Local and national media, especially CNN's HLN, which stars loudmouth court pundit Nancy Grace, had in Jodi Arias an enthusiastic volunteer star for a four-month reality series that earned record ratings. Arias' epic murder trial had everything that voyeurs, gossips, and just plain curious computer users could want, starting with the terrific decision by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Sherry Stephens to allow the case to be televised. With the case's long prehistory — going back to June 4, 2008, the day Arias sliced, stabbed, and shot her 30-year-old former boyfriend Travis Alexander at his Mesa house — the media cannon was well primed by the time the trial started on January 2.

And so it went: Backstory TV interviews, nude and even X-rated shots of Arias and Alexander, blog posts and pictures by the victim and murderess (an amateur photographer), a marathon run of 18 business days on the witness stand by the smart-alecky, remorseless Arias, and the nightly rehash by Grace, Dr. Drew, and scores of amateur trial watchers. Arias finally was convicted of premeditated first-degree murder on May 8, followed by more frenetic TV coverage until the unsatisfying non-decision by the jury on May 23 regarding the death-penalty question. The Arias-obsessed might not have much longer until the sequel begins. Judge Stephens expects a new jury — which will decide only whether Arias should be executed or face life in prison — to be convened in late September.

Best TV Channel for Arizona Political News

Comedy Central

With many of the local TV news stations all too willing to plant their lips upon the butt cheeks of politicians across the state, there's one TV network that's not afraid to expose their frequent disservices to the taxpayers. Unfortunately, that network is called Comedy Central, and Jon Stewart of The Daily Show and Stephen Colbert of The Colbert Report are the ones doing the best TV reporting of Arizona's political news. Of course, it's easy to pick on Arizona for comedy material, given the amount of stupidity found in politics here — in the "Meth Lab of Democracy," as Stewart calls it. Jeez, it was more than a decade ago that Colbert was in Sun City doing a segment to show just how much of a joke Sheriff Joe Arpaio's "posse" really is. Given Stewart's constant lampooning of Senator John McCain, you're actually more likely to get news on McCain from The Daily Show than you are from the local news, which is really, really sad.

Dennis Welch is a well-respected newsman who has covered Arizona politics for more than a decade on a variety of platforms — print (East Valley Tribune), online (the late Arizona Guardian), and most recently on television (KTVK Channel 3). Before the veteran reporter started co-hosting 3TV's Politics Unplugged in June 2012, he was part of a team that launched the now-defunct Guardian, a news website that doggedly covered Arizona politics. He's tough and fair during interviews with political figures and was even "slugged" by Governor Jan Brewer after he posed a question to her about global warming. After she eked out a nonsensical answer, she hit Welch and asked him, "Where the hell'd that come from?"

Few people in Phoenix's indie music scene try as hard as Beef to promote local shows, local artists, and local characters. His morning show, The Morning Infidelity, regularly exhibits the best, and sometimes worst, that our little hipster populace has to offer. Beef himself seems at the top of the mast, neither steering nor calling shots, but merely reminding folks the direction everyone's headed. His advice to aspiring musicians? Stay humble, stay hungry. No matter how talented you think your shoegaze rap-rock jazz fusion trio is, take it with a grain of salt. And you'd best have a sharp competitive edge or else you're going nowhere.

But aside from all that, Beef's show is fucking hilarious, especially his "FML" feature, in which he reads off reader-submitted stories, such as breakups and fights and other MySpace drama, after which Beef and his guests decide whether the sender is being a big baby or not. True to his calling, Mr. Vegan is just helping his neighbors not to suck.

Sometimes, the best attribute you can hope for in a TV newscaster is the ability to avoid annoying the viewers. ABC 15's Steve Irvin has that down pat. Three channels down, you'll find a mustache with an ego. Two channels before that, a bit of a doofus. Irvin, who's been at ABC 15 for more than a decade, keeps things pretty neutral without being boring. Like many anchors, Irvin has a signature look, too. including raised eyebrows and a slightly higher tone of voice that says, "This is surprising stuff, people." It actually works (on us, at least).

In 2006, Holmberg's Morning Sickness hosts John Holmberg and Brady Bogen were given a warning from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office — for a second time — that they could face animal cruelty charges for encouraging acts of animal abuse and bestiality. Said warning came after the two men paid a listener a cool $550 to eat peanut butter off an English bulldog's butthole. Obviously, this happened a long time ago, but we bring it up to illustrate why we've named HMS the best show in the Valley for the third straight year. Events like the one above are fairly common, and regular features like the Joke Dick, in which Bogen ruins the jokes listeners try to tell; Guadalupe Squares, a non-PC version of Hollywood Squares featuring the impressionary talents of Mr. Holmberg; and the yearly Mother's Day MILF Contest keep us tuning in day after day. We don't ask much from a morning radio show — just entertain us during the drudgery of the morning commute — and HMS delivers. By God, do they deliver.

Hip-hop is probably dead and that's sad. But if you're looking for a place to relive the glory days, 101.1 The Beat will resurrect you. Rarely will you hear any Auto-Tuned noise or irreverent songs about Molly or any caterwauling from Drake.

Instead, the aim of Ramses Ja, the station's music director, is to reach back into the past while looking forward and being true to that culture. Ja started out at Power 98 doing an underground hip-hop show, playing acts like Aesop Rock, Dilated Peoples, and whatever else he felt progressed or represented genuine hip-hop. Now, he continues to keep the energy flowing on the most refreshing hip-hop station on the airwaves, playing everything from Tupac to Kendrick Lamar. Maybe hip-hop isn't as dead as presumed. However, even if you do hear some corporate rap, just remember that even The Beat has to pay its bills.

This local jazz and blues station, also home to national NPR broadcasts, has been entertaining Arizonans since 1985, when Rio Salado College bought the station. A wide variety of genres fall under the umbrella of jazz, and KJZZ manages to play them all — even though jazz takes over the airwaves only in the evenings from 8 o'clock on. From cool and soft to experimental and Latin, there's something for every fan. On Sunday nights, the station dips into the blues reservoirs to feature soulful tunes from days gone by. Yet KJZZ also keeps up with current musicians in the genre, giving them and other lesser-known artists equal air time with legends like Duke Ellington and Bessie Smith. That means listeners can tune into 91.5 at night to sing along with favorites and also discover songs they wish they'd heard sooner. In between tracks, DJs like Blaise Lantana provide educational tidbits, musings about musicians' influences and inspirations, and insights into the history of the jazz scene.

We don't even miss The Edge 103.9 anymore, may it rest in peace. That's because we have KWSS. After finally switching to a high-powered frequency earlier this year, KWSS is making more strides than ever in bringing the Valley its banquet of alternative, local, and just plain incredible music.

Where else can you hear songs by Love, Palms; Bogan Via; Kongos; and dozens of other neighborly musicians before and after your heart is warmed by the likes of Alt-J, Cults, LCD Soundsystem, and everything else that's cool today? No other station is pushing the envelope like these guys, with their Monday Morning Record Club (playing an entire album, from beginning to end) or their "Long Song of the Day" and "Laughing Gass" on Driving with Gass. It feels like you're listening to your friend's podcast or something, but then again, you kind of are.

Between the two brand-name country radio stations in the Valley, there's only one that's recognizable from year to year. KNIX doesn't cycle through personalities, as Ben and Matt are still handling the morning show, Billy Michaels still takes care of the afternoons, and that fella in the barrel still shows up every now and then. Now, we understand the fact that a country radio station in the Valley has to play Taylor Swift and has to play her often. That said, there still seems to be quite a bit of testosterone in the programming on KNIX, with the likes of Eric Church, Zac Brown Band, and Jason Aldean, and we're not about to complain about any of that.

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