Best Media Personality
Hoppy Kercheval grew up on a dairy farm in Jefferson County, where he made his first contact with the outside world through the family radio. Even then, he knew he wanted to spend his life on the airwaves. He went to work for West Virginia Radio Corporation in 1976 as a news anchor. Today, he might be the most-heard voice in West Virginia. Listeners around the state tune in each weekday from 10 a.m. to noon for Talkline with Hoppy Kercheval, where Kercheval and his guests take on the news of the day. wvmetronews.com, @metronewstalkline on Facebook
No one can deny Ian Bode has left his mark on Charleston. He grew up in Pinch, attended West Virginia University, then bounced around the East Coast for a while before returning home at age 30. Now, his bold lines and bright colors are on bike racks, interstate bridge piers, and art gallery walls all over town. Coincidentally, Charleston’s architecture and characters also frequently show up in his work. But the most distinctive feature of Bode’s artwork is his recurring “passenger” character, a faceless cartoon that becomes an avatar for the viewer. Find his work at The Art Emporium in downtown Charleston. artemporium.net/ian-bode
CHEF JOHN WRIGHT
Originally hailing from the Cleveland, Ohio, area, Chef Wright attended the Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts and worked at Chez Francois in Vermilion, Ohio, and Sun Valley Ski Resorts in Idaho—in addition to a stint as a private chef in Akron, Ohio—before coming to Bridge Road Bistro in 2011.
Wright joined the Bistro’s staff just a year before the restaurant’s founder, owner, and chef Robert Wong passed away unexpectedly. Now, as executive chef, Wright has carried on Wong’s legacy of classic cuisine mixed with global influences and made with top-quality ingredients. 915 Bridge Road, Charleston, 304.720.3500, thebridgeroadbistro.com, @bridgeroadbistro on Facebook
Best Wedding Photographers
The husband-and-wife team of Emily Porter and Bobby Oberlander—together known as The Oberports—offer compelling, natural photography. Their style delivers wedding photos that are a lush documentary of one of the most important days of your life instead of posed photos sessions lacking personality. Since they are a team, they are able to capture every detail—and even the details you may have missed—as well as help you stage the perfect portrait. Couples often book their entire wedding around the availability of this dynamic duo and for good reason. Issue after issue—and it doesn’t matter who comprises the selection committee—they secure the coveted prize of WV Weddings’ cover photo. theoberports.com
Scott McClanahan began drawing a following with his short stories—published in several volumes including 2012’s Crapalachia—and his 2013 novel Hill William. In 2016, he and New York Times best-selling Spanish artist Ricardo Cavolo produced the biographical graphic novel The Incantations of Daniel Johnston. But McClanahan’s reputation on the national literary scene has really started to take off with his latest release, The Sarah Book, published by New York Tyrant, an imprint run by fellow West Virginian Giancarlo DiTrapano. McClanahan’s writing is witty, weird, brutally honest, and saturated by his complicated relationship with West Virginia and its people. hollerpresents.com
Steve Williams was shaped by Huntington. He moved to town as a teenager, attended Marshall University, and then served as the city’s director of economic development and city manager before representing the Huntington area in the state Legislature.
He then pursued a career in finance. But, seeing the city’s economy on the decline and its crime rate and drug problem skyrocketing, he ran for city council in 2008 and was elected mayor in 2012.
Williams has worked to attract new investment, rehab Huntington’s brownfields, and bring good housing to its most depressed neighborhoods. That work got a major shot in the arm when Huntington, under Williams’ leadership, won the $3 million grand prize in the inaugural America’s Best Communities competition.
In July, Williams announced his candidacy for the state’s 3rd Congressional District seat. It’s not that he wants to leave Huntington—he just wants his city to have a strong advocate on Capitol Hill.