2003 Readers Poll
2003 Critics Picks
Best Spy Kids Deejays

Dale Dudley was in Spy Kids 2 (Head Magna Man) and Bob Fonseca in SK3 (as Agent Damage Report working alongside the Continental Club’s Steve Wertheimer, clearly born for the part). So politically incorrect, they don’t make that chart, their show is funny, smart, and fast. The cast is rounded out by Charlie Hodge (who's always off in a movie of his own making), the too-often tortured Ed Clements on sports, and producer Angela Davis. Comedian Eddie Gossling is a frequent guest but should be a regular. When they get going the show can be transcendently lunatic, usually driven by Dudley, sardonically grounded by Fonseca and driven to outer space by Hodge (as Davis not only coordinates the asylum but more than holds her own). A guilty pleasure for the academic/professional set, just a pleasure for everyone else, the show features comics, strippers, gadgets, bizarre topics, weird callers, truly twisted contests, and as much local live music as any show on Austin radio.

8309 N. I-35

Best Austin Weblog

We think some individual Austin weblogs deserve this title, but it's hard to choose between them, since that would require comparing apples to oranges. Fortunately, you can have the whole fruit basket with, a site that "aggregates articles about Austin, blogged by our members." The site is based on a simple idea brought to life by local bloggers Chip Rosenthal, Adina Levin, and Adam Rice. It's one-stop shopping for dozens of stories and perspectives on our city, and if you have a weblog (or Web site by any other name), you can join in on the chorus quickly and easily. The site has also spawned a community that meets in meatspace once a month.

Best Citywide Scrabble Players

Looking out over the urban landscape, it is easy to be lulled by the marquee signs promising low cell-phone rates, cheap taco plates, and all you can eat ... popcorn Jesus? Thanks to Busy Marquee's deft and stealthy word reconstruction, our expectations for a proper slogan are expanded. Why shouldn't a national chicken chain sport a slogan like "Original Rap MC" under a smiling colonel? Niche marketing wishes it were this compelling.

Best Commitment to Democracy

This 24-hour, cable-only, local news station bills itself as "a public service to subscribers of Time Warner Cable." They proved their commitment to that motto by airing interviews of every single candidate in the 2002-2003 municipal and local legislative races, and showing the Austin League of Women Voters candidate debates live. Democracy needs an educated populace, and this station certainly did its part.

Bret Brookshire

Best Dejected Ladies of the Morning

There was this show. On KVRX. On Tuesday mornings. So early. Sometimes we were asleep. It's not there anymore. We miss it. It was The Lonely Girls' Co-op. It starred Amy & Jackie. It was neat. They were, like, real girls. Like at a slumber party. Or a hangover breakfast after a night of binge Jell-o shots and forgotten panties. Or your best dorm pal crashing in your bunk because her stupid roommate and her stinky boyfriend were getting it on and making noise ... you know, like rabbits ... or worse, hyenas, because rabbits don't make too much noise, really. At least we think they don't. So, we are sticking with hyenas.

PO Box D

Best Encouragement to Use Mass Transit

Riding the bus may not be glamorous, but buying bus passes can be a downright drag! Now, with Capital Metro's online service, it only takes the click of a few buttons to purchase bus passes and have them delivered painlessly to your mailbox. Park the SUV, take a book, ride the bus, and know that you're doing your part to cut down on Austin's congested skies and thoroughfares.

Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority
2910 E. Fifth

Best Film Buff Radio

Every Friday night at 10pm on KMFA (89.5 on your FM dial), Stephen Aechternacht routinely wows film fans and casual listeners alike with his voluminous knowledge of film scores and the crafty ways he presents them. Themed shows on various directors, film genres, and, yes, cottage-industry composer Danny Elfman, segue in and out of one another and recall the best moments from the most memorable films, or, occasionally, the best moments from some of the most forgettable turkeys ever. You may have hated the film, but you'll dig Aechternacht's obvious love of his subject and his classy, utterly unique show.

Film Score Focus

Best Local Literary Zine

What would the world be like without zines? Small, untidy, niche works of doubtless creativity – expressions of individuality and opinion slapped down on newsprint or copied onto reams of pulp in order to enlighten the masses. Well, Two Note Solo transcends that common definition of the typical zine. This Austin lit zine covers all facets of expression – essays, short stories, interviews, art, poetry, etc. – in myriad styles sure to connect with the reader in some way. Along with its blog-filled Web site (, Two Note Solo bridges the gap between genre-specific rag and mass-produced publication. A representation of Austin at its best, Two Note Solo is a breath of cynicism and humor that is much needed in this era of Keeping Austin Weird.

Two Note Solo
1203 E. 31st

Best Local Reality

There's a lot to hate about reality TV. But when filmmaker R.J. Cutler gets his hands on a project, the outcome is more than a snarky competition or gutterwise titillation. Such is the case with Freshman Diaries. Filmed right here in Austin, three-person crews followed 17 UT freshmen during the 2002-2003 school year, turning the footage into 10 half-hour episodes currently airing on Showtime. As expected, Sixth Street sojourns are present. So is partying, drinking, and sexual tension. But participants become more than meat puppets and have a hand in creating their image with cameras provided to record personal video diaries. Can anyone be ignorant about how to best "play themselves" in this media-saturated age? Certainly not this crop of young people schooled on The Real World. The combination of conscious preening, unguarded moments with the mute, roving eye of unseen camera operators, and luck makes Freshman Diaries an always intriguing, sometimes heartbreaking, highly magnified snapshot of young adults coming of age.

Freshman Diaries
Showtime, 1633 Broadway
New York

Best Low Tech Weather Source

There are gadgets that gauge the weather from Cedar Park to Central China. You can log onto the Web and get real-time reports from San Saba to San Tropez. So what's so great about being able to pick up the phone and get the same information? Because sometimes we just are tired of typing and clicking, sick of the notion that we spend more time staring at our screens than chatting with our neighbors. Sometimes it's just plain nice to call up 451-2424 and hear the friendly voices of Mary Murray, Ilona Torok, or Micah McCauley tell us what we suspected all along: It's hot, and it's probably going to stay hot. We can't resist calling before predicted cold snaps so we can anticipate the arrival of that norther like a family awaiting a prodigal son.

3201 Steck

Best New Local TV Show

Like a big, beautiful postcard that you really can't send out of town (unless you record it and mail it off to those poor unfortunates who do not call Austin home), Austin Now is Austin now, a panoramic, heartfelt TV-tone poem to this city we love. Hosted by KLRU's Tom Spencer and chock-full of fine feature segments about cool places and entities like Laguna Gloria, the West Cave Preserve, Las Manitas, the Texas Observer, and so much more, plus guest commentary and featured poetry readings, Austin Now is where it's at.

6101 Highland Campus Drive, Building 3000

Best Parody Newspaper for Future Onion Writers

While thought of in some circles as "The Onion Jr.," UT's monthly Texas Travesty nevertheless comes out with a fresh, local twist in many of their hilarious issues, especially in the "Around Campus" section. Making humor out of the mundane, some of the funniest Travesty headlines from the last issue include "Thrilled Ninth-Grader Goes Up Popular Girl's Shirt" and "SWT Student Born at 4:20 Mentions It Frequently." But they also do great center spreads, back pages, and news briefs. Though they were off for the summer, we can't wait to see what this year brings.

Texas Travesty
2500 Whitis

Best Place to Find "Reality"

Some of the most popular reality shows to plague ... ummm, appear on national TV have made Austin a go-to place in search of new meat ... errrr, talent hungry for their 15 minutes of fame. American Idol, Last Comic Standing, The Real World, A Dating Story, and a few new reality series in the works have stopped by.

Gary Bond, Director, Austin Film Office, Austin ACVB, 201 E. Second, 583-7229

Best Place to Sneak Away Between Classes

After hours of learning (or dozing) in class, Little City offers a quiet, comfy place to relax, catch up on reading, or just decompress after lecture with friends. The Happy Hour (M-F 5-7pm) is perfect for caffeine-addicted students crashing after an all-nighter or those on a limited budget who can't seem to leave. Offering a variety of coffee, tea, and tasty snacks, Little City is the student's home away from dorm. Stay, read, and make sure you try the Fruit Frappe! 2604 Guadalupe St, 467-2326.

Todd V. Wolfson

Best Pop-Art Inspired Needlework

Embroidery is hot. Just ask Jenny Hart. This young Austinite has had her needlework featured in Venus magazine (her embroidered portrait of the White Stripes) and in other large outlets. Her exceedingly cool work references the best of pop culture: Mexican wrestlers, Edith Piaf, and topless, gunslinging cowgirls (last two were collaborations with Jon Langford of Mekons and Waco Brothers fame). Go to her super-cute Web site, and check out her embroidered portraits, purchase stitching patterns for making your own kitschily fashioned clothing or objet d'art. And if you need a little help, Jenny has starter kits available with nifty designs for tea towels, pillowcases, and baby bibs – don't worry, instructions are included.

Best Public Affairs Rumor

Emmy award-winning Paul Stekler has now hosted two public affairs specials on KLRU, corralling some of the best journalists across the state to talk Texas politics. Under Stekler's lead, the roundtable discussions are not only civil but also informative and highly engaging. Rumor has it that a weekly public affairs series hosted by Stekler is in the works for next year. If so, Austin TV would be fortunate to have such an informed and seasoned media watcher at the helm.

6101 Highland Campus Drive, Building 3000

Best Reason Not to Hang Up on Telemarketers

There seems to be a checklist of qualifying Austinite experiences: swimming at Barton Springs, sighting a celebrity, guinea-pigging at PPD … and participating in a focus group at Tammadge Market Research. Those who haven’t hung up on the cheery Tammadge spiel have learned that no, they’re not selling anything; in fact, they want to give you cash, if only you’ll share a little time and a lot of opinions. Through Tammadge focus groups, locals have shaped many an ad campaign and product improvement. Some have even been paid to drink beer. Having been in town for almost 20 years and having had at least one celebrity among them – a certain member of the Flaming Lips – Tammadge callers surely qualify as some sort of Austin institution. So remember, next time you get the call – there could be a rock star on the other end wanting to give you 50 bucks.

Best Reason to Weather Watch

Is it the chatty, neighborly way she addresses her audience, or her earnest, wide-eyed concern that you know which way the wind is blowing, the day's pollen count, or if there's a chance for rain? Somehow, KVUE daybreak and midday meteorologist Pamela McCown manages to make all things weather-related sound like the most vital information you need to know even when there's no weather emergency. Yesterday's weather? Hot. Tomorrow's weather? Hot. Somehow, McCown makes it all tolerable.

3201 Steck

Bret Brookshire

Best Red River Rag

A tornado is forming on Red River. It's picking up trailers and dust and spitting 'em back out, and the Rank and Revue is chasing the storm. This year the members of that ever-present Red River rock scene took the writing into their own hands. Rank and Revue may not be the most grammatically correct or the least subjective, but the rag is a picture-perfect example that the people who live the scene know the scene the best. Featuring reviews of shows and CDs as well as in-depth stories on any number of Austin highlights, from the tattoo phenomenon to this town's finest printed tribute to Handsome Joel, the biweekly is proving that the rockers have something to say, and dammit, they're gonna say it whether you like it or not. So batten down the hatches, and wait for the storm to pass. The folks at Rank and Revue will keep you updated.

Rank and Revue: The Red River Review
614 S. First Ste. 243

Best Reunion Since Dean Martin Joined Jerry Lewis at the 1978 MDA Telethon

The KGSR morning show has long been that crucial jolt by which so many Austinites start their day. Kevin Connor has been the mainstay since it started. Now Kevin Phinney has returned from New Orleans recapturing the old magic. Both Kevins are very knowledgeable and love not just music but most forms of popular culture – especially movies. But the emphasis here is on music with a great playlist, lots of live performances, and info on who's playing around town. Regulars such as Joe Nick Patoski on sports and Mark Murray on weather further enliven the proceedings. The show is great and funny when the Kevins get along and play off each other. Sometimes, rarely, they don’t, and then, it's usually even more entertaining.

KGSR 107.1FM
8309 N. I-35

Best Too Sultry for Morning Radio

Sure, Trina’s very smart and funny, really knows what’s going on around town. She also plays great music: Audioslave, Foo Fighters, Evanescence. … Overall she’s an ideal morning deejay. But it’s that voice! Sure, it helps that it's backed by wit and intelligence … but that voice! With the dawn barely cracking the sky, it's almost wrong to get the blood rushing that fast that early. Not that we’re really complaining, but we make it a point not to check out the Webcam; there’s only so much one can take.

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

Best Use of a VU Ditty

Is it Sterling, or is it Lou? The chiming double-time strum of "Ride Into the Sun" (off the LP Loaded) is so distinctly Velvet Underground, that it just doesn't matter. When you watch KLRU and you see their familiar logo basking in the warm glow of Austin's own Texas State Capitol, you know you are home. A VU song in the background just makes it all the more cozy.

6101 Highland Campus Drive, Building 3000

Best Weekend Radio Programming

Saturday is definitely a "Don't touch that dial!" day. Our radios are set to 91.7FM. If we're up early enough, we begin with Big Band & Classic Jazz. More realistically, we are lolling about in our muumuu, ready at 10am for Jay Robillard's Lounge Show. Then we head out for something sticky and sweet around noon, when the Jennifers hit the air with Ear Candy. Then it's home for a nap, where The Graveside Service lulls us with the tunes of dead people. At 3pm ATX Live peps us up with live in-studio appearances by local folks, and at 4pm we hone our creative chops with the gang on Writing on Air. Our dancing shoes come out of the closet for Taylor Cage's Queer Waves, and Potluck is what we have for dinner at 6pm. By the time we are getting all worked up for an evening out, Scott Gardner modulates us frequently, and makes us Stronger Than Dirt.

3823-B Airport

Friendliest Deejays

Jammin' morning team Robin & Jennifer might've won their own "Best of" for honoring the second anniversary of 9/11 with a live broadcast from the Blood & Tissue Center. But then we realized how many of Jammin's events are community-oriented and how much we enjoy the affable nature of all the Jammin' deejays – so we decided to spread the love. Midday man Jose Brown has one of the sexiest voices on Austin radio, and Rudy Ramos is a one-man party barge, ready to turn your afternoon commute into a smooth-sailing groove cruise. The evening's Quiet Storm is hosted by Shalonn, whose radio bedside manner is only matched by the seductive tunes she plays, and Latino Comedy Project's (ex-Esther's Follies) Mical Trejo spices up the weekends. Our faves, we admit, however, are the morning's Robin & Jennifer, whose easygoing banter helps us greet the day.

Jammin' Oldies 105.9FM
3601 S. Congress Ste. F

Bret Brookshire

Most Fabulous Media Design

Kat Jones and her expert team of innovators are cracking open the world-class media market right here in our own back yard. With digital work for films including The Cell, Fight Club, and Minority Report, Milkshake Media is shaking up our local scene in a big way. For companies who can choose from the finest media designers in the world, Milkshake Media's work for Mattel, Anthony Nak, and Chanel is dazzling ... and so is their future.

Milkshake Media
1315 W. Sixth

Critics: Kids
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