Christine DiMattei

Anchor/Reporter

Years ago, after racking her brains trying to find a fun, engaging, creative nighttime gig to subsidize her acting habit, Chris decided to ride her commercial voiceover experience into the fast-paced world of radio broadcasting. She started out with traffic reporting, moved on to news . . . and never looked back. Since then, Chris has worked in newsrooms throughout South Florida, producing stories for radio broadcasts and the web.

In her other life, she has been married to 12 husbands (including a not-so-wild boar and a garden slug), given birth to 15 children, died four times, twice taken vows as a nun and once been abducted by pirates in the Caribbean. And all this by doing English language dubbing for dozens of foreign films, soap operas and cartoons.  Both lives, she says, have been "a most excellent adventure."

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Feature
1:09 am
Fri January 9, 2015

LISTEN: Florida's First 15 Hours Of Same-Sex Marriage

Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones, the first same sex couple to be wed in Key West, show off their wedding bands.
Credit Mark Hedden / WLRN

Just after midnight on Tuesday morning, gay marriage became legal in Florida. But the first marriages started in Miami-Dade County about twelve hours earlier.

It was about 11:30 in the morning. Judge Sarah Zabel held a hearing and decided there was no need to wait. She lifted the stay on her ruling declaring Florida's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

And gay couples could start getting married right away.

Our reporter John O'Connor was at the courthouse. And we had people at courthouses in Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, too.

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Culture
12:23 am
Thu January 8, 2015

PAMM Director Leaving to Head Philly's Barnes Foundation

Thom Collins (r.) with Jacques Herzog (l.), one of the architects who designed PAMM's bayfront home
Credit Alicia Zuckerman

The museum director who helped usher in one of the most significant changes in South Florida's arts scene is leaving the Sunshine State to return to his roots.

Thom Collins is giving up his position as director of the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) to lead the acclaimed Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia.

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News
5:50 pm
Wed January 7, 2015

Palm Beach County School Chief Steps Down

E. Wayne Gent took the helm of the Palm Beach County School District nearly three years ago.
Credit Palm Beach County School District

After nearly three years leading the country's 11th-largest school district, Palm Beach County's schools superintendent says he is stepping down.

E. Wayne Gent announced today that he won't be renewing his contract when it expires at the end of June.  That means his replacement will be Palm Beach County's fourth school superintendent in as many years.

Gent was hired in 2012, after the ousting of longtime superintendent Art Johnson and a brief interim term by a retired business executive.

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News
7:10 am
Wed January 7, 2015

With New Child Safety Law In Effect, AAA Gives Away Free Booster Seats

An example of a booster seat.
Credit AmateurX / Flickr

The country’s largest auto club is making it easier for Florida parents to comply with a revamped child car seat law.

As of the New Year, state law now requires that children need to be secured in car-safety seats until the age of six.  Previously, kids could transition to regular adult seat belts as young as age four.

Each Friday, throughout the month of January, AAA will be giving away free booster car seats.

AAA Director of Traffic Safety Culture Michele Harris says the organization takes child safety seriously.

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News
8:22 am
Tue January 6, 2015

Palm Beach County's Same-Sex Group Wedding A Festive Affair

Newlyweds Liz Mabry (l.) and Cristina Jimenez (r.) show off the matching t-shirts they wore for their wedding at the Delray Beach courthouse.
Credit Christine DiMattei

In downtown Delray Beach Monday night, same-sex couples who gathered to get hitched in a group wedding were greeted by balloons, flowers and dancing in the streets.

The doors of the South County Courthouse opened at 10:30 p.m. so marriage licenses could be processed before the ceremony. By then, dozens of couples were lined up outside, and a few started slow-dancing on the sidewalk after someone docked an iPod to a speaker.

Shortly after midnight, about 80 couples exchanged vows in a civil ceremony presided over by County Clerk Sharon Bock.

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News
11:44 am
Fri January 2, 2015

New Year Marks End Of Florida Hurricane Tax Assessment

Credit Flickr/CreativeCommons/tax credits.net

As Floridians ring out the old and ring in the new for 2015, there’s one thing they can say “farewell” to: a tax on their insurance bills that goes toward paying hurricane damage claims.

Insurance policies issued or renewed after Jan. 1, 2015, will no longer include the hurricane tax for the Florida Catastrophe Fund. The charge shows up on most insurance bills including homeowner and auto insurance policies.

But watchdog groups are urging policyholders to check their insurance bills, anyway. 

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Environment
11:34 am
Fri January 2, 2015

Everglades National Park Seeking "Citizen Scientists" For Bird Count

The purple gallinule, one of dozens of bird species spotted in Everglades National Park.
Credit Flickr/CreativeCommons/Bruce Tuten

 

How’d you like to become a citizen scientist and help conservation efforts in the Everglades?

Every other Saturday from Jan. 3, 2015 until late March, Everglades National Park will host its Big Day Birding Adventure.

Novice and experienced birders alike will be asked to spend the day counting birds within the varied habitats of the park -- from freshwater marsh to mangrove swamp.

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Gay Marriage
10:08 am
Fri January 2, 2015

In Gay-Friendly Wilton Manors, A Laid-Back Response To Gay Marriage Ruling

In gay-friendly Wilton Manors, reaction to a federal judge's ruling on marriage licenses for same-sex couples was decidedly low-key.
Credit C. DiMattei

Perhaps it was the rain. Or because it was Jan. 1st, a day for sleeping off New Year's Eve revelry and laying low.

But in Wilton Manors, one of the most gay-friendly cities in the country, the reaction to a judge's decision essentially clearing the way for gay marriage in Florida was pretty subdued.

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News
10:24 am
Tue December 30, 2014

South Florida Cops Rally In Honor Of Fallen NYPD Brothers

An attendee of yesterday's rally outside Miami's Bayside Marketplace holds up a sign in support of police officers.
Credit Christine DiMattei

In the wake of the Dec. 20 shooting deaths of two of New York's Finest, Miami's police union is calling for an end to violence against law enforcement officers.

A crowd of police officers and their families and friends gathered outside Bayside Marketplace yesterday to remember Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu. The two New York City officers were killed by a gunman who investigators say was angered by recent police-involved deaths of unarmed black men in Ferguson, Missouri and Staten Island.

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Cuba Travel
12:00 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

Here's What The New U.S.-Cuba Rules Mean For Travelers

Credit freedigitalphotos.net/Arvind Balaraman

A promise that travel to Cuba would be easier for Americans was part of President Obama’s historic announcement this week that he’s taking steps to normalize relations.

What will the easing of sanctions against Cuba mean for the average traveler -- as well as for people who want to do business there?

We asked reporter Mimi Whitefield, who covers the Latin American economy for the Miami Herald.

Here are a few things you need to know.

Below is an edited transcript.

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Cuba
8:19 am
Fri December 19, 2014

Importing Cuban Cigars And Rum Legal Again Under New U.S. Rules

Credit freedigitalphotos.net/salvatore vuono

Among those cheering President Obama’s plans to ease up on sanctions against Cuba are fans of the island’s legendary cigars and rum.

The president announced on Wednesday that the United States will be re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba.  That includes relaxing certain trade and travel restrictions.

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News
1:44 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

Miami Beach Lawmaker Wants Tax Break On Artwork

A sculpture shown at this year's Art Basel in Miami Beach.
Credit Alicia Zuckerman

A lawmaker from the city that hosts Art Basel Miami Beach says a tax break on art work would help stimulate the economy statewide. 

State representative David Richardson of Miami Beach just filed a bill that would exempt works of art from the state's sales tax. 

To qualify, the artwork would have to be original, as well as signed and sold by the artists. It would have to cost at least $1,000.

Richardson says said the measure is important because artwork in Florida is under a double-taxation:

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News
1:35 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

Florida Tourism Officials Support Relaxing U.S. Visa Rules

A new study says international tourists bring big bucks to the United States, but our visa laws hamper the potential job and revenue growth those visitors could bring.
Credit freedigitalphotos.net/Mister GC

Florida tourism officials say America’s restrictive travel visa rules are costing the Sunshine State big bucks.

The Visa Waiver Program currently allows citizens of 38 countries to travel to the United States for tourism without having to obtain visas.

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Transportation
6:15 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

Business Group "Surprised" By All Aboard Florida Snub

Artist's rendering of the proposed West Palm Beach station for All Aboard Florida.
Credit All Aboard Florida

 

A group of Palm Beach County business leaders says they’re confused by All Aboard Florida’s unwillingness to appear at their luncheon Thursday, especially since it was All Aboard Florida who pitched the idea in the first place.

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Transportation
11:14 am
Fri November 28, 2014

Planned Upgrades To Tri-Rail Will Let Passengers Know More About A Train's Status

Credit Flickr/CreativeCommons/ClearLight.com

The people in charge of Tri-Rail say they want to take the guessing game out of train arrivals and departures.

So they plan to totally revamp the commuter rail's passenger information system.

Tri-Rail officials admit the system they use to inform their passengers about train statuses and delays is woefully out of date.  And younger riders accustomed to social media and up-to-the-minute alerts are driving the need for more real-time information.

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