People & Media

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People & Media

Best TV news scoop
Christopher Sign/ABC 15

Receiving a tip from a “trusted source” about an off-the-books meeting between former President Bill Clinton and U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch on the tarmac at Sky Harbor Airport – this in the midst of a Justice Department investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of emails – ABC15 morning news anchor Sign knew he had a bombshell on his hands. Using a press conference on community policing to confront Lynch about the meeting, the newsman executed a smooth, controlled detonation, drawing bipartisan national praise for his reporting.


Best morning Drive duo
Mark and NeanderPaul/KSLX

Relative newcomers to the Valley’s FM morning zoo (NeanderPaul was program director at 93.3 KDKB before it changed formats last year), the duo has settled on an endearing shtick at classic rock mainstay 100.7 KSLX: Mark, the conservative straight man, takes lessons in being less square from Paul, the witty Rabelaisian color guy. Throw in daily of rounds of ’80s movie worship and other assorted geekery, and it makes for a fine time-kill. Plus, classic rock is cool.


Best Radio Station You Probably Don’t Get
93.9 KWSS

The Valley is not a radio mecca like Seattle and Los Angeles, especially for music that resides outside the Top 40. However, folks in Scottsdale, Tempe and East Phoenix generally have good luck picking up non-commercial, listener-supported 93.9 KWSS, which broadcasts – at three whole watts! – an eclectic mix of indie and local music, classic rock, talk and more. It’s like NPR with dubstep, and fewer stories about Japanese scarecrow artists. 623-888-6091,


Best Dating App Critic
Laura Dickerson of Hot 97.5

Much about Hot 97.5’s morning “sidekick” is a mystery, other than her love for The Bachelorette and high-angle selfies (check her social media profiles for proof). And the fact she knows her way around OKCupid and Tinder. Considering how ruthlessly she roasts fellow users on-air alongside host Monica Nelson, the video assistant clearly isn’t quite ready to give a rose to any of her online suitors yet. Luckily, she’s witty and charming enough that if we happen to be within a 1-mile radius of Dickerson, we’re totally swiping right!  


Best Power Couple
Tram Mai & Steve Kraus

She’s a 12 News TV anchor. He’s a Valley craft coffee kingpin. In terms of anointing the Valley’s coolest couple, this dual-threat arrangement pretty much translates to “game over.” Married in 2008, the same year they launched Press Coffee Roasters, the couple – who have 2-year-old twins –oversees a growing java empire that now includes 40 wholesale clients and three new in-the-works retail shops.   


Best Twitter War
Bob Stump vs. Stacey Champion

Unless you’re a celebrity, athlete or politician, Twitter is more or less obsolete, but the micro-publishing trailblazer can still offer up an entertaining social-media slap-fight from time to time. In the red corner: Arizona Corporation Commissioner Bob Stump. In the blue corner: liberal PR consultant Stacey Champion, she of the icky-mouthed “Doug DoucheBAG” recycling campaign. After Champion called him a “#utility... teet [sic] sucker,” Stump retweeted the insult to her client list, asking “Are the clients of this PR person aware of how poorly this reflects on them?” Champion called it a “low blow” and defended the tweet as her “own personal opinion.” Uh, touché?


Best Political Blog:
Right Wing
This conservative news and commentary website isn’t Arizona-centric, but the editor – ASU journalism grad Jon Gabriel – lives in Mesa and often writes about state politics, so that will do. Smart and even-toned, the site steers clear of the parochial biases that infect Arizona’s other top righty blogs, namely Sonoran Alliance, which has mystifyingly transformed itself into a surrogate press intern for CD5 candidate Christine Jones this campaign season; and Espresso Pundit, a well-written but sporadic page that’s hyper-focused on Arizona Republic op-eds. Instead, Gabriel trains his crosshairs on topics like PC-culture hypocrisy and education spending, and spares his readers the usual JV-debate-team cheats.


Best Political Blog:
Left Wing
Lacey & Larkin Frontera Fund
The logo – an artistic sketch of an intense-eyed luchador – captures both the studious duty to immigration news and the colorful culture and characters captured on Lacey & Larkin Frontera Fund. Launched in 2013 by ex-Phoenix New Times owners Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin with the $3.7 million settlement they received for their wrongful arrest and illegal detention by Sheriff Joe Arpaio in 2007, the Frontera Fund blog covers all things migra, from Latino voting suppression to art events and exhibitions from Frida Kahlo to Border/Arte. And, of course, there’s a whole section on Sheriff Joe Arpaio called “Arpaio Watch.”


Best Local Band
Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra

Sexy, saxy and sassy, Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra takes 15 musicians and turns them into one deeply funky and lustrously jazzy global-groove entity. With four vocalists – led by the soulful Camille Sledge – a four-horn brass section, two guitarists, a keyboardist, a bass player and a quartet of percussionists – PAO packs a knockout sonic punch that makes the listener stumble back in awe... before shaking some booty.


Best Craft Blog
Crafty Chica

If your taste in arts and crafts skews colorful, folksy and Latino-centric, author/artist Kathy Cano-Murillo’s site – her “Diary of a Creativepreneur” – will set your corazón aflutter. There is no project too big (neon hummingbird feeder, glittery ice chest) or too small (Frida Kahlo shadow boxes, cactus earrings) for Cano-Murillo, whose dedication to her “gospel of glitter” puts a twinkle in our eyes.


Best Gluten-Free Guru
Autumn Giles

The self-described “recovering New Yorker” brings a relaxed urbanity to her gluten-free recipes on her blog Autumn Makes and Does, where she chronicles her life as a writer, cook, canning enthusiast and gluten-free maven thanks to her celiac disease. “No substitutions or good-enoughs here,” she writes. “Just damn fine food that happens to be gluten-free.” That’s more than good enough for us.


Best Literary Powerhouse
Four Chambers Press

Like many great writers, the minds behind Four Chambers Press must have a touch of insomnia. How else could they fit everything they do into the finite amount of time we have each week? In addition to publishing a yearly literary journal and special projects throughout the year, the Four Chambers crew hosts events nearly every week, from poetry readings and storytelling series to writing groups and a literary salon.