Best TV Anchor 2011 | Jim Benemann | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

While other anchors sometimes sound like they're phoning in their performances — simultaneously checking their 401(k)s to see if they can retire yet — Jim Benemann reminds us why newscasts were set up with an anchor desk in the first place. Benemann has a steady, calming presence that gives the appropriate gravitas to whatever story he might be delivering — but there's always the hint of a twinkle in his eye. If you still need your nightly newscast before you can go to bed, Benemann's just the man to tuck you in.

Although network news viewership is shrinking, Channel 9 remains a powerhouse. And Denver has a powerful fondness for the team featured on the KUSA Morning News, a newscast that stretches over two channels and so many hours that it someday may run right into the evening shows. This year it added an extra half-hour at 4:30 a.m. featuring Gregg Moss, who rejoined the fold last year; a savvy business reporter, Moss offers a particularly intelligent way to start the day. And he sticks around when the rest of the crew — avuncular Gary Shapiro, still pixieish Kyle Dyer, sports reporter Susie Wargin and weathercaster Becky Ditchfield — show up to help the rest of Denver get their morning going.

Once again carrying the ball is the man not to be confused with the NFL coaching legend whose name graces the Super Bowl trophy. Still, the confusion is fitting: Vic Lombardi, a Denver native, is developing into something of a local faceman for this town's teams. Although his style can be over the top, he reins it in at the right moments; for proof, check out some of his effective "Vic's Signature" commentaries. (They'll have you wishing Keith Olbermann had stuck to sports.) Still, TV is a team sport, and we'd be remiss if we didn't mention Lombardi's morning radio and Channel 4 wingman, Gary Miller, who — as straight man — provides for a pitch-perfect balance to this team.


Wonder which way the wind's blowing? Longtime prognosticator and weather wonk Mike Nelson knows, and he'll tell you early on Channel 7's ten o'clock newscast, when he offers an efficient, intelligent weathercast that goes into just enough depth on the minutiae of meteorology but also warns you if you'll need to get up early to shovel out the next morning. Nelson has a delivery that's as easy as a Chinook, but with the weight of an unexpected April blizzard behind it.

Best Way to Appreciate Union Station's Construction Chaos

DenverInfill's bi-weekly walking tours has long been the go-to source for anything and everything going on in the city when it comes to construction. But for Denver's biggest construction project in years — the massive redevelopment of Union Station — website founder Ken Schroeppel stepped up his game. He and collaborator Rick Anstey host one-hour walking tours of the site on the first, third and fifth Saturday of the month starting at 10 a.m. in front of the historic station at 17th and Wynkoop streets. In exchange for a $10 suggested donation (proceeds go to the activist group Union Station Advocates), folks get an all-access look at Denver's very own Big Dig — from the guys who dig that Dig more than anybody.

Balancing the state budget, as required by the Colorado Constitution, is no fun. But Backseat Budgeter does its best to make the process — or at least understanding the process — as pleasant as possible. This online simulator was created as a public service by Engaged Public, a political consulting firm, "to help citizens understand the tradeoffs associated with spending our public dollars." With a push from Colorado State University, the program not only lets you see how different decisions would affect the overall budget, but allows you to share your thoughts with the public officials who have to do the actual numbers-crunching. And while the Backseat Budgeter was created as a tool for understanding the Colorado State General Fund, it can be adapted for any public budget — a service that Engaged Public will provide at cost.

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