Wednesday, April 01, 2015

spotlight blog


Beth McDonald

beth mcdonald99.9 KEZ-FM Host and Semi-Pro Wine Steward.

The term “radio personality” is a bit of a misnomer with Beth McDonald. Beguiling her loyal listeners with everything from recliner recommendations to reports on people who can’t stop taking photos of themselves (“Selfies Anonymous”) to her stance on gay rights, the Indiana export and morning drive-time fixture has a personality that transcends the medium. Celebrating 30 years on Valley airwaves this month, the Beth & Friends host sat down with PHOENIX magazine at Paul Martin’s American Grill in Scottsdale to reflect on her storied career – including 20 years doing the Beth & Bill show with the late Bill Austin on 99.9 KEZ-FM – and discuss yet another of her passions: wine.


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Michael Pollack

PHM0814Flash-1-5Real Estate Renaissance Man.

Michael Pollack loves attention. The commercial real estate redeveloper’s name adorns many of his properties (most notably Tempe Pollack Cinemas) and he’s appeared on numerous television shows. He plays drums in his own namesake band (Pollack’s Corporate Affair), and even booked Blood, Sweat & Tears at Chandler Center for the Arts to celebrate his 40th year in business last November. In addition to his penchant for remodeling old buildings and strip malls (his company, Pollack Investments, has face-lifted more than 100 such sites in Arizona), Pollack is a hardcore collector of slot machines and 3D (animatronic) ad memorabilia. We recently talked with Pollack in his 3D advertising museum (take a virtual tour at, among an army of whirring mechanical figures, including a giant spinning Hamm’s Beer bear.


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Lowell Pickett

MIM Music Theater Artistic Director

As far as nominative determinism goes, Lowell Pickett –  a man whose name could be an amalgamation of legendary blues guitarist Lowell Fulson and R&B singer Wilson Pickett, but who’s actually named after an old family friend – seemed destined for sonic saturation. The Minneapolis native, 65, helped found the famous Dakota Jazz Club in the Twin City in 1985 before heading west for a position at Scottsdale’s Musical Instrument Museum in 2010. As Artistic Director of the MIM Music Theater, Pickett curates a gamut of shows in the museum’s Meyer-speaker-equipped, acoustically-stunning 300-seat venue, from legendary names like Ronnie Spector and Herb Alpert to lesser-known sonic trailblazers like Grammy-nominated indie folk duo The Milk Carton Kids.


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Steam Crow

PHM0614Flash-1-5Monster-makers Daniel and Dawna Davis

Daniel Davis is a hard guy to miss. When peddling prints of fantastical creatures at comic and book conventions, the artist – who launched the illustration duo Steam Crow with wife Dawna (pictured) in 2005 – typically wears a striped shirt and brown apron, and sports a handlebar mustache that would probably put somebody’s eye out in close quarters. Along with his wife, the Peoria, Ariz.-based artist, 44, shepherds his menagerie of monsters and cartoony creatures everywhere from the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books to the massive San Diego Comicon to our own Phoenix Comicon, taking place June 5-8. Steam Crow’s art (available at and in local stores including Lulubelle Toy Bodega and Made) resembles a dazzling amalgamation of steampunk, vintage wartime propaganda posters, 1970s cereal boxes and something you might find on the walls of an abandoned amusement park – perfect for Disneyland, where Steam Crow has shown and sold work in the park’s WonderGround Gallery for the past two years.


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Herb Wilson

PHM0514Flash-4Globetrotting Chef

He appeared on The Today Show and Top Chef Masters, dated talk show diva Star Jones and rubs elbows with the likes of Anthony Bourdain. Still, Herb Wilson refuses to think of himself as a “celebrity” chef. “I would never attach that connotation to my name. We’re all just cooks,” he quips. A gypsy at heart, Wilson attended New York’s Culinary Institute of America (aka the “Harvard of cooking schools”) before whisking off to work under Gérard Pangaud in France. Afterward, he did executive chef stints at Le Refuge and Bull Run Restaurant in his native Manhattan, and Latin-Asian trailblazer Sushi Samba in Las Vegas. The bi-continental expertise he cultivated in Vegas will serve Wilson well in his latest adventure: partnering with restaurateur German Osio to launch East-West fusion eatery Sumo Maya in Scottsdale. The restaurant opened in early April.


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Paul Goldschmidt

PHM0414 Slideshow PFSpotArizona Diamondbacks star

Paul Goldschmidt, aka “America’s First Baseman,” hardly seemed destined for stardom. Ignored by major college baseball programs out of high school, the 6’3” Texas State product fell all the way to the eighth round before the Diamondbacks scooped him up in the 2009 Major League Baseball draft, and batted a pedestrian .250 his rookie season. But “Goldie” was stellar in 2013, hitting .302, blasting 36 home runs and placing second in National League MVP voting. The Scottsdale resident, 26, is known not just for his slugging and stout glovesmanship, but for his philanthropy, which has included Christmas shopping with disadvantaged youth and presenting a $100,000 check to Phoenix Children’s Hospital.


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Brie Garcia-Colace


WWE Diva

Scottsdale native Brianna "Brie" Garcia-Colace has dropkicked, kneed and clotheslined her way into the upper echelon of World Wrestling Entertainment. She's used a little twin magic to get there – Brie is one half of the Bella Twins, along with her sister and tag-team partner Nicole (aka Nikki, who lives out of state). Garcia-Colace made her WWE debut in 2008, earned her first Divas Championship in 2011, and in March 2013, she and her sister joined the cast of E! Network reality show Total Divas. The show's first season captured Brie's real-life relationship with WWE superstar Bryan Danielson (ring name: Daniel Bryan), who popped the big question on the season finale. With the second season of Total Divas premiering this month, her Arizona wedding to Danielson slated for April and a second Divas Championship in her sights, 2014 is looking bright.


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