Best Newscaster

With a never-ending stream of salacious events unfolding each minute in Southern California—all competing for the insatiable appetites of network producers and newspaper editors—it's comforting to know Orange County has Vikki Vargas in its corner. Whether some sociopath has allegedly scattered the remains of a friend in a local park or the Newport Wedge is just going off, rest assured NBC's Orange County bureau chief will be there. The Sonora High School grad (go Raiders) and Cal State Fullerton alum is charged with gathering all information in the county—good or bad, hard or soft. But in the tradition of great news gatherers, Vargas is skilled at clearly presenting the facts and letting the viewers form their own opinions. Witness the cultural minefield she navigated last year while reporting on the Church of the Foothills, which produced a play portraying Jesus as a gay man. She told the story in simple terms without pandering to or offending either side of the cultural divide. With her measured, regionless dialect and sensible haircut, she's easy on the eyes and comforting to the ears. All of this allows viewers who see her nightly on the Channel 4 news to rest easy knowing that even if the hills of Santiago Canyon burn around us, she'll be there to cover it with steely aplomb.

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