Local TV Personality You’d Most Like to Have Dinner With
Maybe y’all are curious about how he can get so giddy over snow and other crummy weather fronts, but guessing at what fascinates our readers about Greg Fishel’s charms could take all day. The WRAL weatherman also got props for his trustworthiness (see below). Before you eat, you should ask him to make a prediction of how your dinner is going to go.

In the female category, readers want a sit-down with Linda Loveland. And who wouldn’t? With supermodel good looks and the height to match, along with a great personality (we’ve met her—great gal), WRAL’s reporter and anchorwoman would make a perfect dinner date. Other readers can’t get their minds off of two newswomen who don’t appear on Triangle small screens any longer: Miriam Thomas and Donna Gregory.

Weather Forecaster You Trust the Most
WRAL’s campaign to brand their weatherman’s forecasts as “O-Fishel” has worked on our readership. Greg Fishel, aka “The Fish,” is a local institution; to go against The Fish just wouldn’t be proper. Of course, some readers are skeptical of all weather forecasters and turned in earnest responses of “NONE.”

Local Sports Anchor Who Best Knows What He/She’s Talking About
Tom “Let’s Go to the Videotape” Suiter is another winner from what seems a WRAL lockout in our readers’ media categories. He, too, has been around for a long time and handles local sports like a snug, broken-in baseball glove. And besides, staying up late for high-school football coverage all those years should count for something.

Favorite Local Columnist
Sass and “sweet thang”: Those are the main reasons our readers chose The News & Observer’s Barry Saunders as the region’s best newspaper columnist. Saunders, who’s been writing for the paper for at least a decade, continues to raise eyebrows and evoke smiles in weekly rants that can’t be easily boxed into accepted political, literary or journalistic categories. Besides, you’ve got to love a columnist who wears those dandy hats.

Least Favorite Local Columnist
It’s The N&O’s Ruth Sheehan, based either on her annoying propensity to find things wrong with our Southern way and Southern leaders (read: old white men), or else her regular reminders that she’s from Wisconsin. Wait a minute, it’s gotta be both! At least our folks read her. Clearly, they don’t read The N&O’s Dennis Rogers, or he’d have won this prize going away.

Indy Pick
Hope Ullman’s farewell column in the Durham Herald-Sun was dated April 1, so we thought it was a cruel joke. But it’s true! Daily subscribers will no longer be subjected to Ullman’s embarassingly dull first-person Monday babbling, in which she has dribbled platitudes like “life is an incredibly short and precious gift” and used words like “gals” and “dandy,” while waxing pathetically on her love life. She complains about aging, dating, dieting, all in the most unoriginal way. It is the intellectual equivalent of a Cathy cartoon. Now that she’s gone, though, the prize goes to Ullman’s rival at The Herald-Sun, the ever-pompous Gaspo (Tom Gasparoli to the non-cognoscenti). There’s not a topic he covers—crime, city government, the Michael Peterson trial—in which the main character isn’t… Gaspo. And you should see the e-mails he sends city officials.

Favorite Local Radio Personality
OK, so maybe you’ve accepted that he “pretty much knows more than you.” Sports talk show host Adam Gold, of 850 the Buzz, gets the most votes, above a whole lot of votes for NPR hosts that aren’t exactly local. But while Adam’s not from ’round here, his radio show has become a local favorite—maybe the show you love to hate. The Buzz knows it: Check out his page on the station’s Web site—www.850thebuzz.com/gold.html.

Least Favorite Local Radio Personality
Much like Adam Gold (see above), G105’s Bob & Madison inspire a lot of strong feelings. While the morning jocks got some votes on the positive side of things (most of them singling out Madison as a favorite), most of the responses were negative—and the bigger part of their joint score is attributable to Bob. His last name is Dumas, after all. Two additional strikes against them can be seen in responses like “anyone on G105” and “anyone from Clear Channel.” But not to worry, Showgram fans: 96 Rock’s Chopper Harrison, WPTF’s Jerry Agar and 850’s Adam Gold were also found loathesome by readers.

Indy Pick
Best Idea on the Airwaves
For now, all-local WBZB 1090 AM is a stronger idea than it is a reality.

The Garner station’s signal is so weak that it can only be heard in certain parts of the Raleigh area. But the concept is a compelling one: to invite local musicians to send in their material–be it country, blues, indie rock, bluegrass or jazz–and to use the local radio station as a vehicle to promote the Triangle music scene.

“We play just about anything you can imagine,” says Station Manager Ben Alexander. That includes three specialty shows on acoustic bluegrass and folk, beach music, and heavy metal. “The whole idea of the radio station is that if you hear a band on the radio station, you could probably go hear them in a club that night.”

WBZB is a commercial station, and its owner wants to make money. “So far we’ re struggling with that,” Alexander says. But it’s doing things differently than most commercial stations. “Record company reps don’t call us and get us to play the music. Individuals send in their music and we listen to it and decide what we think is quality and put it on the air ourselves. So there’s no Billboard chart, there’s no type of national ratings service we use to determine what music we’re going to play.”

In February, the Federal Communications Commission agreed to let WBZB double its power to 1,800 watts. The average commercial FM station broadcasts at 10,000 watts. “We have to take baby steps to get there,” Alexander says, “both for monetary reasons and also the FCC doesn’t want us to move too fast either.” He says the station will continue to lobby for power increases, and also hopes to move its frequency to another spot on the AM dial, which could make it easier to get the green light to boost its signal.

Indy Pick
Best Geek
With the Internet boom over and the techno-gold rush turned to mud, it’s more important than ever to remember the revolutionary power and potential of the Internet: as a tool for access, sharing and collaboration.

No one in the Triangle is more devoted to mining that potential than Internet pioneer Paul Jones, director of ibiblio.org, an internationally renowned digital library and conservancy. The UNC-based project hosts sites from all over the world on everything from music to the Free Software movement to poetry to science. It’s home to local collections like Documenting the American South, and also hosts the Web streams for college radio stations WXYC and WXDU, among others.

A professor in UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Information and Library Science and the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Jones is connected to the original fiber of the Internet. SunSite, the information server he built at UNC which later became ibiblio, was one of the first essential nodes of the World Wide Web. You’d never guess that this charming, easy going professor with long gray hair and glasses, who rambles when he talks and has a goofy laugh, has been such a powerful presence in online culture since its inception.

Jones leaves the door open for his students and brings speakers to the campus to speak on pressing issues of technology and culture, such as Creative Commons founder Glenn Otis Brown. He’s also been a critical member of the Triangle Internet Workers group, which helps under-employed techies to network. He’s an Open Source guru and advocate for civil liberties and the public domain–with an MFA in poetry to boot.