Best Local TV News


Runner-up: WLTX (CBS)

In these days of newsroom cuts, it’s good to know there’s still a TV station you can count on to consistently cover the trials, storms, crimes, protests, fires and political news you want to know about. Year in and year out, WIS takes home this prize because it’s always working hard to stay ahead of its competitors. Honorable mention: WACH (FOX), WOLO (ABC)

Best Anchorperson

Judi Gatson - WIS

Runner-up: Dawndy Mercer Plank - WIS

It’s not a surprise to see Gatson get the nod here, as she has been at or near the top of Best of Columbia a number of times. Aside from delivering the news with that trademark Gatson charm, she also regularly engages with viewers on social media and participates in community discussions, such as when she moderated January’s “And Justice for All” forum at the University of South Carolina. Honorable mention: Darci Strickland - WLTX, Mary King - WIS

Best Weatherperson

Ben Tanner - WIS

Runner-up: Jim Gandy - WLTX

As an Atlanta native who’s been with WIS since 1998, Ben Tanner continues to bring the heat. Well, weather updates about the heat, that is. Tanner holds both the American Meteorological Society Television Seal of Approval and National Weather Association Seal of Approval. Honorable mention: John Farley - WIS, Tim Miller - WIS, Chris Jackson - SC Weather

Best Sportscaster

Rick Henry - WIS

Runner-up: Reggie Anderson - WLTX

Rick Henry has been at WIS for 27 years, and he has been the station’s sports director for the past 19 of them. To call him a mainstay in the Midlands sports scene, particularly USC athletics, is an understatement. The man is everywhere. He also has been a Boys and Girls Club of the Midlands Man of the Year and a board member for the Ray Tanner Foundation. Honorable mention: Alyssa Lang - WLTX, Joe Gorchow - WIS

Best Local Website - News


It used to be that Free Times came out once per week. That’s still the case for our print edition, which hits the streets every Wednesday morning and is snatched up quickly by legions of loyal readers. But we’re also posting news on our website all the time, and we appreciate the fact that you’ve noticed. If you want to keep on top of everything we’re doing — in print and online — sign up for our e-newsletters at, you guessed it, Honorable mention:,

Best Local Website - Sports


At the top of every single page you visit at are four links to the website’s essentials: HEALTH U, SKYVIEW, 7 DAY FORECAST, GAMECOCKS. As much as your health, your home and your environment, WIS is determined to keep you informed about your beloved Gamecocks, and their many posts in service of that goal are thorough and determined. Honorable mention:,

Best Local Website - Music/Entertainment

Runner-up:, (TIE)

We love local music. You love local music. You apparently love reading what we have to say about local music. And we love you for it. Honorable mention:

Best Radio Station

WLTY 96.7 - Steve FM

Runner-up: WCOS 97.5

Your old pal Steve is great at a party, mixing up his playlist with tunes from several decades and multiple pop genres. From Bruno Mars to Grand Funk Railroad, Mumford & Sons to Matchbox 20, Steve-FM keeps the hits coming. Honorable mention: WNOK 104.7, WWNU 92.1 (The Palm), WXRY 99.3, WUSC 90.5

Best Local Radio Personality

Jonathon Rush - WCOS

Runner-up: Kelly Nash - WCOS

Jonathon Rush has been on the Columbia airwaves since 1988, and he continues to give fans his unique take on topics ranging from Steve Spurrier to Donald Trump. Honorable mention: Steve Varholy - WXRY, Mike Allen - WWNU

Best Local Tweeter


Runner-up: @drinkblogrepeat

Want to see pictures of delicious dishes from local restaurants? Colatownfoodie has you covered. The feed also keeps its followers up-to-date on the latest restaurant openings and food events. Honorable mention: @karilebby, @yesevamoore

Best Local Instagram


Runner-up: @figcolumbia

If you want to skip the food news and get right to images of delectable drinks, dinners and desserts, hop on over to Colatownfoodie’s instagram. You won’t be disappointed … but you might get really, really hungry. Honorable mention: @LovelandCoffee, @Mckenzie_Roland

Best Free Times Cover Story

Soda City Suds Week

Runner-up: Best of South Carolina Music

For one week in March, Columbia became a veritable beer town. And it was good. Events ranged from a launch party at River Rat to a Meet the Brewer party at Old Chicago, a beer festival at City Roots and much more. Three years ago, the city had no production breweries at all. Just look at us now. Honorable mention: Imagining Columbia’s River Future, A City on Fire, Avett Brothers, The Restoration, Arts in Black and White

Biggest Media Hog

Gov. Nikki Haley

Runner-up: Mayor Steve Benjamin

To beat Mayor Steve Benjamin in a contest for Biggest Media Hog is a herculean task, but it’s one that Gov. Nikki Haley was up to. The governor has never been shy around a camera, but the way she worked the media this summer — in the aftermath of the Charleston Massacre and during the Confederate flag debate — was the stuff of legend. She pushed all the right buttons at all the right times. Honorable mention: Sheriff Leon Lott, Joe Pinner, Tyler Ryan, Cameron Runyan

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