Jane McGarry's co-host, on the other hand, we love for an entirely different reason: He's batshit. This is a man who takes everything so seriously he thinks Friends is a documentary. Listen to his baritone voice boom as he stares at the camera wide-eyed during some sort of catastrophe story: "Today in Dallas MANY PEOPLE DIED in a FANTASTIC FIRE on a bus this afternoon. Here is video of their decaying corpses, which we bring you FIRST ON 5!" Watch his jowls turn red with excitement as he bellows, "A new study suggests YOU MAY BE DYING OF CANCER." All of this would be tawdry in the most unappealing way, except that through some weird newsreader-viewer alchemy, Mike Snyder's presentation becomes tawdry in the most appealing way. Watching him is like watching Jerry Jones try to form thoughts at a news conference: It's so mesmerizingly alien you think you should be charged to view it. Someday we'd like to stick a pat of butter in his mouth--not to see if it would melt, but to see if it would turn into iron. He's that freaky. Bless his heart.

If Ed Bark at The Dallas Morning News were ever again allowed to write about local TV news, we get a strong sense that he would disagree mightily with this pick. Not because Bark is a shill for Belo--in fact, we believe it's his record of objectivity that so bothers the higher-ups at the Belo Death Star (we're looking at you, Jack Sander). After all, synergy is a team sport; can't have one Belo property objectively reviewing another, can we? No, we think Bark would object because he's a bit of a ratings hound. He enjoys--or used to, when he was allowed to cover his beat--the racehorse aspects of a ratings race...as we all do, to a point. But we think ratings reflect only someone's comfort level (they watch a station because they've always watched that station) or titillation-inspired interest (hello, Channel 5) in a news broadcast. But our fave broadcast right now is low-rated Channel 11's. The anchors--Tracy Rowlett, Karen Borta, Rene Syler--are engaging. Two of them are even really nice to look at. We're a fan of Babe Laufenberg on sports, and the news team is solid: Ginger Allen, Angela Hale, Mary Stewart, Michael Hill. There are a few better reporters at other stations, like Brett Shipp and Valeri Williams, and we're still big fans of Channel 4 workhorse Shaun Rabb. But for the whole package, we'll take Channel 11--even if, according to the ratings, you won't.
The Angelika multiplex is still too new to take this category, and we're not yet sure if it will next year, anyway. (Although it is pretty sweet. See "Best Movie Pitch Worth the Wait" in Scenes.) The Inwood is a grand old dame of a movie theater and again deserves our "Best Of" label, hands down (the Lakewood and the Regent are also treasures). Why? It has tradition, beautiful architecture and a passionate moviegoing audience. (Plus, we just dig the Gone With the Wind staircase.) Ditto for the murals. Although we're fans of the Angelika and all it has to offer, we nevertheless pray the Inwood will continue offering its indie treasures.
Very few radio stations worry about music anymore. Most are built around "personalities," DJs and boring rant-talk-show hosts who do nothing more than spew banality for fours hour a day. Those stations that do play music program by focus group or by imitation, although it's hard to tell the difference anymore. One seems to beget the other, and any sense of a station's identity is lost. Really, what is the difference between The Wolf and KSCS? Merge and the Edge? KISS-FM and TRL? The Talk that Rocks and three boring drunk systems analysts from Garland? We'd rather listen to a radio station that has a clear voice, one with old-school rock-and-roll DJs who sound like they enjoy only aural, carnal and illicit activities, in no particular order. Where else can you find such an anti-teenybopper playlist: Tool followed by Godsmack followed by Mudvayne followed by Tantric followed by Linkin Park. Do we listen to, or even like, or even know how to spell any of these thrash-metal bands? Hell no. That's the point. We're old. We like wussy smart-rock written and strummed by bespectacled private-school kids who think angst and a slight paunch equals sexy. But for all you future tire repairmen in Mesquite who tell your parents "F-you" every morning before you ingest crank and floor your El Camino down I-635 on your way to DeVry, there's a station for you, and we're honestly thankful. The last thing the world needs to hear on the airwaves is more of the crap we bob our heads to.
KERA-FM 90.1 is truly a great station for news and sane talk-show programming. But let's face it: They can't do everything, and hence, they don't play music. That's where KNTU 88.1 fits in. This public radio station, which transmits from the University of North Texas, is one of the coolest in the Southwest: Its mix of jazz, classical and world music can't be beat, if you're into such things. (We are. We're nerds.) Like Jerry Maguire without Dorothy Boyd, we would not be complete without this cultural treasure, although we surmise some UNT students would rather be listening to Radiohead or Pavement than Dizzy or Miles. (Though they can do that for a few hours on Sunday nights, thanks to Russell Lyday's "The Show That Fell to Earth.")

There's no science to this choice. This is as subjective as "Best of" gets. Here's the story: Many, many years ago, in a time known as "the '80s," there was an amazingly handsome young man who had a crush on the eighth-grade bad girl. She smoked, she had big, wild hair, she cussed a lot. And she liked to rock. She loved Kiss, Judas Priest, Ozzy, anything that qualified as metal-rock back in the day. She wore nothing but black concert T-shirts to school, and she always got backstage. She was also extremely smart, one of the top graduates at her high school who got a full scholarship to college. But she dropped out to become a DJ at the rock-and-roll radio station she grew up listening to. Years later, her secret crush, this handsome young man, would become a famously successful writer, so successful that he now writes "Best of" items for a weekly alternative newspaper. Is that bad little girl Cindy Scull, the whiskey-voiced DJ who spins hard rock from 3 to 7 p.m. every day and puts up shots of herself in bikinis on the Eagle's Web site? No. But she sounds just like her.
This is not a slight to Mitchell, who conducts sometimes-thoughtful, sometimes-whimsical on-air chats with a wide array of guests every weekday from noon to 1 p.m., but can we get a little competition here, please? This is such a no-brainer even we couldn't screw it up. Dallas-Fort Worth is such a barren wasteland for talk radio, we've actually had to start listening to music stations again. With the glaring exception of Mitchell, if it ain't sports talk, it's bad talk. (For proof, see KLIF-AM 570 or, if you must, KYNG-FM 105.3 "The Talk...that Rocks"...shudder.) Mitchell is a natural interviewer, curious but focused, a serious talent who doesn't take himself too seriously. It's the one hour in our day we feel there's hope for talk radio outside of the sports realm.
Public art in Dallas often falls prey to being overlooked or hard to find, which is why the city's newest addition is also the best. Sitting at the intersection of Young and Akard near City Hall, the Dallas Police Memorial is a breathtaking edifice that effortlessly blends Dallas' best assets--our reluctant postmodernist slant and ample sky. Forged of stainless steel, this deceptively simple yet elegant design features the badge numbers of fallen officers etched into its canopy, such that their shadows are cast on the ground during North Texas' many sun-filled days. We're hopeful that it represents the first step to beautify our city with works that intelligently and seamlessly complement Dallas, though the threat to litter the streets with Pegasus statues may stop that effort before it even begins.
We hope that KLIF's perpetually dismal ratings are a good sign people have grown tired of the elitist, moralistic, free-market-at-all-costs bullshit masquerading as anti-government populism that talk radio regularly spews out. And the brief reign of puny führer Tom Kamb, a self-described "homo" who pushed himself to ever-lower levels of provocation to presumably outdo his straight-boy colleagues, makes us positively giddy--mostly because Kamb's relentless race- and gay-baiting never succeeded in provoking anyone. He'd taken talk-show conservatism into the caricature it often threatens to become. He returned to San Francisco, reportedly because of a personal tragedy, although his low-even-by-KLIF-standards numbers gave him little impetus to grieve here. We say auf Wiedersehen to Kamb because, to paraphrase Molly Ivins, his rhetoric always sounded better in the original German.

Burns is everything we want in a biz-columnist: concise, easy to understand, helpful to the average Joe and Jane living paycheck to paycheck as well as the CEO. Burns doesnt care about trying to make you comprehend how the GNP affects the Whatzis Dow and Whozis Index of Parameters; he just wants to tell you the best way to save your money. As journalists, we need all the help we can get, and we suspect you do, too.

Best Of Dallas®

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