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Best Political Blogger: Elizabeth Benjamin.

PHOTO: Joe Putrock

Best Political Blogger

Elizabeth Benjamin

Our favorite part of the Times Union disappeared when Benjamin departed for The Daily Politics blog at the Daily News. We stopped reading the Internets for a few days, but thankfully some kind soul pointed out that Liz was still just a click away. Her posts about intrigue in the Legislature and the Capitol building are captivating, witty and pertinent, and she gets scoops like she’s workin’ at Baskin-Robbins.

 

 

 

Best Local Blog

Democracy in Albany

www.democracyinalbany.com

DIA, the anonymous blogger behind Democracy in Albany, does what a blogger should do: He or she analyzes, alerts, dissects, and reports news. He or she annoys, taunts, jabs, challenges, and provokes the establishment and on rare occasions in the right dosage, bitches and moans. He or she also gives a place for dissenters to respond and do some moaning of their own. In a media market full of sacred cows and taboo subjects, Democracy in Albany is not afraid to raise a ruckus. DIA, we humbly make this request: Please stop threatening to quit. You’re not going anywhere.

Best TV News Blog

In Media Res

Both at his own site, and now at the Times Union blog empire, retired WNYT (and, long ago, WRGB) news anchor Ed Dague has been doing the public a real service by analyzing local nightly newscasts. We get a glimpse of how the process works, which is informative, and Dague’s unvarnished opinions, which are entertaining.

Best Columnist

Carl Strock

The Daily Gazette’s longtime columnist set himself apart this year with his dogged and compassionate coverage of the terror trial in Albany. He was a constant presence at the controversial trial, spending hours wading through the complexities, asking the right questions, and synthesizing the results into clear, simple reporting. Strock has the reputation for championing the little guy with sharp insight and effortless prose, and this year he again proved it is a reputation well-earned.

Best Version of a Newspaper

The Times Union Web Site

www.timesunion.com

The Times Union online gets it right where the print edition gets it wrong. They print timely stories, report on shootings that never make it to the news page, and put political news (which they might bury in the print edition) front and center on the Web page. On occasion, they even balance their one-sided reporting with bloggers who provide dissenting opinions.

Best Play Journalist

Kristi Gustafson

Kristi, a 20-something Capitol Region resident, writes the kind of stories that make schoolchildren cry (mostly because if they wrote the kind of vapid stories Kristi did they would get Fs on their report card, and their teachers might slap them.) Kristi likes to “report” stories about cooking for her co-workers, soft-serve ice cream, nicknames and bunnies (we made one of these up—can you guess which?). She even takes the time to insinuate that people at certain new nightclubs are inbred! What a classy gal. Recently she wrote a story about people who want to quit their jobs. Our fingers are crossed in hope that she was doing research for a career change of her own.

Best Neighborhood Newsletter

Washington Park Association

If you live in the Washington Park neighborhood in Troy, odds are you've seen this monthly newsletter. Meticulously and thoroughly researched, reported, and written by Washington Park über-citizen Lynn Kopka, this monthly trove of Troy lowdown keeps everyone on the mailing list in the loop: Who's moving, who's getting married, who's been in the news, who's kitty is sick—it's all there. So remember, if you live in her neighborhood, you can be assured that Kopka has a good idea what you are up to.

Best TV News

WNYT 13

Channel 13 still has us tuning in every night for the latest in local news. Benita Zahn, Kumi Tucker, Dan Bazille, Lydia Kulbida and Jim Kambrich are just a few of the members of the trusted news team that we choose to watch for what’s going on in the region. They cover interesting and important stories, and they tell them in an in-depth but efficient way. Also, we just wanna give Benita a little shout-out “congratulations” for being a perennial winner in our Readers’ Poll for the coveted category Best Local Celebrity With Whom You’d Like to Have a One-Night Stand. You go, girl!

Best TV Anchor Team

Lydia Kulbida and Jim Kambrich

WNYT, Channel 13

The hardest thing about TV news should be getting the news. But it’s almost as hard for a news department to field anchors who complement each other in such a way as to please the audience, without insulting or pandering to the audience. News Channel 13 has done this.

Best Political TV Show

New York Now

WMHT, Channel 17

Susan Arbetter and company have revamped the old New York Week in Review format, and in the process made it livelier and more engaging by including interviews and much more video. (And we liked the old format.) The panel guests include the usual, welcome suspects—Jay Gallagher, Karen DeWitt—and Arbetter has settled comfortably into the world of TV.

Best TV Institution

Liz Bishop

WRGB, Channel 6

Still one of the most popular TV news personalities in the Capital Region, Liz Bishop has kept the nightly newscast on WRGB competitive and interesting for years. (And for some of those years, she did it almost single-handedly.) She’s a pro, and folks love her.

Best TV Weatherman (Reality)

Steve Caporizzo

WTEN, Channel 10

There are ways to shade the forecast, even in these days of Doppler radar and satellite images. A multi-degree temperature range, for example, can be used to make you think it’s going to be warmer than it’s likely to be—and don’t get us started about snow-amount predictions. Steve Caporizzo doesn’t do this. And we appreciate it. Plus, he’s still got that Boston accent and he’s good to the kitties.

Best TV Weatherman (Drama Club)

Tim Drawbridge

WNYT

Tim Drawbridge is a weatherman. He reads from a teleprompter; he gestures with his hands to illustrate the motion of the ocean (or storm fronts, as it were); he tells us whether (heh) or not we need to carry an umbrella with us tomorrow morning. Sure. But Drawbridge does these things with the grace and cadence of a master thespian, as if his stage weren’t a green screen but a Shakespeare in the Park production, and for that, we say bravo.

Best Way To Be Ground Down By A Continuous News Loop

Capital News 9

There is no better way to become intimately familiar with a reporter’s pores, or misuse of certain words, than to watch the same stories repeated over and over again on Capital News 9. You can’t focus on facts when watching the station since they rarely report any. So instead, we recommend using Capital News 9 as a drinking game. Every time they say the phrase “sex offender,” take a shot.

Best Regional Radio News

WAMC, 90.3 FM

From the crack of dawn with local reports during Morning Edition, through newsmaker (and newspaper editor) interviews on The Roundtable and Midday Magazine to the two great Brian Shields-hosted news shows that bookend NPR’s All Things Considered, WAMC provides timely regional news. From the Hudson Valley to Vermont, and from the Mohawk Valley to the Berkshires and Connecticut, you’ll hear about something that affects your world.

Best Political Radio Show

Live From the State Capitol

WROW, 590 AM

New York Post reporter Fred Dicker’s weekday show is the place to get the lowdown on the daily shenanigans going on in Albany. Dicker gets important guests, and doesn’t just lob softballs at them. It’s also the best place to hear Joe Bruno go off on Eliot Spitzer, the Times Union. . . . You name it. It makes for great radio.

Best Music Radio

WEQX 102.7 FM

In an era where radio- station playlists are often sent in from a corporate office hundreds of miles away, WEQX remains independent, with an adventurous programming streak that sets it apart, both regionally and nationally.

Best Radio DJ

Willobee

The WEQX afternoon guy (and program director) is our favorite for two simple reasons: He’s got a great radio voice and he knows how to use it. To boot, Willobee knows a lot about the bands he plays, and he seems to genuinely believe in “terrestrial” radio. Simply put, he’s a real pro with his head in the game. Other jocks would be wise to emulate this one-time Billboard Air Personality of the Year award-winner.

Best Performance Radio Show That Just won’t Go Away

Acoustic Kaleidoscope

Jim Barrett has been doing his locally oriented Acoustic Kaleidoscope radio show for more than 35 years. He has been bumped around the dial a bit and had a brief hiatus due to a format change, but he is still around and still tirelessly promoting local music (the show even released a CD of performances back in 2005)—that is, when he’s not behind the counter of his River Street Beat Shop record store in Troy. Barrett is a radio institution, keeping localism alive on 88.3 WVCR-FM (“The Saint”) every Friday from 9 to 11 AM.

Best New Performance Radio Show

Performance Place

It’s rare to hear live performances on the radio dial nowadays. It’s even rarer to hear such an eclectic range of performances every weekday near lunchtime (11:23, to be precise). This month alone, Michael Eck is bringing you a slew of local and non-local performers that include a Cajun folk- fiddle guitar duo, a Jewish roots music performer, a Czech avant-garde violinist and a plain old Texas singer-songwriter. Catch Performance Place on WAMC 90.3 (FM).

Best Optimistic Format Change

WEXT 97.7 FM

When we heard that the Capital Region was getting its own free-form radio station (technically of the Adult Album Alternative format, but that really only rules out death metal), we wondered how long it could possibly last. That, of course, remains to be seen—WEXT “The Exit” is only a few weeks old—but sporting an adorably varied playlist and some killer syndicated programming (David Dye’s World Café, the music- critics-gone-wild fun of Sound Opinions), the station has already justified dumping the classical format it adhered to for so many years as WBKK.

Best Reason to Turn Off Your Radio

Jesus Overload

We generally like to flip through the FM-radio band as we tool around town in our jalopies, but lately, channel-surfing has become a tricky game for the less-than-pious among us. On last count, there were about five Christian-rock or “praise” stations on the dial, not to mention the plethora of straight-up preachers that holler at us between channels. We’re well aware of this Jesus dude—can we please go back to playing normal music on the radio now? K thx.

 

 

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