April 16, 2003 News & Features » Cover Story


Arts, Entertainment & Media 

Most original radio show: The Bopst Show

If Chris Bopst were a superhero he'd be called something like Radioman or Dr. Vinyl, or maybe something even better. His costume: a vintage short-sleeved dress shirt, dark-rimmed glasses and pork-pie hat. His arsenal: 45s and LPs. His mission: to play something besides Justin Timberlake's "Cry Me a River."

Armed with his record collection, Bopst wages a weekly crusade against the totalitarian tyranny of Clear Channel and other shadowy factories of formatted radio formula, playing new music not found on the Billboard charts and rescuing old and obscure tunes from the dustbin of music history. You can hear him Thursday and Friday evenings, 5-8, during the Bopst Show on WVNZ-AM 1320, and now on Friday nights at 8 on Rich-TV.

Bopst does not play favorites, even though, he says, it "defies all traditional radio logic to do what I do," without a format, spinning everything from Radiohead to Public Enemy to Carmen Miranda, maybe in that order. These days, he's just one hipster raging against the machine, a missionary man of melody, his turntable on automatic, for the people. As he so eloquently puts it, he's "an ambassador to music they've never heard before." And he envisions a brighter future — perhaps an entire station full of DJs like him, he says, "and it'll just be the music of the world."

Most potentially famous entertainer: Barbie Q, / Dirt Woman / Susan Greenbaum

So what is it with Richmond and gender identity, anyway? In picking the Most Potentially Famous Entertainer, River City, Style's readers went for a three-way (no pun intended) that runs the gamut from shabby queen to top-drawer drag to an RG (that's "Real Girl," for the unhip).

Dirt Woman made a name for herself long ago, when the Block, Richmond's Main-to-Grace-Street drive-by gay bar, was all the rage. Barbie Q is at the top of her form right now, presiding as Richmond's drag-bingo diva on Tuesday nights at Cosmopolitan. And for Susan Greenbaum, the formerly well-heeled marketing director who opted to chuck it all and become a musician, the future couldn't look brighter.

Most exciting thing to happen in the arts community: First Fridays

Some days, West Broad Street, east of Belvidere, possesses a gritty, urban charm. But once a month, almost magically, this stretch becomes more populous, animated and chic when the neighborhood's galleries join forces with galleries in the nearby Fan for First Fridays. It is a progressive, self-guided, art-gallery walk — or shuttle bus tour — that attracts hundreds regularly. On the first Friday of each month, enthusiastic art lovers and hangers-on who love a good scene inspect a wide range of exhibitions. Inside the white-walled, bright galleries, wine and beer flows. Outside, Richmond's cognoscente spill onto the sidewalks to chit-chat, critique and air-kiss the night away. There's a lot of lip service about injecting life into downtown, but First Friday delivers. Big time.

Most over-reported news story of the year: Snow/weather

You can't really blame the forecasters for snowfall upon snowfall that Richmond received this season. Admit it, you wanted to know about it first.

Still, Mike Goldberg, chief meteorologist at WTVR-TV 6, can understand how readers grew weary of the nontropical topic. "It seemed that snow was always in the forecast," he says — 17 inches in all this winter at the Richmond International Airport.

"The reason why we lead with stories, or make a big deal about it, is because that's what people are talking about — and what they want to hear about," Goldberg explains. And, he adds, people kept asking, "When's it gonna snow again?"

For now, we hope the answer is, "Not for a very long time."

Most talented local artist: Happy

King of the Kings-Dominion-style caricaturists, the indomitable Happy the Artist is no surprise winner as your choice for most talented local artist. By all appearances a man of the people, Happy recently updated his signature Happy mobile, a car of many colors, drawing from the patriotism burning in the American bosom. The artist's work has always pledged allegiance to keeping the sunny side up, to holding a funhouse mirror up to life and reflecting a, well, Happy view of the world on murals everywhere. If you want to get a look at some of Happy's recent work, you can find a veritable animated jungle of it in a near-West End nook on the corner of Commonwealth and Stuart avenues. Amid million-dollar homes of the hoity-toity, zebras, elephants and other cartoonish critters vie for attention with a baby elephant that looks as if it's peeking over the fine shrubbery next to an alabaster wall. We aren't sure what nearby residents think, whether they're happy about Happy, but it certainly makes the neighborhood colorful.

Most sultry female news anchor/reporter: Sabrina Squire

That 'do. Those eyes. And the way she says "On your side" and "Stay with us," you want to believe she's talking to you. She is.

When it comes to sultry, you're thinking Sabrina Squire, the luminescent, graceful foil to the manly Gene Cox — who coincidentally was your choice as "Most Studly Male News Anchor/Reporter." This pair, apparently, fires up your cathode rays.

"My goodness," says Squire, who turned 40-something April 15. "I have to thank the folks at Fashion Fair and Maybelline."

Sultry tips? "Being sultry, I like to think, is just maintaining some poise on-camera," Squire says. "A sense of calm. You want to make sure that people hear every nuance of what you're saying, and you don't want to give away any bias in the story by displaying too much emotion."

Then Squire gets gracious: "I guess it just really does speak volumes about the loyalty of the television viewers in this market. And we are so grateful."

Most studly male news anchor/reporter: Gene Cox

He's a grandfather, for Pete's sake. With bifocals and enough crevices to shame a Shar-Pei. He's gruff and opinionated and unimpressed by much. But Style voters insist that WWBT-TV 12's Gene Cox is the studliest anchorman in town, and they'll wager that his fondness for blue jeans beneath the news desk, his arid humor, his late-night goof-ups and sly, smirking spirit are proof of studliness that defies the glamour-boy stereotypes. "Maybe they've mistaken the question for Studley up in Hanover County," Cox conjectures, "that I should be put out to pasture .…"

"There's a wonderful, intriguing mystery in the great unknown," Cox adds, "and in this particular category there's a lack of information, so I'm glad to come out ahead in a vacuum."

Most promising new band: Carbon Leaf

We knew this would happen. Sometimes it seems as if there can't be a contest without Carbon Leaf in the running. And they tend to win, even when they aren't supposed to. Even though we stipulated most promising new band, Carbon Leaf won. Which left us scratching our heads, wondering, what's wrong with you people? Hasn't this band been around for, like, five years? Actually, it's been 10, according to lead singer and former Cosmo most-eligible bachelor, Barry Privett. Along with the Cosmo nod, the Leaf (as fans know them) has received awards from Coca-Cola (last year's new music award at the American Music Awards) and the Pontiac Vibe contest, for which their music is featured on a commercial for the car. You can't blame Privett for winning. He was just as puzzled to find out people still consider Carbon Leaf a new band, but he's ever so grateful anyway, remarking with candor to news of the prize, "I'll take it."

The runners-up to Carbon Leaf, actual new bands, are Meanflower and Dark Little

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