One of the nation's most aggressive and effective, though little-known, human rights organizations spent two decades operating out of locations in the Pacific Northwest and New England before setting up shop in Lake Worth in late 2013. Given the scandalous state of Florida's prison system, especially under the privatization initiative pushed so mightily by the state's GOP leadership, Prison Legal News and its nonprofit parent, the Human Rights Defense Center, have been welcome additions to the state's criminal justice reform movement, getting the word out about prisoner abuse and abusive prison conditions — to the general public and to inmates themselves. The publication was founded and is edited by Paul Wright, a former army policeman who was convicted of murder after he killed a drug dealer he was trying to rob. Once in prison, he was appalled at how prisoners are treated. Now he and the group's battery of attorneys, who have sued prison systems in Florida and a good dozen other states, go tooth-and-nail to enable distribution inside prisons so inmates know that conviction doesn't void the Bill of Rights.

Ungodly rich from his years of clogging the book racks of airports and drug stores from coast to coast (an estimated 300 million books sold), author James Patterson never has to lift a finger to peel a grape till the end of his days if he so chooses. But Jimmy Jim has a heart and soul, it appears, as evidenced by his latest project, the PBS documentary Murder of a Small Town, which is about crime, punishment, and the hardscrabble lives of the residents of the far other end of Palm Beach County. In Belle Glade, Pahokee, and the other towns around Lake Okeechobee, agricultural labor (when there is any to be found — unemployment rates are staggering) is most folks' bread and butter. Patterson grew interested in those lives during visits to the area as he distributed books to school kids. Now he wants the world to put down his novels for a while and absorb some hard truths.

The Sun Sentinel's Brittany Wallman is an intrepid reporter, as evidenced right there in the paper or on her Twitter feed, @BrittanyWallman, where she spends her days actively chronicling all the news you can use throughout Broward County. She primarily reports on county government, but if a car flips on the Turnpike? Wallman's there taking photos of rescue officials helping the victims. Commissioners are about to vote on a new law? Wallman is there to live-tweet the action. She's fearless, inquisitive, and, somehow, everywhere at the same time. Her reports — found mainly on the Sun Sentinel's Broward Politics page — are fast, thorough, and accurate. So if you're a lobbyist, a politician with ulterior motives, or a flakka smoker about to strip down, keep your eye out and beware: There's Wallman and her laptop, ready to feed the masses the truth.


In 2009, former Miami Herald and Daily Business Review reporter Dan Christensen cut the figurative ribbon on the Broward Bulldog, an online-only news source featuring the kind of detail-driven investigative deep dives that had been disappearing from the pages of major daily newspapers. Powered by donors — including best-selling crime novelist and former South Florida journo Michael Connelly — Christensen's baby has grown into a feisty brawler. Today, the website's reach has extended far beyond the Broward border; appropriately, Christensen rebranded last year to reflect the range, rechristening his baby as the Florida Bulldog. Taking on subjects such as the Sarasota Saudis' ties to 9/11 hijackers to the shitty track records of health-care companies scrambling for work with Broward jails, the Bulldog doesn't back down from big foes.

Not to be confused with the silver-screen legend or the '70s funk singer, this meteorologist can report the sad news of a week's worth of thunderstorms with a smile as bright as a cloudless sunrise over Fort Lauderdale Beach. Davis delivers the forecast with the spunk and jovial expressions of a Muppet, even when it calls for 36 hours of nonstop rain. She spent nearly five years in front of the green screen at the Weather Channel before heading to South Florida. And that gives her the cred to cover all the wild weather our tropical paradise has to offer.

Tommy Hutton is exactly the kind of guy you'd want to catch a ballgame with. And you sort of can, if you tune in to Fox Sports Florida every night to watch the Marlins. Hutton, a former ballplayer himself, doesn't just give color analysis; he gets personally involved. While announcer Rich Waltz calls the play-by-play, Hutton berates players, umpires, and managers whenever they screw up. He has the torqued-up passion of any serious baseball fan, plus actual knowledge of the game. Hutton will go after anyone who he perceives is screwing things up for the Fish. In 2012, when the Marlins' scorekeeper gave shortstop Jose Reyes an error after a slight bobble of the ball, Hutton bellowed, "Whoever is keeping score has no frickin' clue!" During another game, Hutton turned his anger to star slugger Giancarlo Stanton, proving that no one is exempt: "You have to slide!" he hollered. But Hutton also has players' backs. When Stanton was beaned in the face last year, Hutton was ready to fight the entire Milwaukee Brewers team. "You can't let your big guy go down and not do anything!" he shouted. You need fun and passion with your Marlins games. He's the guy you want to tune into.

Marc Hochman made his bones as the wizard behind the curtain of the original Dan Le Batard Show on 790 the Ticket. His dry wit and crazy creative output catapulted him as a primary voice for that show. So when he decided to leave that cushy, highly rated gig to head up the Ticket's morning show, people thought he was nuts. But Hochman did well for himself, not only bringing some of his familiar high jinks from the afternoon show but establishing a local-leaning sports-talk program the likes of which South Florida drive-to-work folk hadn't heard in some time. It was part morning zoo, part local sports takes. But then, Hochman once again decided to make an unexpected and seemingly risky move. He left 790 altogether and decided to go head-to-head with his old pal Le Batard as 560-WQAM's afternoon drive host. As has become par for the course for Hoch, he's doing just fine. While Le Batard remains the highest-rated afternoon drive program, his has strayed some to accommodate its national audience. But Hoch, with cohost Zach Krantz, remains focused solely on the local sports teams while maintaining some of those wacky bits that made Hoch a household name.

Readers' Choice: Elvis Duran

Sports radio isn't exactly the most supportive place to start a communications career; everyone, it seems, thinks he could turn on the microphone and do a better job than the host. A young host could find himself rattled by the passion-driven venom some sports fans inevitably spew, but the Ticket's  Chris Wittyngham, a recent graduate of the University of Miami, has had no such issues during his rapidly rising hosting career. Wittyngham has newly teamed with the Ticket's savvy, respected veteran cohost Josh Friedman every night from 7 to 10 o'clock for what has easily become one of the best sports radio listens in the market. One minute, Wittyngham might be perplexing a listener with a big vocabulary word; the next, he might be in the middle of a silly segment. This mix is one of the reasons he is an up-and-coming star in his field.

You'd think after more than 50 years, we'd know everything there is to know about the Beatles, but somehow every Sunday at 10 a.m. on Beatle Brunch, Joe Johnson manages to uncover hidden nuggets about the Fab Four. Johnson has been DJ'ing for Magic 102.7 for close to three decades and can be heard playing all the good-time oldies on weekdays from 10 to 3. But it is his musical scholarship on Beatle Brunch that earns him this accolade. One part musical history lesson, another part a nostalgic trip down memory (and Penny!) lane, there is no nuance about John, Paul, George, and Ringo that can escape Johnson's noggin. For this, legions of Beatlemaniacs are forever grateful.

Readers' Choice: Paul & Young Ron

It's a law as universal as the ones Moses schlepped off the mountain: If an incident happens one time, it's an event. Two times? A coincidence. Three times? New York Times trend piece. This year, instead of covering the latest llama-fur boots or mustache wax, the paper was writing about a different craze: Broward judges driving under the influence. The trend started in November 2013, when Broward Circuit Judge Cynthia G. Imperato was snagged for erratic driving in Boca Raton. The judge refused to submit to a field sobriety test and was later convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol and reckless driving. The following May, Judge Gisele Pollack — who had recently taken a leave from the bench after twice showing up in court drunk — was busted for DUI following a Plantation car accident. Five days later, Judge Lynn D. Rosenthal was arrested after knocking her SUV against a parked police cruiser in the courthouse parking lot. The judge later claimed she was still groggy from an Ambien she'd taken the night before. Nonetheless, Rosenthal pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of reckless driving last August — and was even reelected in November. Still, the trio of arrests brought national eyes upon Broward, with the New York Times headlining its piece: "Here Comes the Judge, in Cuffs."

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