Art Institute's section winner, Jonathan Ayala.
Art Institute's section winner, Jonathan Ayala.

Thing Tarrant County Needs

Critic’s choice: An Occupy the Shale protest group

Can’t you see it? They show up every time a well is drilled or fracked next to a school or park. They record the noise and play it back outside city council members’ homes at 2 a.m. Instead of Anonymous masks, they wear the visages of mayors and Chesapeake Energy officials and the Texas Railroad Commission executives who have done the most to turn this into a dirty ol’ town, as Don Young says. They orchestrate flash mob events in which members lie down on cue at public events to represent the victims of asthma and cancers brought on by drilling-related air pollution. When the Christmas tree goes up downtown or the big rodeo begins, the Occupistas would be nearby, offering a guerrilla theater option, with volunteers playing the parts of homeowners as they try to drink the flaming water coming out of their faucets or take a shower without succumbing to the gas vapors. Couldn’t hurt, might help, and it would give all the dedicated, long-suffering regular critics a night off.

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TV Journalist

Readers’ choice: Deborah Ferguson, KXAS-TV/Channel 5

Critic’s choice: Gloria Campos, WFAA-TV/Channel 8

Longtime TV news anchor Gloria Campos is a household name in the Metroplex. In March, she walked away from a 30-year career at WFAA. Covering everything from political conventions, presidential inaugurations, and the funerals of Ann Richards and Ronald Reagan to local tragedies and triumphs, Campos was always in the moment but never tried to appear bigger than the story. For many people hereabouts, she has been the face of broadcast news since their childhoods. She will be missed.



Readers’ choice: Dale Hansen, WFAA-TV/Channel 8

Critic’s choice: Norm Hitzges, KTCK/96.7-FM/1310-AM The Ticket

Sure, his “laugh” is annoying. Coming from his mouth instead of his belly, it sounds forced. And like nearly every other sports pundit in North Texas, he only pays lip service to the Dallas Stars. But the 30-plus-year broadcast veteran approaches football, baseball, and basketball (and the ponies) with an equal mix of childlike enthusiasm and professorial sobriety. His all-business-all-the-time ethos (except when he’s doing “Knucklehead of the Week”) is a refreshing respite from the station’s often-ingratiating cool-kid feel. Catch him 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. weekdays.


Hottest Local Celebrity (Male)

Readers’ choice: Joel Burns

Critic’s choice: Mac Engel, Star-Telegram sports columnist

Tragically, many newspaper journalists could never make it as movie stars or underwear models –– we have faces (and bodies) for print, to paraphrase the old saw about radio personalities. But then longtime Star-Telegram sports writer Mac “Big Mac” Engel started doing regular YouTube vids with Randy Galloway, as well as his own “Mac Attacks” segments. This dude’s casual masculinity, classically handsome features (those cheekbones! that rugged lantern jaw!), and a damn fine head of hair have established his hotness as a welcome fact of online media life in North Texas.


At First Congregational United Church of Christ, the Rev. Lee Ann Bryce promotes loving coexistence to a diverse congregation.  Jeff Prince
At First Congregational United Church of Christ, the Rev. Lee Ann Bryce promotes loving coexistence to a diverse congregation. Jeff Prince

Hottest Local Celebrity (Female)

Readers’ choice: Wendy Davis

Critic’s choice: Adrienne Bankert, CBS 11 News This Morning anchor

Local morning news shows tend to rely on acerbic, slightly goofy male anchors, a la Tim Ryan, Ron Corning, and Brendan Higgins (well, at least until Higgins got fired after getting drunk and rowdy in Aspen last month). The male anchors mostly rely on smart and pretty female co-anchors to chuckle and pretend to be shocked at their jokes. Bankert has the “straight woman” part down, and she’s certainly a hottie, but she can be just as caustic and funny as the boys.



Radio Personality

Readers’ choice: Russ Martin, KEGL, 97.1 FM

Critic’s choice: Corby Davidson, KTCK/96.7-FM/1310-AM The Ticket

There’s no mistaking that pterodactyl laugh once “The Hardline” gets rolling on The Ticket. Since taking the co-host slot in 2007 after years as producer, Corby Davidson has been on his game. In his early years, Davidson was thought of as a funny guy who stepped aside when the sports talk got too deep. Now he displays his surprisingly vast knowledge of local and national sports, college and professional, on a daily basis. Davidson has matured into a personality at the top of his craft without losing his edge — and he’s still funny.


Print Journalist

Readers’ choice: Randy Galloway

Critic’s choice: Bob Ray Sanders

No matter what’s on the front page of the Star-Telegram, Sanders’ column almost always provides meaningful food for thought. His topics run the gamut from botched state executions to immigration issues, and he’s not afraid to tell it like it is. In addition, Sanders is an active and entertaining public speaker. His current focus on the “new Jim Crow” is a sober examination of criminal laws (mostly drug-related) that target minorities.


Servant of the People

Readers’ choice: Wendy Davis

Critic’s choice: Lee Ann Bryce

First Congregational United Church of Christ practiced what it preached about inclusion and hired Arlington native Lee Ann Bryce as its minister, making her perhaps the only openly lesbian minister leading a mainstream church in North Texas. Bryce does a beautiful job of promoting peaceful, loving coexistence without beating people over the heads about sexuality issues during sermons. Her gentle touch seems the perfect fit for this congregation that includes various cultures, races, and sexual persuasions all worshipping side by side.



  1. While I am honored to be a recipient of the 2014 Critic’s Award in the Watchdog category, I would like to correct a couple of details. While the railing against gas drilling for several years at Arlington City Hall is true, I would like to clarify that I was not a key player in the Dalworthington Gardens case of XTO’s illegal taking of water from Pappy Elkins Lake. The Pappy Elkins Restoration Group is currently working on that issue. Regarding the water, however, I did catch Chesapeake red-handed when they violated the terms of their permit by hauling water from Arlington into Grand Prairie for fracking during the epic drought of 2011. Also, while I did participate in the process for the Rush Creek Drill Site, I cannot in good conscience accept full responsibility for that victory since the members of that community organized a strong coalition against the zoning of that drill site. We did, however, win a case just last week at a Planning & Zoning public hearing. EnerVest’s request to amend a Special Use Permit to establish a drill zone in south Arlington where they planned to drill at least three more gas wells was denied, and we blocked XTO from setting up frac pools on a south Arlington drill site last year. All of these stories and more may be found on our community blog at where citizen journalism happens.

    • Jane, you deserve all the kudos there are. You stepped up years ago, pushed through your quiet, reserved nature and transformed yourself into a force that cannot be ignored. You have helped shepherd many others into that role also. You are a leader and a light.