Best Local TV Newscast

KVOA-TV Channel 4

READERS' PICK: Perennial favorite KVOA took reality-journalism to a new level this year when they had reporter/weatherman Frank Fields have eye surgery during the 10 p.m. broadcast after an ER episode. Beyond the drama of live radial keratotomy, do you have any idea how much clout it takes to get an eye surgeon out at that hour? In any case, the KVOA team delivers the most consistently watchable newscasts in town. From wide-eyed Sandy Rathbun's political reporting to jocular jock Danny Harnden's sports news, the Channel 4 team sticks to solid, well-paced stories while avoiding histrionics. In fact, the only thing we can really fault them on was that incredibly lame and goofy Austin Powers spoof in the promos for their contest to predict the first 100 degree day. Fortunately, lapses in taste of that magnitude are extremely rare for this crew. Meanwhile, weatherman Jimmy Stewart has settled in nicely, making us wonder what it was we ever saw in the very strange Michael Goodrich. Old-timers Martha Vasquez and Patty Weiss seem more like extended family every year. Best of all, this crew does it all without a helicopter. We've heard rumors that KVOA also has an early morning news show, but that's on way before any respectable Tucson Weekly writer is awake. 5, 6 and 10 p.m. is enough for us.

READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP: The folks at KGUN-TV Channel 9 are like those Spanish rebels who went up in the hills in the 1930s and stayed up there for four decades, waiting for Generalissimo Francisco Franco to die. When he finally did, they celebrated and said, "See, we knew if we just hung in there and waited, good things would happen." That had to have been the feeling when it was announced that KGUN-9 had actually beaten perennial ratings champion Channel 4 in a recent ratings book. Fronted by anchors Guy Atchley and Colleen Bagnell, KGUN 9 News appears to have a solid sense of what it is and what it wants to be. Like almost all local news in America, it's a bit too folksy for our taste, but we appreciate the enthusiasm with which they approach their jobs and look forward to the days when they turn their attention inward to the workings of local government.

LOOSE CHANGE: KUAT-TV Channel 6. Seen enough top stories about the fact that it's raining outside? For two decades, KUAT-TV's award-winning Arizona Illustrated has been bringing the best television journalism into Tucson living rooms. A half-hour newsmagazine that airs nightly at 6:30 and 11:30 on channel 6, Arizona Illustrated ignores the crime and car crashes in favor of in-depth reporting on politics, business, arts, culture and the environment. The top-notch staff, including anchor Bill Buckmaster, political specialist Peggy Johnson, and segment producers Ted Robbins, Celeste Gonzales and Pam White, regularly puts the superficial reporting of the mainstream media to shame. And remember: it's supported by viewers like you, so why not write a check during the next pledge drive?

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