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 a reporter and host.

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. 

Jim is a regular contributor to the national show Marketplace, and his reports have aired nationally on NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered,  and Day to Day.

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 the Atlanta Police Department, and again in 2012 for a joint project looking at Clayton County schools. 

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


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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11:46 am
Sun September 15, 2013

Biden Likely to Walk Fine Line During Monday Visit

Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to visit the Port of Savannah Monday to talk about the link between growing ports and growing jobs.

Afterward, he'll head to Charleston to make a similar speech. 

And because both states are vying for help from the White House, it’s likely Biden will walk a fine line in his word choice.


Think of the Vice President as the parent about to hand out some much-sought after spending money.

Georgia and South Carolina are the children, and both are making the case for why they need the money  most.

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4:43 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

Atlanta Housing Prices "Rebalancing," Analyst Says

Real estate experts say Atlanta’s housing sector is in the process of “rebalancing.”

That shift toward a more normal growth rate comes one year after our long-frigid housing market began to heat up.  

Several factors are forcing Atlanta’s on-again, off-again market to retreat says Redfin real estate economist Ellen Haberle.

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Health & Science
5:39 pm
Thu September 12, 2013

"Stop Obstructing Obamacare" In Georgia, Groups Demand

Outside the Sloppy Floyd building downtown Thursday, Sen. Nan Orrock (D-Atlanta) called on Gov. Deal to expand Medicaid, and on Ga. Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens to stop blocking Obamacare's implementation.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE News

Fourteen organized labor and left-leaning political groups Thursday called on Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens to stop what they say is his obstruction of the federal Affordable Care Act, known to many as Obamacare. 

The move came in response to comments Hudgens made last month  at a Floyd County Republican rally.  He called Obamacare a "problem" he's working to fix.

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Health & Science
5:51 pm
Wed September 11, 2013

803,000 Georgians Eligible for Health Care Subsidy

What’s known as the "Insurance Exchange" or "Marketplace" is a central part of the federal Affordable Care Act.

And on Oct. 1, Georgia’s goes online.

On Wednesday, figures released by Families USA show 803,000 Georgians are eligible for a subsidy.

And with less than three weeks to go before open enrollment begins, there is some urgency in getting the word out.

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5:28 pm
Thu September 5, 2013

Delta's New Plane Discount

The Airbus 321

Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines is getting a smattering of new planes.

The company announced Wednesday it’s buying 40 new aircraft from European manufacturer Airbus, marking only the second time in Delta’s history it's gone with Airbus.  The last time was nearly 20 years ago. 

(Delta operates a sizeable Airbus fleet, inherited in previous mergers.) 

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11:46 pm
Wed September 4, 2013

Renee Glover and the Atlanta Housing Authority: Looking Back

Renee Glover, seen here, spent nearly twenty years as the head of the Atlanta Housing Authority. Her salary, a reported $325,000, prompted a congressional investigation.
Credit Courtesy: Atlanta Housing Authority

Employees and board members of the Atlanta Housing Authority spent Wednesday coming up with a game plan for hiring its next leader.

The move comes a day after longtime president Renee Glover abruptly resigned from the organization, bringing to an end a nearly 20-year run. 

In the early '90s, Atlanta had a public housing problem.  The city claimed a higher percentage of residents living in public housing than any major US city.

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4:46 pm
Fri August 16, 2013

Church Lowers Asking Price in Falcons Stadium Deal

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed speaking at today's press conference.
Credit Jim Burress/WABE News

It's not a deal.  

But Mayor Kasim Reed said at a Friday press conference there's progress in making the new Atlanta Falcons stadium a reality at the team's preferred site.

Mt. Vernon Baptist Church has lowered from $20.4 million to $15.5 million the asking price it says it needs before selling its land, Reed told reporters.  

But there's still a huge gap between that figure and the $6.2 million the Georgia World Congress Center  said is its maximum-allowed offer. 

So where will the $8-9 million to fill the gap?

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1:13 am
Fri August 16, 2013

Morris Brown to City of Atlanta, Friendship Baptist: "Hands Off!"

Protesters gather Thursday on the steps of Middleton Towers, the vacant dormitory on Morris Brown College's Atlanta campus. They are calling on the city and Friendship Baptist Church to keep their 'hands off' the college's property.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE News

Morris Brown College supporters gathered on the steps of the school's towering but crumbling Middleton Tower dorms late Thursday to protest what they call a “land grab" related to the Atlanta Falcon's quest to build a new stadium. 

The team wants to construct the facility on land now owned by two churches.  

A deal with Mt. Vernon Baptist still hangs in the balance.

But the other, Friendship Baptist, could finalize a $19.5-million agreement as soon as Sunday. 

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4:02 pm
Thu August 15, 2013

US Airways + American = ? for Atlanta Airfares

If US Airways and American merge, it will create the world's largest airline.
Credit Courtesy: US Airways and American Airlines

The U.S. Department of Justice this week filed suit to stop American and US Airways from merging, claiming the merger would drive up airfares.

But let's assume the merger goes through.  What effect might it have on what Atlanta pays for airfare? 

The honest answer:  Your guess is as good as mine. 

Airline pricing is a matrix few understand.

Competition along routes is just one variable in that calculus.

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5:12 pm
Fri August 9, 2013

Georgia Exemption Opens Door for Equity-Based Crowdfunding

Adam Lee, co-founder of Bohemian Guitars, shows a custom-wrapped oil can the company uses to produce its unique-sounding instrument. Bohemian hopes to raise $150,000 using the Invest Georgia Exemption and start-up SmarkMarket.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE News

[Note: A similar story aired nationally on Marketplace.  To go to that story, click here.]

Community-based crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indegogo make it possible for just about anyone to donate to a project.

But if a small company wants to sell shares to raise cash, federal regulations make it nearly impossible.

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Project ENGAGE Pt. V
1:32 pm
Fri August 9, 2013

Project ENGAGE Pt. V: The Quiet Killers

Solomon McBride stands next to a poster outlining his research on the link between HIV treatment and atherosclerosis.
Credit Elly Yu / WABE News

All week, we've aired stories about two African-American high schoolers navigating through Georgia Tech's first-ever Project ENGAGE, a program designed to bring more minorities into the "STEM" fields -- Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. 

For this final component of the five-part series, I sat down in-studio for a conversation with Project ENGAGE co-founders Drs. Manu Platt and Robert Nerem.  

[A transcript of the interview wouldn't do it justice, so if you can, take a few minutes and listen.]

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Project ENGAGE
6:35 am
Thu August 8, 2013

Project ENGAGE Pt. IV: Personal Growth

A timer ensures students don't go over their five-minute time allotment. Jade Johnson (left) and Project ENGAGE co-founder Dr. Robert Nerem (right) listen as another participant describes his research dealing with osteoarthritis.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE News

Two months of hard work come down to a packed but non-descript seminar room on Georgia Tech's campus. 

"The students know the rules," Project ENGAGE co-founder Dr. Manu Plat informs the audience.  

Each student has five minutes to present his or her research, and as the minutes pass, scholars impress with their knowledge of everything from potential long-term side effects of HIV medication to stem cells' role in treating osteoarthritis to "the effects of S1P and FTY720 on OP9 bone marrow stromal cells.”

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Project ENGAGE Pt. III
6:35 am
Wed August 7, 2013

Project ENGAGE Pt. III: Students Become Researchers

In addition to being lab partners, Amadou Bah and Jovanay Carter have become fast friends.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE News

When I last checked in on the Project ENGAGE scholars, they were going on "speed dates" to best match their interests with available mentors and specialized research labs. 

It's been about a month since that visit, and now students have settled into their lab assignments and are working on topics from stem cell research to HIV treatment complications to osteoarthritis.  

My first stop is the Botchwey lab, where Amadou Bah shows me around.  

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Project ENGAGE Part II
6:35 am
Tue August 6, 2013

Project ENGAGE Pt. II: Speed Dating

B.E.S.T Academy student Amadou Bah (left) and Ga Tech grad student and Project ENGAGE mentro Jose Garcia (right) have just finished their five-minute 'speed date.'
Credit Jim Burress / WABE News

Since last check in, the 12 Project ENGAGE students have spent the better part of a month in bioscience boot camp. 

Now, they’re eager for the next phase—getting their hands dirty in a real Georgia Tech research lab. 

Before that happens, students must choose labs that best meet their interests; likewise,  mentors have to decide which students will be the best fit.   

So they’re all going on a “speed date,” of sorts.

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Project ENGAGE Part I: Orientation Day
12:00 am
Mon August 5, 2013

Project ENGAGE: A Year of Opportunity

The inaugural group of ProjectENGAGE research scholars pose for a group photo on orientation day. They're about to embark on a year of intense, hands-on scientific research in a Georgia Tech laboratory.
Credit Courtesy: Georgia Tech

Finding paths into the so-called STEM fields – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – remains especially challenging for minorities. 

But a first-of-its kind program between Georgia Tech and two single-gender Atlanta high schools is working to change the trend.

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12:52 pm
Sun July 28, 2013

Mayor Reed Donates Questionable Campaign Contributions

Kasim Reed, seen here in a promotional campaign photo, has donated to charity some $65,000 D.C. businessman Jeffrey Thompson gave to his 2009 campaign.
Credit www.kasimreed.com

A Washington, D.C. campaign finance scandal appears to have a connection to Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed.

Reed is among a host of politicians -- from the President to governors to Senators -- who received questionable donations from a wealthy D.C. businessman.

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6:15 pm
Thu July 25, 2013

Georgia Gives Day Organizers Build on Momentum, Lessons Learned

The Georgia Center for Nonprofits is ramping up for the second Georgia Gives Day, scheduled for Nov. 13th.
Credit Courtesy: Georgia Center for Nonprofits

Late last year, the Georgia Center for Nonprofits hosted its first-ever Georgia Gives Day.

The idea was to give people a simple and central way to support a Georgia non-profit of their choice.

About 7,000 people donated amounts big and small on that November day. 

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4:36 pm
Thu July 25, 2013

Atlanta's Housing Market Shows Evidence of Cooling Trend

After a huge jump in home prices earlier this year, there's evidence prices are starting to stabilize.

Earlier this year a hot Atlanta housing market seemed to appear out of nowhere.

Even as recently as June's Case-Shiller Atlanta Home Price Index, prices were up 4% from the previous month and a hefty 21% compared to a year ago. 

Experts say years of pent-up demand, shockingly low inventory, a stabilizing economy and historically-low interest rates all came together to quickly ignite Atlanta's housing market.

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4:51 pm
Wed July 24, 2013

Lower Fuel Bill Bolsters Delta's Q2 Profit

Delta's fuel bill dropped about 30-cents per gallon compared to last year. That helped propel the airline to a huge 2Q gain.

Executives at Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines said during an investor call Wednesday the months of April, May and June were among the most profitable ever for the airline.

Despite relatively flat passenger revenue and a sharp drop in cargo volume, Delta's net earnings in the second quarter were $685-million.

Lower operating costs and a big break in fuel prices helped bolster the carrier's bottom line. 

Last year, Delta lost $168-million in the second quarter.  

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6:27 pm
Fri July 19, 2013

Study Wrongly Predicts Georgia's Future Water Use

A Burns & McDonnell infographic released Monday, part of which is shown here, predicted Georgia would double its water usage by 2020. By Friday, the illustration had been removed from the company's website.
Credit Courtesy: PR Newswire

The Atlanta office of the national consulting firm Burns & McDonnell this week issued a dire prediction: By 2020, Georgia’s water consumption would double.  

For metro Atlanta, the picture was far worse.  

According to "The Big Gulp: Georgia's Water Challenge," demand in the Atlanta region would increase 900% in just seven years. 

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7:28 pm
Thu July 18, 2013

Atlanta: Home to World's Second Busiest Airport?

Air traffic controllers monitor incoming planes at Atlanta's airport.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE News

Since 2005, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport has proudly worn the title of “World’s Busiest.”

Previously, Chicago's O'Hare held the honor.  

But the Windy City could reclaim busiest bragging rights in a matter of months, according to a report in the Chicago Tribune.

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5:59 pm
Wed July 17, 2013

Report: US Must Improve Elections Process to Align with International Democratic Standards

Speaking at the Carter Center Wednesday, former US President Jimmy Carter criticized the current state of US elections.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE News

Reading from an Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights report at the Carter Center Wednesday, Ambassador Janez Lenarčič of Slovenia said last November's US elections "took place in a competitive environment and were administered professionally." 

But when it comes to meeting international democratic election standards, the report finds the United States must address several shortcomings. 

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Around the Nation
5:06 am
Tue July 16, 2013

Georgia Hospital System Partners With Royal Philips

Originally published on Tue July 16, 2013 6:22 am



Companies that make medical equipment operate largely on a supply-and-demand model. Hospitals buy their multimillion- dollar machines, use them for a few years, and then go shopping again. In some cases, manufacturers have designed entire medical systems within a hospital.

Now, in what appears to be a first-of-its-kind partnership in the United States, a tech giant - Royal Philips - and a hospital system in Georgia are sharing financial risk and reward. Jim Burress reports from WABE in Atlanta.

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Health & Science
10:48 am
Sun July 14, 2013

Guidelines Set for Insurance Exchange "Navigators"

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will soon award grants to hire and pay so-called insurance 'navigators.'
Credit CMS / special to WABE

Georgians soon will be able to purchase health insurance through the federal government’s health insurance marketplace, also called an insurance exchange.

That’s a website where people can compare policies, purchase a plan, and find out if they’re eligible for a subsidy.

Now, the federal government has finalized guidelines for insurance "navigators." They're the people who will help walk consumers through the process.

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5:14 pm
Fri July 12, 2013

Feds Plan Heavy Marketing of Health Exchange to Georgians

Georgia has opted to let the federal government run the state's insurance marketplace, or "exchange." It's set to go live Oct. 1st.
Credit https://www.healthcare.gov/ / Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

More than half of the states - including Georgia - have opted to let the federal government set up their so-called “Insurance Exchange," a website where those who need to buy newly-mandated health insurance can shop for coverage, compare prices, and see if they qualify for a subsidy.

But with fewer than three months to go before the exchange goes live, will it be ready when Georgians log on?

In a word, “Yes,” said Marilyn Tavenner, Administrator of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

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Health & Science
6:44 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

Grant to Help Georgia's Community Health Centers Reach Uninsured

St. Joseph's Mercy Care Services is one of 28 community health centers in Georgia to receive grant money. Within 60 days, it plans to hire three new people to help reach those newly-eligible for coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
Credit Courtesy: St. Joseph's

The federal government Wednesday announced $150-million in grants to community health centers in all 50 states.   

Georgia’s cut is about $3.3-million, split between 28 centers across the state.

The money will  go toward outreach and education to those who are uninsured, but now eligible for health coverage under the Affordable Care act.

According to the federal Department of Health and Human Services, that includes more than 100,000 Georgians.

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Health & Science
11:59 am
Sun July 7, 2013

Georgia Regents Medical Center, Philips, Enter "First of its Kind" Agreement

Under a 15-year, $300-million agreement, Georgia Regents Health Sytem and its affiliates -- including the state's medical school -- is partnering with Philips to provide an integrated care system.
Credit Courtesy: Georgia Regents University

The nation’s health care industry is changing at a pace never before seen. 

Part of that’s due to the Affordable Care Act, which holds providers accountable for patient outcomes while rewarding efficiencies.

Although not a direct result of the new health care law, those are the same goals behind a massive, first of its kind partnership in the US.  

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