The finalists have been chosen, the party planners are toiling away and the suspense is mounting: Who will be winning one of RFT's first-ever Web Awards?
We're not answering that just yet. (You'll have to stay tuned for the complete list of winners!) But we are ready to introduce our esteemed panel of judges. These guys poured over hundreds of submissions, received from you via the RFT website. They also brainstormed some ideas of their own, developing a list of finalists in 25 categories and ultimately picking a list of worthy winners. Those winners will be feted at a party Wednesday night and announced in this week's paper.
Because this town (and its social-media community in particular) can seem small at times, it's worth noting that, in some cases, you will see ventures on the finalists' list associated with some of our judges. In every case, the judges made a point of recusing themselves from categories where they had a potential conflict.
Without further ado, our judges!
An award-winning producer, web designer, graphic artist and photographer, Bill Streeter is also an occasional contributor to Riverfront Times. He created the music/culture podcast Lo-Fi Saint Louis, which won a Vloggie, was nominated for a Streamy and was featured in iTunes. A Chicago native who moved here in the wake of the 2001 dot-com crash and has yet to look back, Streeter is currently producing a feature-length film, Brick by Chance and Fortune. You can find him at www.billstreeter.net or follow him on Twitter @billstreeter.
Josh Kocurek lives his life as a 100-percent-digital dude. Geek cred on his sleeve, Josh works as associate brand manager at the experiential marketing agency, Switch. (He describes his job as a mix of "lurking on social networks and putting new ideas in motion.") A lover of indie rock and electronica, Josh spends his free time playing video games, honing his tennis skills and belting out '90s pop at karaoke nights. He has a weakness for sushi and exotic teas and is currently trying to kick a nasty Angry Birds addiction. You can check out Josh's personal website at www.JoshKocurek.com or find him on Twitter @joshkocurek.
In the past decade alone, Michael Tomko has programmed and promoted a college radio station, managed recording studios in both St. Louis and New Orleans, wrote for national publications and blogs, toured the country as a musician, managed channel-partner programs for some of the world's largest software companies, and produced music festivals and events. Currently, he writes about his favorite foods and his cat, Robert on his blog DoYouReallyWantToHurt.Me. Disclosure: Tomko has been chief technology officer at the social-media firm Scorch, which works with clients including Rizzo Tees, Whiz-Tech Technology Cafe and Latitude 26. He is also the founder of Saint Louis Coworking. You can find him on Twitter @michaeltomko.
Elizabeth Liebel is the marketing director for Auctori, "a multilingual, global content management system." Prior to that gig, she was social media coordinator at a large marketing firm in St. Louis. She lists Seth Godin, Jay Baer, Amber Naslund and Scott Stratten as her current marketing-celebrity crushes/creepy obsessions. You can find her via her website, www.stl-socialmedia.com/personal, her Twitter feed, @STLScialMedia, or, on the weekend, on the dance floor.
As the RFT's web editor, Will Melton produces and promotes content for our website - which he assures us is infinitely more amusing than his previous job working on viral marketing campaigns for the Will Ferrell-owned www.funnyordie.com. Melton is a long-time blogger and podcaster who's written most recently for www.fusedfilm.com. He lectures about social media at local universities and has spoken to the World Affairs Council. You can follow him on Twitter @riverfronttimes.com (for his work-related tweets) or @projectmelton (for his real-life obsessions).
After four years as a Riverfront Times staff writer, Chad Garrison took over the paper's news blog, Daily RFT, in 2009 and currently leads a team of journalists that breaks news, files crime reports and even publishes the occasional bit of snark. Garrison has been a staff writer at the St. Louis Business Journal and a freelance arts and entertainment writer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch as well as a copy editor for the Warsaw Business Journal in Poland. You can follow him on Twitter @chadgarrison or become a fan of DailyRFT on Facebook.