The past 12 months was a year for the history books. We had disasters — the Indian Ocean tsunami, four storms drilling the Gulf Coast, and John Graham Altman III’s reelection. And there were miracles — U.S. Forest Service fines Congressman Henry Brown for burning down forest land, USC hires Steve Spurrier, and the new Cooper River Bridge comes in ahead of schedule. But we had to be told about all of that by someone, and that’s where this year’s news and media honorees come in.

Best Local TV Anchor
Nina Sossamon, Channel 4

Best News Story of 2004
Election 2004

Best Local Investigative Reporter
Harve Jacobs, Channel 5

Best Local TV Sports Anchor
Warren Peper, now at 94.3 FM

Best Local TV Station
Channel 2 WCBD (NBC)

Best Newspaper Columnist
Ken Burger, The Post and Courier

Best Local TV Weather Forecaster
Rob Fowler, Channel 2

Best Local Website

Best Radio Station
96 Wave, 96.1 FM

Best Talk/News Radio Station
94.3 WSC FM

Best Local Radio Show
Storm & Kenny with Stupid Mike, 96.1 FM

Best City Paper Cover Story
The Parking Issue
(Vol. 8, Issue 16, Dec. 8, 2004)

Best Local Radio Personality
The Critic, 96.1 FM

Best Local Talk Show Host
Murphy, WSC FM 94.3 FM1


Best Catch and Release of the Year
Yaser Hamdi

Oh, how the Bush administration swore up and down that everyone in custody as an enemy combatant was a “terr-uh-ris.” Oh, how we were told that it was un-American to question the government after it gave itself almost limitless powers to round up, arrest, and detain suspicious brown people. And then it comes to pass that Hamdi, one of a handful of known enemy combatants being held at a converted brig in Hanahan, was released after years of incommunicado incarceration without even so much as a criminal charge officially filed against him. Turns out his Saudi dad was telling the truth when he said his American-born son was just running off to Afghanistan like other rich Arab kids for a lark when he got picked up by the U.S. Army there. Which begs the question, is Kandahar an Arabian answer to Telluride? —Bill Davis

Best New Factory
Vought-Alenia Airplane Part Factory

As a matter of principal, one would think environmentalists would oppose any factory, but people need jobs. So why not provide relatively high-paying jobs with a factory built on already heavily developed land to reduce the environmental impact? According to the Coastal Conservation League, State Commerce Secretary Bob Faith hired an environmental lawyer to work with conservationists and environmental agencies during the permitting process for the new $560 million aircraft parts plant to be built in North Charleston near the airport. The factory will provide parts for Boeing’s 7E7. Included in the deal was a $4.75 million fund to raise more money to restore and protect habitat around the future facility. Did South Carolina actually do something right this time? We shall see. —Benjamin Schlau

Best Indication that the South still Believes in Slavery
Migrant Worker Temp Agency

It takes more than a mere constitutional amendment to abolish slave-like conditions in the South. Just ask Lawton Limehouse, owner of the now-defunct worker temp agency, L&L Services LLC, which employed migrant workers. A raid on two of Limehouse’s properties reportedly revealed quasi-slave quarter-like conditions with 31 people living in two houses and five of them staying in a storage shed. Employees have alleged in a class action lawsuit that in addition to not paying for workers’ comp insurance, the agency failed to honor federal law by not paying them overtime wages. They also contend that the agency provided them with falsified green cards and Social Security numbers (for a fee). Hell, that sounds cheaper than slavery. —Benjamin Schlau

Best Use of a Dog Pen
David Tant

He received a 40-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to dog fighting and planting the booby trap that hit a land surveyor with birdshot pellets. He’s been called one the world’s most successful breeders of fighting pit bulls. After all was said and done involving the trial, 49 pit bulls were euthanized and Tant owed the City of Charleston over $150,000 for boarding fees. With this track record, the only place we’d like to see Tant is in one of his dog pens, maybe alongside one of his inbred “killer” pit bulls. —Megan Hubbard

Best Financial Turnaround
Crisis Ministries

Not so long ago, the cycle of poverty that Crisis Ministries works to overcome very nearly reached around to bite the Meeting Street nonprofit itself. Today, however, the shelter boasts a new, business-savvy executive director and a board of directors committed to a comprehensive strategic planning process for the future. New attention-grabbing billboards, challenging commuters with common assumptions about who becomes homeless and why are part of a continuing effort to break down old patterns of thinking and find new solutions. The photography exhibit Who Among Us?, shown last year at the City Gallery at Waterfront Park, drew upon the talents of local photographers to create an unforgettable series of images that also challenged those assumptions. Crisis Ministries takes a progressive approach to each client served: Those who work with their case managers can progress from the general population room to transitional dorms and ultimately to back on their feet. Good to see that the helpers are now back on their feet as well. —Jason A. Zwiker

Best (or Worst) Follow-Up to Slaves in the Family
Dear Senator
By Essie Mae Washington-Williams

The story is now well known. South Carolina’s Sen. Strom Thurmond retired from the U.S. Senate in December 2002 at the age of 100. He died six months later. In December 2003, a woman named Essie Mae Washington Williams came forward to say that she was the late senator’s illegitimate, biracial daughter. This would have been an unsettling revelation about any public figure of Thurmond’s stature. But this was the same Strom Thurmond who built his career — and a 1948 presidential campaign — on his fiery defense of racial segregation. At the time of that campaign, Thurmond was financially supporting his daughter, a student at S.C. State College. Now comes Essie Mae’s book, Dear Senator, and if it does nothing else, it definitely proves that she is her daddy’s daughter. In his long career, Thurmond made a quiet, dramatic turnaround from firebrand segregationist to racial moderate. He never explained himself; he never apologized. He simply left us wondering whether he was faking it before his conversion or after. In her book, Essie Mae compares her father to Hitler and expresses shock that her mother would accept money from him. Yet, by the end of the book, she’s taking his money as well and feeling the pain of never having her father publicly acknowledge her. She never explains herself; she never apologizes. Was she faking it before her conversion or after? Essie Mae could have shed much-needed light on the abusive relationships between white men and black women. She took a dive. —Will Moredock

Best Anniversary
Brown vs. Board of Education’s 50th

South Carolina, which loves its history and its anniversaries, celebrated a very special event in 2004 — at least some South Carolinians did. On May 17, we observed the 50th anniversary of Brown vs. Board of Education, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down segregation in public schools as unconstitutional. In 1949, 20 black Clarendon County parents put their names on a suit against the chairman of the school board, in a case to get school buses for their children. The case was Briggs vs. Elliott, and as it wound its way through the federal courts, it was expanded to call for the end of racial segregation in public schools. When it reached the Supreme Court, Briggs vs. Elliott was bound together with five similar cases from other states and collectively given the name of the case out of Topeka, Kansas: Brown vs. Board of Education. On May 17, 1954, the unanimous decision came down: “In these days it is doubtful any child may be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education. Such an opportunity, where the state has undertaken to provide it, is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms.” Yet, a half-century later, South Carolina’s schools are re-segregating through a system of vouchers, private, and charter schools. The more things change, the more they remain the same. —Will Moredock

Best Reason to Make Your Kids Study
50th in SAT Scores

While our state is at the bottom education-wise, it is right on up there top-side when it comes to the risk of women being killed by their domestic partners. State statistics on health disparities, inadequate housing, and poverty are rather frightening as well. It is possible that these are not unrelated. —Jason A. Zwiker

Best Show You Can’t Believe is on TV
Akim’s Eye for an Eye

Charleston attorney Akim Anastopoulo will have to bring an extra pen just to sign autographs when the Middleton High School class of 1978 meets for their 30th reunion a few years hence. The native Charlestonian certainly traveled an interesting path in the years since graduation, completing undergrad studies at the University of Louisville then attending the University of South Carolina School of Law. He then created a wildly successful legal practice with satellite offices in nine cities and very nearly won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. As if admission to the South Carolina Bar Association, American Trial Lawyers Association, U.S. Federal District Court, and the state Supreme Court weren’t enough, the former state prosecutor can now add Gonzo TV to his list of worlds conquered. With former middleweight boxing champ Sugar Ray Phillips standing by as bailiff and Kato Kaelin as host, expect the punishment and payback to soar to new heights of head-shaving, ass-whooping, and chainsawing as “The Strong Arm” cracks down his gavel — excuse me, baseball bat. Shouldn’t that be a tennis racket? —Jason A. Zwiker

Best Local Television Commercial
‘Georgie the Greek’ for George’s Sports Bar

George the Greek is apparently “English-challenged,” so as he stares into the camera, a man stands behind him, holding up cue cards for the audience to read (an old premise started by Dylan), as a sort of translation of the garble coming out of George’s mouth. In the end, when George’s mouth takes off, the card just reads a series of question marks. They got the tone right on this one — light and easy. Whoever came up with this could surely help Bill Greene get rid of that “one call, that’s all” tripe. —Bill Davis

Best New meteorologist
John Ahrens
WCBD-TV Channel 2

We like John Ahrens. We like how deep his voice is, how resolute he is in delivering the weather, how well his suits fit. We like his hair. But mostly we like John Ahrens because he is earnest and excited when telling us the latest weathercast (even though he knows in his heart that he can’t really predict the weather). This guy really digs his job, and we like that. —Bill Davis

Best Little Channel on Comcast

You’d think, being the first channel on the digital dial, that C2 would be programmed out of most remotes so people could skip right to NBC. And you’d be wrong. I did an interview with Richard Todd for his Newsmakers show during the winter holidays. Everyone I ran into said they saw me on the show. They didn’t say I looked thin or that I did well, but that they saw me. At first, I thought my show must’ve been broadcast over and over, much like the looped video footage of kittens playing that C2 showed when it kicked off a few years ago, but then I saw a new show in its place not long afterward. Comcast might need to rethink how much it’s charging for time on C2. —Bill Davis

Best (True) Rumor
Mr. and Mrs. Nina and Ben Sossamon

After Nina’s first marriage ended, rumors started to swirl that her former colleague at Channel 2 had swept her off her feet. She denied all, even when she was cornered at a kid’s birthday party. And then, a light broke through the clouds and Nina and Ben announced they were attached, and later, they married. Single men who had become evening news fans wept the city over. One of those guys happened to be a homeless gentleman who was quite smitten with the former gymnast as she passed out lunches at Crisis Ministries’ annual media day. (Really, you should have seen her outfit — mrowrrr!) This now concludes our annual “Nina Sossamon is so hot” quotient. Thank you, and now we return you to your regularly scheduled Best of Charleston. (Call me, Nina.) —Bill Davis

Best Opportunity to Get on Television
My South

As it turns out, TurnerSouth will put just about anyone on television for its “My South” promotions. All you had to do was find out where they were filming the ads last fall, show up on time, and not suck. Look into the camera, and talk about your South, as in, “In my South, tea is always sweet,” and you’re golden. Try and get political, like, “In my South, white flight is so rampant, it ought to be a varsity sport,” and you’ll end up on the cutting room floor. Trust us. —Bill Davis

Best TV Moment for Charleston
Chucktown gets a visit from The View

We can thank Darkness to Light for bringing the Emmy award-winning talk show The View to Charleston this past fall. D2L entered the program’s “From Your Hometown” contest and won our city a chance to host an episode. The View made a $25,000 donation to D2L, a charity dedicated to prevention of child abuse. The show was hosted at CofC, and they surprised the audience with guests such as Bob Guiney from The Bachelor, Tara Reid from American Pie, along with our very own Mayor Joe Riley and Moo Roo bag designer Mary Norton. And to wrap it up, Charleston’s hometown boys Hootie and the Blowfish performed. The cast did a tour of the Holy City, stopping by places such as Rainbow Row, Charleston Grill, Charleston Ballet Theatre, and the Calhoun Mansion. For more information on D2L, visit or call 965-5444. —Stephanie Braswell

Best Reason to Give to ETV
“Militant Homosexual Agenda”

State Rep. John Graham Altman III (R-Charleston) recently struck up a protest of the “militant homosexual agenda” on that bastion of unwholesomeness, South Carolina Educational Television. The airing of We Are Your Neighbors, an independently produced documentary promoting “acceptance through understanding,” it would seem, is just another example of the decadence and debauchery that has overtaken this little Pineapple-Under-the-Sea we call home. SCETV President Maurice Bresnahan denied Rep. Altman’s suggestion of agenda-promotion, making the analogy that a station airing one program out of many is akin to a librarian filling the stacks with books of all different subjects and tones so that a wide range of information will be available to the public. But, hey, if it weren’t for all the time and attention that legislators like Altman turn toward crushing “social, leftist propaganda” such as acceptance through understanding, we might actually have to face our real problems in this state, such as rock-bottom SAT scores, sky-high rates of domestic violence, health disparities, and an ever-increasing, already staggering debt, to say nothing of the ignorant, homophobic jerks in the Statehouse. — Jason A. Zwiker

Best Rumor
The Post and Courier Is For Sale

Recently, reporters and other non-essential employees at the city’s daily newspaper received a major bonus: a full week’s pay and a pro-rated chunk of a $500 stipend, depending how long an employee’s been on the job. Tied to the fairly recent passing of the paper’s patriarch, Peter Manigault, it was rumored that the P&C was a goner, soon to be snapped up by a major syndicate. So far, no truth to that one. Word is, though, that the paper had a banner year and saw its circulation numbers increase for the first time in nearly a decade. —Bill Davis

Best News for the Post and Courier
Robert Behre a Reporter, Again

Long the workhorse of the P&C newsroom, churning out a couple stories a day, big enterprise stories on the weekends, editing smaller sections, and putting out a weekly architectural column, Robert Behre succumbed to the talent drain above him a few years back and became a section editor at the paper. Well, that ended last year, and Behre, like fellow former editor Dan Conover, put down his red pen and picked up his reporter’s notebook again. It’s good news for the paper, because it means there’s enough talent above him to run the works while he fills the pages. And it’s good news for the paper’s readership because he knows the area better than just about anyone else on staff. —Bill Davis

Best (and Toughest) Journalistic Decision
Printing Fallujah Pictures

Last April, the dead, burned bodies of American contractors were hung almost in effigy from a bridge in Fallujah, Iraq. Newspapers around the country grappled with the decision of which shots to run. The Post and Courier ran’em, the tough ones. The ones where you could see a guy’s bent, twisted leg dangling in the air. The paper took a load of shit for running a shot on the front page and more inside but made the right decision. You’ll notice even the Bush Administration couldn’t come up with some sort of nomenclature to explain away those gruesome images, much like it did when papers around the globe ran shots of the abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison facility. —Bill Davis

Best Way to Piss Off a Towing Company
Walk in with a Copy of Our Parking Issue

Word has it that Wet and Wild, next to Jennings Towing, has taken to handing out photocopies of our towing tip sheet, which ran in our December Parking Issue (readers’ pick for Best City Paper Cover Story). Despite the fact that tow truck companies are required to accept credit cards (as we reported), unfortunate towees continue to stream into Wet and Wild to try and make cash withdrawals on their credit cards. We’re not very popular with the tow truck companies these days, as we’ve helped arm citizens with the knowledge they need to fight back. —Patrick Sharbaugh

Best Newspaper Ad
Paula Lishman’s Sheared Beaver

Last November, The Post and Courier ran an ad from Gwynn’s of Mt. Pleasant. The ad announced the arrival of a new shipment of Paula Lishman fur coats. To illustrate the ad, a gorgeous model was pictured sitting in a salon chair, wearing a luxurious fur. A caption beneath the photo read: “Featuring Sheared Beaver.” We could only assume the caption was referring to the coat, as the model’s legs were crossed. So, we called up Gwynn’s and asked a salesperson how we could get our hands on Paula Lishman’s sheared beaver. Apparently, she didn’t think we were very funny. —Bill Davis

Best Proof The Post and Courier is still The Post and Courier
Lurline Fishburne

When Hugh Cannon died, the Charleston County School Board lost a member with a highly educated background who had fought for public education for decades as a Democrat. Fourteen candidates emerged to replace him, and the local legislative delegation (led by state Rep. John Graham Altman III) named Lurline Fishburne as his successor. Mrs. Fishburne is the wife of City Councilman Henry Fishburne. Both are Republicans, unlike Cannon. And unlike Cannon, Mrs. Fishburne hasn’t had direct contact with public education since 1979. So a liberal Dem public education advocate is replaced by an inexperienced GOPer whose husband did a political favor for our Republican governor when he endorsed Sanford family friend Chip Campsen in a runoff against John Kuhn, and the P&C doesn’t dig up any dirt? Puh-lease. —Bill Davis

Best Sex Change
Progressive 730 AM

In 1986, the Reagan Administration ditched the Fairness Doctrine, a 50-year old federal policy requiring broadcasters to give equal time to different viewpoints on critical public issues. So was born Rush Limbaugh and conservative talk radio. At the peak of his influence, Limbaugh was said to have 20 million listeners a week. In 1994, when Republicans took over the Congress for the first time in 40 years, Limbaugh was named an honorary member of Congress by GOP leaders. In Charleston, Limbaugh and his right-wing mimics have been carried for years on Clear Channel station 730 AM. Last year, 730 AM quietly went into surgery. In August, Clear Channel executives began simulcasting Limbaugh, et al., on 730 AM and their 93.4 FM station. Then, on December 16, Clear Channel rolled out Progressive 730, the antidote to right-wing radio. Progressive 730 carries Al Franken, Janeane Garofalo, Ed Schultz, and other stars of the Air America Radio Network. Like their right-wing counterparts, radio progressives tend to give off more heat than light. They can be loud and rude; they enjoy mocking and calling names. But that seems to be the kind of age we live in. Progressive 730 is not about to push Limbaugh off the air, but Charleston at last has an alternative radio voice. The question is: When will this enlightenment creep into the editorial offices over at The Post and Courier? —Will Moredock

Most Tolerable Morning Radio Show
The Storm & Kenny Show With Stupid Mike

Morning radio drive shows — especially rock radio shows — are usually more insulting, obnoxious, and uncivilized than any garbage on morning network television. Somehow, without losing the “doofus” element, these three on 96Wave manage a comparatively polite and insightful morning show, touching on current national and local events culled from entertainment, sports, and politics. They even treat (most of) their callers with respect and civility. —T. Ballard Lesemann

Best Radio Personality Crisis
WCOC 90.3 FM

Sure, they’re actually broadcasting over the air, but what are they really up to in that DJ booth? No one really knows yet. It’s a full-on free-for-all, on the mic and in the disc players. One DJ may play something from a cool new underground release and back announce with authority. The next might play “Start Me Up” by the Stones while singing badly over the song. College radio is usually run by students who are volunteering and learning on the job. Sloppiness and chaos are forgivable, to a point. On 90.3, however, it sounds like there’s no basic game plan at all. That could be hilarious and entertaining. It could be disastrous. Hopefully, the burgeoning station will soon figure out who they are. —T. Ballard Lesemann

Best Station To Hear Deep Cuts
The Bridge 105.5 FM

Ever wanted to hear something off side two of that old Deep Purple or Montrose album your uncle used to play in his 8-track player? Maybe some obscure Fleetwood Mac or the Kinks? Tune in any time. —T. Ballard Lesemann

Best Example of Hard-Hitting Journalism
Harve Jacobs’ ‘Cheaters’ Piece

Perhaps you were lucky enough to have caught Channel 5’s “Cheaters, Charleston-Style.” Recently, Chucktown’s favorite investigative reporter Harve Jacobs rode around with a private investigator who was working on an adultery case to spy on a cheating wife, “but the wife never came out that night,” says Jacobs. They did, however, manage to interview the angry husband, and they showed some undercover video of the wife with her alleged boyfriend. Jacobs admits, “Hey, I don’t want to get stabbed like Joey Greco did!” Right. Well, it wasn’t quite as exciting as the “real” Cheaters TV show, but who can blame him? —Brittany Inman

Best Fundraising Idea
’Stache for Cash

After the devastating tsunami in December, MUSC medical students Teddy McRackan and Bradley Kalinsky decided to hold a “’Stache for Cash” contest to raise relief funds, and lots of guys grew mustaches to help out. The four main categories were style, fastest growing, creepiest, and burliest, and the five-dollar entry fee collected from each contestant went directly to Doctors Without Borders’ Tsunami Relief. That’s really great, guys, but we’re wondering ... were there any women willing to forego their monthly lip wax in the name of tsunami relief? —Brittany Inman


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