Political Blogger: Elizabeth Benjamin.
PHOTO: Joe Putrock
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.
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
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.
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
Best Version of a Newspaper
Times Union Web Site
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
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
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
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
Kulbida and Jim Kambrich
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
Best Political TV Show
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
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)
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 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
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
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
From the State Capitol
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
Best Music Radio
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
Best Radio DJ
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
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
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
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
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.