Inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award Winner 2019

Patty Calhoun of Denver's Westwork


She came out of the west, hair blazing and boots stomping to take on the east coast elites. They never saw her coming.

In her cowgirl style, Patti dug her spurs into the editorial old boys network. They didn’t understand misogyny until Patti took a shot at it. She was a true journalist…and a crack shot at attacking the misdeeds of the Colorado robber barons.

As AAN grew across the land, Patti brought her wise crackin’ skills to help shape the organization.

An inspirational do-gooder sheriff, Patti will have left her mark when she gallops into the sunset.

–Linda Baldwin and Vince O’Hern, Formerly of the Isthmus in Madison, WI

She’s the best, I love that gal

In 1990, I was in a cab from Denver’s airport to the snazzy Brown Palace Hotel, and the driver asked if I was attending “Patty’s convention.” A bit taken aback, I said yes, and he responded, “She’s just the best, I love that gal.” The AAN convention was in Denver that year—and it was one of the best—and I looked forward to seeing old friends such as Jim Larkin, Mike Lacey, Tom Bartel, Bob Roth, Tom Yoder and Karen Taylor, among many others.

But I was flabbergasted at the cabbie’s chatter about Patty and Westword. Denver’s not a small city, but here was a weekly newspaper editor was a real celebrity, moreso, I think, than any of her colleagues in the industry. Larger than life. When I ran New York Press, my older son would say, “Dad, you’re a celebrity!” And I’d counter: “A very minor one in a very minor line of work.”

Patty was different: she was (and imagine still is) flamboyant in the best way with her boots and Western garb. A fabulous editor of one the country’s best weeklies, Patty wasn’t just work: she’d come to NYC once or twice a year to see her sister, and would always stop our offices at the Puck Building, work the phone, and then we’d go out for drinks and dinner, and gossip away.

Today, I’m rarely in contact with those old friends that once held their cities by the balls, but I’m very pleased that Patty is receiving a well-deserved award from AAN.

–Russ Smith, Founder of Baltimore City Paper and NY Press

Please don’t think poorly of me

I love Patty but I think prizes like this are silly.

–Jack Shafer, Politico, former editor Washington D.C. City Paper

One of a kind

Being a lifelong neat freak, I was shocked the first time I saw the inside of Patty’s car. Every flat surface was stacked high with copies of Westword. Some of them had to have been there for years. It was a kind of rolling Westword archives.

As a huge fan of Patty, I thought maybe I should emulate her (this was in my early days at the San Diego Reader), and give it a go. Truly creative people aren’t so uptight. They flourish in a certain level of chaos.

So I tried. But I couldn’t cut it. Couldn’t stand it, in fact. Could never match Patty. She is one of a kind.

–Jim Mullin, former editor Miami New Times

Hear more from Westword staff, Gustavo Arrelano  (formerly OC Weekly) C.J. Janovy (formerly KC Pitch), Jane Levine (former Chicago Reader) and Mike Lenehan (formerly Chicago Reader) . . . 

Former Chicago Reader editor Mike Lenehan digs deep with his colleagues to get the real story on Patty Calhoun