There's little question as to which local station provides the most solid, least sensationalistic, most in-depth news product -- it's KHOU on Channel 11. The station fields a solid team of veteran reporters, not to mention Mister Hurricane himself, Dr. Neil Frank. And as the other big stations in town head for the ratings crack of stripper and hooker investigations, KHOU has led the way in documenting the pathetic slapstick of the Houston Police Department's DNA lab. This being local TV news, there's apparently no way to entirely escape the occasional inane feature, but Channel 11 limits the silliness better than the rest. The bigger question is, Can KHOU survive? As far as ratings go, it seems that Houstonians prefer the blaring, skin-deep glitz of its competitors. We can only hope viewers eventually swear off the junk food and go for something more substantive.
Maybe this category should be Best TV Anchor You Probably Haven't Seen, because KHWB's generally solid -- if underfinanced -- nightly 9 p.m. news show is still trying to amass an audience after three years. One of the reasons ratings are at least moving in the right direction is the steady presence of anchor Alan Hemberger. He could be accused of having the mannequin looks that are often the only asset of TV anchors who depend all-too-heavily on their producers and TelePrompTers (and in fact, he's a veteran of such fluff as Entertainment Tonight), but Hemberger has spent plenty of time filling his reporter's notebook in the field on big breaking stories. He spent nine years at Houston's most popular news station, KTRK/Channel 13, and now he's back in town lending credence to a fledgling operation trying to make its mark.
There are some talented, intrepid, headline-grabbing television reporters in Houston (Anna Werner, Wayne Dolcefino). But it's time to give a shout out to someone who isn't necessarily a marquee name in town, just a guy consistently doing a solid, intelligent job: Channel 11's Doug Miller. Now in his tenth year as a full-time reporter at the station, Miller basically got his start in print (all right, so we're biased). He was managing editor of the Houston Business Journal, a job that included a brief segment on KHOU's morning news, when he made the jump completely to the bright lights of TV. Downsized newsrooms force TV reporters to be jacks-of-all-trades these days, but Miller tries to focus on City Hall and county politics as much as he can. Whenever he does, he brings an insightful and trenchant look that goes beyond recapping council meetings or mayoral press releases.

They might not be the funniest guys on Houston Media Source. They're probably not the most devoutly religious. And they're definitely not the craziest cats to ever produce a public access show. But Dez and Van have filled a giant void in the Houston hip-hop community. They work like flies on the wall, observing all the heavy happenings within the Houston urban music scene. From parties with Beyoncé's little sister Solange to late-night studio sessions with underground newcomers such as Danja Ray, if it's happening in Houston, Dez and Van are probably there to document it. Their work ethic is what makes the show so special -- these guys don't just throw together a bunch of videos with some footage of themselves being silly. Dez and Van go where the news cameras generally don't, and get the stories behind what makes Houston such a vibrant hip-hop city.

Imagine what it must be like being a furniture store owner trying to make a name in Houston through cheesy television ads. You are in the home of Jim McIngvale, a.k.a. Mattress Mac -- the Michael Jordan, the Stephen Sondheim, the Shakespeare of cheesy furniture ads. You are destined to be the Phish to his Grateful Dead. The Futurama to his Simpsons. He's Vegas, you're Reno. For years Hilton Koch, owner of Hilton Furniture, fought his brave battle against Mac by maniacally wielding a chain saw on late-night TV, apparently thinking chain saws require the same chopping motion as axes. Now he's got a new weapon: a toddler. He hasn't yet flung him about like an ax, but Houstonians are getting the chance to watch the child develop from swaddled baby to a kid mouthing his first words (the "Jack" in the tagline "That's the fact, Jack"). No doubt we have years of late-night viewing ahead of us watching him grow into a strapping young cheesy-ad man who thoughtfully helps his elderly dad hold on to a chain saw.
Bankruptcy law specialist Nancy Rapoport graduated from Rice University and headed off to California, where she got her legal training at Stanford. Although she quickly climbed the academic ranks to the deanship of the University of Nebraska College of Law, she never lost touch with her East Texas roots. After several false starts in its national search for a new law school dean, the University of Houston finally dialed the right number. "Female law deans get telephone calls all the time from schools wanting to lure them away," Rapoport commented when she was selected by UH, "but there was literally only one school I would drop everything for." Rapoport has settled into the Montrose, enjoys spending time with her parents, and pursues activities as disparate as weight lifting and ballroom dancing. As business scandals ravaged Houston corporations shortly after her arrival, the dean has also been busy putting that bankruptcy expertise to good use as a media resource.

We don't care what the Chron said in its June reaction to a glowing profile of Carolyn Farb in the London Financial Times (essentially: We knew Dominique de Menil, and you madam, are no Dominique de Menil), we still think Ms. Farb-ulous is the best collector in town. Oh, no, not just of art, although who else in Houston owns a Frida Kahlo? But also of people, projects and causes. She is the queen of charities in Houston, raising money for everything from art and architecture to education and the fight against cancer. Now that's a collection that's invaluable.

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