By Harlan Friedman
Not since last year’s historic presidential race has an election been watched with such anticipation and suspense. No, we’re not talking about the race for Nassau county executive! We’re talking about one of the hottest races in the five-year history of the Long Island Press’ Best of L. I. competition: Best Long Island Personality.
This year’s nominees come from varied backgrounds and industries: From pro athletes to beauty queens to radio voices to film actors to TV stars, this year’s race for Best Long Island Personality has already sparked interest on a national basis. But let’s start with the nominees. First off, we have last year’s winner, nightlife impresario Keith Hart. This year, Hart will be defending his title against former NFL quarterback and current WFAN radio personality Boomer Esiason, supermodel Christie Brinkley, New York Islanders great Clark Gillies, rock ‘n’ roller Joan Jett, funnyman Jackie “The Jokeman” Martling, TV fitness personality John Basedow, Entourage’s Kevin Connolly and radio personalities Malibu Sue from WMJC, Fingers from WBAB, Randy from WBLI, and Greg “Opie” Hughes of Opie and Anthony Fame.
All of this year’s nominees have been campaigning hard and making this one of the most highly anticipated races of the Best of L.I. Radio interviews, campaign videos, Facebook and Twitter messages and message board battles have all been well-documented this election season. Randy from WBLI was one of the first to garner support for his bid to be LI’s Best Personality on the airwaves and the listeners are responding. Opie and Anthony broke the news to their audience on-air as well, in their good-natured delivery, letting people know exactly what they thought of the competition, which sparked discussion on their message boards and is forcing their audience to “Whip Out the Vote.” “Ab-errific” TV fitness personality John Basedow has taken the battle to social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, with friends all over the country and the world reaching out to campaign. Says Basedow today: “It was a big surprise being nominated as Best L.I. Personality. It always shocks me when anyone even knows my name. To be grouped with some major celebrities like that really blew my mind. Now I want to win.”
In that endeavor, as evidenced by the campaigning, cajoling and (occasional) mudslinging, he’s not alone.