What do Hurricanes Andrew, Irene, and Wilma have in common? Other than the billions of dollars in property damage, the terrifying hours of pelting wind and rain, and the weeks of misery for millions of South Floridians, there's one other thread linking the meteorological monstrosities: John Morales. In a transitional city where the constants are few, Morales is a rare bedrock in the media landscape, a topnotch, cool-as-cucumber presence at the weather desk. And he's hardly resting on his forecasting laurels — Morales is one of the most decorated weathermen in the nation. Raised in Puerto Rico and educated at Cornell, Morales joined Univision and its local affiliate, WLTV, in 1991, moved to Telemundo in 2003, and joined NBC 6 in 2009. In between, he's found time to author or co-author two books, advise Al Gore on global warming trends, and become the first Hispanic to appear as the Today Show's meteorologist. He has also won three Emmys, and in his free time he teaches at St. Thomas University and pilots airplanes. In other words, he's exactly the guy you want in your neck of the woods, glued to a weather computer when the next tropical wave whips off the coast of Africa and churns toward hurricane strength in the Caribbean.

It doesn't matter how many points LeBron, D-Wade, and Chris Bosh score. For true Heat fans, the game-time action doesn't feel real without a blow-by-blow description from Eric Reid. Going on his 26th season with the Heat, the sportscaster has been with the NBA champs so long he was once calling out Rony Seikaly dunks. In all, he's covered 1,865 regular-season games. Reid — who earned his chops at Ithaca College while working as an analyst and play-by-play announcer for Cornell University's basketball team — started as the Heat's color analyst in 1988 and, after three seasons, took on the role of play-by-play for radio and television. After he was bumped up as Miami's play-by-play guy in 1991, he became puro Heat. Today, Reid is synonymous with the team — he's one of eight original Miami Heat employees still cashing Mickey Arison checks every month. Known for his enthusiastic interjections of "kaboom," spontaneous plays on names — such as "Udonis, you did it" and "Chris Ka-Bosh" — and appearances as host on Inside the Heat, he won a 2013 Emmy for best play-by-play announcer. Though LeBron has racked up a slew of MVP awards, for many citizens of the Heat Nation, Reid is the heart and soul of this franchise. No matter how many trophies Miami brings to the AAA, the Heat wouldn't be the Heat without Reid calling the action.

Ever get a bad case of radio déjà vu? In Miami, it's an all-too-common condition, brought on by suffering through the same three songs ad nauseam until they are replaced by a different rotation of similar-sounding pop tracks until you feel like you've fallen down a Lady Gaga spiral of insanity. Do not panic. Science has a cure, and it's found on the University of Miami's college radio station, WVUM. The Warp Zone With Jackson Alexander Parodi plays only videogame music, and though that might sound like a premise with a serious and insurmountable limitation, it's really a gateway to a completely different — and often downright amazing — realm of music. The show is a sweet mix of nostalgia, orchestral jams, and intelligent dance music, and even though The Warp Zone doesn't play proper rock, it presents many opportunities to rock out in your car. When your trip's soundtrack comes from Zelda's Hyrule Kingdom, it's easy to forget you're traveling in the mundane real world. Ever speed down the Palmetto while listening to music from Mario Kart? You won't have a care in the world. (But maybe watch out for banana peels.)

Eric Reed is the Brian Williams of Miami sports shows. Hear us out on this one. You trust the brass-voiced NBC newsman to tell it to you straight, right? Well, you can trust Reed when it comes to the latest in Miami sports. Tough draft picks, game-winning plays, and player performance, its all hot takes from the Ticket's Eric Reed Show. Reed's incisive conversation isn't the only draw; whatever the season, you can count on a top-shelf crew of analysts at his side, from Fox Sports Florida Marlins analyst Preston Wilson to Miami Heat guard Norris Cole to ESPN basketball analyst Doris Burke to MLB Network's Brian Kenny and Miami Herald Fins writer Adam Beasley. That mix of intense sports discussion and expert analysis makes The Eric Reed Show a great sports news show. But like Williams — who also stars in awesome viral rap videos on Jimmy Kimmel Live — Reed can also embrace the funny. His end-of-the-week segment "What's Wrong With People?" breaks up the sports talk with some basic, hilarious, shootin'-the-breeze man-talk.

Last spring, a gaping hole yawned in Miami's drive-time radio landscape when nationally syndicated Michael Baisden and his distributor, Cumulus Media, couldn't agree on a new deal for the host, whose mix of politics and music had reached more than eight million listeners nationwide. Miami's Hot 105.1 FM had a choice on its hands: Find another coast-to-coast program to pick up for the Magic City's listeners, or turn to a local to rescue its airwaves. Hot 105.1 went local, and Miami listeners haven't looked back. Rick Party may have grown up in Chicago, but he joined Hot 105 twenty-two years ago and has since become an institution on the dial. From 3 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, Rick Party in the Afternoon makes weekdays feel like weekends. He and his team deliver hilarious takes on the day's topics, entertaining listener discussions, and, of course, great music. Each episode ends with a cute moment from Party's young daughter, Zion. Who needs national talent when the homegrown hosts are this good?

Her nickname is Spanish for "the Kitten." But Betzy Vázquez has a ferocious, sexy roar that has been waking up listeners of her 106.7 FM morning show, El Vacilón de la Gatita, ever since the station switched to a Spanish contemporary music format in November 2013. The show is also simulcast on sister station 95.7 FM, where Vázquez began the Miami leg of her 25-year radio career. An olive-skinned beauty with perfect hair and an assertive voice, Vázquez got into radio when she was just 15 years old. By her early 20s, she was holding down the midday slot for WAPA radio. After bouncing around several stations in Puerto Rico, Vázquez moved in 2003 to Orlando, where she dominated the midday slot and became one of the most important voices in Central Florida. Today, Vázquez anchors the number one show on 106.7 and is a big reason the station has steadily increased its Arbitron ratings in early 2014. "We've worked very hard to get the number one spot," she recently told the hosts of Mega TV talk show Charytín y Felix. "There is no formula for it other than to present yourself as who you are, be honest, and speak without fear of censorship." The Puerto Rican native is the only Hispanic woman in the South Florida market anchoring her own morning program, which airs weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m. ¡Viva La Gatita!

"One sun rose on us today," Richard Blanco intoned from the steps of the U.S. Capitol. Millions of viewers watched on television, and President Barack Obama sat a few feet away, surrounded by the dignitaries gathered to celebrate his second inauguration. "Kindled over our shores, peeking over the Smokies, greeting the faces of the Great Lakes," Blanco read on. The lines were more than just the opening to his acclaimed poem "One Today"; they were vividly worded landmarks in Miami history. On that cold January morning, Blanco, a native son raised in Westchester and educated at Christopher Columbus High and Florida International University, became the first immigrant, the first Latino, and the first openly gay inaugural poet. He hardly stopped there. By year's end, he'd had three other works published and gathered plaudits including the Paterson Poetry Prize and an honorary doctorate from Macalester College. Blanco may call Maine home these days, but it's the immigrant experience and the complex identities that collided every day of his Miami upbringing that still drive his work. "One Today," his inaugural poem read to the nation that morning in Washington, is a paean to America's diversity, but it's not difficult to find the DNA of Blanco's hometown in every line. In the weeks that followed that historic moment, he later told the Miami Herald, "I realized how much of a son of Miami I am."

The trouble began in San Cristobal, a hilly town hugging the winding border between Venezuela and Colombia. Jim Wyss was there to talk about contraband, the black-market goods that flood across the border in a country where Hugo Chávez's Bolivarian Revolution continues to wreak havoc on the economy long after his death. A promised interview with a border general turned into hours of waiting, though, and when Wyss tried to bail, he was suddenly thrown into a car and whisked away to a military intelligence compound. This was no interview, he learned; he was under arrest. Such are the occupational hazards of life as the Miami Herald's Andean bureau chief. As one of the last full-time American daily staffers on the foreign-reporting beat, Wyss carries a heavy load from his home base in Bogotá. Yet it's to his credit that writing about an entire continent hasn't led to an influx of dry reports about economic trends or political horseraces. Instead, between his hard-hitting updates on regional conflicts, Wyss has turned in wild narratives about a War of the Worlds-like radio show terrifying Ecuador, graffiti art taking over Bogotá, and Colombian Christmas ads aimed at shaming guerrillas straight. And as that day in San Cristobal shows, he has put his neck on the line to find the stories. For almost 48 hours after his sudden arrest in November 2013, Wyss sat in jail cells wondering whether Maduro's government planned to make an example of the Yankee reporter who had poked too deeply into the troubled regime's issues. With the help of American diplomats, though, saner heads prevailed and Wyss was released. And then? He wrote a killer story about the whole ordeal, of course.

After four years of barking at dishonest politicians and lobbyists, former Miami Herald reporter Elaine de Valle has pulled off a rare feat in this town: She's treated with the same respect afforded to credentialed journalists employed by the dead-lumber media companies. And it's no surprise why. The hard-nosed, old-school reporter tallied 18 years at the Herald before founding Political Cortadito, where she's become a go-to online watchdog sniffing out the latest shenanigans of South Florida's elected officials. From Homestead to Hialeah, de Valle has blown up corruption and unethical behavior and scored a parade of scoops. In the first half of 2014 alone, she broke news about Coral Gables City Manager Pat Salerno giving benefits and raises to his favored employees before abruptly resigning, the Doral City Council's surprise move to axe ex-Miami city manager Joe Carollo, and former state representative Ana Rivas Logan's shocking move to bail on the GOP and become a Democrat. Even when sources slam doors in her face or get her thrown out of rooms, de Valle — often writing as her alter ego "Ladra" — keeps nipping at their heels. Her relentless nature and work ethic have made her blog a must-read for thousands of followers who still care about changing Miami's banana republic political culture by using a healthy dose of transparency.

"All my jokes are tweets that were too many characters," local stand-up comedian Michael Maryanoff once proclaimed in his Twitter bio. It's not uncommon for standups to workshop jokes on the microblogging service, but — for all his humble-bragging — Maryanoff is actually one of the few local comedians making the most of 140 characters or fewer. Some recent gems from his feed:

"How to tell you're at a Cuban party: all the parents are dancing and it's not embarrassing."

"How were people even passive-aggressive before the internet? Especially you-know-who with his stupid office drama posts. Ugh, so annoying."

"Thankfully, the heat in Miami has moved from 'North Korea' to 'China' in terms of oppressiveness."

"You don't need a breathalyzer to figure out when I'm drunk. You'll know when I start calling my girlfriend 'bro.'"

But Maryanoff's road to the stage and Twitter comedy wasn't typical. He began standup as a hobby after being diagnosed with cancer at age 23, and his recovery from the disease has spawned Twitter gold as well: "Wonder when the weight comments are gonna go from 'You gained some good weight post-chemo!' to 'How does your girlfriend still fuck you?'"

If a guy can make a good chemo joke, well, he's probably someone you wouldn't be disappointed to follow.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®