Best TV Commercial 2014 | Mile High Pipe & Tobacco | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

Rules established by the Colorado legislature generally prevent marijuana stores from advertising on TV, and most broadcast stations are being ultra-cautious about considering such business, regardless of the time of day. But Mile High Pipe & Tobacco has found a way to share its highly potent message on late-night cable without causing the city's social fabric to fray. Recent sassy clips, including a Christmas spot featuring a particularly hazy-looking Santa, showcase glamour shots of Mile High's "glass with class" in a wry but restrained manner unlikely to offend anyone burning the midnight oil, so to speak. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

The premise of These Things Matter is simple: Denver-centric celebs join hosts Taylor Gonda and Kevin O'Brien to talk about something or someone in popular culture that changed their life. Gonda and O'Brien steer conversations in unexpected directions, as well-known folks such as OpenAir DJ Alisha Sweeney and comedian Adam Cayton-Holland join in with personal anecdotes about topics like Weezer, Jack Kerouac and Planet of the Apes. The broad-spectrum banter attracts music nerds, cinephiles, literary geeks and TV junkies alike and makes for unique, thought-provoking episodes. These Things Matter is a listenable podcast for many reasons, but it's Gonda and O'Brien's rapport that provides the show's seamless flow. Find it at

Listeners can usually guess what talk-radio hosts are going to say by which station employs them: Yakkers at conservative outlets will hit the typical right-wing buttons, just as those on liberal broadcasts can be relied on to promote left-of-center talking points. But while Gloria Neal is currently employed at a progressive-dial spot, her wide range of experience on radio and TV — she's worked at KOA and the local Fox outlet as well as CBS4 and the Denver Post — helps her avoid the usual stereotypes. She's more common-sense than doctrinaire, and that makes her show entertaining and informative for a wider range of listeners than is usual in this genre.

Once upon a time, Jim Benemann was a new kid on the Denver TV-news scene. But after briefly leaving the market, he returned to fill the CBS4 anchor chair in 2003, and in the decade-plus since, he's grown into his role, providing much-needed gravitas when the subject is serious, but shifting easily into avuncular mode once the mood lightens. Unlike many of his peers, who are usually better at one of these skills than the other, Benemann is an all-purpose anchor with an accessible persona built for the long haul.

Back in the days when Denver was a two-newspaper town, 7News was the odd station out — the only one of the traditional big-three network outlets that didn't have a content-sharing agreement with a Denver daily. As such, the station developed a scrappy, chip-on-its-shoulder attitude that's still part of its culture today, even though, in a notable role reversal, it's the broadcaster currently partnering with the Denver Post. The news at 7News tends to be harder, the investigative pieces more substantial, and the on-air personalities, led by Anne Trujillo and Mike Landess, solid and professional enough to reward viewers who schedule time to tune in.

Whereas too many TV stations are boys' clubs when it comes to weathercasters, 9News is the opposite, with longtime star Kathy Sabine supplemented by a supporting cast that includes Belen De Leon and Danielle Grant (plus token guy Marty Coniglio). As a result, Becky Ditchfield sometimes gets overlooked. But she's been a steady presence since joining the station in 2007, and her forecasts are notably B.S.-free. Rather than making every storm system that comes through town seem like a snowpocalypse, she delivers meteorological information in a straightforward, low-key way that's more about helping people get through their day than about sparkling for the camera.

Best Hair on a TV Personality — Female

Corey Rose

How did Corey Rose ever decide to go into TV news? Her glamorous look makes her seem more like a model, a spokeswoman, or one of those actresses who always seem to travel with their own personal wind machine. Her flowing locks, which appear to encompass all the colors of the follicle rainbow without looking bizarre, are so lush and lustrous that they cry out to be whipped around regularly, Willow Smith style. See if you can work that into the next newscast, Ms. Rose. We'll be watching.

One of the busiest reporters on the local scene, Justin Joseph keeps most of his hair close-cropped — so it doesn't start going wild when he's doing a live shot in gale-force winds, for instance. But lest you think he's too square, he rocks a cheeky peak up top to let you know he's hip, he's happening, and he isn't afraid to have a little fun when the subject strays from death and destruction. Fox31 has long been Denver's leader when it comes to TV dudes' coiffures (here's looking at you, Phil Keating!), which makes Joseph the station's hair apparent.

For three decades, Shotgun Willie's was housed in an unflashy little building next to the Glendale Target parking lot, entertaining the masses as only Shotgun Willie's can. But in 2013, the owners of the gentleman's club decided to replace the droopy old digs with firmer ones. Set back from the street, the new building is bigger and fancier but still manages to look a little retro (sort of a '90s look, rather than the '80s-style aesthetic of old). Shotgun's also acquired a new sign a little while back — an exaggerated version of its limp-shotgun logo. We hope those lights stay lit for a long time.

You might not know his name, but you've seen Kevin Hennessy's hand-painted work both inside and outside of City, O' City, Nooch Vegan Market and Cafe Europa. In fact, his high-style handwriting is everywhere, proving that commerce-oriented art doesn't have to be a graphic-designed mess. From the simple restroom signage at Adrift Tiki Bar to the vertical announcement of Ironwood's presence on burgeoning South Broadway, Hennessy's expressive calligraphy is subtle but comforting, a throwback to a time before computer-generated banners and pixelated signs.

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