John A. Carlos II

Rick Henry is voted Best Sportscaster and Judi Gatson is voted Best Anchorperson.


Best Local TV News


Runner-up: WLTX

WIS, Columbia’s NBC affiliate, is a fixture in the local media scene. Delivering news, weather (First Alert!), sports and features across multiple broadcasts each day, the station’s reporters are seemingly omnipresent in Columbia. With a number of award-winning on-air personalities, WIS continues to be a go-to source for viewers looking for timely, important news that impacts their day-to-day lives. Honorable mention: ABC Columbia, WACH Fox

Best Anchorperson

Judi Gatson

Runner-up: Darci Strickland

Gatson has been a mainstay of the airwaves in Columbia for nearly a quarter century, and has frequently been recognized by Free Times readers in Best Of Columbia. Gatson has won numerous awards for her work, and is often called upon to moderate debates and forums. She’s also cultivated a special relationship with viewers on social media and through community events. Honorable mention: Dawndy Mercer Plank, Mary King

Best Weatherperson

Jim Gandy

Runner-up: Tim Miller

News 19 veteran weatherman Jim Gandy retired a few months back, but he’s still No. 1 in the hearts of Free Times readers. A longtime staple of Columbia airwaves, Gandy delivered his weather reports with an affable heart and won extra affection for his commitment to climate change education.  Honorable mentions: Dominic Brown, Efren Afante

Best Sportscaster

Rick Henry

Runner-up: Reggie Anderson

Henry has been a mainstay at WIS for 31 years, and he’s been the station’s sports director for nearly a quarter century. He’s a versatile sportscaster, as comfortable on the sidelines or in a locker room as he is on the anchor desk in the studio. Long one of the most respected sports media figures in South Carolina, you might spot him at a high school football field on Friday night, or along the fairways at the storied Augusta National, providing coverage of The Masters. Honorable mentions: Joe Gorchow, Mike Gillespie

Best Local Website — News


Sometimes you can’t wait until a designated time to get your news from a TV broadcast. When that’s the case, the WIS website comes in handy. From local and state politics to crime and up-to-the-minute weather, the site is a one-stop shop for news that’s important to Columbia. The site also features real-time traffic information for the ever-busy Midlands. Honorable mention:,

Best Local Website — Sports


Columbia is a sports town, and when residents are looking for news on their favorite teams, they often log on to the WIS website. Featuring robust coverage of University of South Carolina sports — especially football — and a notable focus on the area’s high schools, the station has long established itself as a reliable source for game stories, statistics, features and more.  Honorable mention:,

Best Local Website — Music/Entertainment


Free Times puts a high priority on our coverage of music and entertainment — from rock shows to symphony performances, gallery openings to new theater productions, and various points around and in between. Such items make up about half of our print edition, and fill much of the space on our website. So we’re mighty glad to hear you like it. Honorable mentions:,

Best Radio Station

97.5 WCOS

Runner-up: 94.3 The Dude /

Contemporary country music is one of the last genres where radio still rules. And in Columbia, it rules on WCOS 97.5, the station where the likes of Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, and Carrie Underwood ply hit after hit of shiny, twang-tinged hooks to a devoted following that also doubles as one of the most reliable concert-attending demos in town as well. Honorable mentions: Rock 99.7 The Panda, WUSC-FM 90.5

Best Local Radio Personality

Brent Johnson

Runner-up: Sadie Black

Johnson is no stranger to the Columbia market, as he has called it home for most of his four-decade career in radio. A member of the South Carolina Broadcaster’s Association Hall of Fame, Johnson in 2019 began working as the program director and morning show host at Lexington’s 93.1 The Lake. He has a voice that continues to be instantly recognizable to Midlands listeners. Honorable mention: Sloane Spencer, Steve Varholy

Best Local Tweeter

COLAtoday (@colatoday)

Runner-up: Wayne Cousins (@cousinwayne)

While their pun quotient is a little high for our taste, we have to give props to COLAtoday for keeping up a steady stream of engaging tweets aggregating (and sometimes reporting) local news and serving notice about local events. Honorable mentions: Chris Trainor (@christrainorsc), Clair Hollingsworth (@nastywomanatlaw)

Best Local Instagram

COLAtoday (@colatoday)

Runner-up: @sodacitysitesandbites

COLAtoday’s Instagram fulfills largely the same purpose as its Twitter, but with a bevy of pretty pictures of food and locales and other odds and ends that make our little town look pretty damn good. Honorable mentions: Crush Rush (@crushrushsc), Mike Wine-Guy (@mike_wine_guy)

Biggest Media Hog

Donald Trump

Runner-up: Lindsey Graham

For good or ill, the reality-show-host-in-chief is a master at seizing the narrative in the media. With a single tweet, Trump can send the press scrambling and dominate headlines for a news cycle … at which point he sends another tweet and generates another 24 hours of stories. And around and around we go. Is it 2020 yet? Honorable mention: Dick Harpootlian, Steve Benjamin

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