Jim Burress

Senior Reporter

Jim Burress is a proud native of Louisville, Kentucky. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Wabash College in Indiana, and a master’s in Mass Communication from Murray State University.  That's where Jim started his public radio career (WKMS-FM). 

Jim moved to Atlanta to work on his PhD, but after a year away from reporting, he realized he preferred the newsroom to the classroom.  He came to WABE in the spring of 2008 when there were just six people in the entire newsroom. 

As a licensed pilot, Jim is fascinated by airplanes and aviation, which is why you’ll often hear him report on the commercial aviation industry.   As a Kaiser Health News/NPR fellow, Jim also covers healthcare and healthcare policy for WABE. 

In 2014, Jim wrote and produced WABE's first news documentary in more than a decade, "Stuck in the Bluff." He also traveled to Liberia to document the West African country's efforts to rebuild post civil-war, and happened to be at the same hospital, the same week, where the massive Ebola outbreak started.  

Jim is a frequent contributor to the national show Marketplace, and his reports regularly air nationally on NPR's Morning Edition, and All Things Considered.

Jim has won numerous professional awards, including 1st place honors from both the Kentucky and Georgia Associated Press and several regional Edward R. Murrow Awards.  In 2010, the Atlanta Press Club awarded Jim its radio “Award of Excellence” for his reporting on unlawful practices within the Atlanta Police Department, and again in 2012 for a joint project looking at special needs students attending Clayton County schools. 

But his biggest prize came in 2001 when he won it all on the game show, "The Price is Right."  

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Education
6:00 am
Wed April 15, 2015

Fulton Superintendent Robert Avossa Finalist For Florida Job

Robert Avossa, left, talks with Roswell High School Principal Jerome Huff. Avossa is now is at the top of a short list to lead the Palm Beach County, Florida school district.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

Fulton County Public Schools superintendent Robert Avossa is at the top of a short list to lead the Palm Beach County, Florida school district. 

More than 70 candidates applied, with Avossa ranking among the top three.  Thursday afternoon, he'll answer questions from the Palm Beach County School Board during a public meeting. 

Palm Beach County is the 11th largest school district in the U.S., and has about twice as many students as Fulton County.

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News
2:41 pm
Mon April 13, 2015

Atlanta Is Seeing More Rain Than Usual This Spring

Gloomy skies and off-and-on rain are the norm so far this season. A weather system hanging over the Southwestern U.S. is pulling moisture up from the Gulf of Mexico. Until that system moves across the nation and past the Southeast, forecasters say we’ll continue to see rain.
Credit Kay Gaensler / Kay Gaensler Photography - Creative Commons

Metro Atlanta has seen 5.26 inches of rainfall in the past 30 days. That's more than an inch above normal, according to the National Weather Service. 

Forecasters say that total is likely to increase over the next several days. 

“Sunshine is going to be hard to come by at all this week," says Jason Deese, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Peachtree City, Georgia.

Deese says flooding is possible, but severe weather is unlikely.

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Business
6:00 am
Mon April 13, 2015

Apartment Demand Remains Strong In Atlanta

Most of Atlanta's new apartment demand comes from millennials.
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press

Planning on getting a new apartment in 2015? You're definitely not alone.

Norcross-based RentPath operates websites Rent.com and ApartmentGuide.com. The company says it saw a record 3.1 million leads for apartments in March.  

Much of that traffic comes from millennials, RentPath CEO Charles Stubbs says.   

"A number of them are less interested in home ownership and want the flexibility and amenities of an apartment community," Stubbs says.

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Features
8:49 am
Sun April 5, 2015

Atlanta Couple Celebrates 75th Wedding Anniversary

Brittain Pendergrast (left) and Nan Pendergrast (right) sit in their West Paces Ferry Road home. They've lived here for 60 years, and just celebrated their 75th anniversary. (Bonnie, the pup in the background, declined to give her age.)
Credit Jim Burress / WABE

1939. 

It was the year Superman debuted, filming of “Gone With the Wind” started, and Oregon beat Ohio State in the first NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship.

It’s also the year Atlantans Brittain Pendergrast and Nan Schwab married.

This weekend, they celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary.

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Airlines & Aviation
5:27 pm
Wed April 1, 2015

Delta Pursues $1.5B Partnership With AeroMexico

Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines is asking for anti-trust immunity to pursue $1.5 billion partnership with AeroMexico.
Credit Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press

Delta Air Lines is asking the U.S. government for antitrust immunity so it can pursue a partnership with AeroMexico.

The Atlanta-based carrier says Mexico is its most popular international destination, which is one reason the airline cites for pursuing a new $1.5 billion joint venture with the Mexican carrier.

Delta says the partnership will give U.S. travelers more access to key Mexican cities, while AeroMexico customers will see new flights to Delta’s hub cities, including Atlanta.

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Law
4:39 pm
Wed April 1, 2015

Verdict Reached In Atlanta School Cheating Case

Originally published on Wed April 1, 2015 8:00 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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Features
1:30 pm
Wed April 1, 2015

Lois Reitzes: 'I Was Inspiration For 1992 Rap Hit'

WABE's own Lois Reitzes was the inspiration of Sir Mix-A-Lot's ''Baby Got Back.''
Credit WABE

One of the most noted rap songs of the early 1990s turned out quite different than was first envisioned. 

Rapper Sir-Mix-A-Lot made it big with his hit, "Baby Got Back." But originally, the song was titled, "Baby Got Bach." 

And the inspiration? 

A budding friendship between Anthony Ray (Sir Mix's real name) and WABE's own Lois Reitzes. 

For the first time, Reitzes shared her story with Senior Reporter Jim Burress. 

(To hear the interview, click the 'Listen' icon below.) 

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Features
12:05 pm
Tue March 31, 2015

T-Shirt Quilt Celebrates AIDS Advocate’s Three-Decade Career

Jacque Muther commissioned a T-shirt quilt to commemorate her nearly three-decade career in AIDS advocacy. It's now on display at Atlanta's Ponce de Leon Center, part of the Grady Infectious Disease Program.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE

Jacque Muther has spent most of her career working to get low-income AIDS patients life-saving medications as part of the Grady Infectious Disease Program. 

In May, she'll retire. 

Over the years, Muther has amassed a sizable T-shirt collection from various nonprofits, events and people connected to the fight of HIV and AIDS. 

To preserve the memories (and clear out a few drawers), Muther commissioned master crafter Juanita Williams to turn the T-shirts into a quilt. 

The quilt is now on display at the Ponce de Leon Center in Midtown. 

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Health & Science
5:12 am
Mon March 30, 2015

Emory Hosts Competition To Solve Global Health Issues, Gun Violence

Benjamin Ebeling of the University of Copenhagen prepares his team's case as part of Emory's Global Health Case Competition. Teams came to Atlanta from across the U.S. and as far away as Australia.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE

“¡Alto a la Violencia!” ("Stop the Violence!") reads the prompt that 24 teams of students from across the U.S. and the globe had to work out this weekend at Emory University's Global Health Case Competition. 

The competition, now in its fifth year, includes undergraduate, graduate and professional school students from a variety of disciplines. Teams had less than a week to pore over a pre-written scenario and tease out important facts. On Friday, they gathered at Emory to strategize and present to a panel of judges how best to handle a global health threat. 

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Health & Science
6:22 pm
Thu March 26, 2015

Opponents: Emory/WellStar Merger Talks Lack Transparency

Plans for the Emory and WellStar merger were first announced in February.
Credit Allison Guillory; Wellstar

If those behind the proposed merger of WellStar/Emory health systems are looking for a cheerleader, they won’t find one in Taryn Howard.

The Smyrna resident says her family has interacted with WellStar doctors, hospitals and even a hospice in the past year. She’s not happy with the care, but says there aren’t many options.

“It’s really very difficult to find a doctor in Cobb County that’s not a WellStar doctor,” Howard says.

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Politics
9:29 am
Thu March 26, 2015

Georgians Could See Physical Therapist Without Referral Under Proposed Bill

The Georgia Senate is scheduled to hear a proposal Thursday that would allow consumers to bypass a physician's referral when seeking physical therapy.
Credit Ken Lund / flickr.com/kenlund

A bill that would align Georgia law with 41 other states is expected to go to the Senate floor Thursday.

HB505 would allow patients to see a physical therapist without first getting a doctor’s referral.

“This will decrease the burden of being able to get access to rehabilitation services,” Dr. Joseph Donnelly, an associate professor of physical therapy at Mercer University, says.  “It will also cut costs for the consumer as well as the healthcare system in Georgia.”

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Local
5:51 pm
Fri March 20, 2015

Accused Of Violating Eagle Raid Court Order, Atlanta Vows Fight

In 2013, APD reversed its procedure, putting the old policy on detainment back into effect.
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press

The city of Atlanta is promising to “vigorously defend” itself against a motion filed in federal court Tuesday that accuses the Atlanta Police Department of willfully violating the court’s order.

The case, Calhoun v. Pennington, dates back to 2009 when Atlanta Police officers stormed the Atlanta Eagle – a gay bar in Midtown — and unlawfully detained its patrons.

Nobody was suspected of committing a crime.

A year later, a federal judge ordered the Atlanta Police Department to — among other things — change its policy related to when it’s OK to detain someone.

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Health & Science
5:06 pm
Fri March 20, 2015

Medical Schools’ ‘Match Day’ Highlights Looming Doctor Shortage

A pair of Emory medical students celebrate Match Day, having just learned they got into their ''first choice'' residency programs.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE

At medical schools across the U.S. today, fourth-year medical students learned where they'll spend the next chapter in their lives.

It's known as "Match Day," and at Emory, it felt like Black Friday mayhem just before those $99 big screen TVs go on sale.

In the middle of the medical school atrium, 133 medical students stand nervously, watching the clock tick. 

“Seven. Six. Five…” they count in unison as the clock nears noon. When the hour and minute hands meet, students rush to a nearby row of tables where sealed envelopes wait.

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Local
7:44 am
Wed March 18, 2015

Atlanta Police Union Sides With Those Suing APD

Those suing Atlanta Police say officer conduct during local Ferguson, Missouri, protests indicate the department isn't following a federal court order. In a letter to the court, the head of Atlanta's police union agrees.
Credit Evan Jang / WABE

The head of the Atlanta Police Union says the city of Atlanta isn’t properly training its officers, and in an unusual twist, Ken Allen ─ International Brotherhood of Police Officers Local 623 president ─ has written a letter supporting a lawsuit against the department.

The letter, filed late Tuesday with Atlanta’s federal court, says the department’s shortcomings open officers to disciplinary action and the potential for criminal liability.

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Local
5:24 pm
Fri March 13, 2015

"We're Here. We're Clear." Fifth Annual Ginger Pride Parade Set For Saturday

The Ginger Pride Parade in Rome, Ga grows every year. While the event primarily involves redheads, organizers say all are welcome.
Credit James Schroeder

Normally, parade organizers hope it won’t rain.

That’s not the case for those behind the fifth-annual Ginger Pride Parade, scheduled for noon Saturday in downtown Rome, Georgia. 

After all, no sunshine means no sunburns for the hundreds of marchers expected.  

The event is the brainchild of James Schroeder, who says even as an adult he gets taunted about his copper locks. 

“You get picked on and it’s not fun," says Schroeder. "You can’t help it.”

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Airlines & Aviation
6:22 am
Fri March 13, 2015

Airports And Airlines Locked In Fight Over Fee Increase

A new runway is one example of how airports like Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International spend Passenger Facility Charges.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE

Every time you take off from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International – or any domestic commercial airport – you and everyone else on the flight fork over $4.50 to pay the  Passenger Facility Charge, or PFC.

The money goes to fund airport infrastructure. PFCs paid for half of Atlanta's airport new $1.4 billion international terminal. They also funded a wildlife hazard study at Southwest Georgia Regional Airport in Albany.

Airports want the fee increased to $8, they say to keep up with their more than $14 billion in annual infrastructure costs. 

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Why Liberia?
3:46 pm
Thu March 12, 2015

Peace In Liberia, 10 Years Later: A Conversation At The Carter Center

The sun sets on a rural village in Lofa County, Liberia. Most villages like this have no running water, paved roads or electricity.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE

One year ago, WABE senior reporter Jim Burress traveled to Liberia on a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. He spent three weeks in the West African country, documenting how it is rebuilding more than a decade after the end of its brutal civil war.

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Airlines & Aviation
6:29 am
Thu March 12, 2015

Will More Seats Plus More Travelers Equal Lower Airfares?

Times are better, and airlines are adding back in some lost seats.
Credit Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

When the bottom dropped out of the economy, airlines parked planes and pulled seat capacity.

Times are better, airlines are seeing more passengers, and they’re adding back in some of those lost seats. That's creating "capacity pressure" in a number of markets, including Atlanta.

"There are a number of skirmishes breaking out, and ultimately the marketplace and consumers will determine what happens with fares," said John Heimleich, cheif economist for the industry trade group Airlines For America.

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Politics
6:36 am
Mon March 9, 2015

'Religious Freedom' Bill Could Invalidate Atlanta’s Non-Discrimination Policy

A rolling billboard in opposition to "religious freedom" bill circles the Georgia Capitol at the start of this year's legislative session.
Credit Jason Parker / WABE

Georgia’s “religious freedom” bill has sparked debate within the religious, business and LGBT communities.

If passed, the law could possibly weaken local anti-discrimination ordinances in Georgia cities ─ including Atlanta.

Such local policies go beyond the state’s protection.  For example, Atlanta’s ordinance says businesses can’t discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

However, state lawmakers behind the religious freedom bill are adamant ─ the measure wouldn’t strip those safeguards.

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Airlines and Aviation
5:58 am
Fri March 6, 2015

Group Petitions Hartsfield-Jackson Airport For Indian Or Middle Eastern Carrier

In this May 8, 2014, file photo, Emirates passenger planes are parked at their gates of Dubai airport in United Arab Emirates.
Credit Kamran Jebreili, File / Associated Press

Atlanta maintains its long-standing bragging rights as home to the “World’s Busiest Airport,” at least in terms of passenger volume.

But from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, there’s just one flight to the Middle East.

And if you want to fly directly from Atlanta to India, you’re completely out of luck.

In fact, Atlanta trails a host of other U.S. cities in terms of International access, including: Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles and New York. Each of those cities offers non-stop service from Dubai-based Emirates.

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A Closer Look
9:38 am
Tue February 17, 2015

Atlanta Police Ignoring Federal Order On Videotaping, Lawsuit Charges

Journalists arrested during local protests related to police action in Ferguson, Missouri say Atlanta Police forced them to stop recording.
Credit Ryan Nabulsi / twinlensatl.com

Note: Story updated to include response from City of Atlanta

It’s been more than five years since Felicia Anderson saw Atlanta Police beating a handcuffed suspect, grabbed her cell phone and started taking pictures of the scene from her front porch.

Police arrested Anderson and took her phone.

Anderson sued the city and won.

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The Affordable Care Act
5:06 pm
Fri February 13, 2015

Refugees Are The Focus Of Atlanta Obamacare Enrollment Effort

Many unfamiliar with navigating the healthcare landscape seek in-person help from a navigator. The deadline to sign up for this open enrollment period is Sunday.
Credit John Raoux / Associated Press

With the deadline for open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act quickly approaching, health officials are on a last-minute push to sign eligible people up for a plan. 

Among those is Elise Blasingame, a certified navigator with Georgia Watch. Friday morning, she was helping female refugees in Decatur understand their options under Obamacare.   

“It’s been pretty amazing to see how interested they are in learning about the Act," Blasingame says. 

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Airlines & Aviation
12:54 pm
Fri February 13, 2015

Southwest Airlines Offers Atlanta Unprecedented Perk

Since finishing its integration of AirTran Airways, Southwest has aggressively focused on courting Atlanta travelers.
Credit Mark Stevens / flickr.com/14723335@N05

Southwest Airlines, the No. 2 carrier by passenger volume at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, is offering the Atlanta market a perk normally reserved for the most elite travelers – a companion pass. 

The company called the promotion "historic." 

According to a Southwest press release, metro Atlanta residents "who fly three qualifying round trips on Southwest Airlines from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport between today and May 17, 2015, will earn a Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Companion Pass valid through the end of 2015."

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Transportation & Transit
5:59 am
Fri February 13, 2015

I-285/Ga. 400 Redo: Outdated Before The First Orange Barrel?

An artist rendering of changes coming to I-285/Ga. 400. Construction will begin in 2016 and wrap up in 2019. The project's cost: $1 billion.
Credit Georgia Dept of Transportation

Brace yourself, Atlanta commuters.  

Next year, the Georgia Department of Transportation begins a three year rework of the Interstate 285/Georgia 400 interchange. It promises to relieve congestion along one of the nation’s worst bottlenecks.

But the plan could already be outdated, thanks to recently-announced development.

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A Closer Look
5:43 pm
Wed February 11, 2015

Three Decades Of Atlanta's AIDS Epidemic Told Through A T-Shirt Quilt

Over her three-decade career working with AIDS patients, Jacque Muther has amassed a lot of related T-shirts. As she prepares to retire, she's commissioned Juanita Williams to craft them into a keepsake quilt.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE

  

In June of 1987, a small group of people gathered in San Francisco, California. They feared history would soon forget their friends and loved ones who were quickly dying of AIDS.

Members of that group came up with a collective idea ─ make a quilt. Many now know it as the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt. It has more than 48, 000 panels, and it is housed and cared for here in Atlanta. 

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Health & Science
10:43 am
Thu February 5, 2015

Atlanta Metro Ranks No. 2 In Obamacare Sign-ups

Many who haven't signed up for a health plan under the Affordable Care Act seek in-person assistance. The deadline to sign up or face a penalty is Feb. 15.
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press

With just days left to sign up for health coverage through the Affordable Care Act’s insurance marketplace, there’s a last minute push to get Georgians signed up.

Even as health officials plan enrollment events throughout the state, new figures released Wednesday show Atlanta has the second highest number of Healthcare.gov sign-ups of any major metro (the data are only for the 37 states where the federal government operates the exchange). Only Miami had more.

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A Closer Look
5:50 pm
Wed February 4, 2015

Atlanta's Mary Kay Andrews Reflects On Harper Lee's Upcoming Novel

Atlanta author Mary Kay Andrews (Kathy Trocheck) says Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird" influenced her own writing.
Credit Bill Miles

Kathy Hogan Trocheck's byline was a staple in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in the 1980s. She left the AJC to write fiction full-time in 1991, and has authored a number of best-selling books under the penname "Mary Kay Andrews."

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Airlines and Aviation
7:32 am
Mon February 2, 2015

Southwest Unveils 'Heartlanta' Campaign, Fare Sale

Southwest Airlines entered the Atlanta market in February 2012 through its merger with AirTran Airways. Southwest finished integrating AirTran in December and is now focused on gaining domestic market share at Hartsfield-Jackson.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE

Three years to the month after Southwest Airlines began service to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the Dallas-based carrier kicked off a campaign Monday aimed directly at luring local travelers.

Southwest calls it “Heartlanta.”

The kitschy advertisements feature smiling faces, dancing Atlanta-based employees and Southwest planes crossing the screen in dramatic slow motion.

“Hey Atlanta,” a female voice says at the start of the 15-second commercial. “You know how we know this is a real relationship? We’re picking you up at the airport.”

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Health & Science
6:04 am
Thu January 29, 2015

Expensive Hepatitis C Cure ─ Georgia Decides Who Gets It, Who Doesn't

Drug maker AbbVie’s hepatitis C treatment, Viekira Pak (seen here), is $83,000 on the wholesale market.
Credit Courtesy: AbbVie

There’s a new drug on the market that’s up to 99 percent effective at curing hepatitis C, an often deadly liver virus. The drug is known as “V-pak.”

Some Georgians will get it.

But thousands of HIV-positive Georgians, who also have hepatitis C, won't. 

The reason? Cost.

It's "just over $80,000 for a 12-week treatment," Britten Pund says. She’s with the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors, or "NASTAD." It's an umbrella organization that represents state AIDS directors, including Georgia's. 

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Covering the Affordable Care Act
3:42 pm
Fri January 23, 2015

Obamacare Enrolls 425,000 In Georgia

Sylvia Burwell, seen here in 2014, praised Georgia for enrolling 425,000 people into a health plan under the Affordable Care Act, but said the state still had a lot of ground to cover.
Credit Susan Walsh / Associated Press

The head of the federal agency overseeing Obamacare stopped at a southwest Atlanta health facility Friday to tout how many Georgians have benefited from the Affordable Care Act's insurance marketplace.

"The number is 425,000 today," said Synthia Burwell, Secretary of Health and Human Services.

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