Media and Information

your Best of the Chippewa Valley 2009 winners for local news sources

V1 Staff, illustrated by Erik Christenson |

1st Place: Salina Heller (WEAU)
2nd Place: Judy Clark (WEAU)
3rd Place: Sarah Stokes (WEAU)

Have you ever woken up at 6 AM? We had to, one time, and it was pretty gross – sleep encrusted eyes, slurred words, and a robust good morning belch. That experience makes this year’s best local TV news anchor’s accomplishments all the more impressive, because Salina Heller musters her perky appeal every morning before most of us even think about getting out of bed. As TV-13’s morning anchor, she blends just the right amount of news seriousness, casual banter with Mark or Andrew, bright outfits, and pre-dawn smiles to start the morning off right. She’s like the Lucky Charms of morning news. The women of WEAU also round out second and third place. Long-time local favorite Judy Clark, who handles the 5 o’clock news, took second place with her well-practiced delivery, and Sarah Stokes, who co-anchors the 10 o’clock news and has her own weekend show, earned third. – Eric Rasmussen

1st Place: Doug Michaels (WQOW)
2nd Place: Nate Larscheid (WEAU)
3rd Place: LeAnn Lombardo (WQOW)

Choosing the area’s best meteorologist is actually far less subjective than you may think. While likeability, personality, and accuracy certainly play a role in the decision, it really comes down to the execution of their weather-person routines. For example, Doug Michaels, this year’s winner, is the evening meteorologist on WQOW TV-18. He secured victory on the strength of his Alberta Clipper Right-Hand Sweep, the gesture meteorologists use to illustrate cold air rushing out of Canada. His Stalled Warm Front Two-Hand Push, coupled with his delightfully wacky “Grillin’ with Doug” segments, also contributed to his win. WEAU TV-13’s Nate Larscheid boasts a big second place win with his Rising Dew Point Wiggle Fingers and his textbook Storm Warning Shelter Seeking Frowny Brow. In third place, LeAnn Lombardo, who helms WQOW’s morning weather desk, wowed audiences with her especially gleeful Snow Day Pitch. She always nails the landing. – Eric Rasmussen

1st Place: Judy Clark (WEAU)
2nd Place: Meghan Kulig (FOX)
3rd Place: Sarah Stokes (WEAU)

We bet you think you’d make a pretty good TV news anchor. You’ve got an attractive enough mug and some flashy business suits. That’s all it takes, right? Well, sorry to say, but TV news requires a lot more than that – you need to be a master of verbal acrobatics, and, quite frankly, when you talk it sounds like you have a mouthful of Jell-O. Just look at this year’s first place winner, Judy Clark. Her crisp T’s sound like little whip cracks, and she can pronounce the hell out of “Menomonie” and “Clairemont Avenue.” And second place winner Meghan Kulig has a tongue with the grace of a gentle breeze, until she whips out a forceful “Trempeleau” that rumbles like thunder. In third place, Sarah Stokes looks like the kind of person who might stumble through “Chip-wah Falls” or “Der-and” until, BAM, she drops an impeccable “St. Croix County” on your wanna-be butt. Keep working on those tongue-twisters, sir. – Eric Rasmussen

1st Place: Eau Claire County Humane Assoc.
2nd Place: 48-Hour Video Projects
3rd Place: Vintage Eau Claire promo videos

What can we say? People love puppies and kitties. And we believe this love is what propelled a promotional documentary on the Eau Claire County Human Society to the top of the heap of CTV-produced programs. Your second favorite program to watch on cable channels 96 and 97 (or digital channels 993 and 994) is screenings of the various 48-Hour Video Projects, which feature local amateur moviemakers who, in the span of a weekend, shoot and edit a short film on a specified theme. These films run the gamut from “pretty damn cool” to “laughably bad in a good way.” The vintage promotional film Our Town Eau Claire took third place. CTV didn’t even produce the film (a guy named Robert M. Carson did in 1953), but CTV is the only place you can see old timey footage of a 1950s Eau Claire. – Mike Paulus

1st Place: WEAU (TV-13)
2nd Place: WQOW (TV-18)
3rd Place: WLAX/WEUX (Fox 25)

Despite losing its legendary news director John T. Hoffland in July, the newscasters of WEAU TV-13 carried on and nabbed first place for the second year in a row. Anchored by the power-caster couple of Chris Herzog and Sarah Stokes, WEAU offers a host of enjoyable faces, from the jockish Bob Gallaher (sports) to the spunky Meghan Kulig (news) to the trustworthy Nate Larscheid (weather). And let’s not forget that local news goddess Judy Clark (anything worth knowing). WEAU’s only competitor – WQOW TV-18 – took second place, with their noticeably more local/human interest format. In third place, we find Fox 25, where viewers can see WEAU’s newbie anchors (the ‘up and comers’ and the ‘whoever was availables’) deliver the news, sports, and weather of both Eau Claire and La Crosse at the quasi-novel convenient time of 9pm.  – Mike Paulus

1st Place: Clear Channel stations
2nd Place: None, EC stations are horrible
3rd Place: WHWC (88.3 FM)

For those still turning to mainstream radio for news, it’s hard to swing a cat around by its tail and not smack an FM/AM receiver that isn’t playing one of Clear Channel’s seven local stations. This may have something to do with their first place ranking. Between Moose Country (106.7FM), Z-100, The Mix 98.1, 92.1 (classic rock), B-95, WBIZ Sports Radio, and NewsTalk AM880, they’ve got airwave-based news for a wide range of local lifestyles. Of course, you awarded second place to the phrase “None, the EC Stations are HORRIBLE!” so there’s probably a sizable range of lifestyles left unrepresented by local radio. Meanwhile, one of Wisconsin Public Radio’s local stations, WHWC (88.3FM), politely sat down in third place with local shows like The West Side and Spectrum West mixed into state and national favorites like Talk of the Nation, On Point, and Here On Earth. – Mike Paulus 

1st Place: WEAU.com
2nd Place: VolumeOne.org
3rd Place: LeaderTelegram.com

In one of the most unsurprising developments of the past year, even more people are turning to the internet for their news – both local and national. And while the Valley’s media outlets are still struggling with how to monetize satiate that thirst for information, one thing seems somewhat obvious: you like shorter articles. Once again, you voted WEAU.com as your up-to-the-moment source for local goings on, with its super-succinct stories and host of features from job postings to weather radar to recipes from that cheeky little rascal Mr. Food. Meanwhile, the Leader Telegram’s sprawling website took third place, posting and updating its full-length print stories all day long. You voted VolumeOne.org into second place, which is odd – even though we post all of our magazine content online – because we don’t deal in the kind of newsy news this category embodies. Of course, the poll was actually conducted from VolumeOne.org, so maybe that’s not so odd at all. – Mike Paulus

1st Place: Volume One
2nd Place: Leader-Telegram
3rd Place: Seriously?!!

We’re not exactly sure why you chose Volume One as the best print outlet for your news (outside the fact that this poll was through its website), but we’re flattered. I mean, sure, it’s got the cultural news front handled, and that’s important to building a community, but what’s traditionally thought of as “news” is entirely in the hands of The Leader-Telegram. With the unfortunate loss of The Altoona Star (last year’s third place winner), voters decided to scoff, “Seriously?!!,” before voting for The Spectator, Chippewa Herald, or Dunn County News. – Trevor Kupfer

1st Place: Julian Emerson
2nd Place: Tom Giffey
3rd Place: Eric Lindquist

When it comes to our local news in print, none do it better than the Leader-Telegram. And, more specifically, these three repeat winners. Julian Emerson is often writing about city government or an investigative piece, and ever since April of 2008 has broke every last detail on the ongoing saga of Bill Klaus. And it’s likely that you’ve seen him running the city trails this summer. Tom Giffey is the L-T’s editorial/opinion editor – maybe you know him from his always informed, often liberal viewpoints in “Giff’s Riffs” – and resident Twitter enthusiast as well as the Western Wisconsin Press Club president. Eric Lindquist is the special projects editor, better known to layman as the purveyor of long, in-depth stories. Perhaps you remember his noteworthy piece on teenage pregnancy from back in January, where he tactfully examined the touchy issue using the story of one Altoona girl. – Trevor Kupfer

1st Place: WHYS
2nd Place: I have an iPod
3rd Place: B-95 Hot Country

WHYS Radio (96.3 FM) has done something that few are able to: create and maintain a truly local radio station. Not only that, their participation in community happenings, hosting and sponsorship of local shows, and creative events have made WHYS a truly appreciated local institution. For those of us who don’t really listen to the radio, the iPod (or comparable music apparatus) fills that gaping musical void that nearly everyone is born with. When you want your programming choice to be up to you and you alone, look no further than that miraculous technobox you carry around in your pocket. B-95 Hot Country supplies the valley with one of Wisconsin’s most desperately vital commodities: country music. It’s hard to get through a hard day’s work or a day floating down the river without a little guitar and a bit o’ twang. – Aryn Widule

Semi-Secret Selection: WIEC (102.7 FM)

1st Place: McKay & Donuts
2nd Place: John Murphy
3rd Place: George House

Want to get a jump on the morning? Radio personalities can be as useful as Wheaties. After 13 years of waking up commuters in the Valley, no one does it better than McKay and Donuts on B-95. They take the gold medal, topping this year’s poll once again using wacky humor and brain teasing trivia. Receiving the silver is John Murphy, the co-host of Valley Morning News on WAYY, News Talk 790. Getting the bronze is recent Marconi award winner for small station personality of the year, George House of WAXX 104.5. With shows airing at six in the morning, these radio shows might be worth waking up for. – Mitchell See