Point and Clique: The 2012 <i>RFT</i> St. Louis Web Awards
Sam Schnieders
Best Political Blog blogger Eli Yokley. Read a profile of Yokley here.

View a slideshow of the RFT 2012 St. Louis Web Awards Party.

At press time it was impossible to know for certain what Barack Obama would say during this week's State of the Union address. But if the commander in chief followed his previous scripts (and those of his predecessors), at some point Tuesday night he uttered the phrase: "The state of the union is strong."

And that got us thinking. One could use the same term to describe St. Louis' online community. Its health is strong. Its interests vast. Its ability to entertain boundless. We should know. We just spent weeks poring over some 1,000 websites, blogs and social-media accounts nominated from more than 400 readers.

Along the way we ran across a few familiar sites and many more hidden gems. No matter the topic — be it a blog on architecture or sex, a video series on sports or music, a restaurant's Twitter account or the mad tweets of amusing micro-blogger — all nominees shared one thing in common: an obsession with their subject matter that made following along a delight and an education.

Choosing finalists for each of the following 21 categories was no easy task. Electing a winner was even harder. Congratulations, then, to those whose names appear on the next several pages.

And to those of you whose site didn't make the list? Here's hoping we'll see your name nominated again next year when the state of our union is, no doubt, even stronger. — Chad Garrison

The social-media gurus who agreed to serve as this year's judges are, in some cases, associated with projects or companies receiving awards. They recused themselves from judging the categories in question.


Best Neighborhood Blog
iLoveSoulard
www.ilovesoulard.com

The Judges Say: In Soulard, you never know what the day will bring. One afternoon you might be admiring the architecture and imaging yourself in old-timey France, the next you're staring at exposed breasts or witnessing a holdup. Thank God there's iLoveSoulard to chronicle it all with a hefty dose of humor and snark to inform us of the neighborhood's vast array of flavors.

Finalists
Count On Downtown — www.countondowntown.com
Nicki's Central West End Guide — www.nickidwyer.typepad.com
NoCo STL — www.nocostl.com
Cherokee Street News — www.cherokeestreetnews.org


Best Music Blog
KDHX Blog
kdhx.org/music

The Judges Say: OK, it's not really fair. KDHX (88.1 FM) has tremendous resources, including an army of volunteer writers and DJs and an in-house studio for shooting great live performances. But, hey, at least the radio station isn't squandering its opportunities. Instead, it has made KDHX Blog the envy of any music site out there, with expert reviews and interviews of local and traveling acts, music downloads and a breadth of content as diverse as its over-the-air broadcasts.

Finalists
Encor.eswww.encor.es
I Went to a Show — www.iwenttoashow.com
3 Minute Record — www.3minuterecord.wordpress.com
Music VS Man — www.musicvsman.com


Best Personal Blog
City in a Jar
www.cityinajar.com

The Judges Say: Two twentysomethings coming of age in the city. We know; it sounds like the insipid plot of a network sitcom. But City in a Jar is anything but vapid, with bloggers Jessica and Maddie deftly chronicling their experiences with everything from food to fashion to movies and literature. Not only are Jessica and Maddie exceptional writers, but their stunning photography ensures we don't click to the next channel.

Finalists
Running From the Law — www.runninglawyer.blogspot.com
sKIDmarks — www.skidmarking.com
Captain's Quarters — www.captainraoul.com


Best Sports Blog
Viva El Birdos
www.vivaelbirdos.com

The Judges Say: You claim you're the "world's biggest Cardinals fan," do you? Well, do you read Viva El Birdos? If not, you're an imposter. The unofficial fanboy/sabermetric-geek website of the Cardinals, Viva El Birdos delivers amusing, in-depth coverage of the Redbirds that can't be found elsewhere. And a fan base? To quote Harry Caray, "Holy cow!" It's hard to find a post on Viva El Birdos with fewer than 200 comments from its dedicated readers. Disclaimer: Aaron Schafer and Dan Moore of Viva El Birdos are frequent contributors to Riverfront Times.

Finalists
Cards Diaspora — www.cardsdiaspora.com
BlackSportsOnline — www.blacksportsonline.com
JoeSportsFan — www.joesportsfan.com


Best Arts Blog
Temporary Art Review
www.temporaryartreview.com

The Judges Say: This beautiful site, a project of the Luminary Center for the Arts, features in-depth essays, interviews and criticism of the contemporary arts scene both in St. Louis and across the nation. A treasure trove of information with gorgeous slideshows to boot, Temporary Art Review has established itself as a must-read for the St. Louis arts community.

Finalists
ReviewSTL — www.reviewstl.com
St. Louisan — www.stlouisan.com
Saint Louis Art Map — www.saintlouisartmap.org


Best Political Blog
PoliticMo
www.politicmo.com

The Judges Say: So many independent blogs out there favor one political party or push a solitary agenda. That's fine. But what makes PoliticMo so unusual is that it is completely nonpartisan and features honest-to-God reporting on Missouri politics. All the more impressive is that this site competes in coverage quantity and quality with some of the biggest newspapers in the state — and is written and edited by a nineteen-year-old college student.

Read a profile of Yokley here.

Finalists
Occasional Planet — www.occasionalplanet.org
St. Louis Activist Hub — www.stlactivisthub.blogspot.com
Beacon Backroom — www.stlbeacon.org/content/blogcategory/213/314
St. Louis Tea Partywww.dev.stlouisteaparty.com/blog


Best Food Blog
Every Little Thing
www.everylittlethingblog.com

The Judges Say: What's not to like about this blog? With its incredible photos, wealth of intriguing recipes and — best of all — its relaxed and unassuming writing style, Stacy Anderson does a stellar job of introducing readers to new food ideas and following up with them in the comments section of her blog and via social media. Disclaimer: Stacy Anderson is an occasional freelancer for Riverfront Times' food blog, Gut Check.

Read more about Every Little Thing here.

Finalists
Off the Eaten Path — www.offtheeatenpathstl.com
Cupcake Project — www.cupcakeproject.com
Rhubarb and Honey — www.rhubarbandhoney.com
Iron Stef — www.chairmanstef.blogspot.com


Best Architecture Blog
St. Louis Patina
www.stlouispatina.blogspot.com

The Judges Say: St. Louis Patina is a field trip to the hidden corners of St. Louis that many of us have never visited or noticed even though they're right in our own back yard. Updated almost daily with great photos and researched articles on forgotten landmarks, St. Louis Patina is a love letter to the dwellings, structures and architecture that define our city.

For more on Naffziger and St. Louis Patina, go here.

Finalists
NextSTL — www.nextstl.com
Built St. Louis — www.builtstlouis.net
Preservation Research Officewww.preservationresearch.com
B.E.L.T. — www.beltstl.com

Best Photostream/Flickr
Encor.es
www.encor.es

The Judges Say: It takes more than a fancy lens to be a photographer, and it takes more than a good eye for composition to be a music photographer. What separates Jason Stoff, who runs the website Encor.es, is his enthusiasm for his subjects, which you can see in the way his concert photos find bands in telling moments. In addition to highlight frames, the site includes Stoff's notes on the shoots and snippets of whatever grabbed his attention as a music fan. Disclaimer: Jason Stoff is a contributing photographer for Riverfront Times.

Finalists
Nate Burrell – www.beforetheblink.com
Elaine Marschikwww.flickr.com/photos/marschik
Corey Woodruffwww.coreywoodruff.com
Todd Owyoungwww.ishootshows.com
Mark Scott Abeln — www.romeofthewest.com
Darren Snowwww.flickr.com/photos/darrensnow


Best Use of Twitter to Promote a Business or Organization
Milagro
@MilagroModMex

The Judges Say: It's the only Twitter account that will get us to change our plans of where to eat while driving to another restaurant. The tweets are personable and often include links to images of Milagro's amazing food and come at a steady pace. Bonus: Milagro will even take reservations via Twitter.

Finalists
@Schlafly
@MissOhioVintage
@websteru
@RobustWineBar
@YoungFreeSTL (Vantage Credit Union)


Best Use of Twitter to Promote a Personal Brand
Erica Smith
@ericasmith

The Judges Say: Sure, she's a professional social-media maven, tweeting for the Post-Dispatch as @WeatherBird. But it's Erica Smith's personal Twitter account where she shines brightest. Smith is one of those rare, obsessive tweeters who doesn't get on you nerves with her prolific posts. Always quick with a joke, a thanks or a quick response, Smith has positioned herself as St. Louis' Twitter sweetheart.

Finalists
@EvanBenn
@STLwinegirl
@rizzotees
@NickGilham


Best Use of Video
Show Me Shows
www.facebook.com/ShowMeShows

The Judges Say: Jarred Gastreich's Show Me Shows are worth watching even if you aren't a St. Louis music fan. The clips feature local bands in conversation and playing unreleased songs in carefully selected settings around the city (an abandoned warehouse, the World's Fair Pavilion in Forest Park and a highway underpass have all made appearances). The shot selection and editing make them a pleasure to watch whether you started out caring about the band or not. R&R Music Labs' sound editing ensures that you don't get a garbled mix, and Gastreich's accompanying photos are gorgeous.

Finalists
Feast Magazine — www.feaststl.com/multimedia/videos
Joe Sports Fan — www.vimeo.com/joesportsfan
St. Louisan — www.stlouisan.com/st-louis-arts-channel


Best Use of Social Media for a Civic Campaign
Save Pratzel's
www.falkharrison.com/work/save-pratzels

The Judges Say: From the Arab Spring in the Middle East to the Occupy Movement in the United States, this was the year that social media morphed from a million little vanity projects into a cohesive front for change, or — in St. Louis' case — for keeping things the same. Last summer thousands of Facebook users rallied to help save the Del Taco "saucer" building in Midtown. But it was the smaller "Save Pratzel's" campaign that exemplified the true power of social media. Alerted that the cherished Pratzel's Bakery was closing shop after after 98 years, the brand communication firm Falk Harrison sprang to action with a tweet and a blog post announcing its plans to provide a new owner for the bakery a year's worth of social media if they kept it in business. Soon other local companies (24 in total) would offer similar volunteer services to anyone willing to purchase the kosher bakery. Meanwhile, the social-media fury (hashtag "savepratzels") spawned dozens of local news stories that brought further attention to the cause. And the result? Within a few weeks that buyer — Jon Mills — emerged, inspired by the outpouring of social-media support for the old bakery.

Finalist
Save St. Louis Del Taco — www.facebook.com/savedeltaco


Best Use of Facebook to Promote a Business
Miss Ohio Vintage

The Judges Say: Social-media coordinator by day, fashion diva by night, Lindsay Pattan has mastered the ability to mix business with pleasure by taking her brand to new levels. Visiting the Miss Ohio Vintage on Facebook is always a delight. New questions, comments, polls or pictures are posted daily, and you can always check out the MOV Instagram and Twitter feeds right from the page. The integrated Etsy shop makes purchasing that MOV skirt or necklace you just fell in love with extremely easy.

Finalists
Star Clipper
Foam
Atomicdust

Kakao


Best Local Mobile App
Stodgy Gents
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/stodgy-gents/id468808113?mt=8

The Judges Say: Stodgy Gents does an amazing job of mixing the tried-and-true memory game Simon with humor and colorful art. Instead of hitting colored squares to test your memory, Stodgy Gents has you slapping the faces of cartooned aristocrats. Yes, it's a lot of fun and incredibly addictive. And with a price of free and an impressive 4.5 star rating on iTunes, Stodgy Gents always has a top spot on our gaming library.

Finalists
Explore St. Louis — http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/explore-st.-louis/id405338104?mt=8
Pocketbooth — http://projectbox.com/pocketbooth/


Best Restaurant Site
Pi
www.restaurantpi.com

The Judges Say: Visiting Pi online is a delight with big, beautiful photos on every page and an extremely user-friendly layout. Menus are easy to read, and everything from finding current specials to following the Pi food truck just makes sense. Its online ordering system is a breeze.

Finalist
Cicero's — www.ciceros-stl.com


Best Designed Website
Atomicdust
www.atomicdust.com

The Judges Say: This site is seriously gorgeous with its sleek black-and-white layout and subtle flair. Atomicdust is also one of the few creative agencies that effectively harnesses the personalities of its employees and displays that energy online without being cheesy. For examples of that, just check out its frequently updated blog.

Finalists
HatBox — www.hatbox.co
Moosylvania — www.moosylvania.com


Best Club/Concert Site
Firebird
www.firebirdstl.com

The Judges Say: Firebird's website looks exactly like what you'd pick up at the merch table — a black T-shirt with a logo, a band's photo and some tour dates. And that's a good thing. Instead of mucking itself up with puffy words and glitter-coated photos, it simply says, "Wear me." And then you think, "Hell, yes, you'll look great on my boobs!"

Finalists
An Under Cover Weekend — www.undercoverweekend.com
LouFest — www.loufest.com
The Pageant — www.thepageant.com


Best Sex Blog
Pieces of Jade
www.piecesofjade.wordpress.com

The Judges Say: Pieces of Jade is the dirtiest, freakiest sex site out there and, we warn you, not for the squeamish. We're not sure how the site got its name, but we're guessing it's because author "Jade" is so eager to showoff every "piece" of her body (especially the naughty ones) and floridly describe what she's subjected said pieces to lately. Particularly intriguing was her series last month, "The 12 Kinky Days of Christmas," that included the posts Two Ball Gags, Three Butt Plugs, Four Floggers Flogging and Five Gulps of Pee. Gulp, indeed.

Finalists
Momfia — www.the-momfia.blogspot.com
Sex Positive St. Louis — www.sexstl.com
The Beautiful Kind — www.thebeautifulkind.com
The Life and Charlotte Times — www.thelifeandcharlottetimes.com


Funniest Twitter Feed
Matt Sebek
@MattSebek

The Judges Say: Matt Sebek might best be compared to the Post-Dispatch's sports media critic Dan Caesar — if Dan Caesar were intentionally hilarious and an unrepentant asshole. Sebek's irreverent tweets mocking St. Louis sports stars, journalists and power brokers always bring a smile to the face and demonstrate just how entertaining social media can be. Two of our recent faves from @mattsebek: "SLU coach Rick Majerus got ol' number 500 today. That's 'college wins' not 'stamps on his Golden Corral card', kids." and, "The St. Louis media giddy over Stan Kroenke's appearance today at Rams Park. Of course, they were; they no longer had the worst toupee in the room."

Finalists
@LeDASHa07
@not_erica


Best Kickstarter Campaign
Sentinels of the Multiverse
www.kickstarter.com/projects/1787899968/sentinels-of-the-multiverse-rook-city-expansion

The Judges Say: These guys truly embraced the spirit of "kick starting" a project better than anyone we've seen. They did not ask for a handout or simply ask people to preorder something they were going to make anyway. No. They created a game out of funding production costs for an enhancement of their card game, Sentinels of the Multiverse. Their rewards for funding the project were ridiculous and fun, and they motivated additional donations by rewarding all contributors with additional rewards when the campaign reached certain goals. And what goals it achieved, exceeding its funding objective by more than 200 percent to raise $27, 880.

Read more about the Sentinels of the Multiverse kickstarter campaign here.

Finalists
(en)Visioning Hyde Parkwww.kickstarter.com/projects/raimist/envisioning-hyde-park
Sukkah City STL — www.kickstarter.com/projects/39213099/sukkah-city-stl-defining-and-defying-boundries
We Are Church — www.kickstarter.com/michaeljamesmette/we-are-church-christian-rock-album-by-michael-jame
Daughters of Cambodiawww.kickstarter.com/projects/lesliesanazaro/daughters-of-cambodia-a-new-album


MEET THE JUDGES

Shannon Howard is a former RFT Web Awards winner and author of the website www.nocostl.com and www.stlhomeswithsoul.com.

Josh Kocurek is an associate brand manager at the marketing agency Switch and board member of the Social Media Club St. Louis.

Pamela Merritt blogs at angryblackbitch.com, which was named one of the World's 50 Most-Powerful Blogs by the UK's The Guardian.

Bill Streeter is a former RFT Web Awards winner for his vlog, www.lofistl.com, and last year released his first feature film, Brick by Chance and Fortune.

Allison Babka works in marketing for Saint Louis University, blogs at www.reviewstl.com and last year was named "St. Louis Sexiest Cybergeek" by Girl's Guide to the Galaxy.

Michael Tomko is a developer, music enthusiast and blogger whose sites include www.dailyrobert.com, www.undercoverweekend.com and www.soundwich.es.

Chad Garrison is the managing editor at Riverfront Times and former blog manager at www.dailyrft.com.

Go here for more complete judges' bios

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7 comments
Mr. Scott
Mr. Scott

Some of the recipes on that winning cooking site look pretty nasty, especially the "Italian ones" and those recommended in the club. Lasagna with chicken and asparagus? You've got to be kidding.

Captain Raoul
Captain Raoul

It was an honor to be a finalist, and it was great to drink some free 4 Hands beer on Tuesday nite. Congrats to all the winners!

JV
JV

NERDS!

Chris Reimer
Chris Reimer

Thank you for the Save Pratzels award. We greatly appreciate it. And congrats to Erica Smith for her big win in the Personal Brand category!

creativereason
creativereason

Congrats to all the winners. Very deserving group.

removeyourpants
removeyourpants

truly surprised that anyone would nominate me for funniest anything ever so that's a consolation i can deal with! congrats to the winners!

 
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