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Staff Picks

  The Best of Knoxville

Best Radio Station
A crowded category, with 16 strong contenders, but one clear winner: public station WUOT, 91.9 FM. So, who voted for it—the classical music fans, the jazz fans, the NPR news fans, the opera fans, the Prairie Home Companion fans, or the folk music fans? Y'all didn't specify your allegiances, but we suspect it wouldn't have made it over the top in this hotly contested category without all of them together. WUOT celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, and proves what the rest of the radio dial is struggling to learn: that eclecticism wins out in the end.
Runners Up: WNCW & WDVX (tie)

Best Local TV News Show
Best Local TV News Anchor

Bill Williams

You want avuncular? They've got avuncular. Earnest even when he's not, it just wouldn't be Knoxville without Uncle Bill. As anchors go, he leaves all the others rusted at the bottom of Fort Loudoun Lake. WBIR isn't the only news we watch, but if we're not sure who's going to pick up on something we care about, they're our best bet.
Runners Up: Channel 10's Live at 5, Channel 6 Eyewitness News (News Show); Channel 6's Lori Tucker, Channel 10's Robin Wilhoit (News Anchor)

Best Local TV Sports Anchor
Bob Kesling, WBIR
It's Burly Bob's last year at the sports desk. For years, we've shared him with network TV, as he has served as a level-headed commentator on several Southeastern football matches; come fall, of course, he'll be the new Voice of the Vols, a role that's so much larger than life he can no longer keep the day job.
Runners Up: Channel 6's Jim Wogan, Channel 10's Mark Packer

Best Local TV Weather
Matt Hinkin, WATE
Once again, we crossed party lines to vote for Channel 6's tall, red-headed All-American hero, the only guy in town we would trust with our daughters: the man they call Matt Hinkin. Sometimes, in fact, we do trust him with our daughters. Gracious in defeat, when he's six degrees off, he'll buy lunch for your kids' whole classroom. Fortunately for him and the folks who pay his expense account, that's rare. His forecasts are usually on the mark. Matt seems always at ease, no matter what's coming, and as long as we're watching him, we are too.
Runners Up: Channel 10's Todd Howell, Channel 10's Jennifer Broome

Best Radio DJ
T.K. Townsend
As host of B-97.5's morning show, T.K. Townsend has been on the air for almost six years, and in that time has won over listeners by the truckload. He has won these listeners over partly on the basis of his show's lively blend of current events, trivia contests, news/weather/traffic, and music (he maintains that his show is more music-oriented than the other morning shows); and partly on his own approach to make his show seem a little more "real" than the others. When told that he had won this award, Townsend maintained the same light-hearted persona that has made him such a success on the airwaves, asking if there was a cash price included. He wasn't too disappointed to find out that there was not.
Runners Up: Phil Williams, Mancow

Best Local Writer
Jack Neely
Okay, now that Jack's cronies and family members have managed to stuff the ballot boxes for the 12th year in a row [Fourth year, actually.-Ed.], I think it's time someone told the truth about "Knoxville's Best Writer." I share an office with the guy, and let me tell you, it's no picnic—the booze, the women, the bare-knuckled brawling...and that's just on Monday mornings. You want some "Secret History"? Try this: Jack's never done a bit of research in his life. Nope. He couldn't find the library with a map. So where does he get those incredible stories? I'll tell you where—HE MAKES THEM UP. Every one of them. Usually with a killer hangover, just a few minutes before deadline. The fact is, nothing even remotely interesting has ever happened in Knoxville. The city was founded in 1958 by a conglomerate of car dealers and billboard companies. Who do you think really pays Jack's exorbitant salary, the mortgage on his home in Tuscany, the upkeep on his Maserati? Wake up, Knoxville.
Runners Up: Sam Venable, David Hunter & Wilma Dykeman (tie)

Best Radio Talk Show
Hallerin Hill
Hallerin Hill is both black and (generally) conservative. But you could listen to his daily morning show on WNOX for a long time without ever being sure of either of those things. He's not afraid to express his opinions, but he's mostly there to give the entire Knoxville listening area its own voice, and he does a good job of letting the conversation wander where it will. Always willing to let local charities on to plug their events, he's also got a good nose for what makes for compelling radio—what other outlet in East Tennessee is going to give two whole hours of airtime to a guest from Americans United for the Separation of Church and State? His show is maybe the easiest place in town to check the pulse of the community; whether you like it or not, at least it reminds you where exactly you live.
Runners Up: Man Cow, Sports Talk