For the past three weeks, the spies have fallen in love with the Augusta area and all it has to offer.
Their final mission this week was to investigate the city’s top leaders in the fields of the arts, media, advocacy, politics and entertainment, according to the readers of the Metro Spirit.
After days of researching their subjects, the spies have determined that Augusta has a lot to be thankful for.
Congratulations to all of the Metro’s Best 2018 winners!
Best Event Venue
The Miller Theater
The impressive list of national artists who have already performed on the stage of the historical Miller Theater in its first year has been remarkable. Everyone from Chris Isaak to D.L. Hughley to the Indigo Girls have thrilled local audiences. And in the months ahead, the spies have already bought their tickets for amazing artists such as Gov’t Mule, Paul Thorn and the Blind Boys of Alabama, Blues Traveler, Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Kris Kristofferson, The Charlie Daniels Band and Dwight Yoakam. It’s worth every penny!
Best Local Band
Most people who hear Funk You play live don’t believe the band actually hails from Augusta, but it’s true. This six-piece band rouses its audience with an eclectic fusion of funk, reggae, jazz and hip-hop resulting in a continuous wave of high-energy sound that will immediately bring everyone to their feet. The talented chaps of Funk You are Will Clark on drums, Will Foster on the keys, Gavin Hamilton on vocals and percussion, Evan Miller on guitar, Palmer Owens on percussion and Rob Thompson on bass. Rock on and Funk You.
Best Local Solo Artist
Born and bred in the one red light town of Harlem, Ga., Ray Fulcher quickly learned the values of the simple life, what it means to earn a buck, and how a country song means more than honky tonkin’ and sad songs. Country music is about a way of life. Now a resident of Nashville, Tenn., Fulcher spends his time writing songs about growing up country, going to football games and pretty girls letting their hair down.
Best Local Visual Artist
Leonard “Porkchop” Zimmerman
Let’s face it, local artist Leonard “Porkchop” Zimmerman is like Augusta’s own Mr. Rogers. While he is an all-round talented visual artist, Leonard has touched the hearts of many with his expressive robots, bold and brightly colored characters and his free-to-share HAPPY campaign. The SCAD graduate developed his HAPPY campaign as a means of sharing hope and smiles with the world, an act that has brightened many peoples’ days with its positive message. Augusta is very lucky to have Leonard in our neighborhood.
Best Annual Festival
Arts in the Heart of Augusta Festival
Arts in the Heart of Augusta recently wrapped its 38th annual festival, and even Hurricane Florence couldn’t rain out the festivities. As usual, the incredible international food offered at the Global Village filled guests (and their stomachs) with delight. The spies’ favorite booths were India, Jamaica, African American and Pakistan. And, of course, who could forget the amazing art vendors? The spies’ duffel bags are overflowing with gifts to take back to their homeland.
Best Local Arts Organization
Greater Augusta Arts Council
Founded by the Greater Augusta Chamber of Commerce, the Junior Women’s Club and the Junior League of Augusta back in 1968 to serve as an umbrella organization for the arts in Augusta, the Greater Augusta Arts Council connects arts lovers to the events and programs they are passionate about. Brenda Durant, who has spent more than two decades as executive director of the Arts Council, has received much praise for leading the highly successful Arts in the Heart of Augusta Festival year after year.
Best Community Advocate
Most people in Augusta know that Jacque Hawk, the founder of The Hawk Firm, is an outstanding lawyer. In fact, he is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, one of the most prestigious groups of trial lawyers in the United States. But did you also know that Jacque is an enormous advocate for the homeless in Augusta? He also coached baseball for Masters City Little League, Episcopal Day School, and a USSSA baseball team. His little league teams won several District 6 titles and his 14-year-old team he coached was the runner-up in the Southeastern Regional Championship. His USSSA team was ranked fifth in the nation. Jacque is the real deal.
Best Local News Station
WJBF News Channel 6
Back in 1953, WJBF News Channel 6 signed on the air as the ABC affiliate for Augusta and the CSRA and, ever since that time, the station has been deeply committed to serving the local community. Local viewers have come to know WJBF as the most reliable station in town, due in large part to the commitment of its news team. Many of the journalists on staff have been part of the news station for more than 20 years. After serving the entire CSRA for more than 60 years, the news station has become a part of the community.
Best TV Personality
Meredith Anderson’s journalism career started when she was only 16 years old during an internship at WCBD in Charleston, S.C. She immediately fell in love with reporting. By January 2007, Anderson joined the News 12 team and a short time later accepted one of journalism’s most prestigious honors: a National Edward R. Murrow Award for her News 12 investigation into an alleged black market for babies in Augusta. Anderson has proven she’s a journalist who’s on Augusta’s side.
Best Radio Station
The success of Kicks 99 isn’t really about the incredible country music by artists like Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood or Kenny Chesney that is played over the airwaves, but more about the local, on-air talent that listeners have come to love. Whether they’re tuning in to hear the Kicks Wake up Krew with Mike, Jenny and Dub or driving home tuned into Tee Gentry’s show, fans of Kicks 99 enjoy hearing those familiar voices in the Augusta area. They are like family.
Best Morning Radio Show
The Kidd Kraddick Morning Show
The Kidd Kraddick Morning Show is a syndicated morning radio show that features presenters J-Si, Kellie Raspberry, Jenna and Big Al. The Morning Show has been a popular vehicle for the latest in entertainment news and pop music on HD 98.3 since 2006. The crew’s camaraderie and easy-going banter that makes the show so appealing. The show is on HD 98.3 every morning Monday through Friday — the Kidd Kraddick Morning Show helps many of us wake up and face the day ahead.
Best On Air Radio Personality
Celebrating 25 years on the air, WGAC’s extremely popular talk show host Austin Rhodes has long been a local radio legend. In fact, the Austin Rhodes Show is the longest-running drive time radio presence on one station in the history of the Augusta media market. That’s something Rhodes can honestly brag about. Once anointed the title of “The Most Dangerous Man in Augusta,” Rhodes proudly has his finger on the pulse of Augusta, and he undoubtedly is a master at getting this town talking about everything from politics to local events to even his beloved Pittsburgh Steelers.
Believe it or not, even though Deke Copenhaver hasn’t been mayor since leaving office at the end of 2014, the readers of the Metro Spirit still firmly believe he’s the best politician in Augusta. Copenhaver served two mayoral terms of his own and the unfinished term of former Mayor Bob Young, who left in 2005 to serve as a Housing and Urban Development regional director. One thing is for sure, when Copenhaver was in office, he was never your typical local politician. He wasn’t about playing politics or games with the citizens he served. He always tried to be honest with everybody.
Metro’s Best 2018 is sponsored by Windsor Jewelers