Jim Burress

Host of Weekend Edition/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, where he’s both a host and reporter. 

As a licensed pilot, Jim loves to fly single-engine Cessna airplanes. His interest in aviation is why you’ll likely hear him report a lot 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.  

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."  


3:55 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

Delta Does Dallas

A sign welcomes travelers to Dallas Love Field
Credit Courtesy: Aviationblog.Dallasnews.com

Two years after Southwest Airlines set up shop on Delta Air Lines’ home turf here in Atlanta, Delta announced it's returning the favor by expanding at Dallas-Love Field.

“It really is more about us seeing the opportunity to bring in some new competition to Love Field," says Delta spokesman Trebor Banstetter, playing down the move as any sort of retribution. 

Southwest operates nine out of ten flights at Love Field, which is closer to downtown Dallas than Dallas Ft. Worth International. 

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Health & Science
5:24 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

By The Numbers: Georgians and the Insurance Marketplace

According to figures provided by the Federal Department of Health and Human Services Wednesday:

  • Georgians completed 28,642 applications either via phone, or through the oft-maligned HealthCare.gov website.
  • On average, each of those applications included two people.
  • 73% were eligible to enroll.
  • About one in five qualified for a federal subsidy.
  • Of all Georgians who completed an application, 1,390 ended up purchasing a policy.
  • That’s about two-and-a-half percent.

The numbers only reflect data through Nov. 2nd. 

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3:31 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

Second Georgia Gives Day Surpasses First

Credit Jim Burress / WABE News

Wednesday is the second annual Georgia Gives Day, a day set aside to boost the state’s non-profits. 

By mid-afternoon, donations already beat last year’s $900,000 raised.  Money was rolling in at $100,000 an hour. 

This year, officials decided to dress the cause up a bit.  That included a performance at Lenox Mall by the Atlanta Falcons Cheerleaders.

Tory Culpepper works with the Georgia Center for Nonprofits, which is behind Ga Gives Day.

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10:03 am
Sun November 10, 2013

Movies Muck Monday Morning Commute

Atlanta street traffic, a mess on the best days, is about to get worse. Hollywood is calling!

Sure, it's cool to see our city on the big screen.  But many of us will probably curse the movie industry in the coming days.

After all, crews are about to further "complicate" the city's street traffic.  

From the Atlanta Police Department: 

ATLANTA – Due to filming in the Downtown and Midtown areas, several streets and sidewalks will be closed or partially closed from November 11th through the 20th.

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Health & Science
11:02 am
Sat November 9, 2013

Atlanta Men Tell Sebelius About Their Insurance Exchange Experience

Michael Lappin looks over health policies offered on Georgia's federally-run insurance exchange. Initially, he couldn't get into the HealthCare.gov website, but says he remained patient.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE News

Since the shaky roll-out of the federal insurance exchange last month, the Obama Administration arguably has spent as much time apologizing as it has trying to fix the website.

The expressions of regret continued yesterday in Atlanta, even as Dept. of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius touted two big announcements related to the Affordable Care Act. 

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Affordable Care Act
4:08 pm
Fri November 8, 2013

Sebelius Touts Boost to Community Health Centers

Fulton Co. Chairman John Eaves introduces Dept. of Health and Human Services Sec. Kathleen Sebelius Thursday.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE News

After a stop at the Carter Center Friday morning to announce new insurance rules for mental health coverage, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius headed to Southside Medical Center.   

There, the Secretary touted a new $150-million investment in community health centers as part of the Affordable Care Act.

 Of that, $379,000 will come to Southside Medical Center to fund, in part, more outreach and education surrounding the health insurance exchange.

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1:24 pm
Wed November 6, 2013

HJIA Wants Local Flavor in New Airport Barbershop

This space at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport will eventually become a barbershop. Currently, the airport doesn't have one.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE News

The world’s busiest airport is adding a barber shop, and airport officials hope to find the perfect fit right in our own back yard.

"You'll have a doorway there, so it attracts you in from here," says Hartsfield-Jackson General Manager Lewis Miller, pointing to a tiny patch of drywall between two merchants in the airport's atrium.

Soon, airport officials will select a barbershop to go into the space.  The shop itself is responsible for putting in chairs and sinks and everything that makes a barbershop unique.

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Health & Science
1:12 pm
Wed November 6, 2013

High Number of Georgians Eligible for Health Insurance Tax Credit

Credit KFF.org

A new report estimates more than 17-million Americans are eligible for tax credits to help pay for health insurance.  The Kaiser Family Foundation study estimates that includes 654,000 Georgians.

That’s more than half of the 1-million Georgians who potentially will buy coverage on the health exchange.

Georgia is one of only six states with a potential pool that large.

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The Heavy Lift
10:38 am
Sat November 2, 2013

The Historical Heavy Hitters

Robert Woodruff used his Coca-Cola fortune to strengthen the Atlanta region. Eighty years later, his influence is still evident.
Credit Joeff Davis / Creative Loafing

WABE and Creative Loafing have partnered for "The Heavy Lift," a series on Atlanta's vibrant and vital non-profit community.

The series concludes with this “Ode to the Patrons,” a profile of two people whose names will forever frame Atlanta’s philanthropic community. 

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Airlines and Aviation
6:08 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

Airlines' Announcements about Electronic Devices to Change

A smartphone set to Airplane Mode.
Credit Peter Oouwerkerk via flickr.com / http://www.flickr.com/photos/pieterouwerkerk/699475144/

Airline passengers flying within the U.S.will soon be able to use most portable electronic devices at all flight levels.   

The change comes after the F.A.A Thursday announced it's lifting its 32 year-old ban on the use of electronics below 10,000 feet. 

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The Heavy Lift
11:37 am
Sun October 27, 2013

Reporter's Notebook: The Shock of Compassion

The Atlanta Harm Reduction operates on a tight budget, which this year has become even tighter. It operates this RV as a "mobile" needle exchange.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE News

The Atlanta Harm Reduction Coalition, in addition to other outreach services, operates the state’s only needle exchange.

In Georgia, that’s illegal.  

That, coupled with the stigma of its mission, means the non-profit is struggling.  It has just a few months worth of funding on hand, and workers fear they may have to close their doors at the end of the year.

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The Heavy Lift
10:54 am
Sun October 27, 2013

"The Bluff Will Suck You In."

A person holds "dirty" syringes outside of the Atlanta Harm Reduction Coalition's mobile needle exchange van. The needle exchange is illegal under Georgia law.
Credit Joeff Davis / Creative Loafing

This is part of a partnership between WABE and Creative Loafing looking at Atlanta's non-profit sector entitled "The Heavy Lift." Claude's story is part of a feature in that series on the Atlanta Harm Reduction Center's needle exchange program.  

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11:35 am
Sat October 26, 2013

The Stigma of Harm Reduction

Credit Joeff Davis / Creative Loafing

“In the best of times, we’re a hard sell,” is how Mona Bennett, one of the founders of the Atlanta Harm Reduction Coalition, puts it.

The AHRC provides many services for clients—but its needle exchange program seems to attract the most attention.  

Used to be an IV drug user could walk up with 700 dirty needles, deposit them into one of these red, biohazard tubs the size of a dorm refrigerator, and leave with 700 clean ones. 

Not anymore, says Atlanta Harm Reduction Coalition outreach coordinator Verna Gaines. 

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Health & Science
5:12 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

Drug linked to Hepatitis C Cure has Atlanta Tie

The hepatitis C virus, seen here, is an infectious disease that attacks the liver.
Credit Wikipedia

(Updated to correct name of drug's inventor, adds response from Gilead Science) 

A federal Food and Drug Administration panel Friday recommended approving a new drug that, in combination with other treatments, helps to effectively stop hepatitis C.

The drug, Sofosbuvir, has ties to Atlanta. 

“Finally, my baby is becoming an adult, and now it’s going to be used by a lot of people and save a lot of lives," says Emory University’s Dr. Raymond Schinazi, who helped develop the drug. "And that’s what it’s all about."

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Health & Science
2:48 pm
Wed October 23, 2013

Georgians Start to Gain Access to Healthcare Exchange

Michael Lappin looks over health policies offered on Georgia's federally-run insurance exchange. He says the policies are more comprehensive and drastically cheaper than what he now pays.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE News

Three weeks after the Affordable Care Act’s online insurance marketplace launched, anecdotal reports indicate Georgians are starting to get through. 

Atlanta mortgage broker Michael Lappin, 44, is one. 

He now buys health coverage on the individual market.  And for three weeks, he’s tried to crack the much-maligned online exchange portal.

“We’re an ‘information age,’ and when you can’t get something, it’s frustrating,” he says, noting that his frustration is now a thing of the past. 

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5:12 pm
Wed October 16, 2013

Consumers Still Face Problems Accessing Health Insurance Exchange

Those attempting to buy a health plan through Georgia's federally-run insurance exchange continue to encounter problems.

Michael Lappin of Atlanta is in that group.

“It breaks some of my excitement about it," the mortgage broker says.  

Since the exchanges went live Oct. 1st, Lappin estimates he's spent about three hours on the site trying to shop for a policy. 

“Most of the time it’d kick me out and say it could not create an account," he says of his initial attempts. "And I’d have to start all over again, which was the most frustrating part.”

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The Heavy Lift
2:53 pm
Sat October 12, 2013

At End of the Day, Big/Small Nonprofits Face Same Issue

WABE's Rose Scott (left) speaks with CARE CEO Dr. Helene Gayle in Amman, Jordan. The non-profit is aiding Syrian refugees fleeing to the neighboring country.
Credit Courtesy: Rose Scott / WABE News

In this second installment of "The Heavy Lift", a partnership between WABE News and Creative Loafing, WABE’s Jim Burress profiles two non-profits:  One’s mission is to provide tools to those in need.  The other’s is to provide tools to those in need. 

For the humanitarian relief agency CARE, people are its tools.  More than 10,000 of them work all over the world on everything from disaster relief to global health crises to women’s empowerment to finding safe places for displaced refugees. 

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2:22 pm
Wed October 9, 2013

Atlanta Mayor Promotes Insurance Exchange, Defends Health Reform Law

Mayor Kasim Reed
Credit City of Atlanta

 The city of Atlanta hosted an event Wednesday promoting Georgia’s new insurance exchange as called for by President Obama’s health reform law.

In the City Hall atrium, Mayor Kasim Reed encouraged several hundred city employees to spread the word about the exchange. He also offered a strong defense of the law and the president.

“All of this noise and back and forth and anger and rage is being directed at somebody that’s just trying to make sure you have health insurance. Can you believe it?”

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Health & Science
10:48 am
Sun October 6, 2013

Emory Professor: Insurance Exchange Issues Won't Influence Long-term Success or Failure of Obamacare

David Howard is an associate professor in the Dept. of Health Policy and Management at Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health.
Credit Courtesy: Emory Univ.

Anecdotal reports from consumers indicate the federally-run health insurance exchange is starting to work, days after Tuesday’s launch left an untold number of Georigans without guidance. 

No doubt it’s been a public relations blunder for President Obama' signature health care law. 

But Emory Univ. Associate Professor David Howard says it’s not how the Affordable Care Act will be judged long-term.

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The Heavy Lift
11:16 am
Sat October 5, 2013

Voices From the Atlanta Recovery Center

Credit Joeff Davis / Creative Loafing

Vignettes of some of the men living at the  Atlanta Recovery Center.

Dwain Smallwood

At age 55, Dwain Smallwood’s choice was The Recovery Center on Trinity Ave., or the downtown Atlanta sidewalk outside. 

At the time, he didn’t think walking through those doors would save his life.

You have to lean in to hear Dwain’s scratchy whisper of a voice. The rewarded is slow, deliberate, and honest. 

He admits cigarettes were his longtime best friends. But Dwian didn’t want to think that friendship was the cause of his chest pain.  

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10:41 am
Sat October 5, 2013

More With Less: Metro Atlanta Nonprofits Pick up the Pieces

The Atlanta Recovery Center sustains itself on the $9/night residents pay. Security guard Dwain Smallwood makes sure things stay calm.
Credit Joeff Davis / Creative Loafing

Five years ago, the reality of the Great Recession started to sink in.  And in the non-profit sector, a great irony emerged on both the national and local scale.

The economic downturn meant giving fell off sharply, leaving non-profits with fewer resources.  This, even as more people were turning to them for help.

“Our mission is to help Atlanta’s men help themselves," says Derek Boyd, executive director of the Atlanta Recovery Center, a 165-bed shelter on Trinity Ave. 

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4:51 pm
Fri October 4, 2013

Paulding Airport Plan Perturbs Delta CEO, Atlanta Mayor

Paulding Northwest Atlanta Airport will now be called Silver Comet Field at Northwest Atlanta. Propeller Investments' CEO Brett Smith says he's in talks to bring commercial service to the facility.
Credit Courtesy: AccessPaulding.com

Hours after plans were announced to bring commercial airline service to Paulding County, Delta Air Lines' CEO and Atlanta's mayor vowed a fight. 

New York-based Propeller Investments Friday said it had inked a deal with Paulding officials to rename the airfield Silver Comet Field at Paulding NW Atlanta airport.  

Propeller's CEO, Brett Smith, also says he's in talks with "several" carriers to bring scheduled air service to Paulding, including ones now serving Hartsfield-Jackson. "We expect to make an announcement before the end of the year," Smith says. 

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5:36 pm
Tue October 1, 2013

On Launch Day, Three Navigators Certified for Entire State

Dan Tzros, Georgia's first licensed navigator, encounters a computer glitch on day one.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE

Earlier this month, Georgia licensed Daniel Tzros as the state’s first healthcare navigator, so no doubt the big launch of the insurance exchange was a big deal to him.

At his Peachtree Street office, he’s explaining how easy it is to navigate the new site.

“I’ve clicked three times.  I’ve basically said individual family choose the state of Georgia and applied.”

And there’s a hiccup.

The site indicates there are too many visitors, and it can’t handle the traffic, and instead prompts consumers to call a customer service number,

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12:31 pm
Sun September 29, 2013

TomorrowWorld Highlights Growing EDM Following

Crews work to ready the TomorrowWorld main stage, which sets the theme for the entire event.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE News

One of the biggest music festivals in the US this year is taking place on an 8,000-acre farm in south Fulton County.   

Most Atlantans who are unfamiliar with Electronic Dance Music -- EDM--likely didn't notice.  But with the TomorrowWorld festival contracted for the Chattahoochee Hills site for the next nine years, it's likely they will in the future. 

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Health & Science
11:08 am
Sun September 29, 2013

Georgia's LGBT Communities Focus of Health Insurance Navigators

The Health Initiative will deploy navigators to provide outreach to Georgia's LGBT communities.
Credit Courtesy: The Health Initiative

Tuesday, federally-run healthcare “exchanges” go live as part of the Affordable Care Act.

An exchange is a web portal where consumers can shop for a health plan and possibly qualify for a subsidy, and those trained to help consumers through the process are known as “navigators.”

Some local navigators will focus on Georgia’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities.

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Health & Science
4:51 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

What Could Possibly Threaten Ga.'s Health Exchange Debut?


As part of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, Georgia’s health insurance exchange goes “live” Tuesday. That’s the web portal where consumers will compare, purchase, and possibly qualify for a premium subsidy. 

With the feds running Georgia’s exchange, there’s concern a government shut-down could cause problems. 

But most agree that concern is largely unfounded.  Why?  

Think of all federal money as running down two separate pipes. 

Stream “A” flows through the annual appropriations pipe. 

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Health & Science
12:01 am
Wed September 25, 2013

Ga. Health Premiums on Exchanges Lower than Forecast

Figures released by the federal government at 12:01 Wednesday morning show insurance premiums on Georgia's federally-run healthcare exchange, or "marketplace," will be lower than earlier forecast.  

The exchange goes live Oct. 1, with open enrollment continuing through March.  

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7:33 pm
Mon September 23, 2013

Health Coverage, Income and Transit: the Census Shapes Up the Average Atlantan

More Atlantans are gaining health care coverage, according to new data from the U.S. Census.
Credit Courtesy: U.S. Census Bureau, Public Information Office

[The following is a loose transcript of the on-air version.  To hear the feature as-aired on Monday’s 5:44, click the listen icon below.]

Jim Burress:  Each year, the U.S. Census compiles exhaustive data into the American Community Survey. That compilation includes all kinds of categories.

So to get a glimpse of the average Atlantan, we picked three: 

Average income

Average commute

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Health & Science
4:00 pm
Thu September 19, 2013

Georgia State's Latest Grant Smokes All the Others

GSU School of Public Health Dean Michael Erikson says not a lot is known about cigarette alternatives, like E-cigarettes (seen here). The $19-million grant will help
Credit Courtesy: Geek.com

Georgia State University Thursday announced it's received the largest grant in the school’s history. 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health are giving GSU $19-million to study harm related to tobacco use.

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Health & Science
7:18 pm
Wed September 18, 2013

Gov. Deal Open but "Skeptical" to Medicaid Expansion Alternative

Gov. Nathan Deal
Credit Governor's Office

Gov. Nathan Deal has long said Georgia will not expand its Medicaid roles, citing long-term costs to the state. That’s the joint federal/state medical program for the poor.

But Deal seems open to consider alternatives now under consideration in Pennsylvania, Iowa and Arkansas -- all three states that also denied Medicaid expansion.  

Those states want to use federal Medicaid money to buy private insurance for those who would otherwise gain coverage under expansion. 

In an interview with the BBC, Deal seems open to the idea:

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