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People & Media



Best Local Music Blog
Yab Yum Music & Arts
This Tempe-based digital rag covers indie bands on the West and Northwest coast, with primary focus on Arizona. The all-volunteer staff has produced around 30 blogs a month for the past five years as a labor of love, featuring every Phoenix-based band you’ve ever heard of, and a ton you haven’t, too. Popular topics include their Top 5 lists of music videos and albums, Q&As, and the embedded Radio Phoenix podcasts.


Best Local News/Political Blog
Arizona’s Politics
From the Tea Party-tilting to the liberal-leaning, most Arizona political blogs pick one side of the aisle and stay put. By contrast, Arizona’s Politics gallantly tries to straddle the dang thing, with wryly-worded, doggedly fair-minded reporting on influence peddling and dark-money machinations. (One recent post detailed a dark-money ad blitz against Senator Jeff Flake over his stance on the Iran nuclear deal.) Now, if they could just work on the name. Terrible, terrible name.


Best TV Anchor
Troy Hayden at Fox 10
Much more than Hook and Lake’s roadie, the 6 and 10 p.m. anchor at Fox 10 is like the station’s digestif of evening news: affable, charming, a sippable prelude to his more serious, stone-faced elders. Still, he can summon gravitas when he needs it, as demonstrated by his exclusive interview with Jodi Arias in the minutes after her May 2013 conviction. Also: Good hair.


Best Mommy Media Maven
Katrina Sherk
Back in 2002, East Valley mom Sherk perceived a void in Valley media coverage: “things to do” for moms and families. So she took out a loan from her own mother and launched Active Moms magazine, a free monthly guide of family-friendly happenings in Greater Phoenix. Her first run was 500 copies. Today, her circulation tops 10,000. Blog, shmog. Terrestrial media rules.


Best Food Blogger
Jess Harter/Mouth by Southwest
This is an important question, now that our own Gwen Ashley Walters (Pen and Fork) summers in Idaho, and our formerly own Dominic Armato (Skillet Doux) writes for the Republic. One thing is for certain: No one works harder than Harter, who often posts four or five items a day, covering the East Valley like a hand-whipped hollandaise. Full disclosure: He sometimes writes for us. But he didn’t write this.


Best TV Investigative Reporter
David Biscobing at ABC15
As print journalists, we like it when “one of our own” breaks through the LCD ceiling to make it in TV news. Case in point: former East Valley Tribune reporter David Biscobing, now the hard-news investigative go-to dude at ABC15. Holding the powers that be accountable for defective guardrails, deficencies at Arizona State Hospital and a botched search-and-rescue operation, Biscobing cleaned up at last year’s Rocky Mountain Emmys, taking home six awards, including Investigative Reporter of the Year. Not bad for a rehabilitated print guy.


Worst Political Slogan
“No More Taxes”
“No New Taxes” we get. But “No More Taxes” has the ring of poppycock, especially when it’s emblazoned on the campaign material of a mayoral candidate like Anna Brennan. Without city taxes, who would pay for useful services like policing and, er, garbage collecting? Brennan could never quite elucidate those important details, which helps explain why incumbent Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton trounced her by a 2-1 margin in August.


Best Up-and-Coming Politico
Martha McSally
True, the first-term Arizona Congresswoman isn’t based here – her district is down Sierra Vista way – but McSally represents the whole of the Grand Canyon State on the Beltway, so we’ll claim her. And she’s definitely got an intriguing CV. For starters, she flew an A-10 Warthog over Iraq and Kuwait as an Air Force officer, which is just unbelievably badass. And she’s proven excitingly moderate and independent-minded as a Republican lawmaker, breaking party ranks on issues like President Obama’s deferred-action bill. That won’t play well to the base, but it makes her a force to be reckoned with in any statewide election. Plus, doesn’t she remind you of Jackie Sharpe on House of Cards?


Best Fashion Blog
Couture in the Suburbs
Free of the typical “fashion blog” nonsense of Pinterest-studded DIYS and stylish selfies, Couture in the Suburbs is a terminus for all things trendy in Arizona. The blog was founded in 2012 by Lindsay Viker and has since grown into a six-person team of purse-pushing, lifestyle-advising know-it-alls. Whether hunting for the best spot for a manicure, or to pick up a ticket to a Valley fashion show, Couture in the Suburbs is the proverbial one-stop shop.


Best Local Author
J.A. Jance
Mystery novelist and University of Arizona alum J.A. Jance lives part of the year in Seattle, and part of the year in Arizona, where her “Brady” series, which revolves around a fictional Bisbee sheriff named Joanna Brady, takes place. Her books – she’s penned a staggering 55 since 1985 – have been published by both Simon & Schuster and Harper Collins.


Best Urban Envisioners
This Could Be Phoenix
Marketing consultant Quinn Whissen and architect Ryan Tempest see things when they look at vacant lots and old buildings around Downtown Phoenix – things like nightlife promenades in the Warehouse District, residential towers at Central Avenue and Adams Street, and a redesign of the Arizona Center. As This Could Be Phoenix, their mission is simply to provide a platform to exchange ideas and inspire creative renderings of visions for the future.


Best Local Movie Series Programmer
Andrea Canales
Andrea Canales, aka the Midnite Movie Mamacita, hosted her first film screening at the now defunct Paper Heart Gallery in 2006, quickly building a cult following of film lovers charmed by her faster-pussycat promotional panache and taste for ’70s schlock. Nearly 10 years – and numerous venues – later, Canales is still showing strong, handling the full-time programming for Downtown Phoenix boutique cinema FilmBar, where audiences can enjoy her curation of cinematic oddities. October’s theme: “Girls just want to have fun.”


Best Semi-Local Comedian
Doug Stanhope
The funnyman’s website doesn’t sugar-coat anything: “Doug is vulgar, opinionated, brutally honest and shockingly uninhibited and is certainly not for everybody.” The Bisbee-based stand-up comic and former host of The Man Show on Comedy Central riffs on such topics as gay marriage, vasectomies, his mother, Sarah Palin and drugs. His daring on stage has been lauded by the likes of fellow fearless comics Louis C.K. and Sarah Silverman.


Best Celebrity Appearance in a Local Jail
Pamela Anderson
Prisoners in Tent City this past April were treated to the sight of two throwbacks to the 1990s: Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Baywatch star Pamela Anderson, side by side, enthusing over lettuce. Anderson, a PETA spokeswoman, was there to tout the benefits of Arpaio’s decreed vegetarian diet for inmates. The news cameras were there because of Anderson, and of course, Arpaio was there for the news cameras.


Best Local TV Cooking Show
Food Ball TV Show
This 60-minute show that pits Valley teens against each other to win cash prizes while learning basic cooking skills uses football metaphors to see “who can score with the best on-field performance while amassing the fewest penalties for violation of food safety and procedural rules.” Executive chef and former stand-up comic Jon-Paul Hutchins of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Scottsdale serves as head judge. Hilarity ensues. The show airs at 4 p.m. Saturdays on AZ-TV7/Cable 13.


Best Local Film Festival
No Festival Required
“Uncommon cinema” is just the tip of the film reel for No Festival Required. NFR screens independent, underground, art house and local films throughout the year at various venues, ranging from the A.E. England building at the ASU Downtown campus to Bragg's Pie Factory. Previous film series themes have included “Films for Thinkers” and “Building Community Cinema.”


Best Radio Shtick
Paul’s Call on KMVP
The banter of wacky morning radio crews is embarrassing as often as it’s funny, but even those of us who aren’t particularly avid sports buffs can get a chuckle out of the 9:45 a.m. weekday feature by KMVP 98.7 FM sportscaster Paul Calvisi. Peppering his aggrieved rants with sound bites from movie and TV comedy or the occasional coach’s meltdown, Calvisi shows a disciplined timing and precision worthy to be called true radio comedy.


Best Arizona Superhero
On the covers of his own comic, he’s billed as “Arizona’s Greatest Hero…” and who are we to argue? He’s also been called “The Man Without Pinkies!” and this is also true: a big, blue-skinned, pointy-eared alien-warrior type, Ocho has been fighting for goodness for two decades now, in lovingly hand-crafted comics by Valley artist/writer Eric Mengel, all with just four digits per hand. He has no baby toes, either.