Chris Potash on the 1980’s Miami Newspaper Scene

The Wave

The Wave was one of the first free weekly tabloids distributed on South Beach that covered the early party scene and ran columns and articles on entertainment, art, clubs, restaurants, and hotels that were being renovated.

The target audience was young professionals 20 to 40 as well as the developers who were just starting to invest in Miami Beach properties: the advanced wave (pun intended) of the gentrification that began in earnest in the 1980s. The Wave ran ads from the up-and-coming clubs, trendy furniture stores (for all those new apartments that needed furnishing), and clothing stores like Neolithic Response and Debris. The paper also carried the alt-culture comics of the time, Life in Hell by Matt Groenig and Fishface by Lynda Barry.

Founded by Janice Kern and Lisa Copeland, The Wave was in print only a short time in the 1980s before being bought out by the New Times. Obviously it was a good idea. Janice and Lisa had the right idea at the right time. I volunteered as a copy editor because The Wave offices were only a few blocks away from my apartment and I wanted to have an outlet for my writing. I wrote on the clubs, music, and art under the pseudonym “C. P. Smith” so I wouldn’t get in trouble at the Miami News, where I worked full time. Punk Under the Sun includes a profile I wrote on Miami artist Purvis Young, covering an opening of his artwork at Greene Gallery in Coral Gables in September 1987.

Miami News

The Miami News was the city’s daily afternoon paper, a brasher, more opinionated and freewheeling alternative to the staid morning-edition Miami Herald. We had great old-school journalists like cartoonist Don Wright, columnist John Keasler, and reporters Serge Kovaleski and Adrian Walker who went on to do important work on bigger papers but got their start in Miami. 

My first job at the Miami News, in 1985, was as the overnight photo archivist, returning the hardcopy black and white photos that appeared in the paper that day to the proper folder in the rolling stacks of thousands of alphabetically arranged folders. I couldn’t afford a car, so I would take the city bus down Biscayne Boulevard from my job at Vibrations Records in North Miami at 10 p.m. to begin at the News at 11 p.m., then leave at 7 a.m. to catch a bus over the South Beach, where I lived at the Albion Hotel on Lincoln Road and James Avenue.

After paying my dues on the overnight, I took the job of News front-desk receptionist, greeting visitors but also performing the all-important task of inputting the horse- and dog-racing results and handicaps in the Sports section, which was essential info for off-track bettors in the time before the internet. I started contributing stories to the Entertainment and News sections. My first News byline ever was on the popularity of Teddy Ruxpin as the must-have toy for the holidays, and my first music writing was on the Australian punk band the Saints, who were touring behind their new release All Fools Day.

Finally, when music critic Greg Baker left the News to take his talents to the relatively new Miami New Times, I took over his spot and wrote a weekly music column called “Off the Record,” covering the local clubs, bands, and record releases and also interviewing national bands coming through Miami, from Aerosmith to Public Enemy to the Ramones to Ziggy Marley and dozens and dozens more. The News closed on Dec 31, 1988, and I had a feature story in that day’s edition, on the HI NRG dance scene becoming the latest Miami Sound.

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Chris Potash

Chris Potash is the co-author of the new book, Punk Under the Sun: 80’s Punk and New Wave in South Florida.