Best of San Antonio > Best of San Antonio
Best of San Antonio: Local Heroes
2011 Best Of winners in the Local Heroes category
WOAI 1200 AM, radio.woai.com
We’re just going to call this the Season of Pags. For the second year in a row, you’ve helped hoist Clear Channel’s evening host on 1200 — Joe Pagliarulo — over the morning talk crews who’ve seized the Best Ofs in years past. Sure, he’ll fill in for the totally discredited national embarrassment that is Glenn Beck when his station calls on him, but he’ll do so with a little more humanity (and, we imagine, less spittle) in his dissection of the liberal outrage of the hour. Pags is the sort of guy you’d want to finish out the electrical work on your ranch house with. And maybe, just maybe, he’ll recite some of his recent poetic works come Miller Time (request “A Talk Show Host I Am”).
99.5 KISS, kissrocks.com
KTSA 550AM, ktsa.com
KTKR 760AM, ticket760.com
We at the Current thought we were well acquainted with Mr. Cine Snob (aka Star Crazy, aka Kiko Martinez, a steady and reliable contributing writer), but we had no idea his following at cinesnob.net was hip to the Current connection. Now we know. With particular attention given to
Latino/a Chaléwood stars, movie-ticket contests, and no-holds-barred reviews of the worst-of-the-worst, CineSnob makes an impression. (Now that he’s a Best Of winner, we’ll think twice about giving any movie four stars that Martinez termed an “exceedingly erratic softcore male fantasy for gamers.”)
1300 San Pedro, (210) 486-0000, alamo.edu/sac/ksym
KSYM is a haven for anyone with an eclectic musical taste. It plays anything from blues to jazz, world music to hip-hop, electronica to punk, even Latin alternative to R&B and alternative rock. Country, metal, reggae, and bluegrass also have a place in this student-run station, and the Beatles even have their own segment. Darn those kids and their fancy technologies: you can listen in online no matter where in the world you are. Locals are prized, but KSYM is obviously thinking about global market share.
8122 Datapoint Drive Ste. 600, (210) 615-5400, kissrocks.com
6222 NW IH-10, (210) 470-5961, mix961.com
Despite major format changes at Texas Public Radio last fall (that’s right, TPR is now loaded with even more smart talk, we’re dealing with it) the city’s love for their local alternative to the angry chest beating that frequently punctuates other news radio offerings has remained unchanged. This is well-researched and professionally presented on-air and web-streaming dialogue by pros trafficking in both “news and views.” After only a few years in production, Texas Matters, The Source, and smartly empanelled Town Hall gatherings have become indispensible elements of San Antonians’ news diet.
There are times when weather becomes downright dangerous. Ice and floods may come, but these days we’re watching the parched Texas landscape succumb to now-annual firestorms. We’re comforted knowing that Steve Browne is there to shepherd through the turbulence. A weather wonk since grade school, Brown came to San Antonio after honing his chops in equally weather-stricken cities like Boston and Atlanta. But after nearly 20 years in town (and several Best Of wins), Browne has earned the right to his “trusted local” status. Need some basic weather schooling? Check askstevebrowne.com, and be sure to ask how his tomatoes are feeling now.
Although KSAT Sports Anchor Greg Simmons trails the Dallas Cowboys like he’s on their travel roster, his absolute devotion to high school sports is the reason he’s beloved by San Antonio sports fanatics. There’s nothing easy about delivering an up-to-the-minute sportscast on a night packed with high-profile varsity games, but Simmons and crew aim to cram highlights and live shots from at least 15 local contests into every Friday night sports report. Simmons is more than familiar with the terrain — the San Antonio native cut his teeth on Jefferson High School’s student-run radio station, so he understands just how brightly the lights glow on Friday nights.
“Beamer,” as he prefers to be called, has claimed this title again. Repeatedly recognized as one of the top TV news anchors in the state, Beamer has reported across the globe with WOAI, bringing local viewers stories from Iraq, Sri Lanka, and Mexico. Also, you gotta love an anchor that undergoes a colonoscopy on camera for his report on colon cancer. Keep it up, Beamer. Our only request is that you bring the mustache back, you know, for old time’s sake.
KSAT 12, ksat.com
KAAB’s J.T. Street has been covering un poquito de todo since first stepping in front of the camera in 2008 shortly after being named the station’s first-ever “video journalist.” The Houston native capable of handling his own gear wields a sense of humor viewers seem to appreciate. The news pup tied long-time favorite Jessie Degollado of KSAT for best local reporter. For her part, Degollado has been mastering the chaotic news cycle for more than 20 years, delivering concise and competent reports from San Antonio’s frontlines of discussion and beyond.
When watching live comedy, there is always the risk of the lone comedian failing to connect with the audience. Compound that risk by five and add the fact that Comedia A Go-Go has cultivated a dedicated fan base over their nine-year span and the troupe becomes all the more impressive. Joel Settles, Larry Garza, Regan Arevalos, Dianah McGreehan, Jess Castro, and light-and-sound wizard James Teninty use their natural stage talent as well as their multi-media savviness to deliver a comedy experience unlike any other in San Antonio. Every sketch showcases the cast’s total commitment to the stage, and for a minute you actually believe that not only could there really be a fellatio-crazed super hero loose in San Antonio but, dammit, this town needs him.
When he’s not doing multimedia productions for the likes of KROV FM and Studio 14 Hundred — or music videos for bands like Dog Men Poets — Faucett can be found doing commercial video direction for established outfits like Maxim, Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, AOL, Livein210.com, and the Alamodome. Coming up fast for Faucett is Goldrush, a mini-documentary series on Greg G’s The Golden Child album. After years of second-place Best Of recognitions, Faucett cracks the top spot this year in a well-earned reader-supported boost.
Ever since 19-year-old Villafana caught the video bug in middle school, the guy hasn’t quit. He won’t go anywhere without his camera in tow, and thank goodness. After one of his videos was screened at the Austin Film Festival in 2009, he won the Ford-sponsored, national “Drive One 4 UR School” competition in 2010. These days he’s playing in the big leagues: The San Antonio Spurs’ George Hill commissioned Villafana recently to direct George Hill Rising Stars, a documentary endeavor chronicling the guard’s efforts to transform young lives through the power of basketball.
418 N Loop 1604 West, (210) 892-0123, bikeworld.com
Jacobs started honing his bike-fixin’ skills at the age of 5, long before most kids even start popping off the training wheels. “Bikes were just kind of the first thing I really started toying around with,” he says. Jacobs eventually moved on to motorcycles and cars, but bikes remained his favorite. After a stint traveling Europe, fixing bikes for cash along the way, Jacobs moved back to SA. “I just really enjoy that raw mechanical aspect of bikes,” he says. “I love that I seriously get paid to play around on bikes all day.”
Though Skullyvera isn’t exactly an original member of the Alamo City Rollergirls, she might as well be. The aggressive, fearless blocker (and sometimes pivot) first laced up her skates for ACRG in the middle of the inaugural 2006 season and clawed her way up the ranks to become a role model for newer skaters and the co-captain of Las Tejanas, ACRG’s all-star travel team. In addition to her leadership duties on the track, Skully maintains a full-time job, is a mother and wife (her husband, the Germanator, is the team’s coach), and also serves as the league’s merchandising chair. Skully always flaunts #7502 in style, and is known for her purple or green hair, glitter eyeshadow, and crafty skeleton and skull accessories, but don’t get it twisted — she’s infamous for slamming opponents into the track.
9823 Fredericksburg Rd, (210) 697-9600, cambridgeauto.com
We’re not so great at listening to what our car has to say. Though we hate admitting it (dear Daddy, stop reading now!), we often let rattles, ticks, and pings go until they turn into full-blown grinding or squealing. Fortunately, know-nothings have a rare gem in Cambridge Auto’s Steve Gehrlein. The car counselor has manned the weekend AM airwaves on 550 KTSA for over 17 years in his extremely popular radio show, taking calls from South Texas drivers who are desperately seeking help. What sets Gehrlein apart is his rare ability to diagnose problems over the air — listeners’ questions dictate the show and Gehrlein is most comfortable operating in off-the-cuff fashion. Now imagine what he can do if you actually take your vehicle into the shop.
Tune into Steve Gehrlein’s Automotive Show, 11am-1pm Saturdays, 1pm-3pm Sundays, 550 KTSA.
Locals can thank the heroic civil rights attorney and longtime Express-News columnist Maury Maverick Jr. for the phenomenon that is Cary Clack. Without Maverick, Clack may have never come to the attention of the paper’s top editors. Now San Antonians can digest the musings of one of the city’s best-known writers throughout the week at mysa.com. If there were a personality that could get daily readers to migrate past the Metro section, Clack is it — proven year-after-year Best Of winnings. Watch for him at this year’s First Amendment Day Celebration, hosted by the San Antonio Chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church & State on Saturday, April 30.
Lanny Sinkin’s fight against nuclear power (and, more recently, his fight for solar, as the director of Solar San Antonio) resonates powerfully today as the radioactive fallout from Japan’s nuclear disaster continues to make headlines (and set off radioisotope sniffers stateside!). The near-celebrity-grade activist earned his stripes as one of the few, vociferous opponents of the city’s plan to build two reactors near Bay City at what would become the South Texas Project nuclear complex decades back. And he played a critical role exposing serious construction problems at the facility. Sinkin has since become a loud, local voice against any push to expand STP’s footprint, a project that we’re now told has been put on hold. Lanny’s father, local living legend and near-centenarian Bill Sinkin, has been fighting the good fight as a local progressive leader for much of the past century. The elder Sinkin founded Solar San Antonio in 1999, hoping to open the city’s eyes to the environmental and economic benefits of harnessing the sun’s power. In 2009, Bill won the Solar Hero award from the American Solar Energy Society, and was given the Governor’s Lonestar Achievement Award last fall. No wonder the pair still inhabit the frontal lobe of local readers, who named them tops for their respective watchdoggin’ and general non-profit awesomenes
This Express-Newser’s blog holds the top prize for its coverage and commentary on local news, pop culture, and everything from “the world of Geekdom.” A blogosphere Renaissance Man, Guzman’s writing on Geek Speak runs the gamut. Check it out to read Guzman geek out over a new Captain America trailer, a Han Solo carbonite ice tray (which we can’t blame him for loving), or killer T-shirts from San Antonio’s own Antarctic Press.
Castro’s been given a lot of titles since his rise in Saytown politics. At 26, he became the youngest (at the time) city councilman ever elected, and within a decade he took the mayor’s seat, becoming the youngest to lead a top 50 U.S. city. National and state media have had a love affair with Castro since. A fawning New York Times Magazine profile gave him the title “Post-Hispanic Hispanic Politician,” while the Atlantic last year dubbed him “one of the nation’s most promising young Democrats.” We still just know and love him as one of Rosie’s boys.
This longtime politician had a hand in almost every facet of local government before being elected County Judge in 2002. Wolff first served as a state representative in 1971, and then moved on to the state Senate the following session. After serving a couple of terms on SA’s City Council, Wolff twice won the mayor’s seat. And, not afraid to show his literary side, the man has authored a number of books, one being an insider’s account of SA politics during the ’80s and ’90s. An awful lot of San Antonio lives inside that man’s wizened dome — and this boxing enthusiast knows how to keep it safe.
State Representative Mike Villarreal revels in his nerdiness, and, frankly, it’s something that has set him apart from the rest of his Democratic colleagues decrying Perry and Co.’s attempts to cut our schools, colleges, and social safety net to the bone. An A&M grad with a master’s in public policy from Harvard, financial management is Villarreal’s game. And if you can keep your eyes from glazing over, he’ll pull out the pie charts (or literal pies!) to sell you on his plan to pull Texas out of this financial mess — namely, targeting the state’s tax code, which he says is riddled with inefficiencies and flagrant corporate giveaways. It’s a message that San Antonians can identify with.
Gonzalez, a San Antonio congressman for over a decade, has risen in the ranks to lead the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, putting him on the front lines to lead the tough (and maybe impossible) battle for comprehensive immigration reform in the current GOP-led Congress. For years, Gonzalez has pushed for immigration reforms and advocated for pathways to legal residency for undocumented immigrants. We take pride in our dynastic Rep for his co-sponsoring a bill in 2009 that expanded the definition of hate-crimes to those attacked because of sexual orientation.
7218 Blanco Rd, (210) 390-1402, facebook.com/massiverocketradio
One year while working as a volunteer at South by Southwest, Frank Ayala decided that he wanted to get into booking bands. It’s easy to get inspired by the collective energy of SXSW, but Ayala (who lived in Austin at the time) was interested in spotlighting San Antonio instead. He moved south to begin connecting the dots within our original music scene. Since then he’s booked local bands independently and worked with Backbeat magazine, but his newest ventures involve Studio 13 (a Castle Hills-area hookah lounge) and Massive Rocket Radio, a SA-based concert production and promotions company. Ayala currently serves as booking agent and promoter of Studio 13, where he has recently showcased high-profile local acts like Deer Vibes, Egshan, and Professor Amsterdam on what is best described as an “intimate” stage. The super-casual hookah spot serves beer, wine, and over 40 flavors of shisha; the list includes exotic flavors like Safari Mellon, Apple Martini, and Sex on the Beach ($9.99 house shisha, $14.99 premium varieties). Sunday nights have also become a hotspot for SA’s comedy scene as of late — anywhere from 10-15 comics take the stage every other week.
In what is perhaps Ayala’s most interesting venture to date, Massive Rocket Radio has begun to stream video of live, local music events (at several venues around town) in real time in an effort to document the San Antonio scene and help recruit a broader viewing audience. “I’ve always felt strongly that a lot of the responsibility I have is not only to promote bands, but also to entice and motivate people in different ways,” said Ayala. “That may mean just encouraging them on the project they’re talking to me about, the CD that they’re recording, designing T-shirts, or whatever. You always have to treat it like you’d want somebody else to treat your passion.”
5500 Babcock, (210) 694-4800, shishacafesa.com
2250 Thousand Oaks, (210) 499-4144
2250 Thousand Oaks, Ste. 200, (210) 495-3647, lucysdoggydaycare.com
Let’s face it, some of us are just not good enough for the dogs we keep. That toy poodle’s hair frizzes to no end after those hose-and-bucket washes in the yard. Her nails splinter from clumsy clipper handling. And she cries — how she cries human tears! — at the sloppy bows knotted over positively matted ear hair. Lucy’s is the answer. On top of precise, embarrassment-free grooming, Lucy’s offers doggy day care and full boarding services. But the gem here is found in the spa packages that include everything from a members-only dog park, therapeutic massage, and strawberry milk baths. Your dog may never smell her/himself the same way again.
5518 Walzem Rd #106, (210) 653-0450
923 Clydeville Rd, (210) 404-9941, pawderosaranch.com
Sushi Zushi, 18720 Stone Oak Pkwy, (210) 545-6100, sushizushi.com
Waiters and waitresses can be divided into three categories: those who display fake smiles, those who don’t smile, and those whose smiles are genuine. Joshua Ramírez’s disarming grin belongs to the latter group. After observing him for a while, we thought of asking some customers to take a photo with him, and we almost caused a riot — everyone wanted a piece of the guy. Go to Sushi Zushi when he works (he usually gets off at 4 p.m.) and see for yourself.
Alamo Pizza, 3938 S Zarzamora, (210) 932-2500, alamopizza.net
Chances are you’ve dined at least once at a Jason Dady establishment. This kitchen-hoppin’ chef has made an undeniable mark on San Antonio’s culinary map. Once named a “40 under 40” rising star by the San Antonio Business Journal, Dady is now the executive chef/owner of the Lodge Restaurant of Castle Hills, but you can still catch him spinning his grandfather’s butcher knives at some of the town’s best eateries, including Bin 555, Tre Trattoria, and Two Bros. BBQ Market.
Il Sogno, Sandbar
(210) 508-2277, majrmassage.com
She touches you in all the right places, and for the right price, too. Reyes has over seven years of experience and is trained in Swedish, pre-natal, and deep tissue massage, as well as trigger point therapy. In addition, she’s the official massage therapist for the Alamo City Rollergirls. If this bruised-and-battered local crew calls her up for their rubdown needs, you know she’s top-notch. Plus, she’ll go to your workplace, meet you after a bike ride, or even stop in at your home. That’s service.