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2008CriticsMedia

Best Lunchtime Company
'The Charlie Hodge Half-Time Show', KLBJ

Best known as one-third of the three-man main show on KLBJ's long-running Dudley & Bob Morning Show, Charlie Hodge added a few more hours to his überearly rise this year to host the new midday, hourlong Half-Time Show, from noon to 1pm. Hodge expands his presence as the Morning Show third man (time to upgrade his rank?) into a whole hour of undiluted, and largely unscripted, Hodge brain fart. Sure, the show could use a producer to rein in Hodge's tendency to wander into the verbal jungle, but he usually manages to squeeze out a laugh. Take our word for it, and tune in now, before the Hodge is tamed out of him.

KLBJ 93.7FM, 8309 N. I-35, 512/832-4000, www.klbjfm.com

Best Neighborhood Newspaper
'Slaughter Creek Reporter'

Though it sometimes depends on syndicated filler, Ken Vargas' Friday biweekly keeps a broad area of southern Travis County neighborhoods informed, inside and outside of the city. With an emphasis on politics and the area's growth spurt, as well as near-to-the-heart topics like high school football, SCR is becoming the dependable voice of the new South Austin.

Slaughter Creek Reporter, PO Box 1602, Manchaca, 512/280-2637, www.slaughtercreekreporter.com

Best R&B Dream Come True
KAZI 88.7FM

KAZI started as the dream of University of Texas professor Dr. John Warfield 26 years ago. Austin's oldest community radio station thrives under the guidance of Steve Savage, with a small staff and a team of volunteers who keep jazz, hip-hop, reggae, and gospel music alive and well in the ATX, digging deeper than your average commercial playlist: Where else do Raphael Saadiq, Estelle, Angie Stone, Sam Cooke, A Tribe Called Quest, and Honey Brown share the air? KAZI also keeps us plugged into the real world with independent news via Amy Goodman's Democracy Now!, and it broadcasts Austin City Council meetings, making local goings-on accessible to us all.

KAZI 88.7FM, 8906 Wall St., 512/836-9544, www.kazifm.org

Best Reason for TV News
Jim Swift, KXAN

Last year was the television storyteller's 30th year at KXAN-TV, an almost unheard of tenure in a business known best for empty sound bites and staff market-climbing. Swift has kept faith in his own personal narrative style – rooted in Central Texas (he's a homeboy) – that grows from the details of a story and the people who make it live. Too much of TV news is bluster or fluff; we've got a newsman who still understands that true-to-life stories explain why things happen and what they mean.

KXAN, 908 W. MLK, 512/476-3636, www.kxan.com

Best Roving Reporter
Amy Hadley, News 8 Austin

How much do we love Amy Hadley? Let us count the ways. Whether engaging in outré acts of physicality for her "Fit for Friday" series, popping up in any number of unique Austin locations for her morning segments, or tugging heartstrings in her "Forever Families" series, this plucky, porcelain-skinned goddess among newsies handles each segment with grace, élan, and luminosity.

Amy Hadley, News 8 Austin, 1708 Colorado, www.news8austin.com

Best Sci-Fi Chum
'Space Squid'

Squishy, the official mascot of Austin's only hybrid science-fiction and humor zine, wants to know: Got chum? If you're lacking in the chum department (who isn't?), getting your fix – along with a healthy helping of Squid Grrrls, comics, and short stories – can be done by getting your tentacles on a copy of this ultra-nerdy and oh-so-smart and -funny zine, sold for the bargain price of $1 at BookPeople, MonkeyWrench Books, and the Dragon's Lair.

Space Squid, www.spacesquid.com

Best TV Reporter Who Can Write
Elise Hu, KVUE

The sound-bite world of TV news can make the on-camera talent look a little superficial, but that's just image. When KVUE's Elise Hu isn't skillfully trimming down policy nuance for the idiot box, she's raising hell in her sometimes scathing, take-no-prisoners Political Junkie blog. She writes so well that she's good enough for print. (Just don't tell her she looks like former Council Member Jennifer Kim. She hates that.)

Elise Hu, www.twitter.com/elisewho

Best Urban-Development Echo Chamber
Mike Dahmus, Shawn "Shilli" Shillington, and Chris Bradford

While you may not always agree with them, these three local bloggers – Mike Dahmus of M1EK's Bake Sale of Bile infamy, Austinist Urban Development Editor Shilli (né Shawn Shillington), and Chris Bradford, aka the Austin Contrarian – bring a refreshing, sometimes contrary perspective to Austin's ongoing development discussion, airing thoughts and facts sometimes contrary to developers, neighborhoods, and the Chronicle itself. (But we're big enough to take it!)

M1EK's Bake Sale of Bile, mdahmus.monkeysystems.com

Austinist, www.austinist.com

Austin Contrarian, www.austinzoning.typepad.com

Best Way to Keep Your Southbound Frequency Modulated
KVRX/KOOP 91.7FM to KTSW 89.9FM to KSYM 90.1FM

Make your southbound drive corporate-free and brain-sane: Keep it locked on college and community frequencies all the way to San Antone. Start off in Austin at your No. 1 preset, KVRX/KOOP 91.7FM, and hear community talk and free-form programming during the day and college craziness at night. Once you hit Kyle, the signal starts to fade, so keep one of your B-tier presets locked on 89.9FM, and switch it over to KTSW, student radio for Texas State to enjoy indie rock, Bobcat-style. Then, once you get south of New Braunfels, when that signal starts to fade again, hit 90.1FM, and check in with the kids at San Antonio College's KSYM. Traffic is stressful enough. Let these alternative radio stations keep you tuned into sanity.

KVRX 91.7FM, PO Box D, 512/471-5106, www.kvrx.org

KOOP 91.7FM, 3823-B Airport, 512/472-1369, www.koop.org

KSYM 90.1FM, 1300 San Pedro Ave., San Antonio, 210/733-2787, www.accd.edu/sac/ksym

KTSW 89.9FM, 601 University Dr., Old Main Rm. 106, San Marcos, 512/245-3485, ktsw.txstate.edu

Best Web Source for Soul Citizens
SoulCiti.com

SoulCiti.com began in 1998 as a modest electronic mailing list reaching out to African-American Austinites with once-a-week dispatches of news tidbits and entertainment listings. These days, it's hard to imagine going without SoulCiti six out of seven days of the week. It has evolved into a valuable daily Web resource for a historically underserved part of Austin's community, boasting hundreds of local, user-submitted events, from spoken-word and hip-hop shows to happy hours and professional mixers to church retreats and yard sales. Rounded out with featured news, movie reviews, and weekly polls asking questions like, "Should Obama match the McCain team and go negative to defend his campaign?" the little listserv that could has truly come into its own. Happy 10th anniversary, SoulCiti!

SoulCiti.com, www.soulciti.com

Most Eco-Friendly IRA
The Butler Bros.

This past year, Adam and Marty Butler, brothers and principals of this Eastside advertising agency, wanted a way to promote ecology and healthy living. After talking about how biking to work could help solve many of the ecological problems our country faces today, they wanted a way to promote this idea, in-staff. So they launched an employee program for all their salaried workers at the time. Get this: For every day an employee rode his or her bike to work, the agency dropped $5 into that employee's retirement fund. Five bucks, every day they chose two wheels and a little bit of sweat over rush-hour standstill and pollution. Mother Nature would be proud, brothers.

The Butler Bros, 2401 E. Sixth #1002, 512/482-8043, www.thebutlerbros.com

Smoothest AM on the FM
'KGSR in the Morning With Bryan Beck'

Veteran deejay Bryan Beck knows what his listeners want to hear and gives them exactly what they expect: that smooooooth, soothing baritone and the tunes that define KGSR's Texas triple-A reign. The station's "Radio Austin" sound is due in large part to Beck's tenure, which began in 1987. Beloved by his fans and colleagues, Beck makes Austin's mornings that much brighter and that much more easier to bear.

KGSR 107.1FM, 8309 N. I-35, 512/832-4000, www.kgsr.com

Critics: Kids
Critics: Outdoors & Recreation
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