What does it say when Chris Marrou's the best we can do?
Let's face it, there aren't many unique, quality radio stations in this town, so when you come across one, you'd better rip the knob off your radio dial and throw it out the window. The best time to do this is when tuned to KSYM 90.1, an indpendent station run by San Antonio College. KSYM's playlist is refreshingly diverse, ranging from jazz and blues to hip-hop and punk rock. The time slots are so different that you probably won't like every song played on KSYM, but at least you can go five minutes without hearing Ashlee Simpson or a remix of a remix of a remixed Usher song.
You definitely won't hear Simpson on our two runners-up, KISS 99.5 and KSRX (K-Rock) 102.7. Both stations are dedicated to hard rock, and are always reliable for a wailing guitar lick. While KISS and KSRX are more mainstream than KSYM and can get repetitive in their own way - listen for an hour to either one and you're bound to hear Pink Floyd's Another Brick in the Wall - neither is owned by Clear Channel. All three stations prove that quality radio can flourish even in Clear Channel's backyard. For the best listening experience, tune back and forth between all three, which won't be easy if you've already ripped the knob off your radio. EB
BEST PUBLIC ACCESS:
"Weird" Al Yankovic's cinematic opus UHF tanked at the box office in 1989, unable to compete with Batman or Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. But for everyone who saw it then, and has seen it since, UHF provided the model for what public-access television should be. Sure, in the film the station was privately owned, but the spirit of UHF programs "Conan The Librarian" and "Wheel Of Fish" is what should drive public-access: local fruitcakes with fresh ideas and access to working video equipment. "Comedia A-Go-Go" on Cable Channel 20, follows that same principle, letting members of the live skit comedy troupe record their misdeeds for all to see. With Kids In The Hall long relegated to infrequent time slots on Comedy Central and Saturday Night Live coasting on fumes, Comedia A-Go-Go is a worthy alternative, keeping the same irreverence of classic Kids and SNL routines, but peppered with local attitude. If you miss the live act at any of the venues Comedia A Go-Go frequents, tune in at 12:30 a.m. AB
BEST RADIO DJ:
The morning show rules radio. Not any specific morning show, mind you, but the entire concept of the a.m. broadcast that's focused on a personality, or personalities, and generally accompanied by equal doses of comic mayhem and sarcasm. Kidd Chris, who hosts the 6-10 a.m. shift on K-ROCK, brings the straightforward, unpretentious approach originated by Arthur Godfrey and perfected by Howard Stern and Don Imus to San Antonio, which is fitting, since Chris is a former writer/producer/cohort of Stern's.
Chris' schtick seems to be aimed at the same demographic as Spike TV, the 18-34 male crowd that apparently can only be captured by a shock and awe media bombardment: shock at what's been done, and awe that someone had the gall to do it. The approach certainly works, but it's difficult to explain why. In fact, the topless picture of Sheryl Crow that tops the official Kidd Chris website says more than words ever could.
Down the dial to the left, Steve Hahn and John Lisle run a similar show, tamer in approach but with the same employment of aggressively sarcastic humor. One has to wonder, though, why did one more person vote for Hahn over Lisle? More importantly, will they battle for superiority on-air? Arthur Godfrey never thought of that. AB
The Paisano at UTSA
Our hats are off to all university newspapers, which deal with funding shortages, crunched time schedules, and lack-luster resources, yet consistently crank out publications for their campuses.
This year, readers chose The Paisano at UTSA as the best university newspaper. Granted, since UTSA has an enrollment of more than 26,000 students there is more campus news and student resources to draw from than some of our other campuses. Nonetheless, The Paisano does an exemplary job.
The self-supported, student-run weekly newspaper publishes 7,000 copies every Tuesday, which are distributed at the 1604 and Downtown campuses, and several local businesses.
It is operated by members of the Student Newspaper Association, which is a registered student organization, although The Paisano is not sponsored, financed, or endorsed by UTSA, and relies on advertising or donation for all revenue. In more than 20 years of publication, The Paisano has won numerous awards from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association includng a Gold Medal in 2000.
The Paisano doesn't function as a schedule or recap of campus events; instead, it often looks at larger issues and discusses how they relate to students in a broader sense. The news section has recently run articles ranging from U.S. Patriot Act discussion, to mayoral election coverage, to traffic woes on I-35.
The Paisano can be picked up at both the 1604 and downtown campuses, or read online at www.paisano-online.com. NC
Every news organization misses stories. Sometimes it's a question of prioritization, whether you're a weekly newspaper that must decide which stories should fill your limited space, or if you're a 24-hour news channel looking for fluff to fill the void between your 23-hour sessions of Terry Schiavo coverage. This is the case when it comes to covering President Bush's mistakes. Non-existent weapons of mass destruction, the quagmire in Iraq, a soaring deficit, and mispronunciation of the word nuclear: the list goes on. Journalists are forced to whittle the list down, picking only the most newsworthy blunders. Reporting all of President Bush's mistakes could fill a newspaper, leaving no room for celebrity trial coverage.
Sometimes a story passes under the media's radar. News organizations often rely on press releases or other organizations as sources, so it's not surprising that an uncontroversial group like the Adventure Club of San Antonio hasn't received major press coverage. The Adventure Club (www.adventureclubsa.com) is definitely story-worthy. There aren't many social clubs that bring San Antonians together for events ranging from hanging out at local bars to beach camping to trips to Greece to the Adopt-A-Village-In-Iraq charity get-together.
Once in a while, the media drops the ball. Yes, there were stories about the lack of a paper record for electronic ballots. But these stories were drowned out by the media circus surrounding Michael Jackson and Martha Stewart, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and Dan Rather. In an election year it can be hard to sift through the political bullshit to find the stories that are important to the public. But this should have been a no-brainer. The lack of paper records for electronic ballots raises questions about every vote being counted, the very foundation of our democratic system. If this issue is important to you, there are many elections still to come, and the Texas House of Representatives is currently debating HB 166, which would require paper receipts on all electronic voting machines in Texas. Visit the Texas House website (www.house.state.tx.us) to find out more or contact your representative. EB
Is it possible to translate the ins and outs of city life into a coherent, easy-to-read website? MySanAntonio.com tries, and for the most part succeeds. Essentially MySA.com is an electronic version of the Express-News, but with added multimedia features including KENS 5 video clips, access to Express-News archives, a webcam view of the Alamo, even streaming headline feeds that can be attached to your browser to create your own cable news channel. There isn't anything on MySA.com that couldn't be found elsewhere, but the fact that its all under one e-umbrella is worthy of note.
In second place, the humanimal-show.com strives for something resembling anti-news, or at least news that is only applicable in the alternate reality in which The Humanimalshow resides. Thehumanimalshow.com is loaded with audio, video, photographs, and art related to the band and their Pussycats-esque antics, but the real appeal is the songs section, in which the band explain how and why their songs were written. Of particular interest are the stories behind "We're The Best" and "Hulk Hogan v2.01," both of which are far funnier than MySA.com's "Personals" section. AB
EB: Elyas Bakhtiari