Media
2006 Readers Poll
2006 Critics Picks
Best Children's Television Show

Once upon a time, locally produced television shows for children were the norm; today, they are a rarity. The Biscuit Brothers is reviving the concept on public television with a kiddie hoedown steeped in rural Texas charm and music with an undeniably Austin twist. It's a three-man circus with Jerome Schoolar and Allen Robertson as Dusty and Buford, and director/editor Damon Brown acting as narrator Tiny Scarecrow. The Emmy-nominated Biscuit project is entirely community-supported – they get no financial help from KLRU or PBS – so get behind them today!

Biscuit Brothers
512/963-3778
www.biscuitbrothers.com

Best Golden Age of Wireless

Tune in, turn on, and browse to your heart's content without forking it over to The Man. Some of us may remain technologically challenged, but no one can deny the democratic satisfaction of free Internet access. Welcome to the Wi-Fi world order, courtesy of the tech-activist pioneers responsible for the following Web directories, which, of course, are also available for free to you, me, and the voters of Florida. www.austinwirelesscity.org/hotspot-list.php comes to us from the Austin Wireless City Project, a nonprofit entity which assists managers of public spaces in providing wireless hotspots gratis. It features maps and links to locations' Web sites. www.auscillate.com/wireless/austin features user comments and maps. www.ilovefreewifi.com features maps, user comments, and state-by-state directories. www.wi-fihotspotlist.com/browse/us/2000239/2043315 bills itself as "The definitive WiFi Hotspot Directory." It offers a less comprehensive directory than the other sites but does provide links to locations' Web sites. It also features national directories for airports and RV/campground sites.

Best Media Outlet for Teens

Tune in and celebrate 10 years of some of this country's finest youth broadcasting, as recognized by the National Federation of Broadcasters. Youth Spin is a collective (in which class credit may be earned by local high school students) that meets at the Griffin School and produces a Friday afternoon show every week on KOOP radio. And 2006 marks their first decade of service to the Austin community. You think you have your pulse on what's cool in this town? Trust us: These kids are on it way before any of us geezers.

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

Griffin School
5001 Evans
512/454-5797
www.griffinschool.org

Best Midweek Shakedown

You just got over your case of the Mondays, but the weekend is still three days away. KVRX, student radio for the University of Texas, has your Tuesday night pick-me-up, brought to you by the Rev. Get Down, aka grad student Thomas Fawcett. Each week, Fawcett delves into the KVRX archives and his own vast collection to bring listeners the best in obscure soul and funk from the Sixties, Seventies, and beyond. Climb aboard the mothership and shake your booty.

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

Afro Boogaloo

Best New Texas Travel Guide

While Ride Texas has a decidedly two-wheeler focus, those who prefer a steering wheel to handlebars can find plenty of travel tips on the pages for their next road trip. The magazine is heavy on where to ride, hang out, eat, and stay while on the road; with just enough technical information and photos of the latest machines to make the gearheads salivate. A recent issue of the glossy monthly had stories about an observatory in New Mexico; swimming holes in Texas, New Mexico, and Arkansas; and a review of the new Kawasaki Vulcan 900 motorcycle. Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines.

Ride Texas
512/858-2313
www.ridetexas.com

Best Operating Operators

The noble telephone operator used to be a beacon in the night, a lone voice amongst the static, before the days of fiber optics and computer-generated hold music. No offense to the poor saps doing time at the 411 stations across the country, but their field pales in comparison to the true "information, please" operators of yesterday. Fortunately here in Austin, we have the noble operators at the University of Texas' General Information line. These are real people, and they know their stuff, from direct-office extensions of deans and profs to the most appropriate person to explain the legend behind the Alec statue in the Engineering Library. And in the rare event that they become stumped, they call a supervisor before you have to ask them to. At UT, the noble operator lives!

UT General Information
University of Texas at Austin, ITS Department, FAC Center, 2 West Mall
512/471-3434
www.utexas.edu/directory

Best Phoenix Act

When KOOP radio suffered two fires and nearly went off the air for good, their loyal listeners and supporters circled the wagons and showed the popular noncommercial radio station the love. And no one showed it better than classical station KMFA, which offered studio-broadcast space to the beleaguered KOOP. While KOOP continues to fundraise and provide their all-embracing blend of dependable community programming from KMFA's boards, news of their move into the old strip that used to house Tiny's Boots on the Eastside off Airport completes the circle, drawing the phoenix up from the ashes and out onto the airwaves where she belongs.

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

Best Place to Put Your Hancock

We're a little biased, being located across the street and all, but the Chron has long marveled at Hancock Center, that shining strip mall on a hill. But with so much stuff – groceries, burritos, clothes, movies, liquor, and a hair salon – it feels like we spend half our lives there. Now there's a like-minded group to commiserate with. Get on the MySpace, and join the Hancock Hang Abouts to read and respond to posts like "Ass cheek at the 24 Hour Fitness!," "Shout out to Radioshack!" and "To the person who's dog shit on the sidewalk in front of Old Navy." Because Hancock Center's not MySpace – it's our space.

Hancock Hangouts
groups.myspace.com/hancockhangabouts

Best Star-Power in a News Anchor

Glamourous, gorgeous, and smart as a whip, KXAN's Michelle Valles anchors the news with style and integrity. Appearing at 4, 6, and 10pm, we like it when she's serious, but when she smiles, it lights up the world. The El Paso native is deeply involved in our community, dedicating herself to the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and she also sits on the Board of Directors for the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. An asset to KXAN and Austin, Michelle makes the news happen.

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

Best Structural, Yet Deconstructed Projections

Shamelessly analog Lori Surfer splices and warps film reel-to-reel in hypnotic projections. Long into the night her machinations run, providing a visual mash-up of vintage loot – found family slides and home movies flicker alongside ocean waves and stellar constellations. Kinky detective stories dance to the music of a Moog theremin. And it all comes together at the deliberate hand of this veteran Butthole Surfer projectionist.

921-5820
www.myspace.com/lori_16mm

Best Sweetheart of the Radio

With a soft Panhandle accent and a deep, abiding love for country music in all its flavors and shades, she's the sweetheart of the radio, that Janice Williams. Her weekday afternoon shows are among KVET's most popular. Her listeners also have an appetite for her Friday Taste of Texas shows, done on location at area restaurants. Married to drummer Mark Hayes of the Seth Walker Band, Williams has a knack for treating upcoming musicians like stars and stars like next-door neighbors. How sweet is that? KVET celebrates 60 years on the Austin airways this year, and personalities like Williams keep the sexagenarian station "as good once as they ever was."

KVET/KASE
705 N. Lamar
512/495-1300
www.kvet.com

Best Televised Guilty Pleasure That Is Not Guilty, at All!

When local boy Britt Daniel from Spoon showed up at the cafe where super-teen-sleuth Veronica Mars works and karaoked the Elvis Costello song "Veronica," we were sold. It was even better than when key characters began sporting UT logos. Fun and self/TV-referential, VM, as penned by other local boy Rob Thomas, could be dismissed as a guilty pleasure were it not so well written and convolutedly engaging. It's a blast to pick apart the dialogue loaded with fansite nods ("I ignored all of the spoiler alerts, which I know is kinda douche-baggy.") and other TV-show winks, ("frak"). And with the third season loaded with upcoming episodes with smart titles like, "Hi, Infidelity," "Charlie Don't Surf, "Wichita Linebacker," and "My Big Fat Greek Rush Week," where's the mystery? Like the Longhorn on Logan Echolls' shirt, we're hooked.

Rob Thomas Productions
www.robthomasproductions.com

A Hand Made Production
2505 E. Kent St.
512/417-2685

Digital Light and Sound
4700 Staggerbush Rd #428
512/535-7470
www.dlightsound.com

Oso Negro Productions
907 E. 49th St.
512/743-9790

Best Weatherman

News 8's fresh-scrubbed meteorologist Burton Fitzsimmons says that it was growing up on a 20-acre spread in San Antonio, watching the often crazy Texas weather roll over the Hill Country that sparked his interest in all things hail, rain, and drought. We don't doubt it: Fitzsimmons is confident and heady enough to inject into his broadcasts the irony necessary to forecast a July "cold front" – and we love him for it.

Most Dedication to Austin Music So Early in the Morning

The unsung music-promoting heroes in Austin are Joe Bickett and Ketherine Kisiel on Fox Morning News from 5-9am. They run the gamut of musicians from touring bands passing through, to emerging new bands, from local legends like Ray Wylie Hubbard, to music-related personalities such as Pamela Des Barres. Particularly around SXSW (especially the Austin Music Awards, wink) and ACL, they go into high-gear booking the best bands around. What's funniest is to see the bands unloading at 6:30am on Brazos Street, when chances are that they just loaded up after playing a gig a few hours before.

Fox 7
119 E. 10th
512/476-7777
www.myfoxaustin.com

 
Critics: Kids
Critics: Outdoors & Recreation

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