BEST STATION PROMOS: WSMV-CHANNEL 4
Nothing against local news stations — well, OK, if we have anything against local news stations, it's that their promo spots tend to lack the personality that would actually promote their on-air talent. But WSMV's lighthearted serialized promos display a refreshing self-awareness, and their more sentimental ads — we're looking at you, Dagny the dog — succeed in building a connection with the community that is the main selling point of a local news operation.

"Our attempt really is just to show our personality a little bit," station general manager Doreen Wade told the Scene in August. "Most of our on-air talent, they're out in the community and people know them, but I think it's great that we're able to poke fun at ourselves a little bit."

Indeed. Now we're looking at you, WKRN. You have until next year's Best of Nashville issue to make a promo based on Bob Mueller's mustache. —STEVEN HALE

Best Station Promos: WSMV
  • Best Station Promos: WSMV

BEST NEW PUBLICATION: THE NEW AMERICAN TIMES
The arrival in February of The New American Times newspaper is another indication of Nashville's growing diversity. Billed as the "first authentic African diaspora newspaper in America," the monthly is a nicely designed full-sheet with plenty of color photos and stories about a host of subjects you seldom see, even in the largest mass-circulation news publications. September's front page has stories on the end of Somalia's transitional government, the deaths of presidents in Ghana and Ethiopia, and the special consultancy status given by the United Nations to the World Igbo Congress, a Texas corporation dedicated to the worldwide progress of the Igbo people of Nigeria. There are also sections devoted to health, religion/inspiration, education and housing (among other subjects). Publisher/CEO Nonye Ejiofor has already done a very impressive job in a short time. —RON WYNN

BEST SPANISH-LANGUAGE NEWSPAPER: LA NOTICIA
Journalist, activist and current president/CEO of the Nashville Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Yuri Cunza got into the newspaper business on the heels of a tragedy: the horrific death of 2-year-old Luis Cisneros Jr. in 2003. "[The paper] came out of the search for information to solve that awful situation," Cunza says. More than nine years later, the bi-monthly La Noticia is available at more than 100 locations. Covering local and national stories of interest on politics, culture and sports, the paper also has ambitious plans for the future. "We're looking at doing something in English online very soon," Cunza says. But even as La Noticia sets its sights on what Cunza calls "bilingual types who've grown up in this country and don't necessarily think Spanish-language media for their news and information," it will continue to be a mainstay for Nashville's Latino community. —RON WYNN

BEST MEDIA GET-TOGETHER: OCCUPY NASHVILLE
When reporters weren't getting arrested, the four nights in October when those of us on the protest beat didn't sleep were actually pretty great, in retrospect. Aside from the exciting news quality, those nights on War Memorial Plaza became a veritable media meet-up, facilitating important discussions nightly: "How long are you staying out here?" "What's your Twitter handle?" "If you get cuffed, I'll call your editor." And if you thought politics made for strange bedfellows, that's nothing compared to First Amendment rights in jeopardy. On behalf of the liberal media, we'd like to thank archconservative Bill Hobbs for the hot cocoa. —STEVEN HALE

BEST COMMUNITY BLOG: EAST NASHVILLE WITH LOVE
There's no shortage of East Nashville-related media, but, unless you're willing to risk your sanity skimming the listserv, there's only one good source of East Side real talk on the Web. Occasional Scene contributor Nicole Keiper's East Nashville With Love takes the aggregator style of Nashvillest and hyper-localizes it, keeping the community abreast of the highlights and lowlights of living east of the river. Though ENWL has seldom updated in recent months — thanks, I-24 closures — we hope their refreshing take on the east side returns soon. —LANCE CONZETT

BEST FOOD BLOG: NASHVILLE RESTAURANTS
For just over five years, Eric and Katie have been reviewing restaurants in the Nashville area with a simple and efficient format. Finely tuned points about the location, food and service are followed by assessments from "Veggie Eater" Katie and "Meat Eater" Eric, which also include information on pricing based on two visits. Eric and Katie also have a knack — sometimes tipped off by readers — for finding those often overlooked hidden treasures, from Roc's Bar-B-Que in Bordeaux to the veggie-friendly Ethiopian place Mesob on Antioch Pike. —LESLEY LASSITER

BEST TWITTER HASHTAG: #DRUNKDIGEST
Who said police reports can't be fun? Over the past year, City Paper reporter Pierce Greenberg has chronicled the exploits of Nashville's drunk and disorderly using the Twitter hashtag #drunkdigest — an amazing collection of real-life local drunk antics, ranging from fist-fighting mailboxes to shoplifting skin mags. Greenberg's tweets are as sharp and funny as 140 characters about drunks can possibly get. —LANCE CONZETT

BEST TWITTER TROUBLEMAKER: @WSMVDEMON
His coming was foretold in Revelation. Or maybe it was a Bazooka bubblegum wrapper. Whatever the case, in the early-morning hours of Aug. 17, after Late Night With Jimmy Fallon on WSMV-Channel 4, a jarring segue from a dandruff commercial to a weather alert produced a blink-and-you-missed-it image that resembled some monstrous apparition. And thus was born WSMVDemon, who within hours had claimed his own Twitter handle — not affiliated with the station, though a mysterious local Overlord of the Liberal Media is the suspected culprit — and started a campaign of mischief and misrule. Whenever civic calamity portends, whenever a bum call goes against Nashville's teams or a public official steps on his dictation, Music City's own private Beetlejuice pops up to claim credit. "You know, I'm proud of a lot of accomplishments," the Demon tweeted a couple of weeks ago, "but replacement referees may be the greatest thing I've ever done." Yet. —JIM RIDLEY

BEST LOCAL REALITY SHOW NEWS: OUR OWN REAL HOUSEWIVES?
You haven't really made it as a city until someone wants to film your "real housewives." So way to go, Nashville: With the June announcement that the producers of the Real Housewives series were looking for any "successful, powerful WOMAN" who "considers themselves part of Nashville's Elite" for a project in development, our city joined the ranks of Beverly Hills, Orange County and New Jersey (all of it). Congrats! —STEVEN HALE

Best Local Media Voice Gone National: Blake Farmer, WPLN - MICHAEL W. BUNCH

BEST LOCAL MEDIA VOICE GONE NATIONAL: BLAKE FARMER, WPLN-90.3 FM
WPLN listeners who found themselves digging for their checkbooks while nearly swerving off the road during the station's pledge drive earlier this year already know Blake Farmer has a great voice. But his smooth tenor-you-can-trust can be heard with increasing frequency in segments on national NPR broadcasts. It makes us proud to hear the words "from Nashville, Tennessee" on, say, Marketplace. And Blake sounds good saying them. —STEVEN HALE

BEST RETURN: SPORTS NIGHT, 102.5 THE GAME
Even if 102.5 The Game is a relative newcomer to the local sports talk radio universe, the names George Plaster and his signature show Sports Night are well known. For years, the team of experienced play-by-play and TV broadcaster Plaster, Willy Daunic and former Banner/Tennessean sports columnist Joe Biddle (later replaced by Darren McFarland) held court as the No. 1 rated show, not just in this market but across the state. Now the trio of Plaster, Daunic and McFarland has reunited in their familiar spot, weekday afternoons from 3-7 p.m. This is the strongest show yet offered by The Game. No one's sure which of the three local sports talk radio stations (the others being reigning top dog 104.5 The Zone and feisty competitor SportsRadio 560) will be left standing when the dust clears, but the return of Sports Night makes it clear The Game is on. —RON WYNN

BEST HERITAGE STATION: WVOL-1470 AM
Nashville's WVOL-1470 AM is one place on the dial where you can hear vintage R&B, soul and funk, alongside a decent smattering of contemporary urban fare. WVOL's programming, both in its talk shows and musical selections, recalls the era when black radio wasn't simply background music but a vital lifeline of conversation, information and alternative cultural entertainment for its audience. Those old enough to remember when every DJ had their own patter and nickname will particularly enjoy the weekend lineup, when blues, Southern soul and classic gospel dominate. While they don't want to be saddled with the "oldies" designation, WVOL-1470 AM will gladly accept the obligation that comes with being a "heritage" station. —RON WYNN

BEST JAZZ SHOW: GENERATIONS IN JAZZ, WFSK-88.1 FM
It would seem being a label owner, bandleader, contributor to two other groups, producer and promoter would be enough for any one person. But saxophonist/composer Rahsaan Barber now has another gig: broadcaster. His new weekly show Generations in Jazz on Fisk University's radio station at 7 p.m. Mondays allows him to spotlight, expose and discuss the many influences that have made him a mainstay in contemporary jazz circles, both local and national. The program doesn't limit itself to any genre. It blends hard bop with fusion, mainstream and more pop-tinged affairs, as well as occasional forays into Latin, world and Caribbean idioms. As someone who's played as well as heard all these styles, Barber has the necessary musical sophistication to engage the hardcore fan, and ample conversational acumen to interest the novice. —RON WYNN

BEST UNDERGROUND RADIO STATION: RADIO FREE NASHVILLE, WRFN-107.1 LPFM
Way back in the days before FM was both stereo and the major music broadcasting outlet, there was a broadcasting mode called "freeform" in some circles and "progressive" in others. It involved DJs whose musical tastes were so broad and diverse they could and would go from rock to jazz to ragas in the same show, sometimes within the same hour. Listeners have been hardened by decades of formatting, but WRFN comes probably the closest of any current outlet to revisiting that "freeform" sensibility, one that used to characterize Vanderbilt's 91 Rock. Among some personal WRFN favorites are Nashville Jumps, Mando Blues, Pop Top, Damn Straight Boogie, Hold The Funk and Rocknbilly Hot Rod & Blues Show, as well as left-of-center news broadcasts from Pacifica and Al-Jazeera. But there's something on RFN for all tastes, musical and otherwise. —RON WYNN

Best Urban Station: WQQK-92.1 FM, With Kenny Smoov - ERIC ENGLAND
  • Eric England
  • Best Urban Station: WQQK-92.1 FM, With Kenny Smoov

BEST URBAN STATION: WQQK-92.1 FM
Generational differences being what they are, urban stations tend to skew either very old (old school R&B/soul, funk, relationship talk shows) or very young (hard-banging hip-hop, relationship talk shows that constantly push the sexual innuendo envelope). WQQK-FM falls on the adult side, offering the most talk programs, like Tom Joyner in the morning and Michael Baisden in the afternoon, while also reflecting the savvy and vision of ultimate weapon Kenny Smoov. "Nashville's Big Station" updates, tweaks and balances its programming to maintain links and popularity among the city's youth without alienating and angering its sizable old-school constituency. They even add a large dose of gospel on Sundays, plus veteran journalist Ernie Allen. —RON WYNN

BEST MAKEOVER: WRLT-100.1 FM
In the past few months, the triple-A format station has opened its playlist to a broader range of artists, with a large focus on local music, filling the void left by the vanishing of Vanderbilt's 91 Rock from the airwaves. New shows such as The 615, curated by local music experts Justin Hammel and Wells Adams, serve as a launch pad for the best of Nashville, with a focus on indie artists — but the station's boldest move may be adding those artists to regular rotation. Although Lightning 100 has billed itself as "Nashville's Independent Radio" for years, it's really living up to the tagline now. Tune in and judge for yourself. —ABBY WHITE

BEST LOCAL LEFT-RIGHT SUNDAY MORNING TV COMBO: JERRY MAYNARD AND STEVE GILL, THIS WEEK WITH BOB MUELLER
The brief left-right punditry clash that Bob Mueller moderates each week on WKRN-Channel 2 draws from a rotating stable, but the semi-regular pairing of conservative radio's Steve Gill and Metro Councilman Jerry Maynard stands above the rest. Gill and Maynard may spend more time lobbing talking points than Oxford debating, but they wear their love of the game on their sleeves, with an easy affability that reminds us that two smart people who agree on almost nothing don't actually have to dislike each other. —BRUCE BARRY

BEST CONSERVATIVE: JOSH STITES
The current go-along Metro Council has precious few dissenting voices willing to question Mayor Karl Dean. But Stites, the young, fiscally conscious conservative from Priest Lake, asked important questions when the council gave tax breaks to HCA and Gaylord's water park, and he railed against the unfairness of it all. It was all for naught, but it was not unnoticed. Stites has courage rarely seen from the council, and is unafraid to raise uncomfortable arguments concerning the popular mayor's policies. —J.R. LIND

BEST LIBERAL: ASHLEY JUDD
When Deval Patrick got in front of a national audience and told his fellow Democrats to grow a backbone, it was hard not to think he was looking directly at Tennessee, where a tea party favorite won the party's Senate primary and some state Dems have tried to distance themselves from the Affordable Care Act. But at least Volunteer State liberals have Ashley Judd, who returned from the DNC with rhetorical guns blazing. "We've all had enough of these anti-woman, anti-worker and anti-Obama legislators running amok in Nashville," she wrote to the party faithful in an email. Let's get this party restarted. —STEVE HARUCH

Best Libertarian: Radley Balko - MICHAEL W. BUNCH

BEST LIBERTARIAN: RADLEY BALKO
If you've read one of the (too) many recent stories about local police departments behaving like militarized Boy Scouts, it was probably because Nashville-based libertarian journalist Radley Balko brought it to your attention. As an investigative reporter for The Huffington Post and a frequent contributor to Reason, Balko has made a name for himself sounding the alarm bell on the police state via his must-read blog, The Instigator, and his engaging Twitter feed. —JONATHAN MEADOR

BEST CAMPAIGN: AMY FROGGE
In a round of Metro school board races in August that ushered in an unprecedented amount of campaign cash, District 9's Amy Frogge faced the biggest obstacle. Backed by Mayor Karl Dean, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and a group of wealthy charter school advocates who made substantial monetary plays to try to reconfigure the school board to their liking, Frogge's chief opponent, Margaret Dolan, hauled in a $113,000 war chest — a record for a school-board race. But even though she got outraised by a 5-to-1 margin, Frogge beat Dolan by a 2-to-1 vote. Frogge, the only District 9 candidate with children in Metro public schools, had a message that resonated and an army of volunteers who worked relentlessly. It showed on election night. —JOEY GARRISON

BEST ROGUE POLITICAL CANDIDATE: LARRY CRIM
Forgive us for being contrarian, but while Mark Clayton's up-is-down Democratic candidacy for the U.S. Senate is impressive, Larry Crim surpasses him for one reason. As Clayton was pushing back against the idea that he only won because of the alphabet, Crim was embracing it — arguing in federal court that if Clayton's candidacy was voided, Crim would have won solely because of his alphabetical placement. That's called owning it. —STEVEN HALE

BEST UP-AND-COMING POLITICAL FORCE OF NATURE: JEFF YARBRO 
He's got the bio nailed: son of a farmer, small-town upbringing, Harvard, University of Virginia School of Law, Bass Berry, cute family. An effervescent bundle of intellect, charm and commitment to turning Tennessee blue again, Yarbro came within a whisker of unseating 40-year incumbent state Sen. Doug Henry in the primary when nobody else would even try. When Jeff shows up, it's time to break out the brown liquor and talk some serious politics — and maybe a little David Foster Wallace on the side. —BRUCE BARRY

BEST GRASSROOTS EFFORT: BACKYARD CHICKEN ADVOCATES
Some affectionately called them "contraband chickens" — the hens Nashvillians kept in their backyards for egg production, but were nonetheless illegal based on Metro law. Undeterred by the failure of a Metro Council bill to authorize the housing of chickens three years ago, the group Urban Chicken Advocates of Nashville (UCAN) took the fight to the council again in January. This time they won. Playing a key role was the gaggle of yellow-clad backyard chicken advocates who packed council chambers to allay fears of hen noise and stench. The one blemish on their victory: A handful of council members, mostly from southeast Davidson County, were successful in exempting their districts from the backyard chicken law — thus setting a weird precedent that may spell trouble later. —JOEY GARRISON

BEST POLITICAL BATTLE: GREAT HEARTS
When word surfaced last year that a group of parents had initiated the push for a charter school in affluent parts of West Nashville, a battle was predictable. Publicly financed, privately led charters in Nashville had historically served only low-income students. This one, to be run by Arizona-based Great Hearts Academies, would serve the wealthy as well — and thus become an alternative both to struggling public schools and expensive private academies. What ensued was a vigorous debate over diversity that saw the Metro school board repeatedly defy a state order by voting down the charter's proposal month after month. Despite power plays from state education commissioner Kevin Huffman and the Dean administration, the renegade school board didn't buy the Great Hearts promise, and on Sept. 12, Great Hearts backed down. After all, did it really want to be known as the Nashville charter that had to file suit to open? But now the question remains whether its well-connected supporters will ramrod through new state laws that will allow for its authorization anyway. And the city's schools will feel the sting of the state's $3.4 million punishment in withheld funds. —JOEY GARRISON

BEST COUNCIL FIGHT THAT WASN'T: METRO TAX INCREASE
Tea party activists and Metro Council conservatives decried the proposal: Here was a mayor pitching to increase Davidson County's property tax rate by 53 cents, a 13 percent increase in tax payments during a still-struggling economy. And when hundreds of anti-tax zealots packed the council to blast the proposal, you would have almost believed a real fight was in store over Nashville's first property tax increase in seven years. Yet as with so many Metro policy decisions, the mayor controls the tax debate. And Mayor Karl Dean effectively made the case that higher taxes would be the only way to avoid "draconian cuts" to police and schools. Despite all the sturm und drang over the issue, Dean's tax hike passed overwhelmingly in the council. Helping his case was a "grassroots coalition" of tax-hike supporters called Moving Nashville Forward that we later discovered was funded out of Dean's campaign coffers. Guess the money was well-spent. —JOEY GARRISON

BEST LAWSUIT: GINO ROMANO VS. THE KARDASHIANS
Beat this: On behalf of his friend Jonathan Lee Riches — named the world's most litigious man in 2010 — Gino Romano filed suit against the Kardashian sisters claiming harassment, allegedly including (but not limited to) Kim Kardashian's spilling a McFlurry on Riches' head and Khloe Kardashian stealing Romano's Whopper with cheese at a Nashville McDonald's. What's that, you say? A Whopper is a Burger King specialty? Hey, don't blame Romano — as he noted in the suit, he is "not as sophisticated as Kevin Costner in The Bodyguard." —STEVEN HALE

BEST NEWS FOR TENNESSEE REPUBLICANS, BESIDES EVERYTHING: REDISTRICTING
Looking for an activity that's fun and cheap? Explain redistricting to someone who doesn't follow politics. They'll be amazed! As if their power wasn't secure enough, Republicans used last year's redistricting process to rearrange deck chairs on the Democrats' Titanic. Even the few lifeboats available are painted red. (Just kidding, Tennessee Democrats couldn't afford a Titanic.) Of course, that's what the Democrats did to them for decades, and if they ever regain power ... ah, never mind. —STEVEN HALE

BEST FIRESIDE CHAT: GEORGE TAKEI
While Tennessee legislators did just fine embarrassing themselves (and by extension, us) with their string of would-be-laughable-if-they-weren't-scary bills aimed at our state's gay, lesbian and transgender population, George Takei did a masterful job of making them look even worse. In a droll fireside video, the erstwhile Mr. Sulu delivered a dressing-down to Sen. Stacey Campfield & Co. — whom he called "friends of Dorothy" for their lack of brains, heart and courage. It was the next best thing to having this bunch of hacks beamed up out of here. —STEVE HARUCH

BEST BAKE SALE: TAX RATE BAKE SALE AT THE CAPITOL
We all know that corporations are not people, but what this bake sale presupposes is ... what if they were? By charging different prices for simple baked goods based on "the state tax burden of the 99 percent, the 1 percent and corporations," Tennesseans for Fair Taxation and Tennessee Citizen Action found a simple, funny way to illustrate a serious point: Normal folks had to pay $1.17 for a sweet treat, but for the richest of rich Tennesseans, and corporations like Dollar General, the same item cost a mere 31 cents. Let us eat cake, indeed. —STEVE HARUCH

BEST ACCIDENTAL CANDOR: JESSE REGISTER ON OPENLINE
Whatever one's feelings about school "reform" in its current shape, media watchers were uniformly stunned when Metro schools chief Jesse Register, thinking Channel 5's OpenLine program had gone to commercial, could clearly be heard commenting on the state of the system: "I don't guess I'll say this publicly, but it's really a culture change. It's going from a system where people really felt entitlement." A second voice could be heard, suggesting, "I wouldn't say that on the air." But it was too late for that. —STEVE HARUCH

BEST QUIZ: THE WHITE PRIVILEGE POP QUIZ
George Zimmerman's shooting of Trayvon Martin in Florida pushed the race button like no incident since the Rodney King beating (and the acquittal of the offending officers). As reaction to Martin's death made clear, a certain segment of America thinks that simply by wearing hoodies, black males make themselves worthy of suspicion. A lot of people rightly called bullshit, but local activist, filmmaker and writer Molly Secours developed a more constructive and nuanced response: The White Privilege Pop Quiz, a series of questions to help whites gain a better understanding of what it means to be black in America. Nearly 15,000 people have taken the quiz. Hats off to Secours for attempting to promote dialogue and bridge the racial divide. —JACK SILVERMAN



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