A precedent was set this year, as one man topped three categories and placed in two others. There has never been a sweep like this in any section of the Best of poll since it started in 1994. That man is Chris Vernon, host of "The Chris Vernon Show" on AM 730 ESPN. (Full disclosure: Flyer music and film editor Chris Herrington has a regular slot on the show.) Last year, Vernon's single appearance in the results was a tie for third place in "Best Sports Show." So how did Vernon become the man of nearly all Memphis media in just one year? He did campaign hard, asking his listeners to include him while making their Best of picks. But, really, only the voters know for sure.
Best TV News Anchor
1. Joe Birch, WMC-TV, Channel 5
2. Claudia Barr, WREG-TV, Channel 3
3. Donna Davis, WMC-TV, Channel 5 — tie —
Dee Griffin, WPTY-TV, Channel 24
Joe Birch gives Action News 5 a TV-category sweep in Best of Memphis. Sage, with a magical voice, some might say Birch is the Väinämöinen of Memphis TV, but that would just be silly.
Best FM Station
1. WEVL-FM 89.9
2. WXMX-FM 98.1, The Max
3. WMC-FM 99.7, FM 100
When WEVL 89.9 calls itself "listener supported," they aren't kidding: They got enough support to take this year's top prize. WEVL's stable of excellent and diverse programs and volunteer hosts makes a great case, but Friday night's Cap'n Pete's Blues Cruise might have been enough to do the trick by itself.
Best AM Station
1. WREC-AM 600
2. AM 730 ESPN
3. WHBQ-AM 560 — tie —
With its potent mix of national programming (Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity) sandwiched between local drive-time shows (Memphis Morning News, Mike Fleming), WREC-AM 600 has daytime news and commentary covered. Add overnight spooks and conspiracy theories with George Noory and the rest of Paul Harvey's story, and you've got an AM station lots of folks want to lend their ears to.
Best Drive-Time Show
1. Drake & Zeke, WXMX-FM 98.1, The Max
2. The Chris Vernon Show, AM 730 ESPN
3. Karson & Kennedy, WHBQ-FM 107.5
Since relocating to 98.1 from Rock 103, Drake and Zeke have taken over the morning FM airwaves. The comedy duo is ersatz coffee for Memphians in need of waking up before punching the clock. Sports reporter and sidekick Marky B spikes the concoction with salt.
Best Sports Show
1. The Chris Vernon Show, AM 730 ESPN
2. Sportstime with George Lapides & Geoff Calkins, WHBQ-AM 560
3. Morning Rush, WHBQ-AM 560
Vernon's show is Memphis' vote for best sports talk. But that's not all ...
Best Radio Talk Show
1. The Chris Vernon Show, AM 730 ESPN
2. Mike Fleming, WREC-AM 600
3. Drake & Zeke, WXMX-FM 98.1, The Max
Vernon's show also has been named best talk in all of radio. But that's not all ...
Best Radio Personality
1. Chris Vernon, AM 730 ESPN
2. Drake and Zeke, WXMX-FM 98.1, The Max
3. Ron Olson, WMC-FM 99.7, FM 100
Winning the Triple Crown of Memphis radio, Chris Vernon has also nabbed the best personality prize. We're pretty sure Vernon set up a booth in front of the Flyer offices asking people to vote for him on the way in, not unlike a high-schooler dreaming of being homecoming queen. We're touched that you care, Verno! Also, at Vernon's request, please make the following adjustments to your life: When playing 20 Questions, acceptable categories are now Vegetable, Mineral, or Chris Vernon. When talking about a dance club, you should now begin its name with the possessive phrase "Chris Vernon's." For example: "Chris Vernon's Raiford's Hollywood" and "Chris Vernon's Backstreet." Finally, in voting for next year's Best of Memphis, Chris Vernon asks you to remember that he may be eligible for all kinds of nontraditional categories. To name but a few: Best Kid-Friendly Restaurant, Best Grizzlies Player, and Best Memphis Failure. Congrats, Chris!
Best Newspaper Columnist
1. Geoff Calkins, The Commercial Appeal
2. Wendi C. Thomas, The Commercial Appeal
3. Tim Sampson, Memphis Flyer
What's great about Geoff Calkins goes beyond his sports columns, which are often tinged with social commentary and give Memphians something to ponder while eating their Wheaties. It's that readers can call him up on his radio show, Sportstime, on WHBQ-AM 560, and sing his praises or give him what-for. Now that's service!
Best TV Sportscaster
BOM 1. Jarvis Greer, WMC-TV, Channel 5
2. Greg Gaston, formerly of WPTY-TV, Channel 24
3. David Cera, WMC-TV, Channel 5
The sports director for WMC-TV Channel 5, Jarvis Greer has been a fixture on Memphis TV screens for decades. He looked great all those years on tube television. He looks even better on plasma and LCD.
BOM 1. Dave Brown, WMC-TV, Channel 5
2. Ron Childers, WMC-TV, Channel 5
3. Jim Jaggers, WREG-TV, Channel 3 — tie —
Joey Sulipeck, WHBQ-TV, Fox 13
A paternal, benevolent force, with powers over the wind and rain and thunder: That's right, Dave Brown is the Ukko of the Memphis TV broadcasting pantheon.
Best Memphis-Themed Web Site
You like us! You really like us! Actually, as far as we're concerned, the best part of our site is the reader comments. It takes a village to kick so much ass.
Best Memphis Blog
1. Paul Ryburn's Journal,
2. Verno's Blog,
3. Two Cents with Randy Malone,
Rachel & the City,
Whenever we see Paul Ryburn out and about in downtown Memphis, sipping a brew at the Flying Saucer or strolling along South Main, why is it we feel we've spotted a famous person? Is it another product of the Internet age, where bloggers are celebrities? Or is it just the great neighborhood advocacy work Ryburn does on his Web site?