Best TV Reporter 2012 | Gary Nelson | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times

One day, we'd like to see Gary Nelson dressed in a tweed suit and a fedora as he narrates pulp noir novels on the stage of a local theater. He possesses the perfect baritone to match his skills as a storyteller. Even when reporting on the mundane, everyday events of the evening news, Nelson keeps viewers on the edge of their seats. Born and raised in Gainesville, Nelson has never left the Sunshine State during his 42-year broadcasting career, although he has gone on many overseas assignments that landed him several Emmy and Associated Press honors. Among his award-winning pieces was a 2008 exposé on former Miami police chief John Timoney receiving a free Lexus, and his revelations last year that more charter schools failed the FCAT than public schools in Miami-Dade and Broward. The wily journalist is a master at landing scoops. He was the first to interview Frank Acosta, a student at Barbara Goleman High who was arrested for stabbing a classmate who allegedly attacked him. More recently, Nelson was the first reporter to bum-rush Peyton Manning when he came to Miami shortly after the hall-of-fame quarterback was released by the Indianapolis Colts.

Jorge Ramos is hard to miss. Long before Anderson Cooper was strutting around conflict zones in a tight black T-shirt, the original silver fox was stalking presidents for exclusive interviews. During his 27 years at Univision, Ramos has helped grow the Spanish-language station into one of the most powerful in the Americas. Since starting his Sunday morning talk show Al Punto in 2007, he has almost single-handedly shown that Hispanics are a political force to be reckoned with. He has interviewed Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, and even Arizona's vigilante sheriff, Joe Arpaio. Yet despite his international reach, Ramos is far from the first name you think of when it comes to Miami's prensa power brokers. One reason is that Ramos — Mexican-born but now an American citizen — and his station cater to a mostly Mexican audience. Univision's studio may be in Doral, but its audience has traditionally been in Texas, California, or New York, not Florida. But a recent spat between Ramos and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio proves that Univision's relevance — along with its audience — is growing in Miami. After months of trying to track down Rubio for an interview, Univision execs told the senator that Al Punto would run a story about how his brother-in-law had past convictions for drug trafficking. If the senator granted Ramos an interview, however, the stand-alone story might not air, they allegedly said. Rubio's team leaked news of the negotiations to the Miami Herald and the story exploded. But the flap didn't dent Ramos's popularity. If anything, it just showed his expanding influence. El zorro plateado is here to stay.

During hurricane season, Miamians need gravitas and real experience to firmly pull their eyes to that terrifying map swirling behind their meteorologist's frantically waving arms. Max Mayfield, more than anyone else in town, knows when to cover up and get out of a hurricane's way. Some meteorologists do their reporting by putting the top down on their drive to work, but Mayfield's street cred is real. After predicting weather for the Air Force, he spent 35 years at the National Hurricane Center, including seven as its director. The guy lives extreme weather; his favorite Bible verse is Matthew 7:24-27, which is about rain and flooding. Is his favorite Billy Joel album Storm Front? If his son misbehaved, would Mayfield call him "El Niño"? We may never know, but you can count on this: When hurricane season rolls around, Mayfield is there with his easy smile and Oklahoma drawl.

Last year, the Florida Marlins were laughably bad. Led by octogenarian manager Jack McKeon, the Fish finished dead last in the National League East with an abysmal record of 72-90. Fans could only sit back and sarcastically applaud as the season fell apart. This year, however, the Marlins are no laughing matter. A new stadium and several high-profile free-agent signings mean the team is a serious playoff contender. So thank God for Logan Morrison. The outfielder's tweets have gotten him in trouble in the past, but we read them just to keep our spirits up. Sometimes LoMo's feed is an all-too-intimate narration of his day — for example, this recent gem: "That awkward moment when you're able to muffle a giant fart, then realize it smells like Bigfoot's dick..." He excels when poking fun at fellow celebrities: "In #26hours @justinbieber's new single #Boyfriend drops. Im gonna have 2 call my physician bc this erection is goin 2 last longer than 4 hrs..." Many of his tweets mock his own romantic life. For instance, before a spring-training game against the Angels, he tweeted opposing pitcher C.J. Wilson: "Hey @Str8edgeracer if you tweet my cell # out & encourage chicks to MMS me pics, ill only fly out to deep RF off of you. Deal?" But what makes Morrison a must-follow is his interaction with his 100,000-plus followers. When one fan tweeted him: "LoMo hows it feel that u got drafted for $4 in our fantasy league," Morrison didn't skip a beat. "Still not the worst thing ive done for $4."

For a so-called amateur blogger, Bill Cooke sure breaks a hell of a lot of interesting stories. In fact, with his run of recent scoops, the professional photographer could be a star in any local newsroom. Instead, he's one of the most feared nemeses in at least one local newsroom in particular: the Miami Herald. The Doral-bound daily is Cooke's most frequent target on his blog, Random Pixels. Sometimes he's just parsing the Herald's stories, critiquing the editors, or creating hilarious fake front pages. Other times he's leaking internal emails, as he did when a sportswriter belittled a colleague's coverage of rumors about an old hookup between Sarah Palin and former Miami Heat star Glen Rice. And sometimes he's just embarrassing the daily by beating it to big stories — from his recent revelation that two Miami Beach cops were suspended for drinking on the job and speeding on camera, to breaking the news about the Beach's choice for its next police chief, to introducing the world to a naked Miami woman immortalized in a Google Maps photo.

Photo by Magnus Stark

Carried by Gregg Weiner's forceful performance and Joseph Adler's tight direction, GableStage's Red was a strongly acted and dense portrait of a complex, flawed, and opinionated man. The venerable one-act drama about the brilliant Russian-born American painter Mark Rothko (played by Weiner) hurled symbolism, existentialism, and Friedrich Nietzsche all up in the audience's face like an abstract expressionist dousing a canvas with paint. At its core, the play is a series of snapshots of the artist's mind through visceral moments where he admonishes his young assistant Ken (played by Ryan Didato) while also feigning indifference and bitching about everything that's wrong with world culture. Weiner's blistering performance revealed the artist as a complicated, narcissistic soul who was deeply influenced by Nietzscheism and who viewed himself as a fading giant in a postmodern world. Adler's masterful direction made an otherwise incomprehensible genius accessible and human. Held together by an absorbing classical soundtrack, set designer Lyle Baskin's stripped-down lighting, and the two actors who delivered playwright John Logan's heavily intellectualized prose with adept skill, Red was everything a profound and engaging drama should be.

Mad Cat Theatre's Paul Tei wanted to explore the impact the Internet has on our lives. His aim was to reveal how communication has been stifled. And with his play So My Grandmother Died, Blah Blah Blah, he channeled our very real struggles with pain, loss, family, love, and resolve through his protagonist Polly's whirling mind's eye. Tei's brilliantly twisted play was an amalgam of witty comedy, textually dense psychodrama, trippy-ass quests of intellectual expression, philosophical meanderings, and comedic kitsch, with some existentialism thrown in for good measure. Melissa Almaguer played Polly, a struggling comedy writer who flew to Hollywood, Florida, from Hollywood, California, to attend her grandmother's funeral and write the eulogy. As she opened her laptop to begin writing, the audience became Alice in Polly's Wonderland of imagination. Her subconscious, made up of four zany "deconstructionists," was the audience's guide on a quest involving lost love, Wikipedia entries, and emotional baggage. It was a furious, frenzied production where we were plunged into the mind of a writer while she trudged through personal issues, relationships with family members, and a challenging career, all while trying to kick a stubborn case of writer's block as she penned a eulogy for her dead grandmother. Writer/director Tei understands that theater doesn't resonate like it should without a nuanced script, fascinating characters, a daring and original story, and just the right amount of crazy. So My Grandmother Died, Blah Blah Blah delivered on all counts.

Photo by Magnus Stark

GableStage's The Brothers Size, a play about three men dealing with their past and struggling to grasp their future, featured extraordinary performances by its three stars. But it was the textured, nuanced performance from Teo Castellanos as the enigmatic Elegba that imbued the production with understated power. Castellanos's portrayal was a surreptitious and seductive one. Moving languidly across the stripped-down, darkened stage with cat-like stealth, the actor brought a tortured yet furtive anguish to a complex and haunted character. With a perfect blend of charisma, vulnerability, and honesty, Castellanos made Elegba a sympathetic and tragic figure, taking the play's shady protagonist and making him wholly likable. In an all-around masterful showing from an actor who knows how to play in the shadows, Castellanos proved once again he is South Florida's premier actor's actor.

Miami may be a tropical paradise, but life in the 305 is still life. You still waste days in line at the dreary DMV, argue with your significant other, get the flu, trap yourself in a cubicle, and eat frozen meals at your desk. But sometimes — on a Tuesday morning when you're stuffing processed muffins down your throat while speeding to work, for instance — you look out the window and think, Holy shit. Where do I live? Westbound on the Julia Tuttle Causeway, connecting I-195 to Miami Beach, the skyline opens up in all its coke-snorting, '80s-era glory. Biscayne Bay shimmers and ripples with speedboats and Jet Skis. To the left of the high-rises, cruise ships churn away from the Port of Miami. Palm trees lining the causeway are adorned with neon halos. The sky is pristine and cloudless or, conversely, before a downpour, a dramatic bruised gray. You can almost hear the synth of the Miami Vice theme song. You still have to make that presentation to your boss today. You still have to slice through the plastic on your mac 'n' cheese before placing it in your workplace's splattered microwave. But knowing you have this drive to look forward to — that this is your commute — makes you feel like the benefactor of incredible cosmic luck. And the fact that the City of Miami once forced sex offenders to live under this very bridge? That somehow just makes your good fortune seem even more miraculous.

In 2004, before he was an Emmy-winning TV producer, DJ Drastic X was one of the first nonpirate radio FM DJs to play Rick Ross tracks. He did it on his It's All Gravy Show on Radiate FM, and the Boss has never forgotten it. The history of this student-run station, affiliated with Florida International University, is marked by a commitment to free-form broadcasting, playing local and independent artists, and representing the diverse musical communities that make up this great area. But whereas Radiate long had a weak signal that restricted its reach to South Dade, the station's recent investment in radio translator technology has amplified its broadcast range so that it reaches most of the county. The station broadcasts on three frequencies: 88.1 in Homestead, 95.3 in Miami, and 96.9 in North Miami. It also streams worldwide on the Web. So whether you're looking for dubstep (Batcave Sessions with Ryan Bats), brutal riffs (Metal Show with Cyrus the Virus), house/electronic (Ravin' and Misbehavin' After Dark with Risto, simulcast live from Korea), riot grrl and queercore (Toxic Shock with Kat Merkin), shoegaze/noise rock (Wall of Sound with Torgo and DJ Count Goldblum), disco (Supernature with Mamey Disco), Latin, African jazz and funk, synthpop, or sports talk, Radiate FM has it. And now, you do too.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®