Welcome to our countdown of the top entertainment, sports and features stories of 2019! All year and every year, we at QuadCities.com strive to give you the best in free, fun, local entertainment, features and sports, and this year was no different! Every day we put out the best in articles, podcasts and video shows for you without any paywalls, pop-ups, surveys or anything else but info and fun, and that’s going to rock on into 2020.

So, how was the year for you? For us here at QuadCities.com it was a fantastic 365, and for the local entertainment scene, it was certainly one of strange characters, drastic change, and news bad and good, and we hope to reflect that over the next few days in our look back on the local scene.

So, how did we determine this countdown?

I went through the year’s stories, and considered the following criteria:
How big was the story? Did it involve a national impact, or was it primarily a local impact? How big was the local impact? Did it involve a lot of people on the creative arts scene, this year, and in years prior? Stories about local organizations that do and have involved a lot of people in the area, and have had a big impact presenting various events and such were given greater weight. National recognition and awards were likewise given great weight, especially if they involve a potential local impact now or in the future. Leading us to . . .

How big of a resonance will the story have? Is it something that’ll be big this year and that’s it, or will it have a lasting impact on the area? An organization starting or ending will have a lasting impact. An organization helping out others in the area will have a lasting impact.

What was the interest in the story? Was it something that was of huge interest, even though its impact was limited and fleeting? For example, a huge concert that was talked about and impacted everyone who went to it, even though its lasting impact, other than on those who were there, was negligible, is impactful, but wasn’t given as much weight because its lasting impact, beyond the attendees, isn’t as large.

How many local people did it involve, or will it involve, and how much effort went into it? And how rare was the achievement or event? This became especially important in terms of sports stories. We tended to weight youth sports stories far heavier because of the effort involved by the teams, the potential lasting impact of the success of those teams as their players grow and mature (leading to greater impact on the local sports scene), and the rarity of those achievements.

Local youth teams going to national or statewide competitions and winning or achieving a high rank were given greater weight. Individual accomplishments by area creators were judged on the impact and resonance of those accomplishments. A local actor making a debut in a nationally-released film, obviously a much more rare occurrence than one in a local film. A local author having his graphic novel released worldwide by a major publishing company, obviously a pretty big deal as well. One of the biggest bands in local music history, which had an international following, returning for a new record and shows? Pretty big deal.

That’s not to diminish the efforts of other area creators who released works this year, it’s just to say that was our criteria for making the cut for the list. Local bands release CDs, local writers release books, and every year there are festivals and theater shows and other events, so no matter how popular those things were this year, they’re regular events and so the “unique” factor isn’t high for them. However, in some cases, those events transcended that, and had a definite resonance factor, and ergo, made our countdown.

Was it an exact science? No, the list is entirely subjective. You might agree, you might disagree. Fair enough. However, one thing is certain – each of these stories was a big story for the area in this year, and deserves the attention. The people involved in the story deserve the recognition and attention. Ergo, of course, we invite you to follow the links in the stories to read more about them.

So, without any further ado, let’s get started. Today and every day through the new year, we’ll be counting down, and as always we invite you to check it out.

Enjoy the trip . . .

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Sean Leary is an author, director, artist, musician, producer and entrepreneur who has been writing professionally since debuting at age 11 in the pages of the Comics Buyers Guide. An honors graduate of the University of Southern California masters program, he has written over 50 books including the best-sellers The Arimathean, Every Number is Lucky to Someone and We Are All Characters.