Best Of » Personalities / Local Folk

Best Of 2011: Personalities

Radio DJ

Vicky Gregor, KRCC 91.5 FM


As a young music lover, Vicky Gregor was often the one in the corner at parties, going through stacks of records to pick out the evening's tunes. She could always identify artists on the radio, and if a band was coming in from out of town and needed help, she would volunteer.

"I really always wanted to be a DJ," she says.

Today, she's that and more, as music director for KRCC. On her Music Mix With Vicky, the weekday morning show she's DJed for eight years, Gregor shares her passion — plus tracks from artists like Laura Marling, Tom Waits and Thievery Corporation — with everyone.

And Gregor, now 50-something, still cherishes her role in delivering the music that's so important to people.

"There is a tapestry woven between the content and the person hosting it for you," she says, adding, "I really like looking at the whole thing as a little more of a journey than a song, stop, song, stop."

Gregor says she uses her music choices to transport: She wants to put someone in one place, then drop them off somewhere else to come up for air.

Interestingly, it's only when Gregor is being physically transported — by plane, back home to upstate New York — that she listens to her iPod. Otherwise she spins thousands of CDs every year, and tunes into the radio. She says she appreciates the latter medium's longevity and power, and knows why it endures even with the changing technology of iTunes and iPods.

"It's the history of it," Gregor says. "A good portion of the population was raised with it."

Gregor came west in 1979, following a musician. They split ways, but she fell in love with the Centennial State. "As soon as I found KRCC," she says, "that love affair deepened."

And considering that readers have named her Best Radio DJ for eight of the past nine years, you'd have to say that it's still going strong. — EC

Radio Station: Music
Radio Station: Talk

KRCC 91.5 FM


Radio in this area runs the full spectrum of music and talk, aiming for every imaginable audience. So it's all the more impressive that KRCC, the local affiliate for NPR, dominates our readers' choices in both music and talk, the latter with a whopping 30 percent of the vote. (Take that, Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham.) It tells you how much KRCC, celebrating its 60th year of operation, is ingrained in the local scene. Many prefer the NPR offerings, combined with local shows; many others love the music mix. But everyone has a reason to listen to 91.5 FM, at some time of the day. — RR

Local Talk Radio Personality

Richard Randall, KVOR 740 AM


Conservative morning talk-show host Richard Randall practiced law for 7½ years before switching to the news industry, but says he still uses some of his attorney-like skills. "With both," he says, "you have to have a gut for being hoodwinked; be able to spot when someone's not being candid with you, whether it's in the studio, on the phone or on the national stage." Randall prides himself on welcoming disparate viewpoints on his show and says callers are never screened based on their opinions. He does draw the line on rude language, however, and frowns on even mildly offensive terms such as "crap" and "pissed-off." — LJ

Local Radio Show

The Magic Morning Show with Danger & Lacie, KKMG 98.9 FM


Waking up at 3 a.m. to go to work would not be considered fun by most people. But Danger Dean isn't like most people. "I'm actually a morning person, and I love the morning hours," he says. He also loves his job, putting on a radio show with sidekick Lacie on one of the Springs' most contemporary stations. "My role on the show is good," he says, "because it's easy to laugh at me for some of the dumb decisions I make. I'm more of a punch-line guy." His show, aimed at moms in their late 20s to early 30s, takes them away from life for a few minutes (or all the way through from 5 to 9) and makes them laugh. — EC

IndyPick • Clinging to an Honorable Tradition

Dan Cochell, KRDO 1240 AM /105.5 FM


For decades, across the nation and here in Colorado Springs, you could count on being able to turn on your radio every autumn Friday night and find broadcasts of high school football games. Sadly, that's not the case as much anymore, for all kinds of reasons. But one station and announcer haven't given up. Dan Cochell, usually co-anchor for KRDO's Morning News, has a passion for high school sports that feels and sounds more like the 1970s. Luckily for this market, KRDO willingly provides Cochell the airtime every week for what he promotes as "The Game." He doesn't play favorites, bouncing from Fountain to Doherty or Rampart and all points in-between. The bonus is that Cochell is always well-prepared, treats every game like it's for a league title, and he holds the listener with his engaging, enthusiastic style. Yes, it's a throwback. Nothing wrong with that. — RR

Local TV Newscast

KOAA News First 5


Any station that can boast 85 years of experience among four people has no excuse for not being voted Best Local Newscast, and KOAA has had at least a share of the title every year since 2006. Rob Quirk and Lisa Lyden both started as news anchors here in the '80s, while weatherman Mike Daniels has more than 20 years on the job, and Lee Douglas, a dozen as sports anchor. Given their longevity, watching them at 10 is almost like having Grandma tuck you in at night. Besides knowing the community backward and forward (Daniels is a native), the 5/30 news team has great production support. They rarely cut to the wrong video clip or talk into the wrong camera. And while other stations may have occasional flash, at the end of the day, News First 5 delivers all the news, weather and sports that's fit to air. — PZ

Local TV News Personality

Lisa Lyden, KOAA News First 5


Sure, having been in the same job since July 1983 makes a difference. And no, that's not a typo. Lisa Lyden is now in her 29th year as KOAA News First 5 anchor, and she's either won or shared this honor for eight years running. The best part (and her secret) is her personality: Lisa is genuine and totally unpretentious, never has had a big ego, and away from the camera, gives her time and effort to various charitable causes, such as fighting breast cancer and muscular dystrophy. But all that aside, she's a pro, delivering the news without hyperbole and never trying to upstage longtime newscast partner Rob Quirk. — RR

Local Politician

Richard Skorman, former City Councilor

Sure, now you vote for him. Richard Skorman really could have used your vote back in May, when he lost his bid for mayor to Steve Bach, 57 percent to 42 percent. Of course, it's possible that by now, a few Bach supporters have changed their minds. Back in the campaign, you'll remember, Skorman was chided for saying that Bach was a developer who would give too much power to his big-business buddies. After the past couple months, with Bach's friends on the Regional Leadership Forum controversially entering the Memorial Health System talks, Skorman's prediction seems, uh, less radical. Of course, you may get a second chance to cast that Skorman ballot. The former City Councilor and Vice Mayor says he might consider a second run for mayor, or even El Paso County commissioner. "I'm not closed to the idea of running for local office again, but I don't want to run if I don't have a decent chance of winning," he says. "I don't want that brain damage." — JAS

IndyPick • Public Information Officer

Tie: John Leavitt and Mary Scott, City of Colorado Springs

When it comes to herding cats, these two veteran media managers adeptly juggle the clawing, scratching news corps without breaking a sweat. John Leavitt, with the city for a total of 11 years with stints at a school district and Memorial Health System in between, and Mary Scott, with six years following a stretch for USA Swimming, go the distance in helping reporters get what they're after, or sometimes determine what they're after. Scott was assigned the Stormwater Enterprise hot potato and never failed to produce whatever information was sought, including a list of more than 10,000 deadbeats who didn't pay their bills and how much they owed. Both respond promptly and professionally to requests for records and information, never snoop into the reason for the request, and usually follow up later to ask if anything more is needed. In short, they don't get in the way. There are many capable PIOs in town, including Memorial's Brian Newsome, the Air Force Academy's John Bryan, El Paso County's Dave Rose and Jennifer Brown, and Springs Utilities' Janet Rummel and Dave Grossman. But Leavitt and Scott exemplify a philosophy in their actions. "I feel like it's my job to open up the city files and help people get information they need to learn about their city," Leavitt says. "Sometimes it's a painful thing, but it's still the right thing to do." — PZ

Colorado Springs Claim to Fame

Pikes Peak

When I was first looking into moving here, I typed "Colorado Springs" into YouTube and the first video that came up was footage of the Uncle Wilber fountain with weird music dubbed over it (not the actual Bob Tudor music, which is weird enough).

Next came two creepy videos from a failed and since-forgotten City Council candidate, one shot in his living room, the other driving down Wahsatch Avenue in a heavy storm for several minutes, a stationary camera inexplicably aimed at the front window, the only sound being the squeak of windshield wipers and the static of an AM radio. This one went on for several minutes. The fourth and final YouTube video showed elderly peace activists being dragged away from a St. Patrick's Day Parade by local police. So when you combine all that with Focus on the Family, New Life Church and the erratic proclamations of Dave Schultheis, CoS is a pretty hard place to resist. Oh yeah, there's also a really big mountain nearby that more than 30 percent of voters think is our town's claim to fame. — BF

Fundraising Event

Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure


Three weeks after the 17th annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Colorado Springs, many of the people who made it possible had just started coming up for air. "Most of the volunteers drop off the planet for about a month after it's over," says Stacy Poore, executive director for the Southeastern Colorado affiliate. "They'll say 'It's been fun. Don't call me for 30 days.'" The race, which benefits local breast cancer services and research, attracted more than 7,500 participants, keeping volunteers extra busy this year, Poore says. Between the 5K walk, 5K run and 1K family walk, participants raised about $500,000. The next race is scheduled for Sept. 9, 2012. — WB

Local Blogger

Carrie Isaac, Springs Bargains


Carrie Isaac, blogger and mother of four, has shifted her focus to pleasing her toughest critics — her kids. In the past year, Isaac hired two assistants to help maintain her smart-spending blogs, allowing her to turn her full attention to her home life. "My readers probably didn't even notice a difference," Isaac says, "but my kids sure did.", which gives advice on couponing and local grocery deals, continues to get around 5,000 hits per day. Of course it's worth nothing she and her staff also now run, as well as her online spending-education series, "Grocery University." — WB

Nonprofit Organization

CASA of the Pikes Peak Region

(701 S. Cascade Ave., 447-9898,

It is the best of jobs and the worst of jobs.

And yet, Trudy Strewler Hodges — leader of this branch of the national Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) since its founding 22 years ago — is drawn to it completely.

"I believe that our mission is one that extends past any political, religious and any kind of barriers," says the executive director. "Everyone cares about children."

In CASA's main program, volunteers appointed by judges serve abused and neglected children. The volunteers spend time with the kids and their families, and ultimately recommend to the court what is best for a child. That might be classes that help parents improve their behavior, or it could be sending a child to live with a relative or adoptive family.

CASA also has several other programs that counsel parents going through divorce; protect children in especially messy break-ups; and provide needed items to foster children.

In all, CASA served about 1,000 kids in its past fiscal year, which ended June 30. That number reflects a 22 percent increase in kids served in the main court program.

Sadly, child abuse and domestic violence continue to be top problems in El Paso County. But Hodges says CASA has been keeping up with the challenge thanks to donors contributing more year-to-year. That generosity is not being wasted. Recently, the CASA board put together a detailed balance score card, outlining major goals for the organization's $1.6 million budget and steps to get there. Reviews for Hodges and other managers are based on CASA's success meeting those goals.

"I think that causes donors to feel more like they want to reach out even when things are tighter in the economy," Hodges says.

Other measures of success are harder to count. Kids helped by CASA grow up, go to college, and have careers and children of their own. They're healthy and happy, and most of all, safe.

"We see things like [that] all the time," Hodges says. "And I think that's really why I'm still here." — JAS

Cultural White Knight

Susan Edmondson

(Bee Vradenburg Foundation, 477-0185,

Susan Edmondson feels like she has the best job in the city. As executive director of the Bee Vradenburg Foundation, Edmondson relishes helping strengthen the local arts community, even if the task extends well beyond the conventional 40 hours per week. "My days often start with a morning meeting where I'm championing the arts in terms of downtown development or tourism, and end with gallery hopping and perhaps a theater performance," Edmondson writes via e-mail. Right now Edmondson is working on the Free For All Summer Symphony project, which will bring classical music back to city parks. "I constantly hear from people that they long for the days in the 1970s and 1980s when you could hear orchestral music in our parks in the summer, free for everyone." Yet Edmondson is proud of the arts community today, from artists with "can-do attitude[s]" to the growth of galleries, theater groups and improv troupes. "Seriously, if you can't find something to do in this town," she says, "you're just not looking." — EA

IndyPick • All-Around Thespian Badass

Cory Moosman


If you saw Cory Moosman sing "Betrayed" in the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center's January rendition of The Producers, then you understand. If you caught Wynot Radio Theatre's The Smoking Gun Affair or Death Wore Elevator Shoes in recent years, which Moosman wrote and directed, then you get it. This man is one funny mofo and an asset to area stages, whether playing John Adams or directing Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat or delivering (private) dick jokes as gumshoe Hal Van Patton. If you haven't caught him before, head to Wynot's next shows in Cripple Creek in November and in Colorado Springs at the Springs Ensemble Theatre in December. Then you'll see. — MS

Colorado Springs Claim to Shame

U.S. Representative Doug Lamborn


I guess this means I'm going to have to say "tar baby" again. Oh Doug, you had such a great chance of fading into the background of unoriginal Republican politicians. And then you blew it by uttering a well-known racial epithet while talking about our black president. When you were called out for this blunder — or attack, or whatever it was — you said you didn't know that "tar baby" was a nasty term. Really? Really? How did you miss that one, Doug? But you maintain your ignorance. And on that, at least, many apparently can agree. — JAS

Category We Forgot

Churches / Religion

Most Indy staffers are godless heathens. Not in the casual sense of the term, like a bunch of unkempt but redeemable ne'er-do-wells just waiting for a sign. Nope. We are very much the tie-them-to-the-stakes, keep-your-daughters-away kind of heathens that bugged early Christians so much. Still, we could at least include a Best Of category for what is obviously an important part of life for thousands of our neighbors. While the Springs might not have the most impressive diversity in its faith community — we are, after all, the absurdly nicknamed "evangelical Mecca" — we certainly do have a lot of churches. Some of them are big and nationally known, some of them are small and fly-by-night. And maybe we should ask which are your favorites. Hell, we might even check out the winners. — CH

Local Twitterer

Matt Meister


Talking about the weather may be one of the most clichéd ways to initiate a conversation, but tweeting about it can be pretty engaging — especially if you're StormTracker13 meteorologist Matt Meister. Apart from the occasional complaint about ASU Sun Devils football coach Dennis Erickson, the KRDO weathermeister's tweetstream stays reliably focused on all things weather, which is the main attraction for his 3,000-plus followers. That means you'll get updates about local storms, flooding and visibility, but not a whole lot about more frivolous matters (unless he's conversing with 2010 winner @BarrettTryon, in which case all bets are off). — BF

IndyPick • Eclectic Collection

Aaron Graves' 36 vintage mannequins

When I ask local designer and photographer Aaron Graves if the 36 vintage mannequins that live in his house creep him out, he laughs. "It's weird. I don't even notice them anymore."

He does admit his interest in them is a little "off the wall," but in a way, it fits nicely with his passion for restoring vintage clothing and designing new pieces from vintage fabrics. He's had each life-sized figure professionally restored, and works with an East Coast artist to paint contemporary make-up on them. Some of the ladies Graves owns are modeled after real people — one in particular was based on David Bowie's wife Iman and is "extremely rare," he says. "They were only made for Saks Fifth Avenue in New York."

If you'd like a chance to see these rarities in person and in public, you can help him make that happen with a few bucks. Graves is trying to raise $10,000 by Nov. 12 through for his "In the Moment: 36 Fashion Stories" project, an installation featuring these lovelies and combining all his skills. — KA

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