Remember Jim DeFede's journalism heyday, when he was making beautiful journalistic music at Miami New Times? That was DeFede Raw. Then he went to the Miami Herald, where we got DeFede Lite (if there can be such a thing for a man of his considerable girth). And now, after his famous firing from the newspaper, he's doing radio on WINZ-AM (940) and regular commentaries on CBS (Channel 4). Call it DeFede Plugged. And we're happy to report that he's a natural on the air. DeFede can talk about the Iraq War, local politics, Tom Waits, and women all with equal aplomb. Does he have the deep impact he used to have with his trenchant newspaper reports? Maybe not, but he brings intelligence, knowledge, and wit to the airwaves of South Florida, a rare feat indeed.
There aren't many radio DJs around the country who can lock down an entire time slot the way 99 Jamz DJ Khaled can. He's been bulldozing the competition during his weekly show, The Take Over. Lovers of urban music tune into him faithfully between 6 and 11 p.m., and there might as well not be another hip-hop DJ on the airwaves during those hours. He's known for dropping exclusive tracks during his sets and is able to use his industry connections to break music that's unavailable to most other radio DJs. Of course, The Take Over is a tandem show, and the affable personality of K. Foxx can't be overlooked. But the fact is, most listeners stay glued to 99 Jamz because of Khaled. His credentials run deep: He dominated the pirate radio scene under various aliases such as the Beat Novocain, he's an affiliate of Fat Joe's Terror Squad, and his mixtape series is respected throughout the country. That's a lot of skills to bring to one radio station.
Newcomers could be forgiven for believing that Fort Lauderdale is actually named after Dwight Lauderdale, a dude who seems to have been here since time immemorial. (Actually, it's 1976.) For folks who've lived in the area for 30 years or more, Lauderdale is more than just a local institution. Unflappable and classy and one of the few TV journalists who doesn't abuse his title, he's a rarity during these dumbed-down days of endless infotainment. The guy's so trustworthy and well-respected, he could probably run for office and win strictly on the strength of name recognition. Mustache or no (Lauderdale's facial-hair status is the topic of tons of water-cooler discussions), he's the one anchor we'll turn to when we wants facts instead of fluff.
He's earned a Peabody and two Emmys and has eked his way out of local newsdom to reach the world with his stories on the uniquely weird news of hurricanes, South American dictators, and the violent conflicts that pop up from time to time with our neighbors down that way. Sanders is officially listed as a Miami correspondent for NBC Nightly News, the Today Show and MSNBC, and he contributes to Dateline NBC, but we all know that ever since Anna Nicole died north of the Golden Glades interchange, the real South Florida news is happening up in these parts. Hell, even CNN moved its Miami bureau to Broward County earlier this year. But back to Sanders: If Fidel Castro does ever actually die, Sanders will be prepared. He's been in Iraq for the Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom. In-country this last time, Sanders brilliantly illustrated Iraqi children's attitude toward America when he showed them a world map — and they couldn't find us. Now, that's good TV!
Hurricanes will certainly hit South Florida again, and the question is: With whom would you rather weather the storm? An avuncular South Florida institution like Channel 10's Don Noe? Or an almond-eyed vixen like Channel 7's Elita Loresca? Poor Don doesn't stand a chance. Elita Loresca... her very name sounds dulcet to even the deafest ear. And on a visual plane, she manages, somehow, to distinguish herself among the TV news fem-bots who rule Today in Florida, the top-rated South Florida morning show, which scores highest in those crucial demographics of drooling men 18-49 and fashion-critical women aged 25-39.
Everybody loves a good hidden-camera bust. Sometimes it's dirty dining. Sometimes, as during November sweeps on CBS 4, it's dirty politicians — who just happen to be dining, and wining, on the taxpayer dime only moments before showing up at a City Commission meeting! These Cooper City commissioners were so drunk with power (if not with wine) that on one occasion, they had the audacity to vote to double their own pay! Are you furious yet? And if not, are you at least entertained? Whatever the case, this is TV-news "gotcha " journalism at its very best, and considering what a den of iniquity South Florida politics is, we oughta have a lot more of that. Just don't bring that hidden camera into the sauna with Hollywood Mayor Mara Giulianti. There are some things we don't want to know.
We're yawning over Mara Giulianti's obfuscations. We're asleep before somebody can finish the name Ken Jenne. And while we're still cackling over Mitch Ceasar's abomination of a standup routine, we can't bear to repeat lines so unfunny. So this year, we're ignoring all the corrupt, lying, and downright stupid politicians and keeping it simple. We've selected a quote from a widely known man with a clear, concise message. We're talking about former Heat superstar Tim "I Hate Gay People" Hardaway, who apparently didn't get the memo: Gay-hating means you're gay, dude. Didn't you see American Beauty? For those of you who managed to miss this gem, it went down in February, just after former NBA player John Amaechi became the first former pro basketball player to come out. It was Dan Le Batard of 790 the Ticket who solicited Hardaway's feelings on the matter. "First of all, I wouldn't want him on my team," Hardaway said of a hypothetical gay player. "Second of all, if he was on my team, I would really distance myself from him because I don't think that's right and I don't think he should be in the locker room when we're in the locker room... I'm homophobic. It shouldn't be in the world, in the United States. I don't like it." We don't like much about you either, Tim — except, of course, that you made the Heat P.R. shit their pants.
As the name suggests, this is a Miami-centric blog. But the duo behind it veers into lots of other South Florida territory, only getting caught in the Castrophobic sludge once or twice a day. Among its most redeeming qualities is a knack for picking up interesting — and abundant — local news about life in stucco-filled, traffic-jammed, sometimes sunny South Florida. And it's mondo-user-friendly. Alex and Rick — first names are enough disclosure in this realm — artfully snip down news highlights so that they're palatable while weaving in select quotes from the actual articles. Keywords link to source material for those wanting to know more. The duo's comments are typically pithy and witty, so it doesn't feel like they're preaching from the pulpit. Bonus points: Each blog entry is spruced up with some sort of art, be it a photo or a graphic, giving tired and overexposed eyes a break.
It's surprisingly easy to beat the biggest daily in Broward into the ground on a big story. Let's face it: At least 80 percent of the Sentinel's reporters aren't exactly newshounds. They're more like harmless yuppie puppies. But no one relishes going against the Boston-bred Holland. When he gets his nose into the news, he's relentless — a veritable robo-reporter. He's shown that during the past year in his coverage of Hollywood corruption (though it was New Times that broke the story that led to the Keith Wasserstrom indictment that started it all) and his reporting on the Seminole Tribe. Now teamed with Sentinel Investigative Editor Joe Demma, Holland is more dangerous than ever. And, believe it or not, we're grateful for his game.
Here's the problem with a lot of big daily newspapers: Their top executives are part of the same Chamber of Commerce clique they should be ripping apart in their pages. The Sun-Sentinel is a shining example of this, with V.P. and General Manager Howard Greenberg chumming it up with the political leaders and the Broward Alliance at every turn. All that access leads to a soft editorial product that often acts as a booster for special interests. Not so the Palm Beach Post. This is a newspaper that hasn't lost its cojones, and if there's one reporter who needs a wheelbarrow to carry his own around, it's Dubocq. He's been busting big investigative pieces about local politicians, knocking over the apple carts, and being a general pain in the ass to the powers that be. In other words, he's doing good. His biggest story has involved lifting the veil on then-Palm Beach County Chairman Tony Masillotti's connection to dirty land deals, leading to federal charges and the politician's exit from public office. More recently, he's made similar findings about PBC Commissioner Warren Newell, whose projected political lifespan has been dramatically reduced as a result. When he's not nailing corrupt officials to the wall, colleagues like Thomas R. Collins, Tony Doris, and Hector Florin are. (Hear the ones about West Palm Beach commissioners Jim Exline and Ray Liberti?) Together, they all show what a good newspaper can do when it's not schmoozing with the same people it should be investigating.

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