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CultureMap's biggest scoops: Stories of love and death, music and food, quick exits and new beginnings

CultureMap's biggest scoops: Stories of love, death, music, food

Annise Parker and Kathy Hubbard at wedding reception March 2014
Annise Parker and Kathy Hubbard celebrated their marriage at Houston reception in March. They married in California in January. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
News_Big Dance_Kenny Chesney
Country star Kenny Chesney was the headliner at the Big Dance at Discovery Green during the Final Four in 2011. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchlightGroup.com
News_Andy Fastow_Smartest Guy in the Room
Andrew Fastnow, shown in this scene from The Smartest Guy in the Room, completed his prison term in 2011. allmoviephoto.com
18 Meatopia in San Antonio November 2013 Ford Fry Atlanta Chef
Ford Fry is coming to Houston with the year's most anticipated restaurant in 2015. Photo by Eric Sandler
News_Anthony Freud_Lynn Wyatt_Colin Ure
Anthony Freud, left, with Lynn Wyatt and Colin Ure, unexpectedly left Houston Grand Opera in 2011. Photo by Gary Fountain
News_Dan Duncan_billionaire
Billionaire Dan Duncan died unexpectedly in 2010. Courtesy photo
Annise Parker and Kathy Hubbard at wedding reception March 2014
News_Big Dance_Kenny Chesney
News_Andy Fastow_Smartest Guy in the Room
18 Meatopia in San Antonio November 2013 Ford Fry Atlanta Chef
News_Anthony Freud_Lynn Wyatt_Colin Ure
News_Dan Duncan_billionaire

Whether it's the old-fashioned print media or the new digital world, no reporter likes anything better than to be first with a story. During CultureMap's first five years, we've had our share of newsbreakers and insider information that we have worked to get to you quickly and accurately online and in all of the realms of social media.

We set out to highlight our five favorite scoops, but we added an extra one because we couldn't figure out which one to omit:

 

Marriage Surprise: Mayor Annise Parker to wed longtime partner (Dec. 27, 2013)

Just after Christmas in 2013, CultureMap broke the news that Parker and longtime partner Kathy Hubbard planned to get married in Palm Springs, Calif., a few weeks after she would be inaugurated for her third term as Houston mayor. Parker had always said that she would wait until same sex marriage was legal in Texas before she and Hubbard would wed, but after being in a committed relationship for 23 years, the duo decided the time was right. California is among a growing number of states that recognize such marriages; Texas remains one of the big state holdouts.

 

Kenny Chesney is Houston bound for free Final Four concert (March 10, 2011)

With excitement growing about the NCAA basketball finals in Houston, CultureMap managing editor Chris Baldwin was the first to deduce that country star Kenny Chesney would be the headliner at a free concert in Discovery Green the Sunday of Final Four weekend as part of the Big Dance Concert Series. The NCAA confirmed our report a few days later.

 

Billionaire Dan Duncan dies unexpectedly at his home (March 29, 2010)

CultureMap editor at large Shelby Hodge received a tip that Dan Duncan, one of the city's richest men and most generous philanthropists, had passed away unexpectedly at his River Oaks home and immediately worked her sources to confirm his death. Duncan, 77,  had rocked statewide philanthropic traditions and set records with a $100 million gift to Baylor College of Medicine in 2006.

 

Houston Grand Opera CEO Anthony Freud is headed to Lyric Opera of Chicago (April 20, 2011)

Hodge also got the scoop that Houston Grand Opera general director and CEO Anthony Freud, whose contract was extended to 2015 only a few months earlier, planned to leave Houston early to take up the reins at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Hodge's sources also confirmed a few days later that HGO music director Patrick Summers was the front runner to succeed Freud, a month before Summers was named to the job.

 

Andrew Fastow returns to Houston to complete prison sentence in halfway house (May 17, 2011)

CultureMap was the first to report that Andrew Fastow, one of the key figures in the Enron saga, had been released from prison in Louisiana and returned to Houston to complete his federal incarceration in a halfway house. Fastow served the remainder of his term and was released at the end of 2011.

 

Major Houston restaurant happening: Atlanta mega chef is coming home to open a new place on Westheimer (April 14, 2014)

In the 14 months since food writer Eric Sandler arrived at CultureMap, he has consistently been the first to report restaurant openings and closings as well as the latest news on Houston chefs. Sandler worked 18 months to build a relationship with Houston native and Atlanta culinary whiz Ford Fry, who plans to open a restaurant in Houston early next year. Naturally, Sandler was the first to report Fry's planned Houston homecoming and can't wait to sample the restaurant's fare when it opens.

And we can't wait to read what he has to say.