for all, and all for 102.7: WEQX.
Best Music Radio
attributable to changes in staffing or a shakeup in the lunar cycle,
something really good is happening over in Manchester. The station’s
live stream is finally back online. They continue making high marks
for the new-music show Download, and they’ve added super
syndicated shows like Paul Oakenfold Presents and Passport
Approved (which reminds us of the long-missed Rock Over London)
to their schedule. Best of all, they moved their local-music program,
EQX-Posure, to a more- accessible Sunday-night slot (see
below), making it easier for local bands to hear their shit on the
radio. Good work, team.
Minded Disc Jockey
resident Irwin pulls the Sunday shift in EQX land, hauling his butt
into the wilds of Vermont for a full day of broadcasting. Late at
night, he unfurls his pet project and labor of love, the one-hour
EQX-Posure. That is, it used to be late at night,
but his time slot has been bumped up to the prime-time 7 PM. Irwin
packs as many singles as he can from local groups into that hour,
and a bulk of those songs come from Capital Region bands. Irwin’s
attention to local groups has even prompted the station to play
a song by a local act most weeknights at 11 PM. No other DJ in the
area gives so much exposure to so many local musicians—pretty darn
good for commercial radio. But then again, the fiercely independent
WEQX has always marched to a different drummer than the corporate
chain stations. Anyone who’s supported local musicians (ask any
Metroland scribe) knows that it can be a thankless task.
But Irwin seems more than up to the challenge.
Best Arts Radio
Each week on
The Book Show, Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina talks with an author
about their work. It sounds simple, but this is much more than typical
bookchat. Gerzina is a thoughtful reader, and her interviews are
engaging and probing. (If she has a bad reaction to an aspect of
a book, she brings it up with the author; conversely, if she especially
likes something, she’ll ask about that, too.) There is a pleasing
variety in the guests, as Gerzina interviews authors from a variety
of fiction genres, as well as biographers, journalists and essayists.
There really is nothing else in its class.
Curiosity Shop (on the Radio)
has been hosting Tribute every Thursday evening on WRPI for
decades now, maintaining much the same format. He features one musical
artist and tells informative, often fascinating stories about their
career. Sometimes it’s someone so well-known you think there’s nothing
more to learn about them (like, say, Bing Crosby). Sometimes it’s
an unknown R&B singer so good it makes you question your own
musical knowledge: “If I’m so damned smart why have I never heard
of this singer before?” Either way, Roberts, with his calm, almost
hypnotic voice, makes you feel like you’re sharing a great musical
discovery—which you probably are.
Best Geek Radio
or not, video-game music is blowing up. Yes, soundtracks from
actual video games. A series of video-game music concerts were
recently presented at the Hollywood Bowl. If you’d like to get hip,
tune in to WRPI any Tuesday between 7 and 10 PM for VGMemories.
You’ll hear everything from majestic symphonic scores to cheesy
synthesizer music to ghastly examples of bad voice-acting. In between,
you’ll hear the knowledgeable hosts (i.e., the geeks) discuss the
games the music was composed for. If you’re still unconvinced, think
of this genre as the new film music; since it’s largely from Japan
and not Hollywood, it mostly doesn’t suck.
Given the number
of awards we’ve bestowed on them, it’s clear we’re fans of WRPI-FM.
And one of the odd things we like is the way they deal with the
vagaries of being a university-based, volunteer operation. After
all, semesters end, people move on and programming gaps will happen.
When they do, WRPI can rely on local activist Reszin Adams to save
the day. Like a radio superwoman, Adams fills in for AWOL DJs or
cancelled shows by reading stories from progressive journals and
magazines that we’ve intended to read but haven’t. Adams is refreshingly
straightforward and informative.
Best TV News
This crew wins
every year. Why? It’s possible to watch NewsChannel 13 without feeling
like you’re either being pandered to with an excess of dopey “viewer
service” features or treated like an idiot with a lot of inane nonnews
tie-ins to entertainment programming. (Though we have to give props
to second-place finishers Channel 10, WTEN-TV, for being mostly
serious, too; like Avis, they try harder.) NewsChannel 13 anchors
Lydia Kulbida and Jim Kambrich engage viewers without pandering,
and always manage to strike the right tone whether it’s dog-bites-man
fluff or something deadly serious. A class act.
Best TV News
Turn on NewsChannel
13 at 11 PM on a weeknight, and you can probably bet on seeing Kumi
Tucker doing what she does best: on-the-scene, fair, straightforward
reporting. Tucker, who used to work for WNBC in New York City, graduated
from Princeton, and lived and worked in Tokyo for a while before
coming to work for Channel 13 here in the Capital Region. We love
watching Tucker because we can tell that she likes her job and wants
to do it well.
The first thing
you notice about The Post Star is what an appealing-looking
newspaper it is, with its nice newsprint, clear, easy-to-read typeface
and first-rate layout. (Hey, aesthetics are important.) Happily,
The Post Star has the substance to match the packaging. They
have solid coverage of local news such as the dam break in Fort
Ann, and their features, like the recent series on domestic abuse,
are well-researched and written. And they’re hip enough to run album
reviews of stuff like Sleater-Kinney and Yo La Tengo in the arts
section. A pleasure to read.
Jab at the Times Union
The Daily Gazette
on the redesign of our Schenectady-based daily, but we definitely
get a daily smile out of its new tagline: “The Locally Owned Voice
of the Capital Region.” While we pride ourselves on our own local
ownership, we know who the Gazette has its sights on—Hearst-owned
Times Union. Remember, as Rex Smith once said (and we paraphrase),
Hearst doesn’t really tell them what to do . . . only how
much they have to contribute to the bottom line.
In August 2004,
Strock was the first and only columnist in the region—and possibly
the country—to cast a critical eye on the arrest of two Muslim men
in Albany for allegedly laundering money to fund a terrorist attack.
While much of the mainstream media was busy coming up with variations
on the “Be Afraid, It Can Happen Here!” headline, Strock was dissecting
the case against the two men and making some prescient (as we soon
discovered) observations about the evidence against them. For instance,
he theorized in an Aug. 12 column that a word found next to one
of the men’s names on a piece of paper in a bombed-out Iraqi village
might not mean “commander,” as prosecutors claimed, but possibly
“teacher” or “leader.” A few days later, we discovered that the
government’s translators had indeed made a mistake, and the man,
an imam at a local mosque, was simply identified as “brother” in
the document. His dead-on predictions about the case’s shakiness
didn’t stop there, either. From sketchy accusations about the pair’s
overseas connections to ambiguities about how far the government
went in facilitating the alleged incident, Strock’s analysis heralded
each subsequent erosion of the government’s case, and became one
of the sole reminders that, in America, we’re supposed to be innocent
until proven guilty.
our pick for this category isn’t a writer, he’s a photographer whose
deft balancing of the human touch with an arty edge makes his eye-catching
pictures jump off the page and into readers’ hearts. Especially
impressive have been Farrell’s pictures for an ongoing series about
reading—in a delicious twist of irony, they tell the story visually,
almost rendering the text unnecessary.
Best Blog (News)
of the you-scratch-my-back attention heaped on certain blogs by
local media (i.e., the Times Union’s oft-requited love for
the schizophrenic Albany Eye blog), the author of DIA has managed
to make his Internet soapbox into the most consistent and insightful
forum on the Web for discussing the issues affecting the Capital
Region. DIA and its legion of regular commenters succeed where their
counterparts fail: welcoming debate on entries, encouraging the
spread of information, casting a wide-reaching, critical eye on
local media (including Metroland, of course) and generally
providing a great online clearinghouse for all things regional and
News & Notes
It’s what a
neighborhood newsletter ought to be. Mansion News & Notes,
put out by a team of editors in the Mansion Neighborhood of Albany,
includes notices of relevant meetings, announcements of store openings
and apartments for rent, reports on neighborhood events, and even
the occasional alert to watch out for a suspicious person. It comes
out when there’s content, usually a couple times a week, so it’s
timely without being overwhelming. The format is consistent and
the information relevant. So if they occasionally snark about people
who are curious about the etymology of their neighborhood’s name,
who are we to complain?
do get a little hysterical about the evil influence of the big city
from time to time, but when it comes to covering the western reaches
of Albany County, the Enterprise takes its job seriously
and does the kind of in-the-trenches, dog-the-story-until-it’s-over
community coverage that is the bedrock of truly local journalism.
There’s a reason the Enterprise hasn’t ceded the title of
“paper of record” to the big dailies.
Best Use of
a Political Science Degree and a Laptop
is hard at work trying to get his dissertation done for a poli-sci
degree from Yale, but in the meantime (except for an intentional
hiatus this summer, recently over) he keeps up an interesting and
fun blog at smalbany.blog spot.com, which veers from centrist politics
to restaurant reviews. But SmAlbany really shines when Glassman
puts his social science smarts to work, for example, in his careful
dissection on May 25 of the statistical methods in a Times Union
article on disparities in hiring in Albany or laying out the theoretical
ups and downs of a strong-mayor system as regards charter reform.
To Watch Fox News
media pranksters of Newsbreakers paid the Capital Region a visit
this April, dispatching their lactose-savvy assassin to the site
of a live FOX23 news broadcast in Saratoga Springs. During the segment,
the black-pajama-clad Newsbreaker darted back and forth behind the
station’s reporter, stopping only long enough to sling slices of
individually wrapped justice at the camera. According to the Newsbreakers
site, the ninja was simply returning the “processed cheese that
has become a main tool of TV news.” Judging by the Fox crew’s angry
reaction (near the end of the clip), the station didn’t think the
stunt was very funny. Visit their Web site (www.newsbreak ers.org),
and you can decide for yourself.