When Clear Channel-owned 93.9 FM changed its format to a guilty pleasures station that unironically played Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up," jazz on commercial radio in Miami became a thing of the past. But serious jazz lovers knew they still had WDNA-FM (88.9). While other noncommercial stations devote blocks to the genre, 88.9 is the only FM station that lives and breathes jazz. Tune in and expect to hear the work of masters such as Stan Getz and Miles Davis, and the station's early-afternoon block gives special attention to Latin jazz all-stars such as Tito Puente. In other words: No Kenny G allowed. Excuse the pun, but when you take jazz so seriously that it's practically in your DNA, there's no better station than this one.

The Shack North

Operating under a self-imposed mandate to foster the South Florida indie scene, this Hialeah recording/rehearsal studio is a creative crash pad paradise. The design ethic is post-ironic thrift hipster, mixing sombreros, Christmas lights, retro sofas, and lots of blond wood. Likewise, the gear list is eclectic and old-school: a 1965 Silvertone Twin 12 amp, a 1957 Harmony steel-string guitar, and a Farfisa Pianorgan, among other decidedly rad stuff. Yet more than anything, this place is all about music-making. Literally 24 hours a day, seven days a week, any band can book a two-hour rehearsal for a fixed rate of $40, with each additional hour running $15. (The cost of recording time, however, is variable.) So shoot your promo photos in the lounge, rent some rare vintage equipment, or schedule your next marathon studio session, because the vibe here is exceedingly amiable. Of course, the Shack masters do have a couple of firm rules: (1) No smoking indoors, only outside in the established safe zone, and (2) everyone's gotta recycle. Their motto: "Respect the place and it will respect you back. We promise."

Not long ago, South Florida had a relatively thriving community of small, independent labels, mostly run by kids who released singles and their friends' CDs out of their bedrooms. Some of these eventually grew (see: Fiddler Records), but most just fizzled out. For years, the true upstart indie label was a labor of love, centered around a core of musicians who mostly know each other, and usually focused on cool packaging and artwork. With the advent of MySpace, streaming audio, iTunes, CD Baby, and zShare, these have mostly gone the way of the dodo. So new Miami upstart Financial Ruin Records is a refreshing blast of willful anachronism. Not only is label head Dan going back to the old punk label model, but also he's returning to that era's media — not just vinyl, but cassette tapes too. Of course, vinyl sounds better — it's warmer, etc. Tapes wear out, get tangled, and melt. Still, the stubbornness is endearing, and the releases show real work — limited-edition artwork and numbered packaging, for the most part. The music runs toward obscure punk and hardcore variants, catching some of the rawest underground sounds from Miami and beyond.

Living in Miami, it's all too easy to feel like you already know everything there is to know about Cuba. Why on Earth, you're already saying to yourself, would I read another sentence about the island's past? We'll tell you why: Because Tom Gjelten, a veteran NPR correspondent, decided to tell the history of Cuba through rum. Turns out it's a history as refreshing and delicious as the best mojito ever mixed in La Habana. Who knew that a Bacardi was the first Cuban mayor of Santiago? Or that one of the company's chairmen traveled to Washington with Fidel Castro in the 1950s? Or that the company patriarch bought his own B-26 bomber after the Bay of Pigs and planned to personally firebomb Cuba's oil refineries? Stir up a nice nightcap, pour a little Coke into that rum, and learn something new about the Magic City and its favorite island to the south.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®