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."  


A Closer Look
2:27 pm
Fri May 15, 2015

High Deductibles, Co-Pays Mean Many Insured Skip The Doctor

Renee Mitchell, 63, is thankful to have health insurance, but the silver-level plan she purchased through Georgia's federally-run insurance marketplace carries a high deductible and steep co-pays. In the past, Mitchell has put off medical procedures, but says she can't risk losing her eyesight.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE

The main purpose of the Affordable Care Act is to provide affordable health insurance to those who might not otherwise be able to afford it.   

But getting a health policy is just the start.

For many, high deductibles and co-pays that come with the most popular plans still leave medical care out of reach.

That's what happened to Renee Mitchell, 63, of Stone Mountain. She previously put off a medical procedure because of cost. But with the threat of losing part of her vision a real possibility, she came to Emory to see a specialist.  

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6:48 pm
Wed May 13, 2015

Possible Ebola Cure May Be Found In Native African Plants

At Wednesday's two-hour Ebola press conference and round table discussion, organizers used the opportunity to both tout their findings and appeal for more funding.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE


Some of Atlanta’s top minds believe the cure for Ebola could be hidden in five native African plants.

Among those touting the natural cure at a two-hour press conference and round-table discussion on Wednesday was former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young. He said the idea of a natural Ebola treatment stemmed from a conversation he had with a doctor from Senegal.

Young asked the doctor how Africans dealt with Ebola in previous generations.

“I said ‘Don’t think in your French medicine capacity. Think in the capacity of your grandfather’s medicine,'" Young said. 

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3:25 pm
Wed May 13, 2015

Andrew Young Says He's Doing 'Fine' Following Wreck

Former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young said Wednesday he's doing "fine" following a wreck on Monday. Young made the comments following an unrelated press conference.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE

Former U.N. Ambassador, Atlanta mayor and civil rights icon Andrew Young says he’s doing "just fine."

The statement comes just two days after a cement truck overturned onto the car in which he was a passenger.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday morning, Young was asked what it meant to have such an outpouring of support. 

"It was worrisome. Because if you’re sick, you don’t want to be bothered," Young joked.

He said it seemed like everyone was getting excited at the opportunity to attend his funeral.

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4:19 pm
Mon May 11, 2015

Rushdie Urges Emory Graduates To Be 'Larger Than Life'

Graduates of Emory University look toward the main stage Monday as the private school held its 170th commencement.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE

Author Salman Rushdie on Monday advised Emory University’s new 4,572 graduates to "try not to be small. Try to be larger than life.”

That's just one highlight from his 14-minute commencement speech, which vacillated from the standard to the controversial.

Rushdie, who is an atheist, also called on graduates to look beyond religion. 

”It’s shocking how many Americans swallow that old story," he said.  "Maybe you’ll be the generation that moves past the ancient fictions.”

And the famed 67-year-old author also apologized for the actions of his generation. 

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Atlanta Eagle Raid
5:52 pm
Tue May 5, 2015

Atlanta Police Failed To Follow Reforms After Eagle Raid

On Sept. 10, 2009, Atlanta police stormed the Atlanta Eagle without a warrant. Two years later, the city settled a federal lawsuit related to the raid, promising to change how it trains police officers. On Tuesday, a city official admitted APD hadn't fully implemented several of those requirements.
Credit Alison Guillory / WABE

For the second time in less than a week, an attorney for the City of Atlanta admitted to a federal judge the Atlanta Police Department hasn’t fully followed the court's order.

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1:26 pm
Tue May 5, 2015

DaVita Settles Atlanta Whistleblower Lawsuit For $495M

The 2011 lawsuit involves claims that DaVita tossed out medicine, but then billed Medicaid and Medicare for the drugs.
Credit Charles W. Jones / WABE

DaVita HealthCare Partners, Inc. ─ a dialysis provider with nearly 2,200 U.S. locations ─ will pay $495 million to settle a whistleblower lawsuit.

The 2011 lawsuit involves claims that the Denver-based company tossed out medicine, but then billed Medicaid and Medicare for the drugs.

Dr. Alon Vainer and nurse Daniel Barbir, both DaVita employees in Atlanta, filed the suit. They could share in more than $130 million of the settlement.

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Atlanta Eagle Raid
5:31 pm
Mon May 4, 2015

Judge To Hear Contempt Case On Atlanta Eagle Raid Reforms

Nearly six years after Atlanta police botched a raid on the Atlanta Eagle, a Midtown gay bar, the city finds itself back in court. On Tuesday, Judge Timothy Batten will hear allegations the city is violating his settlement order.
Credit Alison Guillory / WABE

Lawyers for the City of Atlanta on Tuesday will again find themselves answering to contempt charges before a federal judge.

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7:12 pm
Thu April 30, 2015

Atlanta Admits To Not Following Police Recording Order

After the Atlanta Police Department arrested journalists last November who were covering local demonstrations related to the Ferguson, Missouri, protests, attorneys believed the APD wasn’t following a court order.
Credit Ryan Nabulsi / twinlensatl.com

Attorneys for the city of Atlanta admitted Thursday the Atlanta Police Department didn’t follow a federal court order related to training its officers and asked a judge for mercy.   

The case, Felicia Anderson v. City of Atlanta, dates back to 2012 when Atlanta’s district court ordered the city to make two changes.

First, APD had to revise its standard operating procedures, or SOPs, related to the videotaping of officers. As part of the change, APD also had to train officers to not interfere with someone lawfully recording them or take or destroy the recording.

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Airlines & Aviation
1:42 pm
Thu April 30, 2015

Frontier Adds 6 New Flights From Atlanta, Fares Start At $19

Frontier will now fly non-stop to major cities like New York, Los Angeles and Las Vegas from Atlanta.
Credit Daniel Betts / flickr.com/Daniel Betts

Frontier Airlines announced Thursday it’s adding six new non-stop flights from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

That makes the Denver-based carrier the third largest airline serving Atlanta.

Frontier will now fly non-stop to major cities like New York, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Also in the mix are New Orleans, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and Delta-stronghold Cincinnati. 

But don't look for Frontier to steal much business from Delta. That's not the airline's purpose, says Frontier's Senior VP Daniel Shurz. 

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Airlines & Aviation
4:29 pm
Wed April 29, 2015

Airlines Quickly Adapting To Apple Watch's Technology

Airlines are already embracing the Apple Watch technology.
Credit Yasunobu Ikeda / flickr.com/clockmaker-jp

The Apple Watch has been on the market for less than a week. While many companies are still developing apps for it, airlines are already embracing the technology. 

That includes Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines, which five years ago was among the first airline to introduce an iPhone app.

Spokesman Paul Skrbec says customers quickly adopted the technology.

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5:52 am
Wed April 29, 2015

Georgia Peanut Farmers See New Opportunity, Profit In China

Peanuts are China's biggest crop. But peanut growers there can't keep up with the demand. That means Georgia peanut producers could fill the gap, and in the process bring hundreds of millions of dollars back to the state.
Credit Clint Thompson / flickr.com/ugacommunications

What's the main thing the Georgia Peanut Commission's Don Koehler took away from his recent trip to China?

“We’re gonna realize that we have a lot more in common than we have that separates us.”

That includes a love of the 花生. Uh, make that the peanut.

Koehler says a growing demand in China means Georgia could soon grow more peanuts and export a half-million tons there each year.

That’s a big deal.

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Same-Sex Marriage
5:50 am
Tue April 28, 2015

Atlantans Watching Supreme Court Same-Sex Marriage Arguments

The Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage bans is expected sometime in June.
Credit Wally Gobetz / flickr.com/wallyg

In Washington on Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments in a case that likely will settle the same-sex marriage question in all 50 states. Many here in metro Atlanta will be watching and listening. 

Because of the high profile nature of the arguments, the U.S. Supreme Court will release audio of the proceedings faster than usual. But two men challenging Georgia’s same-sex marriage ban won’t be awaiting the 2 p.m. release. 

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6:30 am
Wed April 22, 2015

Justin Chapman Murder Case's Prosecutor Unsure About Retrial

The prosecutor responsible for re-trying Justin Chapman for the 2006 death of Alice Jackson says he’s not sure whether there will be a new trial.

That assertion comes after the Georgia Supreme Court Monday found prosecutors knowingly withheld evidence that could’ve led to Chapman’s acquittal.

Now, it’s up to Jack Browning whether to seek a new trial. As the current district attorney for the Tallapoosa Judicial Circuit, he’s new to the case.

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5:04 pm
Mon April 20, 2015

Georgia Supreme Court Throws Out Murder, Arson Convictions

The Georgia Supreme Court has thrown out the 2007 murder and arson conviction of Justin Chapman.
Credit Nick Nesmith / WABE

The Georgia Supreme Court has thrown out the 2007 murder and arson conviction of Justin Chapman.

In a unanimous decision announced Monday, the state's top court found state prosecutors withheld evidence that could’ve led to Chapman’s acquittal. That violates a 1963 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, known as the Brady case.

Chapman is now eligible for a new trial. 

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Kaiser to bring 900 new jobs
3:25 pm
Thu April 16, 2015

Atlanta Woos Kaiser Permanente Without Huge Incentives

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed stands with city economic development officials Thursday to announce Kaiser Permanente will bring 900 tech jobs to Atlanta.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE

Healthcare provider Kaiser Permanente announced Thursday it will bring a health information technology hub to Midtown Atlanta.

Most of the 900 new jobs are tech-related, company officials say. And those jobs pay well – an average of $107,000 a year.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed says the city’s reputation as a health IT center meant officials didn’t have to sweeten the pot very much to attract Kaiser.

“We provided about $300,000 in incentives today for 900 net new jobs," Reed says. "I think that most folks at home will think that’s a good investment."

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Airlines & Aviation
3:16 pm
Wed April 15, 2015

Delta Sees Record Profit, Slower International Traffic

Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines again posted record earnings, despite facing a stiff headwind on international routes.
Credit Don Ryan / Associated Press

Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines posted on Wednesday a record profit for the first three months of the year. Net income climbed to $746 million. After special items, Delta posted a profit of 45 cents per share, beating analysts' expectations. 

“The business on the whole is performing quite well," said Delta CEO Richard Anderson on an investor conference call. 

Part of the increase comes from a strengthening U.S. economy and strong domestic demand. Fees for baggage and premium seats also helped, the airline said. 

But there were a few rough spots.

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6:15 am
Wed April 15, 2015

Georgia Shares In $36 Million Housing Counseling Grants

The recently announced HUD grants will go to housing counseling nonprofits. Officials say the money will help prevent foreclosures.
Credit David Zalubowski, File / Associated Press

A little financial education can go a long way in helping people find a home or stay in the one they’ve got. 

That’s the idea behind $36 million in federal grants announced Tuesday. The money is earmarked for housing agencies across the nation, including Georgia.

Ten state agencies – mostly in Atlanta – will share in $1.8 million.

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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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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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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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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


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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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/.



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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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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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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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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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