- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 25, 2002

In an industry where style often trumps substance, the Channel Surfer delivers some Christmastime praise to those who truly have the chops.
Best anchors: Mike Buchanan and Andrea Roane of WUSA-TV (Channel 9). Perhaps more than anyone else at Broadcast House, these two kept the old "Eyewitness News" spirit alive in 2002. Their quirky chemistry brought the once-dominant CBS affiliate back to life in the mornings, virtually erasing the ratings gap with top-rated rival WRC-TV (Channel 4), the NBC station. When "Buck and Andrea" are on the air, it feels like live television, where anything can happen. Can you say that for any other anchor team in town?
Best reporter:
Mr. Buchanan. In October, the curmudgeonly veteran scored the biggest scoop of the sniper investigation when he reported the suspects left a tarot card at the scene of one shooting. The incident sparked a national debate over media coverage of the case, and helped prove in a medium overrun by microphone-carrying hunks-du-jour that the old guard still has what it takes.
Best news coverage:
The sniper shootings. Local television stations lost millions of dollars in advertising revenue when they went with wall-to-wall sniper coverage for several days in October. Some said it was overkill, but the stations were only giving nervous viewers what they wanted and needed.
Best executive:
Jim Farley, vice president of news and operations at WTOP (1500 AM and 107.7 FM). Thanks to Mr. Farley, WTOP has become as much of a utility in Washington as Pepco. Listeners know they can flip to the station at any hour to get the latest headlines and weather and traffic reports. In 2002, Mr. Farley also transformed WTOP's "Ask The " call-in show into a destination for local politicians who want to break news. His savviest move, though, was luring superstar pundit Mark Plotkin away from WAMU-FM (88.5). Is there any doubt that Mr. Farley is the Roone Arledge of local broadcasting?
Best station:
Urban music broadcaster WHUR-FM (96.3), which climbed back to the top of the adult ratings in 2002, two years after losing popular morning deejay Tom Joyner to rival WMMJ-FM (102.3). Howard University owns WHUR, and General Manager Jim Watkins III runs it the way many family-owned broadcasters ran their stations before cost-conscious corporations gobbled them up. WHUR is old-school radio at its best.
Best activist:
Julie Lockwood, the gutsy Metro Networks traffic reporter. In September, Ms. Lockwood testified before the D.C. Council against noncompete clauses, which force on-air talent and some behind-the-scenes radio and television staffers to wait as long as one year before they can accept a job at another station in town. The council eventually outlawed the practice. Norma Rae would be proud.
Best comeback:
Don Geronimo and Mike O'Meara of WJFK-FM (106.7). The self-proclaimed "Radio Gods" triumphantly reclaimed their old afternoon drive time slot in September when the "Opie and Anthony" show was canceled.
Best newcomer:
Elliott Francis, the new morning anchor at WJLA-TV (Channel 7). He has a smooth-as-butter delivery and an easygoing chemistry with co-anchor Andrea McCarren. These two are the future of WJLA. Memo to Buck and the other Andrea: Watch your backs.
Best electronic water cooler:
Dcrtv.com, the most valuable place on the Internet for news and gossip about local television and radio.
Next week:
The worst of 2002.

Questions? Comments? Tips? Call Chris Baker at 202/636-3139 or send an e-mail to cbaker@washingtontimes.com.

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