If there’s one thing you hear consistently from Austinites, original and transplanted, it’s how much the city has changed over the years.
One interesting gauge of that might be the Austin Chronicle’s “Best Of Austin” poll, which is now in its 25th year.
Chronicle Special Issues Editor Kate X Messer has been around for almost 20 of those years. She sat down with KUT to talk about what she's seen over that time.
On What's Changed:
"It is so interesting to see the type of Arts winners from 20 years ago and 25 years ago, and to see what's winning today. And to see just the sort of changes and to maybe even trigger memory banks about long forgotten places and places that are beloved and maybe places that resurrected in different ways."
On What's Stayed the Same:
"What we see over and over again is a return, often a return, to standards and favorites and a lot of beloved, iconic Austin people, places and things being honored over and over again."
On How 'Best Of' is Different Than Yelp:
"Sometimes I get frustrated at the power of one snarky voice or angry voice to maybe bring a business down or maybe say things off the cuff that maybe they didn't vet, they didn't think about, they just spontaneously erupted about. 'Best of Austin' merges those voices together and it's a way to participate in your community that's unique."
On Ballot Stuffing:
"If we suspect ballot stuffing, sometimes even legitimate winners have been pulled because of really egregious stuffing efforts ... And we have to do that sort of protect ourselves and protect the winners and to protect people from even their own clients doing this on their behalf."
On The Influence of Critics:
"Interestingly, what I've observed year after year, is that the Reader's Poll is often influenced by the previous year's 'Critic's Winners.' So suddenly you'll see things coming up in the reader's poll that weren't on the radar two or three years ago but that suddenly come up because they had appeared and had won something."
The “Best Of Austin” poll is on stands now. Voting is going on through July 21.
Editor's note: The Austin Chronicle is an underwriting sponsor of KUT.