Best of People & Media

Best Politician

Don Ness

Nobody even dared to challenge The Don for his second term. His wit, charm and boyish good looks were no match for even the fiercest of opponents. Recently he’s been catching hell via email from racists all over the world for his support of the Unfair Campaign that’s working to stop racism. It’s taken a couple days and a couple hundred bucks, but he has sent roses and home-made cookies to all of them. Don Ness could charm a T-Rex. That’s why he’s been the people’s champ since he’s taken office. MJ

Steve O’Neil barely held off new/former Superior mayor Bruce Hagen.


Best Band/Musician

Charlie Parr

Charlie Parr is a Duluth cult classic. His swarms of fans leave the Brew House smelling like patchouli for the next week until he plays again. For an older gentleman he carries an air of youthfulness, both in his demeanor and his songs. His popularity is spreading across the country as well, with some of his songs on youtube getting into the six figures. Charlie embodies that twangy sound that has become one of Duluth’s most popular musical figures. MJ


Best Band Name

Trampled by Turtles

What’s in a band name?  And how is one trampled by turtles?  To our understanding turtles aren’t very fast, so it seems it would be an undertaking to be trampled by them.  And what kind of turtles are we talking about?  Box turtles?  They’re too small to be effectively trampling much of anything.  We will say Trampled by Turtles does have a nice ring to it.


Best Album

Bill & Kate Isles: Still Beneath the Stars and Moon

Bill Isles and his wife Kate have become well known in the areas music scene for their easy going music.  A number of you felt that their new CD, “Still Beneath the Stars and Moon” was cut above the rest of the CDs that came out this year.  Bill and Kate will be returning to the Northland from their Southern tour to perform one concert this winter in Duluth at Clyde Iron on February 16.


Best Concert

Willie Nelson at Bayfront

It’s always a treat when big name acts make their way to Duluth. Willie’s been here a few times before and it was awfully nice of him to come back. Willie’s been killing it for decades and will probably continue to do so until he dies. The performance at the Bayfront was one of the best in years for the venue.  Trampled by Turtles and 4onthefloor were absolutely amazing that day. MJ


Best Community Activist

Joel Kilgour

Joel Kilgour has long been an activist in the Twin Ports. He has worked with Loaves and Fishes, a community that assists the homeless and has also worked extensively with the Occupy Duluth movement. When President Bush visited Duluth in 2004, Kilgour was on top of the Secret Service’s list of people to watch out for along with UW-Superior history professor, Joel Sipress.  It should be mentioned both of these men are widely known as pacifists in the community.   

Allen Richardson, also an active member with Occupy Duluth, is the runner up for this category.

Dance Club: 

Red Star

This chic little club nestles up in the Fitgers complex and is heavily guarded by a doorman and those cool little pole things that escort people into NYC clubs. It has a big city feel to it. To add to their resume, their rail booze includes Johnny Walker and Tanqueray. The leopard print couches and pillows that line the perimeter make for a nice place to pass out or suck face with a coveted stranger. Good DJs, no cover, cheap good booze and lots of neon lights make the Red Star a sought after dancery of the Northland. MJ


Best Open Mic

Beaner’s Central

Beaner’s Wednesday night open mic and Thirsty Pagan’s Sunday night open mic were running neck and neck throughout the entirety of our tallying.  In the end, Beaner’s got the upper hand and took the win.  The two open mics are among the more consistent in the area and have featured acts of all levels of playing from beginners to seasoned musicians.  Beaner’s is an all ages open mic, while the Thirsty Pagan’s is 21+.


Best Live Music Club

Beaner’s Central

Beaner’s came out with a clean win for “best live music club.” Although it’s not the biggest stage in the area, the venue has a nice vibe to it.  Owner Jason Wussow is himself a musician and he has worked to help out up and coming local acts to getting in great national and international acts. Everything from metal to folk has been featured on the Beaner’s stage. The staff is friendly and they obviously love live music.  The venue is all ages and yet you can still get a beer or glass of wine which is another nice perk to the place.


Best Place to Hook Up

Grandma’s Sports Garden

It looks like a few of you like to knock back a shot or two and hook up at the Sport’s Garden.  It’s a great place to dance and often has larger events so the excitement level gets up there sometimes. 


Best Local Play in the Last Year

Little Shop of Horrors

This musical theater production was held at the Play Ground in the summer of 2011.  It had great costumes and rocking vocal performances and the cast did a great job pulling off this adaptation of the campy 1986 movie of the same name.


Best Actor



Best Actress



Best Athlete

Jack Connolly

UMD Men’s Hockey Captain took a strong win this year.  This UMD Communications major has helped his team take many wins and no doubt deserved your votes.  A number of votes also came in for “UMD Men’s Hockey Team.”  

Best Author


This was another topic where we ended up with a couple of dozen nominations with just one vote each.  Barton Sutter and Sue Sojourner tied with two votes each.


Best Book in the Last Year

Agates of Lake Superior: Stunning Varieties and How They Are Formed

Although there weren’t many votes for any of the books that were nominated, Agates of Lake Superior by Bob and Dan Lynch took the win for this year.  We had our fingers crossed when checking if this book was actually from 2011 and found that it was indeed published in July, 2011. 


Best Rumor


Why we even open ourselves up to the endless amounts of things that come back from this category, we will never know.  This ended up in a three way tie including the rumors that “we will have a cold and snowy winter,” that “a Cousin’s Subs will be coming to the area” and that “the new Vikings stadium will be in Duluth” all got votes.  To the person who wrote “I will win a prize for this ballot,” that rumor is absolutely true! You even put your address on the ballot! This won’t work next year, you’ll all have to come up with something else to amuse us.


Best Story Swept Under The Rug


There was really no solid story that got more than one vote. 


Best TV News Station

WDIO Channel 10

It’s good to know that the station is still getting along without Dennis.  WDIO takes yet another win.

Best TV Personality

Darren Danielson

“I knew I couldn’t replace Dennis Anderson, but I promised to bring to the position the traits he brought us every night—honesty, integrity, objectivity and fairness,” reads a quote from him on his bio on the WDIO website.  Apparently he’s been doing a good job at these things.


Best TV Commercial



Best TV Program

Venture North

Yes, another win for Venture North.  It seems important to note that The Playlist takes runner up this year. The Playlist on WDSE-WRPT is a weekly show that features music and the arts from around the region, they’ve received the Midwest Emmy Nomination for 2011 so it seems fitting that they gained a number of votes in our survey.


Best Radio Station


Your votes have spoken once again that you love college radio.  There’s always a great eclectic music and local musicians are routinely featured on the station. We certainly enjoy listening to what’s playing on KUMD than the latest Rhianna hit that’s played at least three times an hour. KQDS gains a distant second place spot.  


Best Radio Personality

Jeanne Ryan

Jeanne Ryan once again takes the win for “best radio personality.” She’s the closest you’re gonna get to your mama’s voice of comfort now that you’ve flown the coop and settled into your own home. That is unless you are one of those people that continues to live with your mom far behind the years that it can be considered reasonable. Either way, it’s the voice we have all grown to love and look forward to just like we did our mom’s. Jeanne Ryan wins for best radio personality with her witty morning banter on 107.7. It’s the one thing that makes driving to work in the morning minimally bearable. She’s been around for awhile giving local listeners a reason to laugh and the comfort of her voice is like hot chocolate with extra marshmallows..Mmmmmmm, nice. AZ


Best Newspaper Columnist

Barb Olsen

“Barb Olsen’s city council column is refreshingly relentless, no doubt just the level of scrutiny the council people deserve” We couldn’t possibly say it any better than the national Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, so we won’t even try.  Besides, that would be bragging.  Ummm, which leads us (awkwardly) to the Reader’s  Paul Ryan of “Ramblings” notoriety squeezing by perennial favorite Sam Cook for the runner up spot.


Good Cop

Gordon Ramsay

For the third year in a row Duluth Chief of Police, Gordon Ramsay, has won this category. He has continued to handle situations with a sense of fairness and has shown genuine concern and involvement in the community. More cowbell!  Although it’s impossible to make everyone happy all the time, he has done a heck of a job keeping the peace.  Duluth Police Officer, Ed Bellows, is the runner up for “good cop” this year.