BEST TV STATION WSVN-TV (Channel 7) Anyone with half a brain hates Channel 7. The sensationalized approach, whether in over-the-top news coverage or outlandish reality programming like Trading Spouses or The Simple Life, carries all the intellectual weight of a bran muffin. Is this the sort of stuff you want to enter into conversation at the water cooler? But when alone, carving an ass-groove into a comfy sofa, you know you find a guilty pleasure from the hyperbolic station's hours of mindless entertainment. Exactly what TV is supposed to do. This year the leading purveyor of infotainment reached a class of its own. The Bill Kamal scandal (in which the station's prime weathercaster was busted on child molestation charges) coupled with daily doses of toothy pretty-boy Louis Aguirre heralded a new era of outrageousness. The use of bright, flashy colors in graphics mesmerizes. And thanks to network owner Fox, the station has a strong Sunday-night lineup: animated classics King of the Hill and The Simpsons, Malcolm in the Middle, the too-smart-for-TV Arrested Development, and the Seth MacFarlane comedic masterpieces Family Guy and American Dad. That beats anything on the other networks or cable.

Readers´ Choice: WPLG-TV (Channel 10)

Olympia Theater
Jessica Gibbs
BEST UNSUNG ROCK VENUE Gusman Center for the Performing Arts 174 E. Flagler Street

Miami

305-372-0925 The packed show by Bright Eyes this past January displayed what both Miami International Film Festival and Philharmonic attendees have long known -- the Gusman is one of this town's jewels. Great acoustics, a plush environment, and that otherworldly twinkling ceiling all add up to a venue that makes any concert seem like a bona fide event. In fact, as Bright Eyes bore down on their galloping pop, the band members seemed just as impressed by their surroundings as the audience did, putting that much more effort into their performance as they praised the night's promoter for booking the room. All of which raises the question: Why don't more rock shows take place at this classic setting? It seems downright criminal to keep the Gusman dark for so many nights of the year.

BEST WEATHERCASTER National Weather Service and National Hurricane Center Some people get the weather by sticking their heads out the window. Everybody else gets their weather -- at least partially -- from the National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Center. Even the major news outlets rely on information from the NWS and NHC before putting an entertaining spin on "partly cloudy with a chance of rain." Why not just go to the source? At the NWS Website (www.srh.noaa.gov/mfl) you'll find straightforward weather forecasting plus various satellite and radar images, historical facts, and safety information. The marine forecast, current weather, and developing situations are also available in a computer-generated monotone on short wave at 162.550 mhz and at 1670-AM. Go towww.srh.noaa.gov/mfl/wireless/index.wml, or contact your provider for wireless technology access. The National Hurricane Center's Website provides comprehensive hurricane information and wireless access, links, an extensive e-mail service, and other ways to obtain forecasts.

Personal Best Lindsay Czarniak Even though the games begin in the fall and end by the time the days begin to grow longer, football season is 365 days a year for true DolFans. Lindsay Czarniak knows this, lives this, breathes this, and that's what makes Fins TV, a half-hour show broadcast every week on WTVJ (Channel 6), the local NBC affiliate, so sincere and genuinely interesting, even during the nongame part of the year. With her direct, breezy manner and sunkissed shag, Czarniak knows everything about the Miami Dolphins players and plays, yet she's comfortable interviewing a designer who makes corsets from cut-up Dolphins jerseys. True versatility. Czarniak blew into town some years ago from a gig with CNN in Atlanta, and, sadly for South Florida viewers, she'll be heading north again before another kickoff.

"I am moving to Washington, D.C., to do sports at the NBC affiliate up there," Czarniak admits. We can only hope the Redskins appreciate who they're getting.

Best sports or concert venue in Miami: Homestead Miami Speedway has my vote for coolest sports event we'll see this year, with the NASCAR season finale Ford 400 "under the lights." That is going to be amazing, but right now there is nothing like the energy inside the American Airlines Arena for a Heat game. Where else can you see Shaq, Dan Marino, Jamie Foxx, and Jay-Z at the same time?

Best reason to live in Miami: Because it's so hard to find a reason not to live in Miami. The sun and the salsa, the music and the dancing (although I'm still learning the latter). There is so much character and style to this city. I love that within a 30-mile distance you can be someplace where the dress code is Miami chic or boots and a cowboy hat.

Best cheap thrill: Walking to the beach from my home. And the ability, at any hour, to grab Cuban sandwiches or empanadas after a night on South Beach.

Best not-so-cheap thrill: Highlights in South Beach. Not sports highlights; I'm talking hair. The best haircut and color in the world is in the hands of Rodrigo and Alysne at Stella Salon in South Beach. And even though it's not so cheap, it is one of the gazillion things I want to take with me and will miss dreadfully about this city when I start my new adventure in Washington, D.C. I would stick them in my suitcase if I could; basically I would pack the entire city.

Best name of a professional sports figure: Skier Picabo Street, New England Patriot Tedy Bruschi, and Minnesota Timberwolf Wally Szczerbiak (because it sounds like my last name) are definitely top favorites, but the best I've come across here in South Florida is Obafemi Ayanbadejo, former Dolphins fullback; he and his brother Brendan definitely have the most mispronounced last name in the NFL. It's eye-en-buhd-aye-zho.

Best sports bar: Not your typical sports bar -- more of a great restaurant/hangout and great place to watch a game: My choice is Tuna's in Aventura. Ask for Pete the bartender; he's the best.

What sports or physical fitness trends do you predict for the year 2035? Thirty years from now, hmmm, I predict Rollerblading. I just hope Rollerblading because I love it and hopefully by then I'll know how to stop without throwing myself into the vegetation on the side of my favorite trail. By the way, that's another definite South Florida bonus: flat terrain. There's no way I will be as graceful on my skates up in D.C. -- too many hills!

BEST REGGAE RADIO PROGRAM 96 Mixx (MIXX-FM 96.1) www.96mixx.com Most of the major urban FM stations have one: a reggae program stashed away late at night or on a Sunday evening. The mainstream DJs all do fine work in the few hours the programming gods grant them, but they are all pawns in what Bob Marley referred to as a "Babylon system" -- radio reduced to a rigidly planned schedule of songs that hardly spares room for music from Caribbean islands. Reggae fanatics could never be satisfied with such meager provisions, which is what makes 96 Mixx so necessary. It's unfortunately underground, so depending on where you go, the quality of transmission waxes and wanes, sometimes blurring into another pirate station's stolen airwaves. The DJs delight in taking controversial phone calls and making shout-outs over almost every song. That's no price to pay for the chance to hear the sweet strains of Dennis Brown, Beres Hammond, Jacob "Killer" Miller, and Barrington Levy, or to get crunk to Elephant Man, Bounty Killer, Buju Banton, or Beenie Man. It is the stubborn, erratic, static-plagued heart of the expatriate Caribbean community, and just when you think The Man has finally killed it for good, it rises like a Rasta phoenix.

BEST JAZZ RADIO PROGRAM Evenin' Jazz with Len Pace 9:15 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. Monday through Friday

WLRN-FM (91.3)

305-995-2220 Len Pace is South Florida's wise old man of jazz. For more than three decades he's been a convivial presence on our radio airwaves, his musical interests wide-ranging and sophisticated, his jazz knowledge encyclopedic. Today Pace's iconic Evenin' Jazz program is a reassuring beacon guiding listeners through the stormy weather that has descended upon WLRN-FM. Owned by Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the station is programmed by managers who seem intent on changing its format to all talk all the time. Pace himself may not be targeted, but just a few weeks ago Terry Gross's syndicated Fresh Air interview program returned to WLRN and pushed Evenin' Jazz back by an hour. It's a public radio station. Can there be any doubt that Len Pace's music serves the public interest?

With the execution of ZETA (WZTA-FM 94.9) at the hands of Clear Channel executives, things seemed bleak for the rock-radio listener. It appeared that the only recourse would be classic rock station WBGG-FM (105.9), where Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, and Creedence Clearwater Revival frequent (really frequent) the airwaves, and the most recent songs played are from the hair-band era. Spying a desperate market ripe for the picking, Cox Communications quickly came charging to the rescue, switching the foundering dance station Party 93.1 into a balls-out rawk station that features an "active rock" playlist. As of this writing there were no actual programs, but rock fans are delighted to hear the likes of Chevelle, Nirvana, Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Velvet Revolver, Green Day, Breaking Benjamin, and Audioslave in regular rotation. And instead of Pink Floyd, you get Korn covering Pink Floyd. Even though dance fans always claimed to loathe Party 93.1, its demise brought ire to the message boards on www.clubfreestyle.com and www.cooljunkie.com. An online petition asking Cox Communications to revert the station back to a dance/electronic format yielded a whopping 60 signatures. Chill out, dance fans. Party 93 will continue as an online station, soon available at www.party931.com. According to Buster, a radio personality who has made the transition from Party 93 to 93 Rock, the feedback is mostly positive. "The rock listeners are freaking out, because they're digging it. They're really excited about this playlist; they think it's a lot broader and more active than the previous station in the market."

BEST BRAZILIAN RADIO PROGRAM Café Brasil with Gene de Souza Sundays from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

WDNA-FM (88.9)

www.wdna.org If the extent of your exposure to Brazilian music is "The Girl from Ipanema," then you have really been missing out. Brazil has the most diverse music culture: Under the umbrella of música brasileira one finds a wide array of ethnic influences (African, Portuguese, Amerindian, Latin, North American); practically every musical genre (jazz, folk, pop, reggae, hip-hop, rock, electronica); and styles born in Brazil (samba, bossa nova, lambada, axé, baião). It takes an expert to keep it all straight and make it accessible to the novice listener. Enter Gene de Souza, who manages to tread his way through the waters of Brazilian music with style and ease. Every Sunday from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. he brings listeners a variety hour with bossa, samba, jazz, pop, and more, followed by a special one-hour segment with a different theme each week. So get out of your box and embrace o espírito da música brasileira. It'll open up a new world.

BEST PIANO MAN Mike Orta He's toured and recorded with Arturo Sandoval and alternated tracks with jazz legend Chick Corea. He's played with Paquito D'Rivera and in Dizzy Gillespie's United Nations Orchestra. And his day gig is director of jazz studies at Florida International University. But most nights you can find him tickling the keys at the Van Dyke Café. Mike Orta is the solid backbone for any performer or ensemble who hits the stage, whether local chanteuse Rose Max or touring titan Toots Thielemans. But when it's Orta's time to turn a solo, the notes fly from his fingers in breathtaking order, a transcendent bop of ivory that leaves admirers agape, headliners upstaged, and bandleaders shaking their heads. Orta's amazingly creative improvisations and virtuosic technique have made for many memorable moments in Miami jazz.

BEST LATIN MUSIC PROGRAM Fusión Latina Weeknights from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m.

WDNA-FM (88.9) Distracted by beautifully moving bodies at dance clubs, many people easily forget that a great deal of today's popular Latin music has roots firmly planted in the jazz tradition. Thanks to a clever mix of old and new, Fusión Latina primes even the untrained ear to make the essential connection between today's pop salsa acts and the days when jazz artistry infiltrated the folksy music that originated in the Caribbean. For two hours (8:00 to 10:00) every weeknight, various hosts present some of the hippest and coolest sides of Afro-Cuban, Puerto Rican, and other variations on a Latin jazz theme.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®