Best of OKC

Best of OKC 2016: People

By Greg Elwell, Ben Luschen, Laura Eastes, Candice Macis, Jennifer Chancellor and Brittany Pickering Photos Gazette staff, file and provided


Best Radio Personality or Team

Joey and Heather

at KYIS KISS 98.9

Last December, Joey Combs and Heather Potter moved their lively and amusing morning show from WiLD 104.9 KKWD-FM to 98.9 KISS-FM. Each weekday morning from 6 to 10 a.m., listeners catch the duo, joined by their producer Nugget, as they discuss OKC happenings, yoga pants, Pokémon GO and Justin Bieber. Testing listeners’ trivia knowledge, the two give away tickets to the hottest events and concerts. Listen for 30 minutes and it’s easy to see why Gazette readers spend their drive time with Joey and Heather.

Favorites: Jack and Ron (KQOB-FM Fun 96.9); Rick and Brad (KATT-FM Rock 100.5); TJ, Janet and JROD (KJYO-FM KJ103 102.7); The Morning Animals (WWLS-FM 98.1)

Best Person to Follow on Social Media

The Lost Ogle

With almost 33,000 Facebook likes and more than 41,000 Twitter followers, local fans know The Lost Ogle’s publisher and co-founder Patrick Riley is king of social media. For years, Riley’s “obscure local social blog” has updated readers about Oklahoma’s sometimes backward politics, local TV reporters’ social media selfies and beloved OKC basketball stars. Those blog posts become social media shares, likes and comments. When it comes to social media accounts, The Lost Ogle is where curious metro-area readers go to learn, laugh and indulge in random schadenfreude.

Favorites: Aaron Tuttle, Kevin Durant, Steve Lackmeyer, Floyd Martin

Best Local Website or Blog

The Lost Ogle

On May 13, 2007, debuted as cofounder and publisher Patrick Riley shared his opinions of the Fox 25 weather crew. The two-paragraph analysis kicked off what has become a nine-year run of sometimes offensive, off-the-cuff, entertaining and funny news and non-news. The Lost Ogle is where many Oklahomans become informed about important public policy decisions, scandals, police body-cam footage, aspiring Mrs. America candidates, Thunder trades, homeless puppeteers and what Lawton rapper Knuckles is dropping. It’s as informative as it is funny.

Favorites: Keep It Local OK, Red Dirt Report, OKCTalk, Daily Thunder

Best Local Living Author

Ree Drummond

It all began with blogging about enchiladas and Alfredo sauce from the kitchen on her family’s Osage County cattle ranch in 2006. A decade later, Ree Drummond is the author of a handful of cookbooks, children’s books and The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels, which chronicles her love story with The Marlboro Man — now her husband. Her titles have appeared on New York Times Best Sellers lists, and she landed a national cooking show called The Pioneer Woman. This Oklahoma redhead shines her spotlight on rural living, proving Oklahomans do eat great, especially when on the ranch.

Favorites: S.E. Hinton, Emily Alexander, Kristi Brooks, Lou Berney

Best Big-Time Oklahoma Singer/Songwriter

Garth Brooks

The Yukon-raised musician is a country music legend, which is why Gazette readers voted Garth Brooks the best big-time Oklahoma singer/songwriter. After all, the Recording Industry Association of America certified Brooks as the top-selling solo artist in U.S. history with 137 million albums. When he and wife Trisha Yearwood share any stage, that concert instantly sells out. In 2015, Brooks and Yearwood performed seven sold-out concerts at BOK Center in Tulsa. Any chance for an OKC show soon? Gazette readers are hopeful.

Favorites: Carrie Underwood, Blake Shelton, Reba McEntire, Toby Keith

Best Local Singer/Songwriter (Not National)

Graham Colton

For the second year in a row, Gazette readers have chosen Graham Colton as Oklahoma City’s best local singer/songwriter. Originally from OKC and heavily involved in local events like Red Tie Night, Colton is well-known around town for his music talent and enthusiasm for this city. Outside OKC, Colton’s fans include Oprah Winfrey, who picked up one of his tunes for her Big Give television special. Earlier this year, Colton dropped his newest single, “Life’s What You Make It.”

Favorites: Mike Hosty, Samantha Crain, Chelsey Cope, Carter Sampson

Best Community Leader

Mick Cornett

Oklahoma City Mayor

Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett was listed along with Pope Francis, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (another Okie!) and comedy writer John Oliver in Politico’s 2015 list of 50 “thinkers, doers and visionaries transforming American politics.” “Mayor Mick” has led the city hall horseshoe since March 2, 2004. He is the first OKC mayor to be elected to a fourth term, and among other top 50 American cities, Cornett also is the longest-serving. He loves OKC and believes in its people. In return, his community believes in him.

Favorites: Ed Shadid (Ward 2, Oklahoma City Council) Jill Castilla (President & CEO, Citizens Bank of Edmond), Cyndi Munson (U.S. House Representative District 85), Kevin Durant (formerly of Oklahoma City Thunder)

Best Chef

Ryan Parrott

of Picasso Cafe

Ryan Parrott knows food and Oklahoma City. At age 19, he served as kitchen manager at Tommy’s Italian-American Grill in Northpark Mall. The gig launched a very successful culinary career and landed him in some of the metro’s top kitchens, including The Petroleum Club, Barry Switzer’s Lighthouse Restaurant, The Mantel Wine Bar & Bistro, Deep Fork Grill and Iguana Mexican Grill. Now, fans can catch him at Picasso Cafe, where he dishes up anything from quiches to salmon filets.

Favorites: Bruce Rinehart of Rococo, Kurt Fleischfresser of Vast, Jonathon Stranger of Ludivine, Steve Spitz

Best Wait Staff

Hideaway Pizza

several metro locations

Have a question about the stuffed mushrooms? Want to know the difference between The Boz and Da Bomb? Ask Hideaway’s wait staff. No question is too difficult, and no request is too large. No onions on the pizza? No problem. Extra chocolate syrup drizzle on the vanilla bean gelato? You got it. Hideaway waiters and waitresses know the menu cover to cover. They stand ready to serve and ensure customers visit again and again.

Favorites: Cheever’s Cafe, Charleston’s Restaurant, The Pump Bar, The Metro Wine Bar & Bistro

Best Bar Team

The Pump Bar

2425 N. Walker Ave.

Where else can a customer toss a bean bag sack with one hand and hold a Pussy Cat in the other? It’s not a feline; it’s a cocktail made with bourbon, grapefruit juice, honey syrup and grenadine. The answer is The Pump Bar, a former service station turned hot spot with plenty of outdoor space to drink and play. The Pump Bar’s staff mixes up classic cocktails, pour glasses of wine and tell you all about the $5 beer and shot special.

Favorites: Edna’s, Republic Gastropub, Ludivine, Rockford Cocktail Den

The Best Waiter or Waitress (And Their Restaurant)

Rachel Tennyson

at The Pump Bar

Being a waitress isn’t easy, but Rachel Tennyson makes it look fun. That’s because she really does have a blast. The Pump Bar’s high-spirited waitress works at one of the city’s most popular gathering places mostly because of its sensational cocktails and lively atmosphere. Any customer who has a question about an appetizer, needs a drink recommendation or wants to know more about the eatery should ask Tennyson.

Favorites: Whitney Wood at Hideaway Pizza on Northwest Expressway, Chris Evans at Oak & Ore, Katherine Ramont at Hideaway Pizza on Northwest Expressway, Eryn Scott at Bellini’s Underground

Best Bartender (And Their Bar)

Susan Emberton

at Edna's

Edna’s is legendary, and so is Susan Emberton. For 12 years, Emberton has greeted patrons at the beloved bar as she slid frosty mugs across the counter. After raising their glasses, guests feel that smooth and satisfying taste of the Lunch Box, a signature drink made with fresh orange juice, amaretto and light beer. Emberton keeps them coming all night long and remembers what you like the next time you visit. Both are good reasons why she is Oklahoma City’s best bartender.

Favorites: Becky Ginn at The Pump Bar, Katie Wicks at Guyutes, Amy Nelms at Red Piano Lounge in the Skirvin Hilton, Chris Barrett at Ludivine

Best Business Owner (And Their Business)

Keith and Heather Paul

owners of A Good Egg Dining Group

Cheever’s Cafe, Iron Star Urban Barbeque, Red PrimeSteak, Republic Gastropub, Tucker’s Onion Burgers and Kitchen No. 324 are well-known and sought-after OKC eateries. Behind every great restaurant are great people who run the show. For A Good Egg Dining Group, those folks are Keith and Heather Paul. OKC residents are glad the couple ventured into the restaurant scene. Not only are they responsible for some of the city’s best eateries, but they’ve helped a countless number of charities and organizations over the years. A prime example of their generosity is Tucker’s Refill the Community Program, which raises funds for neighborhood schools.

Favorites: Ian & Hailey McDermid (owners of The Pump Bar), Adam & Stephanie Jones, (owners of Paint N’ Cheers), Stephanie Durst (owner of OKC Vapes), Mindy Emmerich (owner of On the Edge with Skulls & Stones)

Best Local Band

The Flaming Lips

Do you realize that The Flaming Lips are Gazette readers’ top local band? Well, the psychedelic rock veterans earned it for 2016. More than three decades ago, The Lips began playing OKC’s Blue Note Lounge. Now, The Lips perform sold-out shows in places like Chicago, London and Buenos Aires, Argentina. Oklahomans are proud of the band’s success and rock genius. Many applaud the group for their commitment to being weird and sticking by their OKC roots. That’s why this band is Gazette readers’ choice for best local band.

Favorites: My So Called Band, Mike Hosty Duo, Horse Thief, Nicn?s

Best Club DJ

DJ Diverse

What do you get when you give DJ Diverse four hours at a local bar? A wildly successful party. Wondering what one hears during those four hours? DJ Diverse is like a musical chameleon, playing everything including rap, R&B, hip-hop, dance and top 40. DJ Diverse can be found all over town and on the radio waves through Wild 405 Traffic Jam Mix on 104.9 FM.

Favorites: Crystal Vision, Blake O, DJ Saad, DJ J20

Best Performing Arts Group (ex. Theater Company, Dance Company, Orchestral Group)

Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma

Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma shows end the same way. It doesn’t matter if a member of the cast belted out the intense and powerful lyrics of “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going” during Dreamgirls or a lively version of “Follow the Yellow Brick Road” had the crowd grooving during The Wizard of Oz. Standing ovations are the norm and well-deserved by the theater company known for Broadway-caliber performances. Gazette readers agree time and again that Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma is the city’s best performing arts company

Favorites: Oklahoma City Philharmonic, OKC Improv, Carpenter Square Theatre, Oklahoma City Ballet

Best Visual Artist

Jack Fowler

Jack Fowler is just what Oklahoma City’s art scene needs. Fowler is known for his portraits and other pop art pieces, which can be spotted in Paseo Arts District galleries or on his social media pages. In the near future, OKC residents and guests could see his work on the back wall of Chevy Bricktown Events Center. Fowler proposes “Bricktown Octopus,” which is sure to bring even more vibrancy to the city’s Bricktown entertainment district.

Favorites: Erin Cooper, Jason Pawley, Adam Jones, Rick Sinnett

Best Weather Team

KWTV-TV CBS Channel 9

When severe weather conditions are imminent, Oklahoma City trusts KWTV News 9 for the report. The station was home base for long-time award-winning meteorologist Gary England, who retired in 2014. David Payne now serves as chief meteorologist and leads the weather team, which includes Jed Castles, Matt Mahler, Lacey Swope, Justin Rudicel, Cassie Heiter and the NEWS 9 StormTrackers. Whether it be snow, sunshine, sprinkles or a sandstorm, Gazette readers look to KWTV News 9 for the updates.

Favorites: KFOR-TV NBC channel 4, KOCO-TV ABC channel 5, KOKH-TV channel 25

Best Local Annual Event or Festival

Festival of the Arts

Thousands visited Bicentennial Park for the 50th anniversary of Oklahoma City Festival of the Arts this past April. Artists from across the country specializing in painting, pottery, photography and more showcase their best works. Metro-area restaurants cook up their best festival-like dishes, some of which are only available at the event. Hosted by Arts Council Oklahoma City, the festival is a must-see for everyone.

Favorites: Paseo Arts Festival, Oklahoma Pride Festival and Parade, deadCenter Film Festival, Plaza District Festival

Best Charity Event

Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon

Runner’s World named the Run to Remember as one of the top 12 “must run” marathons in the world. To Oklahomans, it’s a rite of passage to participate in Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon in some way, either by volunteering, participating or supporting a runner. The race commemorates the lives of the 168 people killed and the survivors of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing. This past spring, participants raised over $1 million for Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum.

Favorites: COOP Ale Works Anniversary Party benefiting Central Oklahoma Humane Society, Boots & Ball Gowns Gala benefitting Infant Crisis Services, Inc., Red Tie Night benefiting Oklahoma AIDS Care Fund, Festival of Quilts benefiting Edmond Quilt Guild

Best Local Homebuilder

Richardson Homes

As Richardson Homes puts it, they don’t just build homes. Instead, they build homes that “open the door to the good life.” The team at Richardson Homes is committed to quality construction and customer satisfaction. Clients are encouraged to describe their dream homes, and the team delivers, which is why it was voted Best Local Homebuilder for the second year in a row.

Favorites: Salazar Homes, Inc., Home Creations, Ideal Homes & Neighborhoods, Jeff Click Homes

Best LGBT Event

OKC Pride Festival and Parade

Oklahoma City’s first Gay Pride parade hit the streets in 1987. Nearly 30 years later, the parade has grown into a three-day event each June with spirited block parties, live entertainment, food, booths and more. The parade is always the highlight, with colorful floats, rainbow flags and lots of cheers from participants. The festival and parade are hosted by OKC Pride, a nonprofit dedicated to providing leadership to meet the needs of the LGBT community through awareness, health and educational services.

Favorites: Sunday Gospel Brunch at The Boom, Red Tie Night, AIDS Walk OKC, Equality Run

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