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Media – Best of 2011

by The Staff on July 14, 2011 · 4 comments

Best Daily Newspaper

The Daily Gazette


The best local, general-interest paper we have, with strong local news and sports coverage. And they still have the best comics page in town.

Best Print Reporter

Brendon Lyons

The Times Union

Senior writer for the Times Union, Brendan Lyons is a true investigative journalist: digging deep, breaking stories and keeping people honest. This year, his coverage of union reps coaching Albany Police officers through DWI arrests shook things up in the department. We hope he keeps it up.

Best Print Columnist

Carl Strock

The Daily Gazette

To be a terrific columnist, you must be a good reporter and you must be opinionated. You also have to balance those two conflicting impulses, have a wide range of cultural interests, and be something of a literary stylist. And you have to be able to get pissed off sometimes, and show this anger in your column, too. Strock has all these qualities.

Best Political Reporter (Multimedia)

Elizabeth Benjamin


“Liz” says this; “Liz” says that. Albany’s premier political journalist has earned one-name status—and she deserves it. Benjamin juggles a must-read state political blog, hosts Capitol Tonight and runs marathons in her spare time—all like a boss.

Best Capitol Correspondent (Print)

Jimmy Vielkind

The Times Union

Young Jimmy Vielkind is the kind of reporter you want your local paper to have stationed at the state Capitol—a smart, principled and even nice scribe whose writing actually compels people to read from the lede to the final period. He gets people to tell him stuff too . . . important stuff.

Best TV News

NewsChannel 13


Our friendly local TV news channels all spin the same stories, but the folks at Newschannel 13 are just a notch above the rest in experience, production and personality.

Best TV News Anchor

Lydia Kulbida


Gone are the days when the 6-and-11-PM newscasts were the only times people watched local news. Lydia Kulbida co-anchors three newscasts on WTEN, none of them airing at 11 PM; all of these telecasts benefit from her long journalist’s experience and community involvement.

Best TV Weatherman (Interactive)

Steve Caporizzo


Want the complete forecast? Tune into channel 10, and chief meterologist Steve Caporizzo will give you the rundown. Want a quick hit? Visit WTEN’s website, and you can catch him there. Want to know what’s happening right now? Sign up for Caporizzo’s Twitter feed. He’s the 21st-century weatherman. And he’ll probably let you know about a worthy cat or dog that needs a home, too.

Best TV Weatherman (Dramatic)

Tim Drawbridge


Of course we want an accurate and comprehensive weather report, but let’s face it: Today we’re never more than a few clicks away from an array of forecasts. So why do we tune in to hear the live weather report? Because nobody—nobody—delivers your highs and lows and pressure fronts with the flair and aplomb of Tim Drawbridge

Best Radio News

WAMC Northeast Public Radio


WAMC still has no competition for this award. Its web of affiliate stations, from the Hudson Valley to the Capital Region to the Berkshires to the Pioneer Valley to Vermont, forms a network of news bureaus that provide a fascinating snapshot of the entire region. Kudos to news director Katie Britton and WAMC’s crack team of journalists.

Best Radio Arts Coverage

The Roundtable


In the decade since its inception, this award-winning weekday morning radio program, hosted by Joe Donahue and produced by Sarah LaDuke, has been brightening Capital Region airwaves with engaging discussions and A-list interviews, covering, well, just about everything. But what we appreciate about the Round Table the most is their top-notch arts coverage. Highlights this year: Steve Martin, Sam Rockwell and Jessica Hecht discussed their craft. This is national-quality programming grown right here in Albany.

Best Talk Radio Station

Talk 1300 AM


If you’re interested in local or state politics, you have to listen to Paul Vandenburgh’s Talk 1300 AM. Local news is at the heart of discussions on Vandenburgh’s morning show; state officials and pols break news on Live From the State Capitol With Fred Dicker; and the mayor of Albany has a must-listen weekly program. Talk 1300 also has more general interest local programming than any other talk station—by a mile.

Best Independent Radio Station


The Exit 97.7, WEXT, just celebrated its fourth year on the airwaves but it’s we who should be celebrating. The FM dial has become a desolate expanse of canned pop, tired classic rock and corporate country music, so EXT’s conviction to “leave regular radio behind” has fallen on eager ears. No other station plays more independent music and supports more local musicians.

Best Commercial Radio Station


There’s something almost quaint about what WEQX does: Introduce local listeners to fresh new music and cradle it in the road-tested hits of the past couple decades. Then they go the extra mile to bring those artists to town, curating some of the best local shows by national artists this area sees.

Best Community Radio Station


According to the volunteers who labored for three years to make 90.7 WGXC a reality, the radio waves are public space to which every citizen has a right. Since it started broadcasting in January (indeed before), the community-operated radio station has become a model of democratic organization, a beacon for arts and info in the Hudson Valley and an anchor for the progressive community.

Best College Radio Station


WCDB 90.9 is what a college radio station ought to be: an unruly congregation of students, local musicians, audiophiles and maniacs, given enough training to operate the soundboard without breaking it and enough leeway to do whatever the hell they feel like with that electromagnetic frequency. B3nson Radio, Bat Terrible!, Deep Children Radio and The Many Moods of Sir Walford are just a few of the station’s fine offerings.

Best Indie Rock Show

Hello Pretty City-Laura Glazer_lz

Best Indie Rock Show - Hello Pretty City

Hello Pretty City

We lust after Laura Glazer’s iPod. Her weekly two-hour WEXT show Hello Pretty City is the most tasteful and perspicacious roundup of contemporary indie rock on the radio dial. You’re bound to hear something you know and love as well as something that will send you to the interwebs to scrape up more.

Best Hip-Hop Radio Show

The Capital Coup

If kids still carried those monster ghettoblasters instead of iPhones and earbuds, the Capital Coup on WCDB would be bumping on every stoop in Albany. Every Friday night, Lo-Fi Lobo spins his “local hip-hop takeover,” required listening for anyone with an ear to local (or just plain good) beats and rhymes. Makes you want to prop the laptop on your shoulder.

Best Folk Music Radio

Hudson River Sampler


Every Saturday evening, host Wanda Fischer plays music for the soul. Folk music. Music that’s old and new, from a variety of traditions; music that knits together listeners into a community. She’s also a knowledgable, funny host with a great voice, which matters a great deal. Listen, and you’ll hear what we mean.

Best Radio Nostalgia (Delightfully Insidious)

105.7 Crush FM


When Crush FM launched six months ago, we didn’t learn about it from a press release. Almost every store or pizza joint we ducked into was bathed in a ’90s-music glow. We liked it. We wondered if this glow came from a satellite, but, no, local terrestrial radio. Imagine that.

Best Weekend Radio Host

Joe Gallagher


Joe Gallagher’s weekend morning show on WGY is an oasis of gentle humor and information in a heavily political medium. Sometimes we want a break from the arguments of the day; sometimes we just want the news, weather, sports, gardening tips from that gardening dude, movie reviews from Jay Bobbin, and dumb jokes from the host. (Really dumb jokes from the host.)

Best Radio Zookeeper

Ray Graf

Vox Pop (Extended Hour), WAMC

WAMC recently ended its experiment with an extra free-for-all hour of its popular call-in show, Vox Pop. We can’t say we’ll miss the conspiracy enthusiasts, but we do want to note the grace, humor and patience host Ray Graf showed while dealing with conspiracy enthusiasts.

Best On-the-Spot Blogging

Keep Albany Boring

“Brocial media” mavens Keep Albany Boring became an overnight sensation this spring when they culled and posted a veritable highlight reel of Kegs and Eggs YouTube footage, simultaneously crashing their site under the sudden weight of traffic and establishing the arts-and-culture blog as the freshest new voice in the Albany mediascape.

Best Grassroots Internet Advocacy

Albany Chicken Coalition

Jen Pursley and Michael Guidice made powerful use of social networking this year, creating a vital forum in the fight to legalize their feathered friends within Albany’s borders. The grassroots organization used their tech savvy to argue their case, unified support, disseminated facts and tracked their media coverage and progress. They even won the battle, securing majority support from the common council—until Jennings laid public opinion on the chopping block and vetoed the bill.

Best Progressive Twitter Provocateur


An editor for the UAlbany Sentinel, Collins truly shines on social media like Twitter, where he tends to eviscerate frauds and phonies like John Boehner and Albany Citizen One.

Best Food Blog

Steve Barnes

Table Hopping

A repeat winner, TU scribe Steve Barnes’ Table Hopping blog is where Capital Region foodies go for their fix of food and restaurant news and gossip, to join in the conversation about food and dining trends and issues, and to find out where Andy Plummer will turn up next. Barnes loves food and food talk, and his many readers love to keep up on what he’s talking about.

Best Go-It-Alone Blog Emperor

J. Eric Smith

Indie Albany

Back in September 2010, TimesUnion.com blogger J. Eric Smith left the region’s leviathan blogtopus over political ads popping up next to his posts. While we, like our friends at the TU, are shameless in our pursuit of the dollar, we salute Mr. Smith, an ex-Metroland freelancer, and his similarly pure-hearted colleagues at Indie Albany. Long may they bloviate, about Casey Anthony and such, in commercial-free quiet.