Voting for Best of Austin 2017 is over. Come back on November 2nd to find out who the winners are! Advertise in the Best of Austin issue.


Best "i love you so much" Sequel
"teen fags run this hood"

photo by Celesta Danger

We imagine punkily-shaved haircuts, cocky attitudes, and a penchant for making out in the middle of crowds. We imagine these teen fags, because, well, we once were those teen fags – male, female, trans, it matters not. Even as some may round into middle-age, there will always be teen fags: That elusive energy, devil-may-care attitude, and screw-you aesthetic will always survive, no matter how entrenched the growing acceptance and normalization of LGBTQ lives. (To wit: There is no F in QUILT-BAG.) Spray-painted on the heinous plywood boards (of yet another development) which now cover the glorious rock-wall behind Cheer Up Charlies, this tag gives us hope for the teen fags of the future. They know what's up.

Cheer Up Charlies, 900 Red River, 512/431-2133,

Best Adults in the Room
Austin High's KAHS-TV and The Maroon News

The first day back from winter break, the students at Austin High were given a motivational speech by former tech-worker and founder of #besomebody, The World's Platform for Passion®, Kash Shaikh. His message? To encourage the students to "call themselves out" and become "passionaries," or "Don't make a Plan B when Plan A is your passion." A nice thought, but one that seemed off-the-mark to those struggling with economic disparity, dreams deferred, and the realities of American class structure. Students at the school's media outlets, KAHS (unrelated to Kash and pronounced "chaos") and The Maroon News, voiced dissent to Shaikh's message. The dissent caught the attention of the BBC, Texas Monthly, and others. Shaikh threw a tech-bro tantrum via Twitter. Austin High students took the high road, doing what journalists worth their mettle have done for years – analyzing vacuous speech and calling out privilege.

Austin High School Media Arts, 1715 W. Cesar Chavez, Rm 334,

Best Answer for Drought-Parched Austinites

Picking up steam during the great pre-summer deluge in May, many Austinites whiled away the rainy days refreshing this site. Simple, succinct, and paired with the tiniest bit of homegrown snark from the ATX Built Slack community, the site has seen the lake move a deficit of approximately 22 feet until full, to most recently, a mere 13.5 feet to go. Sadly, the answer to the burning question is still the same: NOPE.

ATX Built,

Best Answer to What We Wonder When We Hear it

photo by John Anderson

Is it a bird? A plane? A really loud drone? What the hell is going on outside? Austin’s blue line has you covered. Hashtag #whatthehelicopter is the key to finding out exactly why that chopper is circling your neighborhood. Rescue? A situation? Rest easy knowing the answer is 140 characters away.


Best Book Discussion
Writing on the Air with François Pointeau, KOOP 91.7FM

Since way back in another century, KOOP radio show Writing on the Air has let writers talk craft while readers listen in. Originally a Writers' League of Texas joint, in recent years the show's success can be attributed to François Pointeau, a wine seller by day and daydreaming poet at heart. He keeps the literary train chugging by recruiting guest scribes of all stripes. In October, longtime engineer Erin Cornett and newish crew members Lisa Onland, Joe Brundidge, and Martha Louise Hunter will ably take charge of WOTA as Pointeau heads off in a small RV to explore the nation. Writing on the Road, perhaps?

KOOP 91.7FM, 3823-B Airport, 512/472-1369,

Best Celebrity Pet
Sid @myregalbeagle

If there’s a dog that truly captures Austin's pet-friendly vibe, it’s Sid. This "Regal Beagle," who is actually a basset/beagle/corgi/lab mix, has garnered over 53,000 followers on Instagram, 30 million loops on Vine, has his own book, Sidventures, and has even landed a guest slot on Domino's Pizza's emoji commercial with Modern Family's Sarah Hyland. Over the past three and a half years, photographer, dog lover, and best-pal-to-Sid Alex Hopes has brightened people’s feeds by sharing content of the chill pup holding food in his mouth (the posts for which he’s most famous), sightseeing, and daily life from a dog's-eye view. Here's to Sid, Austin's best friend.

Sid, the Regal Beagle, 402/672-2359,

Best Classiest, Sassiest Entertainment Website
The Salonniere

Uber-full of super-style and cheeky sass, the Salonniere is the brainchild of chic hostess Carla McDonald who imparts her Golden Age of Hollywood sensibility to the hostess/entertainment website via seldom-seen vintage photos of classic doyennes. A tipsy, cocktail lifestyle vibe infuses the fabulousness with tips and tidbits about the swells combined with a welcoming attitude that invites readers to "grab a gimlet and join us, doll!"

The Salonniere,

Best Disaster Recovery Info Source
City of San Marcos Communications & Intergovernmental Relations

There are so many people to acknowledge after times of great tragedy. Among the Central Texans we'd love to thank, who came together during the Memorial Weekend floods to assist and disseminate vital info, the San Marcos Communications crew ranks high. From our perch, furiously trying to make sense of it all from Austin, anytime we'd see an incoming email from either Kristi Wyatt, director of Communications & Intergovernmental Relations, or George "Trey" Hatt, communications specialist from the city of San Marcos, we knew we'd better pay attention. Their professionalism, promptness, and patience under such trying, emotional circumstances did not go unnoticed. And journalistically speaking, their online resources were unparalleled. We hope for them a lovely year-ful of time to focus on things in their town that are a tad less … urgent.

San Marcos Communications & Intergovernmental Relations, 630 E. Hopkins, San Marcos, 512/393-8242,

Best Local Podcast
Solidarity Circuit

As wonderful as Austin is, there’s no escaping the fact that gentrification is rampant, the black community is disappearing, and Austin region is the No. 1 most economically segregated metro area in the country. Amidst the flood of whitewashed media that exists, Austin-based Solidarity Circuit, a series of podcast shows that prioritize marginalized voices, stands out from the rest. Solidarity Circuit acts simply as the platform for storytelling but lets people of Austin tell the stories that we so desperately need to hear. Hooray for representation!

Solidarity Circuit,

Best Metal Air Raid
No Control Radio, 101X

Blast beats, shearing distortion, and death growls – on your radio? If you’re listening to 101X Fridays, 10pm-1am, you’ve entered the domain of Chuck Loesch, a metal connoisseur whose sophisticated appreciation for brutal music rivals the Encyclopaedia Metallum. Weekly, the prodigiously bearded Loesch spins a spectrum-spanning metal mix with emphasis on new releases, while simultaneously fielding requests from home headbangers. Converts also enjoy Loesch’s lucrative ticket giveaways and educational “101 Seconds of Metal News.”

101X FM, 8309 N. I-35, 512/832-4000,

Best Non-Meme Meme

Exemplary of the deep connect between Austin's mass-psychological fugue state and its material culture, the #peeonsomebody campaign (ironic/counter/totally-literal) was a rip on a certain-motivational-speaker's #besomebody campaign. You know, the one that rung hollow with students and teachers at Austin High this year, proving that kids retain the ability to see through slick-gloss self-helpisms? The lewd new hashtag was turned into bumper stickers and T-shirts by one Alison Kilts. Kilts' timing could not have been more perfect: #peeonsomebody became an unofficial rallying cry for SXSW 2015. And here's where the hashtag takes a glorious pinback turn into literalism, because, as far as we can tell, #peeonsomebody only confirms what we all know happens at the end of a raucous night of SXSW partying. That said, we still think #peeonsomebody can #besomebody by marketing their wares to Austin's kink community. The Circle of Life!


Best Online Estate Sale Window Shopping

Maybe you've got a rental property to furnish, or you're a collector of vintage Pyrex, or just need some reasonably priced tools. Estate sales are a great resource for all of these, but how do you find them? Enter To find all the estate sales near you, just punch in your ZIP code and a listing of all upcoming local sales – complete with pictures to help you decide just how early you need to go get in line – magically appears. Sign up to get weekly email alerts so you can plan your shopping days in advance.,

Best Sweat-Free Way to Catch the Bus
CapMetro App

Over the past year, most local buzz about transportation apps has focused on Uber and Lyft. For our money, however, Austin's most indispensable app for getting around is the surprisingly elegant CapMetro. Gone are the days of digging around your room frantically for spare change or waiting half an hour in direct August sunlight for an unpredictable bus. CapMetro helps you plan your trip, buy your ticket, and time your departure with real-time feedback from the fleet. Sometimes a technological revolution can look as familiar and old-fashioned as a city bus.

Capital Metro, 2910 E. Fifth, 512/474-1200,

Best Tech Writer With a Sense of Humor
Omar L. Gallaga, Austin American-Statesman

photo by Bret Brookshire

Omar Gallaga is the rarest of tech nerds: He's funny in a thinking-geek's way. As in founder of the Latino Comedy Project funny. As in writer for the late, great Television Without Pity funny. Follow him on Twitter where he ponders questions like, "Worse fictional Southern gentleman reboot: Atticus Finch or Colonel Sanders?" Gallaga truly knows tech and remains fresh in mind and style despite being at the Austin American-Statesman an amazing 18 years. His latest coup is birthing video blog Statesman Shots. His work percolates elsewhere including All Things Considered and Kirkus Reviews and is always worth seeking out.

Austin American-Statesman, 305 S. Congress, 512/445-3500,

Best Texas Portal to the Past
Texas Archive of the Moving Image

Have you ever seen that retro commercial for San Antonio chain Church's Chicken with the kids in the dune buggy? Or footage from the successful 1962 campaign of he-who-would-become Governor John Connally? How about those those late-Eighties PSAs for the El Paso Chicano AIDS Coalition? There is so much to glean when you let history in. Texas 20th century history leaps from the screen courtesy of the Texas Archive of the Moving Image, an online-accessible treasure trove of Lone Star film and video. Founded and curated by UT Professor Dr. Caroline Frick, the nonprofit collects and digitizes, via the Texas Film Round-Up program, from vaults across the state: local TV reels, industrial productions, home movies, as well as big-budget Hollywood moving images of Texas. It's an important reminder of who we were. Grab some popcorn, cowboy … and you can take off that 10-gallon hat.

Texas Archive of the Moving Image, 501 N. I-35 #204, 512/485-3073,

Best Use of Local Dweebs Geeks
Austin Public Library's "Geek the Library" campaign

Sure, it could be startling to walk into the library and run into a near-life-sized poster of someone you know – maybe someone you have known forever, maybe even your ex-roommate or an old college friend – looking uncannily like themselves and in their element. But that's what was cool about it. As part of a national program, the Austin Public Library turned out a series of posters on which Austinites appeared in a variety of colorful forms to testify that they “geek” (feel passionate about) everything from breastfeeding to dubstep and to encourage you to “Get Your Geek On” as well – a moving reminder that, as much as we expand, we stay connected and creatively knit.

Austin Public Library's "Geek the Library" campaign,

Sweetest R&B DJ
Suga Rae, RnB 96.3FM

photo by Todd V. Wolfson

If you're the music czar for your workplace (or if you can bribe the music czar with candy or half-used gift cards), there's no reason you shouldn't be tuning in to 96.3FM to bring your people what they need: R&B! Music, however, is not enough. The people need a voice to turn to for solace and companionship, for sultriness and sass, to move them through the day. They need the incomparable talents of Suga Rae. They need 90's at Noon. Suga Rae's been a DJ in Detroit and Dallas, and now calls Austin home. And in a town that could stand to nurture more female – not to mention people of color – air-talent, we are damn lucky to have her. There are rumors that she was a B-girl back in the day, with crew and all, and we'll believe it when she windmills at our next party. There's one thing Suga doesn't have to prove, its innate and true, namely, that she's the "sweetest chick on the radio."

Suga Rae,

Best Film Critic
Marc Savlov

photo by Todd V. Wolfson

A working film critic at The Austin Chronicle for 25 years, Marc Savlov’s longevity is equaled by his versatility. Whether it’s an action film or a horror hackathon, a gushy romance or a loopy kids’ picture, Savlov can be counted on to tell it like it is – and tell it with linguistic style and gusto that’s anchored in his broad breadth of knowledge. Like those dogs in that famous experiment, we greet each review with a Savlovian response.

Marc Savlov, 4000 N. I-35,

Best Food Writer
Addie Broyles

Austin American-Statesman columnist and blogger (and quilter, photographer, and mom …) Addie Broyles keeps the streak alive with her thoughtful writing, winningly striking a perfect balance between social observation, historical perspective, and astute trend-spotting. An endless fount of imaginative approaches and energy, Broyles frequently writes about women and food from a feminist perspective – the cherry on top.

Addie Broyles, 305 S. Congress,

Best Journalist
Richard Whittaker

There's prolific and then there's prolific. And then there's this Brittaker, so-called, this tall gingery journo from across the Pond who reports relentlessly and intelligently on local politics and AISD shenanigans, but especially trips the media light fantastic when it comes to all things gory and/or geeky – pro wrestling, indie horror films, cryptozoology, comics, sci-fi and fantasy miscellanea of all forms – and is responsible for, really, an unwieldy percentage of Chronicle content every week of the year.

Richard Whittaker, The Austin Chronicle, 4000 N. I-35,

Best Local Blog

photo by Todd V. Wolfson

When it comes to lampooning hipster excesses, leave it to blogger Lauren Modery to hit the tiny nail on the tiny head. Modery, aka Hipstercrite, specializes in documenting a certain kind of Austin lifestyle (y’all know what we mean), and her observational humor is somehow both self-conscious and ultimately nonjudgmental. Her “Dear People Who Live in Tiny Fancy Houses” found her in perfect form, building a list of innocent-seeming questions into the argument that the tiny houses so currently en vogue were destined to end up as overly precious “hot boxes” of, um, flatulence, lacking even basic comforts. (“Even that dog is like, 'Where the fuck is the bed, guys?'”) She confessed to some envy at the end, Mashable picked it up, responses were penned, and everyone ended up all warm and fuzzy-feeling – in other words, at home.


Best Local Non-Chronicle Publication
Peach Fuzz

The recipe for THC-infused homemade lube, which appeared in Peach Fuzz's January 2015 issue, succinctly sums up the ethos of (and thus what we and our readers love about) the darling, spritely mag. More than mere spankbank, and more approachable than high-concept hipsterporn, Peach Fuzz walks the narrow line betwixt the two and succeeds wildly. 3-D glasses! The McNasty column! X by X (lovers photographing each other)! And so we anxiously await the next issue ….

Peach Fuzz,

Best Local TV News

KXAN's local perspective on national issues, like Texas' abortion debate, and their commitment to long-term local stories, like the Memorial Day weekend floods to which they dedicated a one-hour news special, have gained the station loyal viewers who aren't bashful about expressing their love. So, it's no surprise that KXAN returns victorious – for the fifth year in a row. And that's the way it is.

KXAN, 908 W. MLK, 512/476-3636,

Best Local Tweeter
TIE: @andreagrimes, @austin_cobra

One's a feminist, the other's a slitherist. One describes the scene, one fits the description. One writes headlines, the other makes ’em. Both Andrea Grimes – "ranch dip apologist" for the Texas Observer and senior political reporter for RH Reality Check, tittering and tweeting in astute, Austincentric political quips – and the Austin Cobra – an anthropomorphized hipster-reptile created to breathe levity into a tragic event while reflecting on the obsessive nature of our blinkered news feeds – mastered the 140 and maybe even a few 15 minutesssssss along the way.



Best Locally Produced TV Show
Austin City Limits

Whoever said you can't be a prophet in your own town clearly wasn't thinking about the longest-running music series in American television history! An evangelical force bringing local and regional musicians to the attention of a larger national audience, as well as a generator of city pride, Austin City Limits can do no wrong in, with, or for this city. It's a legacy built brick-by-brick over the years, sure to withstand any end-of-days scenario.

Austin City Limits, KLRU, 2504-B Whitis, 512/471-4811,

Best Photographer
Annie Ray

The advent of the smartphone has unleashed a wave of amateur photographers upon the world. But no amount of pretty filters can measure up to the work that Annie Ray does. From silly photo booths to classic editorials, Ray is a rare talent who knows how to make the most of her medium. Her vivid, charming shots capture the spirit of any party, and usually feature lots of shiny streamers, fake mustaches, and giant smiles.

Annie Ray,

Best Podcast
Double Toasted

Korey Coleman (l) and Martin Thomas   photo by Devaki Knowles

Ah, the arch and pop culture-saturated commentary of Korey Coleman and Martin Thomas! Rising phoenix-like from the ashes of cable TV's The Reel Deal and then from the even ashier ashes of, these two guys have got things covered now, podcastwise, when it comes to reviewing everything Hollywood and other moviemakers can throw onto a big screen. Smarts? Check. Humor? Check. Taste? Hell, they're the seasoned arbiters here – and they've got the ravening fan base to back it up, too.

Double Toasted,

Best Radio Personality/Radio Show
Jason & Deb, 101X-FM

The word "personality" is key. Morning radio done wrong is a puddle of embarrassing flop sweat. When done right, it's red-faced laughter. Brit Deb O'Keefe is a tattooed jock with a soft spot for unwanted dogs. Jason Dick is a big man with a big love of gambling and sports. Together they clash, click, and make it sound easy. Deb's crank calls aimed at getting an "I love you" from a stranger are comedy gold.

101X FM, 8309 N. I-35, 512/832-4000,

Best Radio Station
KUT 90.5FM

Let’s face it: Sometimes living in Austin makes us a little tired of music. So when the KUT empire gained another frequency and moved the music over to its own, allowing the NPR and stellar local programming of our public radio station the elbow room to spread out and conquer the airwaves, some of us did a little happy dance. Make your weekday traffic time useful: Turn that dial and get caught up on local and national news. On Saturday mornings, check out the clever quiz shows Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me! and Ask Me Another.

KUT 90.5FM, 300 W. Dean Keeton, 512/471-1631,

Best Spanish-Language Radio
Latino 102.7FM

photo by Todd V. Wolfson

Austin has had a fair amount of Spanish-language radio stations over the years – unfortunately, with little variety. No disrespect to Norteño or musica regional, but it came time to give the Spanish-listening audience some pop music. Debuting in Austin in summer 2013, the format of Emmis' Latino 102.7FM not only crosses over but bounces back and forth from contemporary Latino artists in Spanish and English across decades of hits, with artists like Gloria Trevi, Pitbull, and Elvis Crespo sharing spots on the playlist. The coined "Latin crossover" is what several artists from Spanish-language countries aspire toward. Remember, Juanes taped an Austin City Limits segment in Spanish, after all. Even if you don't speak Español, take a listen, you may learn a phrase or two; and even if you don't, they'll pop something in and forget it's Inglés.

Latino 102.7, 8309 N. I-35,

Best Sportscaster
Mike Barnes, KVUE-TV

Mike Barnes interned at KVUE while attending the University of Texas in the Eighties. Save for a six-month stint on the air in Aggieland (blasphemy!), he's been the Austin TV station's sports guru. He's a gentle, enthusiastic guy who's willing to share the spotlight while serving as maestro for longtime features Friday Football Fever and Texas Tailgaters. Austin can't get enough of 13-year "Best of Austin" winner Mike Barnes, KVUUUUUUUUUE sports!

KVUE, 3201 Steck, 512/459-6521,

Best TV Anchor
Quita Culpepper, KVUE-TV

Seems like only yesterday we were watching Quita Culpepper, new kid on the block, making the leap from radio to KVUE-TV. Culpepper’s “Does It Work Wednesday,” a consumer product-testing segment, was her calling card, but it was soon clear that she had the goods to tell a variety of stories, from human interest to breaking news, with clarity and ease. Her personable, palpable intelligence and sense of humor make her a perfect fit for Austin – so much so that she dominated the Best TV Reporter category here for years and recently appeared in the Best Anchor top spot, as she does this year, as well. All hail the Quita; long may she reign.

Quita Culpepper, KVUE, 3201 Steck,

Best TV Reporter
Quita Culpepper, KVUE-TV

Seems like only yesterday we were watching Quita Culpepper, new kid on the block, making the leap from radio to KVUE-TV. Culpepper’s “Does It Work Wednesday,” a consumer product-testing segment, was her calling card, but it was soon clear that she had the goods to tell a variety of stories, from human interest to breaking news, with clarity and ease. Her personable, palpable intelligence and sense of humor make her a perfect fit for Austin – so much so that she dominated the Best TV Reporter category here for years and recently appeared in the Best Anchor top spot, as she does this year, as well. All hail the Quita; long may she reign.

Quita Culpepper, KVUE, 3201 Steck,

Best Weatherperson
Jim Spencer, KXAN-TV

"Maybe we got a cow flying in the air that a radar beam is bouncing off of. That's what we're hoping right now." That was the Spencerism that pricked up our ears during the Memorial Day weekend flood, 2015 version. The KXAN weather anchor’s expertise, bedside manner, and descriptive talents make Spencer our go-to whenever bad weather strikes, but this spring he put on a clinic – overseeing a couple of junior weather peeps and stepping up when events called for the big guns, rhetorically speaking. As more than one fan put it, “We love it when Jim tells us to go to our safe places.”

Jim Spencer, KXAN, 908 W. MLK,

Best Web Series

Aiming to create a short film inspired by About a Boy, creators of #ATown, Elena Weinberg and Mallory Larson found something so much better: a series about living in one of the coolest cities around. The show's leads Ivy Koehler and Ash Nunley were added to the writers' room to add even more female empowerment to the show. Season 1 is online, and season 2 is set to release October 2015.


Best Burnt Orange Slammer
Ricky Williams on the Longhorn Network

The scene is set on the "41st Acre," home of the Longhorn Network transmission tower. A small group is gathered around a tree, sitting atop hay bales, all dressed in tailgate finery – eye black with cows; orange everything. Members of the Longhorn marching band, with their patented zig-zag trouser trim, mill around a Texas landscape (we suspect Enchanted Rock?). The hay-balers clap politely (a cheerleader gently puffs her poms) as a familiar face steps up. "I've got one," Ricky Williams asserts as he unfolds a piece of paper: "Running! Running! Grass green, sky blue …." To hear how our Heisman hero's opus slam poetry foray turns out, you're just going to have to tune in to the Longhorn Network and wait for one of these snicker-worthy promos to pop up. This bit is part of a series of bumpers – others featuring Dale Watson, Jordan Shipley, Earl Campbell, Vince Young, and of course Smokey and Bevo – produced by Preacher PR for the network to promote its 24/7 Texas sports programming, all the live-long day.

Longhorn Network, 512/478-1833,

Best Femme-Centric Magazine

photo by Amy Gentry

The name is far from subtle. Vagina, the quarterly publication headed by Hillary-Anne Crosby, takes submissions by women (although Vagina notes they accept work from all women, vagina or no), and for women. With its most recent issue, released May, 2014, Vagina added the maga- to its 'zine, debuting with a gorgeous, glossy makeover. With opinions, prose, poetry, and beyond, Vagina is a beautifully packaged space for ladies to share their work.


Best Label of Love
Super Secret Records

Born out of Richard Lynn’s Eastside living room in 2000 to release the thrilling darkwave punk of locals Manikin, Super Secret Records remains Austin’s most consistent boutique imprint. Forty-four total releases count OBN III's 7-inch “No Way to Rock 'N' Roll” as the bestseller, while the one that got away goes to Chumps LP R.I.P. Good Times. Lynn can still be found on any given night of the week in Downtown dives scouting talent and making it.

Secret City Records,

Best Miniature Narratives

Maudlin. Terse. Bleak. Subversive. Tender. Hilarious. Comedian and public speaker Sean Hill helped kickstart Austin's improv scene when he founded the Hideout Theatre, but his Twitter feed, devoted to evocative, perverse, and brilliant short stories at 140 characters or less, has become an Internet comedy sensation. A novel's worth of ideas in a single breath's worth of words.

Sean Hill,

Best New(s) Face
Amanda Tatom & 'Studio 512,' KXAN

photo by Todd V. Wolfson

Just a month and a half into KXAN's brand new Austin-lifestyle show, Studio 512, effervescent host and relatively new Austinite Amanda Tatom has already introduced her viewers to almost as many CenTex superlatives as one issue of "Best of Austin." Dang, girl! Slow down! Every weekday Tatom and team tackle five to six fun Austin-centric subjects – from JuiceLand Peachy Green smoothie makers and potent Driskill Batini shakers to chillin' with Relax the Back and working your core to get that six-pack. Whew! And no, we don't expect this newbie go-getter to slow down anytime soon. She knows – like any good Austin-booster – that there is no shortage of worthy subjects in this town.

Studio 512, KXAN, 908 W. MLK, 512/476-3636,

Best Place to Rise Above the Old Austin vs. New Austin Fray
The End of Austin

An online magazine originating in UT’s American Studies department, TEOA is an engaging mélange of written and visual material devoted to our city’s anxiety about itself. It’s also a hodgepodge of surprises: A meditation on the state surplus store and history of civic racism both suit it well. And while the quarterly's contributors emigrated mostly after 1995, they’re more invested in the mythology than earlier cranks – see expatriate professor Barry Shank’s corrective, “Cities Do Not Have Souls” – who rein in the nostalgia and validate newcomers. That makes it a most interesting place to drop in on the dialogue – which, like Barton Springs, is eternal.

The End of Austin,

Best Police Blotter Reporter
UTPD Campus Watch's William R. Pieper

We confess a guilty pleasure: Police blotters. Especially college police blotters. College kids do the wackiest things: barfing, random vandalism, bicycle seat theft, streaking …. But unless the transgressions are especially tawdry, a blotter can be a snooze. Enter: Pieper, William R. That's how his name appears on the daily e-blasts we receive. Pieper has a gift, a way with words. We imagine Joe Friday reciting his prose. On illegal racers: "That subject took his victory lap in the back of a squad car." On public intoxication: "A non-UT subject was found struggling with gravity." On theft: "Sadly, a thief couldn’t buy a vowel so he stole two bronze consonants from a display sign. Until the letters are replaced, the plaza area will be known as the _AU_KNER Plaza." On barf: "There was evidence on the back floorboard that matched evidence leaving the subject’s mouth that alcohol and her digestive tract were not compatible." Sometimes, like move-in week, he surely doesn't have time for such embellishment, and it's all "just the facts, ma'am." But on slow days, watch out. Thanks, Piep's, you protect us with information and serve it with a smile.

University of Texas Police Department Campus Watch, 2201 Robert Dedman, 512/471-4441,

Best Punk Internet Radio Channel
Stench Radio

An unsung local success story, gregarious former pro-wrestler Stig Stench has built an international punk radio empire from an East Austin apartment. In a field (Internet radio) where you're lucky to get 30 listeners per show, averages a weekly audience of 10,000 homes across 49 countries. Specializing in live interviews with punk celebrities, Stench featured a recent evening with ex-Misfits guitarist Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein, which alone drew 373,000 listeners. Stench Radio decimates all competition, creating a rich niche simply through Stig's warm, friendly verbosity and spinning all the old-school punk rock, hardcore, thrash metal, and psychobilly that fits.

Stench Radio,

Best Radio Station You Thought Was Dead
KAOS Radio

In 2010, Austin music junkies suffered a serious blow when the Federal Communications Commission shut down 95.9FM, the home of the infamous pirate station KAOS. According to the FCC, the station was broadcasting at over 20 times the limit allowed for unlicensed operations. Rather than resign itself to the few yards of signal strength that the limit does allow, KAOS decided to take free music to the murky depths of the Internet, far below the meddling hands of the FCC. At, this pirate station continues to blow the minds of Austin audiophiles with its eclectic mix of jazz, lo-fi blues, "spazzcore," storytelling, and everything sound waves are even capable of producing. And then some. With shows like, "Absinthe and Cigarettes" and "Vomit Piñata Party," you're sure to find the right-shaped music for your ear holes.

KAOS Radio Austin, 4400 Ridge Oak, 512/651-1907,

Best Sensitive TV Reporting
KEYE's Bettie Cross on Petticoat Fair

When KEYE beat reporter Bettie Cross was one of the first local journalists to get interviews with both sides of the unfortunate fracas that erupted over a bra-fitting (or lack thereof) between local transgender activist Kylie Jack and women's foundation garment store Petticoat Fair, she could have done the same thing that handfuls of knee-jerk bloggers, Facebookers, and Tweeters had done before her: She could have picked a side, fired up her torch, and sharpened her pitchfork. Or she could have drowned the story in the bland, safe, issue-avoiding hegemony that oozes out of the compressed formula of TV news. But she didn't. She approached the controversy with measured care, she listened, and she didn't assume guilt before proof or explanation of either side. Bettie Cross performed the radical act of approaching the subjects of the story as fellow humans.

Bettie Cross, KEYE, 10700 Metric,

Best Solar Sound
KDRP Radio

Solar-powered and just as sunny, KDRP has been tenderly tending the roots of roots music since its inception in 2009, and in that short time has become a haven of hamstrung heroes of radio like the dearly departed Larry Monroe. "Roots" is defined by the deejays with a focus on Texas and Americana music. On any given day, that could mean Allman Brothers, Slaid Cleaves, Johnny Cash, Ruthie Foster, Steve Earle, Muddy Waters, Keb' Mo', Billy Joe Shaver, and/or Shelley King, all curated by passionate music lovers and expats of commercial and more tightly controlled radio stations. Their Wednesday night Texas Music Live at Güero's Oak Garden, 6-8pm, has become a staple of the live music scene and perfectly reflects the station's mission to preserve the culture of Texas music with minimal impact on the environment. As the late, great Larry Monroe (who donated his archives, including 50 years of recordings to the station) said of KDRP, "Part of the mission is freedom …. It’s about freedom to express ourselves and for the public to express themselves." Clear ears, full hearts, can't lose.

KDRP 100.1FM, 12600 Hill Country Blvd. Ste. R-130, Bee Cave, 512/829-4680,

Best Way to Plot Pedestrian Adventures
Austin's Atlas

Austin's Atlas is one of those projects that presents as humble and simple and slowly reveals itself to be hugely ambitious and amazing. As the name implies, maps are the thing, but the range is large. Its pedestrian guides are a good entry point; they aim to deepen our relationship with our surroundings with sort-of scavenger hunts for anything from street oddities and art to decorated trees to "voids," or hidden empty spaces. That's just the beginning; the Atlas features workshops, map-making tools, "mappy hours," and many other ways to think about what mapping – and Austin – is.

Austin's Atlas,

Bravest Journalist
Loriana Hernandez, Fox 7 Austin

How else would a good news reporter handle a profound life change? What if that change involved a Leukemia diagnosis? Former Fox 7 anchor Loriana Hernandez opened up to the world, her friends, and her fans on Facebook and on a personal blog about her battle with cancer. We've followed her through chemotherapy, and watched as the fitness buff struggled to walk seven laps around the cancer ward. Processing her experience like a true journo, Hernandez breaks down her treatment and doctor-speak and shares experiences she picks up from fellow patients. More importantly, she reassures us with pictures of that megawatt smile.

Fox 7, 119 E. 10th, 512/476-7777,

The Thea Williams Memorial Award
TIE: Neha Aziz; Nina Hernandez

Last year, we introduced this award as a new “Best of Austin” tradition. Named for Chronicle-friend, college prof, and fellow journalist Thea Williams, the award is given to recognize service and to honor Thea’s memory. We knew Thea as an executive producer at KVUE; but it was when we were invited to speak to her class at Austin Community College that we realized how very special she was. As we said last year, Thea treated her students as journalists, not student-journalists. The 2014 Thea Williams Memorial Award for Distinguished Interns goes to Neha Aziz and Nina Hernandez, who both came to us as seniors at UT early last year, and have been essential members of our intern crew since. A friendship struck between Nina and Neha immediately, and their affable natures set other interns at ease. Quickly, they became senior interns, guiding new recruits through the maze of Chronicle databasing, fact-checking, and style. Our fashionista, Neha Aziz is passionate about film and has become a regular at local festivals – even scoring a trip to Sundance this past year. Nina Hernandez is all rock & roll, interviewing local artists, especially up-and-coming women in rock. Both have stuck it out with us, even after graduation, and we are so very fortunate to have them onboard. While each has her own quirky sensibility, their shared eagerness and loyalty results in our sometimes conflating the two. We hope they forgive every time we’ve referred to them as Niha or Nena. And we hope they realize how much we treasure them both. Because for all the times we question our sanity staying in a field where there is no level playing field, where passing fads and smokescreens distract from journalism’s mission, Neha and Nina remind us – with their open hearts and love for this craft – why we’ve stuck around.

KVUE, 3201 Steck, 512/459-6521,

The Austin Chronicle Internship Program, 4000 N. I-35, 512/454-5766,

Best Film Critic
Marjorie Baumgarten

photo by Todd V. Wolfson

She's firm but fair, she knows her movies and clearly loves them. Read her for her plainspoken prose, (on August: Osage County "This film is like a long day’s journey into another damn day"), or her biting wit (on The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey "… seems more like the work of a man driving around a multilevel parking garage without being able to find the exit"). The best thing about Marjorie Baumgarten, Film Critic, is that she knows that the role of the critic is to shepherd films to the right audience, not the other way around.

Marjorie Baumgarten, The Austin Chronicle, 4000 N. I-35,

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