The job of a news reporter is a Sisyphean cycle of ignorance turning to expertise, and it requires versatility of any prolific scribe. Here, then, in short, are some of the topics that Holland has covered in the past few months: a woman who pimped a 16-year-old girl; a kitchen-knife fatal stabbing; the Davie town government scandal; a police standoff with a hostage-taker; jai alai labor disputes; crocodile relocation; fatal car accidents; all manner of hurricane chicanery; the sad Lionel Tate legal saga; the confounding Mamdouh Ebaid terror saga; the epic Gus Boulis murder saga; sex offenders; Seminole parties; and a pathetic German shepherd named Bear nearly done in by infections in his ear canal and face, saved from euthanasia by concerned doctors. The guy has been all over Broward, in more ways than one. It should surprise no one if one day the Sun-Sentinel admits in print that some time back, John Holland cloned himself to better cover the news. The byline on that story would no doubt be Holland's own.
You rarely have good writing in newspapers without good reporting -- and Larry Keller provides the right blend of both skills in his stories for the Palm Beach Post. Take his extensive coverage of the sensational James Sullivan murder-for-hire trial in West Palm Beach, which begins: "Lita Sullivan probably saw the man who delivered a dozen long-stemmed roses draw the gun. Probably saw him aim it at her. She retreated into her upscale townhouse and futilely tried to shield her face with the box. A bullet from the 9mm pistol ripped through the box and into her left temple. She died about 80 minutes later. She was 35." Just the facts, ma'am, but with powerful style. That's Larry Keller. And that's good stuff.
For sheer silly fun on the airwaves, Miss Pat cannot be beat. In these dim radio days, when a live human being and a malleable playlist is rarer than a white rhino, someone like Miss Pat is a savior. Tune in to 1170 AM during a weekday drive home after work and let her laughter leak some levity into that traffic jam. Whether it's her "Afternoon Party Mix" or her "Reach Out" program, Miss Pat entertains with both new (Richie Spice, Baby Cham) as well as old-school reggae (Marcia Griffiths fans rejoice) and her home-spun call-in shows like "Who Wants to Be a Hundred-Dollaraire" and "Domino Grand Slam" -- which mix music trivia, Jamaican history, and patois-laced hilarity into a hearty pan-Caribbean stew. Any segment that Miss Pat lends her voice to is easy on the ears, but when she's live in the studio bantering with loyal listeners, there's an unplanned, unpredictable vibe that recalls the medium's golden age. Bless you, Miss Pat.
You're right, Joseph Cooper, he of the somnolent monotone voice, is a strange choice for best FM radio personality. He's no Howard Stern, assuredly. Cooper is a unique force in local talk radio, though. His weekday show, which comes on at 1 p.m., is, um, local. And these days, if it's not about sports or Steve Kane's rantings, it's hard to get homegrown programming in South Florida. Cooper has it in spades. No, he's not the most hard-hitting interviewer, but he does elicit some great information from local authors, journalists, and newsmakers. It might be about eminent-domain issues, a book about the Everglades, or dubiously sealed federal documents, but it's almost always going to have a local angle. And Cooper is more than just a seasoned pro -- he's a rock, as dependable as the turning of the clock and as soothing as a security blanket. If everybody got his daily dose of Cooper, the world would be a better place.
Let's face it: South Florida has one of the worst radio markets in America. If you want something other than cookie-cutter pop, rock, hip-hop, and country, you need to go satellite. But the publicly financed WLRN remains an oasis from the commercial combine, where you get a whole lot more than the solid NPR stuff. There's Topical Currents with Joseph Cooper, which is one of the last decent local shows left in South Florida. There's South Florida Arts Beat with Ed Bell, where you find out that, good golly, there are intelligent life forms growing in these parts. And the station also offers us interesting music. Every night, there's Evenin' Jazz with Len Pace. On Sunday afternoons, Michael Stock brings us his show, practically titled Folk and Acoustic Music. I know, I know -- you have to suffer those incessant pledge drives. Take the medicine, boys and girls, and throw some money their way every now and then. You won't know how bad you'll miss WLRN until it's gone.
Cuban-born newscaster Belkys Nerey performs on Channel 7 at 5, 6 and 10 p.m., and we use perform here for good reason. If local TV news has slid into a hybrid form of journalism and entertainment, at least we can watch someone like Nerey have more fun on-air than others. She laughs her ass off and spurs her on-air comrades to join in. But when she's delivering serious news, Nerey also has the smarts and gravitas to pull it off. Not to mention with a great sense of style. She may not be quite the fashion plate she was while hosting Deco Drive, but when she rocks the designer threads and a boyish haircut, her edgy look makes us think we're seeing the newscaster of the future. And speaking of exotic, we never get tired of hearing everyone else on the set say that unusual name.
Like Johnny Cash, Tommy Hutton has been everywhere. After several years in the minor leagues, where he played in places like Albuquerque and Spokane, his 17-year-career in Major League Baseball took him to Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Toronto, and Montreal. But for the past ten years, the former reserve first baseman and emergency outfielder has been firmly embedded in South Florida, where he does color for Marlins games. You don't get any frills with Hutton; he's just a good-natured baseball guy with scads of trivia floating through his head. Want to know who pitched Game 3 for the Houston Astros during the 1980 National League Championship Series? Odds are Hutton could come up with it (Answer: Joe Niekro). That's what you get with Hutton, a guy who's been around -- and paid attention while he was at it.
Don Noe is the doyen of South Florida meteorology. And nowhere is weather forecasting more important than in the Sunshine State, where mysterious underground magnets seem to pull hurricanes toward our peninsula every year for a grueling, six-month showdown with Mother Nature. The chief meteorologist at Local 10, Noe -- an unassuming man with a bald pate and a broad smile -- has a reputation for good-natured humor coupled with down-to-business weather forecasting. It's an art he's crafted over more than three decades in the business. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Noe was a weather forecaster in the Great Lakes Region and Portland, Oregon, before moving to South Florida in 1979. And he's good. Need proof? In a time of television weathercasters with more looks than experience, Noe has proven that knowledge and expertise count. C'mon, when Wilma was bearing down on South Florida, were you really watching what's-her-name on the other channel? Thought so.
While chasing after that elusive first novel, Deerfield Beach author Heidi Boehringer supported herself with every kind of job, from bartending to loan processing. Following graduation from the creative-writing program at the University of Florida -- Gainesville, she went on to write Chasing Jordan, the story of a woman's life crumbled by guilt after accidentally running over her small son. While many of the area's newest novelists use South Florida's gritty and sometimes bizarre milieu for detective mysteries and whodunits, Boehringer mines the banality of the gated communities carved out of the Everglades. "Motherhood sinks to an all-time low in Boehringer's bleak debut, set in the soulless suburbs of South Florida," posits Kirkus Reviews. Despite the subject matter, the novel courses with an unpredictable sense of humor. "This is my kind of novel," Florida writing legend Harry Crews gushed in a blurb. "Whatever Heidi Boehringer writes next, I will read."
Asa Boynton deserves a spot in the South Florida Community Activist Hall of Fame. In his day job, the tall 59-year-old dresses in a purple gorilla suit and delivers singing telegrams throughout South Florida. Otherwise, he's a one-man gadfly, civic activist, and crime fighter in Hollywood's troubled south side. Ask Hollywood's city commissioners. They'll tell you how Boynton delivers the newspaper to their doorstep every time it has a juicy Hollywood story inside. Or ask the editors of those newspapers. They'll tell you how many letters to the editor they receive from Boynton. And Boynton is as brave as he is tireless. When he takes pictures of suspected drug dealers, he waves and smiles. He calls the cops to scenes of crimes he witnesses, times how long it takes police to arrive, and then distributes that information (often damning) to police brass, newspaper reporters, and other Hollywood activists. He once paraded through crime-ridden neighborhoods in South Hollywood with a sign that read: "Drug Dealers Suck." Even when Boynton is just being kind and generous, he can't get community activism off his mind. During Hurricane Wilma, a scared stray cat wandered to his door. He took in the feline and has since adopted him. He named the cat "Mr. Singley," as in Hollywood Police Officer Nick Singley, who was given a gun and a badge in Hollywood despite a psychological report that said he lacked "maturity and self-control." Boynton can tell you about that story. Just hope another distressed cat doesn't scratch at his door. Boynton's nickname for Hollywood Mayor Mara Giulianti -- likely the next cat's name -- just isn't fit for print.

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