WPLG didn't win just because Dwight Lauderdale is the smoothest MF-er in the history of news broadcasting. No, Lauderdale may be suave, but that doesn't change the fact that his material is sometimes as shallow as the royal gene pool. No, the real reason WPLG is the highest-quality TV station in South Florida is Michael Putney, who has for years kept burning the flickering flame of local political television journalism. His Sunday show, This Week in South Florida, is practically the only place you get to see debate among local candidates. His take on politics is usually pretty astute, the product of more than a quarter century of reporting experience in South Florida (he wrote for the Miami Herald back when it was worth a damn). And he's something of a Renaissance man as well, having recently played the title role in the theater production of Trumbo, about the blacklisted writer. Putney, if one must find a fault with him, could learn a little something from Dalton; he needs to crack the hypocrites and liars populating South Florida politics over the head a little harder. It's in him -- he just needs to do it on the tube.

When local weather babe Jackie Johnson left the Sunshine State for a gig in Los Angeles, WSVN-TV (Channel 7) had some purdy shoes to fill. Instead of going the tried-and-true route of replacing Johnson with another bubbly blond, the TV station chose exotic bombshell Elita Loresca, whose oval-shaped eyes and glistening black hair give her a cat-like beauty. To top it off, Loresca seems as comfortable in front of the camera as imprisoned weatherman Bill Kamal was at chatting to young boys on the Internet. A former weathercaster in Fresno, California, Loresca has proven in a short time that easy-on-the-eyes Johnson is all too easy to forget.

Yeah, the Heat's play-by-play man has a radio voice as polished as an FBI agent's loafers, but he's the real deal -- a genuine sports aficionado. Though he promotes his team a little too much at times (and is paid to do it), Reid has a rare exuberance. He knows the game without talking his head off about it (unlike, say, Dan Dierdorf, whose inane, never-ending blather makes one grateful for the invention of the mute button). And the voice of the Heat, while he must have an ego, hides it well (unlike, say, Bill Walton, whose presence on national television is, to use his favorite expression, inexcusable). Reid works in service to the game. He respects the fans, turns an interesting phrase almost every night, and, even when you're just wasting more of your life watching pro sports, makes you feel like you're doing something worthwhile. Enjoy him while you can; he's so good that it can't be long before ESPN or some other national giant steals him away.

Ah, the twists and turns of Slick Rick's broadcasting career. He gained local fame and fortune at WSVN-TV (Channel 7), the local Fox affiliate, where he often made fatal car accidents sound like the end of the world. In 2002, Rick made it to the big time at MSNBC, where he took corporate shilling to a new level, once uttering the phrase "here at MSNBC" a record 79 times in 24 hours. But alas, he was more popular for his embarrassing gaffes than for anything else (like the time he referred to Jesse Jackson as "Mr. Sharpton"), and the network mercifully canned him in 2003. Then the local NBC affiliate, WTVJ-TV (Channel 6), hired him for a daytime show, which was kind of like The View, only with Sanchez playing the role of Meredith Vieira (beats Star Jones, huh?). That horrid experiment only proved that Rick, while perhaps a serviceable corporate tool, should never, ever be left to his own devices. Then CNN made a surprise move and brought him to its network this past September for its daytime slot with Daryn Kagan. His fake intensity has been replaced by a nauseating fake smile. The man appears to be getting desperate -- he recently allowed himself to be zapped by a stun gun on camera. He froze in pain for a Lee Harvey Oswald moment before flopping around like a giant Cuban-American flounder. But don't worry, the shock only made Sanchez -- the Frankenstein of American broadcasting -- stronger.

It costs only around $10,000 to buy a transmitter, wire an antenna atop the Norfolk Island pine in your front yard, and transmit your jams to the world. But the FCC will hit you with a $100,000 fine if they catch you. So you've got to admire the tenacity of our local pirate/underground stations, whose proprietors risk ruin to bring you the finest in gangsta/crunk. When your boy Mark T. and his crusty partner-in-crime, Smiley, start kickin' it, good times follow. Listeners from the nine-five-fo', the three-oh-five, and the five-six-one flood the station's telephone lines nightly, calling to participate in a "freestyle session" in which amateur rappers test their flowage. Mark either gives participants a thumbs-up ("You were fingerin' the beat; it sound good!") or shuts 'em down hard ("Aw, you got played! I ain't feeling that. Keep your day job!"). It's unmediated, raw, and totally live.

Dry like a martini in the Sahara, WLRN-FM (91.3)'s Andy Wagner has become a local favorite thanks to his unflappable British calm and quick wit. A world traveler and ten-year veteran of the BBC in London, the Bristol native landed in Miami on assignment in '99 and started with the station in late '02. As local host and producer of the daily All Things Considered program (4 to 6 p.m.), Wagner typically elicits laughter from his cohosts by tinkering with the segues from news to traffic reports from the "D.O.T. 5-1-1 Traffic Center." One of Wagner's recent transitions came after a story on keeping livestock safe, which he followed by asking traffic guy Mike Millard to "take stock of the afternoon commute." Droll, innit? It seems Wagner's goal is to get Millard -- a salty old cur, by the sound of him -- to burst out laughing while delivering the traffic report. Balanced by an affable trustworthiness as he delivers the news, Wagner's sense of humor makes a normally dull, frustrating part of the day a little more tolerable.

Thousands of Caribbean expats know and love the man born Denver Silvera and rechristened with an acronym for Jamaican Artists and Music United with the Sound of America. Part roots-reggae disc jockey, part comedian, part motivational speaker, Jamusa fills his drive-time show (Wednesday 4 to 6 p.m., Thursday and Friday 3 to 6 p.m.) with laughter, high jinks, and loads of great music. His love for Motown ballads and the romantic stylings of some of reggae's more genteel artists -- Freddie MacGregor, Luciano, Beres Hammond, Maxi Priest, Dennis Brown, Jimmy Cliff, Cocoa Tea -- gives the afternoon a dreamy glow. And Jamusa doesn't skimp on the "adaptations" -- reggae versions of pop songs like "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" or "Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone." Hilarity ensues during Jamusa's call-in segment when listeners share home remedies for everything from diabetes and hypertension to whooping cough ("Vinegar an' honey!") or just laugh, reminisce, and swap stories about favorite songs, high school teachers, or childhood games. As a dispenser of sage advice --"A chicken dinner cya'an make up for broke eggs, yuh know!" -- Jamusa has no peer on talk radio or any other radio, for that matter.

Take it from us. The best public relations specialists aren't the shrillest or the ones with the most free goodies (don't expect a story in New Times just because you sent an unsolicited gifty) or even the ones who call you the most. The best ones are, like Jan Mitchell, the ones who deliver the goods. Mitchell, one of the movie industry's mainstays in South Florida, started out 20 years ago in partnership with her dad, Jack Mitchell; the father-daughter combination handled accounts for most of the major studios, repping movies like Dances with Wolves and Silence of the Lambs. Since she started her own agency four years ago, Mitchell has gone indie, representing a wide range of flicks, recently including everything from the ground-breaking The Brown Bunny to the blockbuster The Passion of the Christ (if you know the movies, you know the stretch doesn't get any wider). But she's been most visible as a spokesperson for both the Fort Lauderdale and the Palm Beach international film festivals. It's not as easy as it sounds. Doing public relations in the film biz means getting the word out quickly to reporters about unexpected events, throwing together well-crafted press packets under impossible deadlines, and keeping touchy, egotistical reviewers happy. "You gotta be prepared to wing it," she says. "You can have a film pulled at the last minute or have one fall into place and it's so good you can't turn it down. Things happen." Mitchell's secret is, it seems to us, her likability. The easygoing Mitchell, who sometimes volunteers her services for charities like the National Family Caregivers Association, knows how to make conversation without edging into the awful what-are-you-going-to-do-for-me territory. Like she's a normal human being. A flack? Who woulda thunk it?

As some of our long-time readers might remember, Rowe holds the dubious distinction of having been the very first staff writer for New Times Broward-Palm Beach when it was launched back in the last century (circa 1997). But after about 18 months on the job, he decided to leave the sprawling madness of South Florida for the sprawling countryside of a North Carolina farm to write fiction. Before heading out, though, he showed his own personal flare for stunning plot twists. Rowe was hit by a train on the night of his going-away party in the Himmarshee district. It was a bizarre accident, and, though he suffered serious injuries, Rowe lived not only to tell that tale but the one he spins in Fever, a novel he completed in 2003. Little, Brown and Co. gave Rowe a two-book deal and a sizable advance, making our little hearts quiver with pride (and, yes, not a small amount of jealousy). Fever is a "blood-soaked Florida potboiler," as he gamely describes it, about a heist on a cruise ship. And it will sail into bookstores this October. We haven't had the pleasure of reading Fever yet, but rest assured that Rowe, who worked for the Miami Herald before New Times, is a uniquely talented writer with one very sharp, irony-laced eye for Florida-baked pulp. If you don't believe it, go to the New Times website and check out some old clips, starting with "Big Chief Moneybags," his 1998 cover story on former Seminole leader James Billie. Then mark your calendar to buy the book.

Harbor Beach Marriott Resort & Spa

There are 637 guest rooms at this beachfront hotel, but you probably won't spend much time in yours. No, you'll be hanging out at 3030, its swank bar, or eating freshly cooked chocolate waffles at Riva, the award-winning restaurant. The massive $18 brunch is just enough fuel for your tour along A1A on a rented Segway. Oh, you'd prefer to rent a metal detector and fish for buried treasure in the sand? No problem; that's just $20 an hour. Or you can take surfing, scuba, or sailing lessons. Or rent a poolside cabana, complete with television. Other activities include fingerpainting, ceramics, water aerobics, and "bowling in paradise." Your room, should you choose to hang out in it, is PlayStation-equipped, offers "adult movies" on pay-per-view, and comes with a fully stocked mini bar. Eat, sleep, drink, shit, piss, screw -- anything you want, you can do at the Harbor Beach Marriott.

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