Best Of 2013

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Best of Colorado Springs 2013: Personalities 

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Local Radio Show

Steve & Coba, KRXP-FM 103.9

219-7625, 1039rxp.com

It happens by accident sometimes: You're working a satellite radio managing gig in Breckenridge when the powers that be decide that live radio is the new direction to take. So, for the sake of live content, you're thrust into hosting your own weekend hip-hop show, then find yourself running a live morning show and then ... well, you look up a few years later and find yourself a household voice in a fairly major market. This is the story of Steve Burrell who, along with his co-host Coba Hoban, has been gracing the Colorado Springs morning airwaves for the past 2½ years with the aptly named Steve and Coba. With their witty banter and off-the-wall conversation topics mixed with hit alternative music, they put on the Springs' top local radio show this year. One thing to know, according to Burrell: "We're a music-intensive morning show." — MB

Radio Station: Music

KRXP-FM 103.9

634-4896, 1039rxp.com

To hear program director Aaron Zytle tell it, it's no coincidence that KRXP won this category and that Steve and Coba won for Local Radio Show. "Anybody in radio will tell you it all starts with morning drive, man," Zytle says. "If you can get a good morning show together, the rest of the station will see the benefit of that, and we certainly have." But Zytle's quick to point out that everyone at the station is "a professional, through and through," and that they share credit for RXP's success five years in. Also worth mentioning is the station's owner, Bahakel Communications, which actually lets the radio folks do the radio things — such as (gasp!) choose the music they want to play. "We're in charge of everything we do, from the songs we put on the air to the imaging pieces that go in between the music, to the promotions that we run," Zytle says, adding, "It's very much me and my staff that get to take ownership of KRXP. And that gives us something to work for, and makes us very proud when things work." — KW

Radio DJ

Vicky Gregor at KRCC-FM 91.5

473-4801, krcc.org

In a medium where superficiality is king, Vicky Gregor's homespun hipness is truly comforting. "Your friend and neighbor," as KRCC's music director likes to call herself, is also your favorite DJ, an eight-time winner who can often be found introducing acts at KRCC concerts and festivals. "One of the coolest things that happened to me this year was spending time with Kristin Hersh," she says of the MeadowGrass performer, who has been one of Gregor's heroes since the singer-songwriter's days in the band Throwing Muses. "It was a weekend filled with conversation about kids, long-term relationships, cool bands and a trip to Super Target." Given Gregor's impeccable taste in indie rock, blues and folk music — heard from 9 to noon weekdays on the Morning Music Mix, it's a conversation that no doubt could have gone on much longer. — BF

Radio Station: Talk

KRCC-FM 91.5

473-4801, krcc.org

The winner in this category for three consecutive years, KRCC provides a genuine alternative to the cookie-cutter approach of corporate radio. Thought-provoking syndicated programs like Fresh Air, Democracy Now! and This American Life are complemented by a history of community involvement. "We recognize the need for localization in our industry," says program director Jeff Bieri of the station's new remote broadcasting capabilities, locally originated programming like Off Topic, and upcoming projects that will include live broadcasts of The Story Project. "For those who are interested in their immediate community," promises Bieri, "KRCC will be a vital link." — BF

Local Talk Radio Personality

Goose and Woody at 92.9 PEAK FM

272-7325, 929peakfm.com

OK, this may come as a shock to those of you who've misperceived the category, but Goose and Woody are actually two people. Together they host 92.9 FM's Peak Mornings with Goose & Woody, from 5 to 9 a.m. weekdays. And together they won last year's Best Local Radio Show award, though Woody alone took Best Radio DJ. If you've never heard them before, either tune into 92.9 or check out their "Sky Sox News Report" skit (available on YouTube), which hilariously displays both their on-air cohesion and considerable talents in mock news reporting. — MB

Local TV Newscast

Heather Skold and James Jarman at KRDO NewsChannel 13

575-6285, krdo.com

According to assistant news director Jene Nelson, the newsroom at KRDO is "hectic and chaotic and fun," and filled with inside jokes. Sounds like high school, but with pantsuits, right? However, this team knows how to administer a certain amount of seriousness when appropriate, like when giving its viewers the most up-to-date info on the recent flooding in our area through first-rate visual storytelling. The anchors that voters called out by name, Heather Skold and James Jarman, have been on the air together for two years and claim to actually like and respect each other outside of their professional partnership. OK, so maybe it isn't that much like high school after all. — GR

Local TV News Personality

Matt Meister at KRDO NewsChannel 13

@TheWxMeister

When your job is ostensibly to tell people about coming calamity from on high, you'd imagine winning a popularity contest would be hard to do. Not for ridiculously charming local weatherman Matt Meister. For the second year in a row, a knack for taking local atmospheric info and making it matter to us has earned "the weathermeister" another title — our favorite local TV personality. And with the weather wreaking so much havoc lately, he's in the spotlight now more than ever. "I have less hair than the beginning of the year, and what is left is more gray, too," says Meister of 2013. Well, at least we have another dry, mild winter ahead of us, right, Matt? Right?!? — JK

Reason to Mock the Mayor

His fear of mind-erasing marijuana

"The young people who use this new grade of marijuana ... are at risk of losing their memory for life." Mayor Bach's statement about cannabis was so ridiculous that we felt compelled to embed the audio in our May story, at the very least so that nobody thought we were making it up. And despite the fact that Colorado Springs neurologist Randall Bjork reassured potentially brainless teens there would be no permanent damage — "That's not possible," he said — the city's communications department still wrote a comment on our website defending Bach's boner with the fact that "leading experts ... have also voiced concerns ..." It shouldn't take a Ph.D. to see such quotes for what they are, though; I mean, even an 18-year-old me could tell you that the mayor is mistaken. If only that kid could remember what we were talking about ... — BC

Local Politician

Former state Sen. John Morse

Well, you voted for him here. Unfortunately for former Senate President John Morse, not enough of his supporters cast ballots in the Sept. 10 recall election. Along with Angela Giron, he became one of the first two Colorado senators to ever be recalled, losing by 319 votes in an extremely low-turnout election. Morse's name will forever be connected to the gun-control legislation he helped pass, but he did a heck of a lot more. Under his leadership in last session, 17 out of 20 signature bills from 20 Democratic lawmakers passed out of the Senate. He sponsored a bill that required DNA samples upon felony arrest, which has helped solve cold cases. In the wake of the dragging death of tow-truck driver Allen Rose, Morse sponsored a law that set more safety rules for towing. Another of his bills allowed the state budget to grow at a faster rate in order to recover from the recession. While Morse is now gone from the Senate, he says he hasn't entirely ruled out a future run for elected office: "It depends how the cookie crumbles." — JAS

Nonprofit Organization

Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado

2605 Preamble Point, 528-1247, careandshare.org

There probably are few people in town who haven't heard of Care and Share. As the hub for food distribution in southern Colorado, the facility is huge, with more than 40,000 square feet of warehouse space. But the need is huge, too, and growing. "We see more and more people we haven't seen before," says CEO Lynne Telford. "People who have lost their jobs, seniors, and there's more childhood hunger, too." Stacy Poore, chief development officer, explains that last year, the nonprofit distributed more than 18 million pounds of food, supplying 15 million-plus meals, thanks in part to 340 partner agencies and 8,000 volunteers. — KK

Local Blogger

Carrie Isaac as Springs Bargains

springsbargains.com

Carrie Isaac spends time corralling her five children, homeschooling two of them, renovating her home and working as a marketer for her husband's business, Circa Real Estate. Oh, and she's an author, and she does speaking events. And she also does an audio series on smart shopping called Grocery University. And yet somehow she manages to run the Springs' most popular blog, which she started in 2008. "At the time, our family budget was super-tight, and I read many money-saving and frugal lifestyle blogs to find tips and gain inspiration for keeping our family's budget down," Isaac says. But she grew frustrated during her search, as much of the information was geared for a national, not local, audience. "So, on a whim while I was 8½ months pregnant with our third child, I bought springsbargains.com and began posting tips on sales I knew about or good deals I found in Colorado Springs." Now she works in 10-minute bursts in between her other commitments, and looks to a few assistants to keep the site constantly updated. — JH

Cultural White Knight

Susan Edmondson at the Downtown Partnership

111 S. Tejon St., #404, 886-0088, downtown80903.com

Edmondson has won this category before, while executive director of the Bee Vradenburg Foundation. Now, she's president and CEO of the Downtown Partnership. It's been a smooth transition, she says. Her Vradenburg work — and her master's in public administration— taught her how to unite people to work together for the common good. Acknowledging there's work to do to enhance downtown, Edmondson says, "There is no one silver bullet." But her pride is obvious as she lists its cultural offerings: the Pikes Peak Center, Pioneers Museum, Art on the Streets, and locally owned galleries and restaurants. What would she say to residents on the city's outskirts who see no reason to visit? "Give it a chance, because any day or night of the week, something fun is going on." — RVP

Local Twitterer

Wendy Carson as Springs Alliance

@SpringsAlliance

Bret Wright @brrite

So what does a top tweeter do? This is your third year in the besties. How do you get there?

Wendy Carson @springsAlliance

In this case I follow only C.S. people. I wouldn't be a world-renowned tweeter.

Bret Wright @brrite

What does that look like? What do u tweet?

Wendy Carson @springsAlliance

I retweet others' tweet[s]. Tweet events, store openers, disasters — esp. with the fires. I share info. and how to help.

Wendy Carson @springsAlliance

Tweet about myself, what I'm doing. A fair mix of things

I'm not an autobot.

Bret Wright @brrite

Has it always been that way?

Wendy Carson @SpringsAlliance

Changed over time. Used to about recipes and life things now it's community. Started my non-profit on Twitter.

Would like to grow that.

Wendy Carson @SpringsAlliance

Teaching about and writing grants to support local biz. Slowed a little right now, just had a baby #firebaby

Bret Wright @brrite

Congrats! What's most important about your tweeting?

Wendy Carson @SpringsAlliance

This is largely about everybody else. It's their content that keeps it going.

Bret Wright @brrite

Tnx for taking the time out of your day.

Wendy Carson @SpringsAlliance

You're welcome. Following you now, too! — BW

Live Storytelling

The Story Project

Manitou Bindu, 513 Manitou Ave., every second Friday (watch for other dates and venues)

Sometimes the only consolation to a terrible experience is knowing that if you survive, your ordeal will make for a really good story. Living through the Depression, surviving a life-threatening illness, and experiencing war, discrimination and abuse have all been topics chosen by storytellers at The Story Project. That said, there have also been stories about love and success and memories from childhood. Producer Sharon Friedman says "stories are very healing" and "people tell them with great heart." The Project's only guidelines are that the offerings be true and personal and told without a script. Friedman says hearing about the happiness and difficulty other people experience helps us to connect with each other: "I've always thought we build community one story at a time." — DM

Fundraising Event

Give! Campaign

indygive.com

You do realize that by voting the Independent's Give! campaign as the area's best fundraising event, you're basically recognizing yourselves, right? Because Give! wouldn't be what it is without all of the individuals, businesses and nonprofits that get involved each year. So pat yourself on the back — this Best Of award goes out primarily to the 7,986 of you who contributed the whopping $982,222 that was distributed to 58 local nonprofits in 2012. You can also take credit for 2013's goal of surpassing last year's elusive million-dollar mark. (Insert commercial break here: Give! 2013 kicks off Nov. 1!) — KA

Local Scandal of the Year

Colorado Springs' recreational marijuana ban

It was a stunned July crowd full of sign-wielding supporters that first had to come to grips with the fact that Colorado Springs City Council had just voted, 5 to 4, to opt out of licensing the recreational-marijuana dispensaries allowed for in Amendment 64. "I have a hard time grappling with this being illegal on the federal level, so that certainly swayed my vote," said City Councilor Val Snider at the time. Snider surprised onlookers with his decision to oppose, as the at-large councilor had previously made comments indicating support of RMJ. Either way, the body came off looking out of touch with the majority of Colorado Springs voters — not to mention looking like they were in the pocket of local business and military interests — and their actions spurred creation of the local, pro-marijuana group Every Vote Counts. — BC

Local Reason to Celebrate

Fire relief

You know it's been a tough year when instead of marking the introduction of something good, the best we can celebrate is the end of something bad, like a raging wildfire that claims 486 homes. But the containment of June's Black Forest Fire needs to be marked and appreciated somehow, especially since first responders again worked tirelessly in wilting conditions to prevent worse damage. And because the region's leaders did show they had learned some lessons from the Waldo Canyon Fire of a year before. If only the people mentioned above, or any of us, could have done something to prevent the flooding that poured off both burn scars in the months that followed. Yeah, it's been that kind of year. — KW

Hero of the Year

Wildfire first responders

"What is a hero?" is the kind of open-ended essay question that kids will face on college entry exams and English finals until the end of time. Thanks to our wildfire first responders, kids growing up in the 20-teens in Colorado Springs should ace that test every time. Once again this summer, first responders in the Springs and surrounding communities fought another record-breaking wildfire that threatened thousands of homes and livelihoods, risking their own lives in the process. Parades and awards aren't much compared to that kind of risk, but it's how us desk jockeys say "Thank you." So thanks for being there. This town would be much the worse for wear without you. — JK

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