would be the first to tell you he had a lot to learn when he joined our ranks several years ago (actually, he had less to learn than he believes). But, learn he did, all the way to being named 2009 Best Newspaper Reporter by the Utah Headliners chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. A Stephen Dark story is one that will not only engage a reader, but also make that reader feel a strong connect with the subject. Perhaps it's his polite British roots that enable him to make peace with the most onerous of characters, allowing them to reveal matters they would not tell a lesser interviewer. Stephen takes that material and spins it into a tale of utter conviction because, first and foremost, Stephen is a man of conviction himself, replete with a strong ethical and moral base that never wavers. Two things to know about Stephen: He's a boxer—the gentleman's sport—and he's a fantastic fire and grilling cook, learned during his time spent in Argentina. And you thought reporters were just heavy drinkers.
2. Robert Gehrke (The Salt Lake Tribune)3. Jesse Fruhwirth (City Weekly)

Best Biographical Book
Derek Hunter Is a F**k
Those who know the Pirate Club creator are already aware of his tales of dickish behavior, but the public in general was thankfully unaware of it all ... until now. Stories of trying to get laid, roommate torture, surprising life changes and horrible times spent in Utah County fill the hilarious comic and give readers an unexpected look into the normally private artist’s early college years. Not a shabby read for $3.

Best Beer-Guzzling Siskel & Ebert
The Big Movie Mouth-Off
Two beard-stroking movie critics yakking about the latest movies may lead you to fear tweedy academic discourse on the “cinemah.” But former Deseret News (and now MSN) critic Jeff Vice and his “heterosexual life partner,” SLUG’s Jimmy Martin, bring the same lively banter characteristic of their Geek Show Podcast interplay to a TV incarnation. Sitting at a table in Brewvies with mugs of beer, Vice and Martin cover the range of local releases from action spectacle to serious drama, mixing the insight of the hard-core movie buff with the light touch of the geeky enthusiast.
Xfinity On Demand,

Best Tipsy Poli-Sci Fix
Drinking Liberally at Piper Down
Sometimes you’ve just got to get down with a group of like-minded lefties—even better if you can toss back some cocktails and engage in a bit of lively political discussion. That’s what Drinking Liberally is all about. Twice a month, Piper Down transforms into Glenn Beck’s worst nightmare, with dozens of free-thinking nutcakes led by guest speakers such as enviro activist Tim DeChristopher and U professor Tim Chambless. Fight the power!
Second & fourth Friday of the month, 6:30-9:30 p.m., Piper Down, 1492 S. State, Salt Lake City,

Best Radio Station
It’s almost impossible to find someone who doesn’t listen to 96.3 at some point during the day or night; the station has achieved the marketing dream of having its brand ingrained in the brains of every desirable demographic in the land. X96’s current on-air roster is leaner than it’s ever been—the veteran Radio From Hell show in the morning, Marci Wiser mid-days, Todd Nuke’Em afternoons and Corey O’Brien evenings—but they still connect with The Kids (and The Parents). X96 also recently righted a long-running wrong, with O’Brien re-instituting a local-music slot on the station (Listen Local First, Thursdays at 9 p.m.), and it seems that more new music is creeping into the grunge-leftovers “alternative” playlist, as well.
X96.com2. KRCL 90.93. 97.1 ZHT

Best Citizen Journalist
Eric Ethington
With a combination of local and national news—as well as firsthand reports from the blogger himself—Eric Ethington’s Pride in Utah blog sets a high bar for citizen journalism. He’s one of Utah’s pre-eminent gay-rights activists—and thus is sometimes the subject of his own news reports—but readers don’t have to worry about hidden bias in Ethington’s reports because he honestly tells you where he’s coming from. He’s a firebrand, for sure, but that seems appropriate for a community that itself is beset with a burning desire for societal change.

Best Green Vision
Utah may not be the most forward-thinking state when it comes to reducing its carbon footprint, but the brains at HEAL Utah could help our state move from brown to green. After three years of study, the group developed the Renewable Roadmap, which shows how Utah can reduce its current levels of carbon emission by 100 percent in the year 2050, using a combination of solar, wind and geothermal power. Better yet, the plan isn’t just based on some hippies’ best intentions—it’s designed using existing technologies. The roadmap is there; now it’s just a matter of getting Utah policymakers to ask for directions toward a greener future for Utah’s energy needs.

Best Mormon Myth Busters
Whether it’s Bunko Night busybodies or a clutch of ex-Mos enjoying a pint at their favorite bar, Utahns of all stripes—active and non—like to talk about the LDS Church, especially rumors. Finally, a site has dedicated itself to dispelling—or verifying—urban legends about the Latter-day Saints. Here, you can check on which famous people are Mormon (Ted Bundy? Yes, until he became a Hindu on death row. Eliza Dushku? No, but her family is). There are also interesting folklore and trivia tidbits, like the idea that Cain is Bigfoot, or which presidential administration was staffed with the most Mormons. While the site leans strongly to the apologetic side, it also admits it’s not meant to be serious. That being said, we would contend they’re just playing nice by asserting that Yoda was not modeled after LDS Church President Spencer Kimball.

Best Public Radio Station
KUER 90.1
With the mind-numbing glut of conservative talk radio and redundant music stations along the Wasatch, it’s comforting to overhear so many conversations begin with, “I heard this on NPR ...” A smart mix of National Public Radio programming and local content, like Doug Fabrizio’s RadioWest and Steve Williams’ Nighttime Jazz, makes KUER 90.1’s programming tough to beat—not just in Zion, but across the United States. Should anyone ever accuse you of being a “dumb Utahn,” simply reference KUER and drive off triumphantly in your hybrid.
KUER.org2. KRCL 90.93. KCPW 88.3

Best Campaign
I Am Equal
With the simple gesture of painting a logo onto the palm of their hands, thousands of Utahns have lined up to get their photo taken for this grass-roots campaign. Photographer Matt Spencer and Jason Beckett started the project with the goal of getting 100,000 people to pledge solidarity for human rights and equality, starting in the equality hotbed of Salt Lake City. Now the campaign is branching out to other U.S. cities with plans for a global tour.

Best Community Collaboration
Originally created to be a notepad forum for the poetic reader, Jake Trimble started his Website in hopes of inspiring the community at large with anonymous photographed chapbook posts. But his personal life took precedence, and he shut it down months after it started. Overwhelming public demand (along with a 2009 Best Of Utah win) encouraged him to bring it back. Relaunched to be submission-friendly, anyone can anonymously upload a picture or written work. All material on the collaborative project is shared freely, without author names or credits, as an open source of creativity and as a public journal encouragement. This is a form of art the public can truly call their own.

Best Radio Show
Radio From Hell, X96
Radio From Hell has won this category for at least 10 years running now—we’ve kind of lost count, and we’re pretty sure Kerry Jackson, Bill Allred and Gina Barberi have, too. It’s still the morning radio show for people who hate morning radio shows, free of the tired trappings of consultant-approved gimmicks and “wackiness”; just three (or four, counting producer Richie T. Steadman) real people riffing in a real funny manner on the news, pop culture or whatever happens to be pissing them off lately (it’s a growing list). Asked to provide a single-word comment on their latest BOU victory, we received: “Ack!” (Bill), “Humble” (Gina), “Spoiled” (Richie) and “Q’apla!” (Kerry). That’ll do.
Weekdays, 5:30-10 a.m., Z Morning Zoo, 97.1 ZHT3. Maximum Distortion, KRCL 90.9

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