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."  


4:47 pm
Fri June 20, 2014

Turning Sweet Auburn into a Lifelong Community

Portions of the Sweet Auburn District are turning around, but residents hope to make it more of a so-called lifelong community. With some help from the Atlanta Regional Commission, that's happening. At least temporarily.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE News

On Friday and Saturday, June 21-22, the Atlanta Regional Commission, national experts and local volunteers will create a concept in the Sweet Auburn district known as tactical urbanism.

To learn more about the click on the group's Facebook page

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3:20 pm
Thu June 19, 2014

Tech Researchers Uncover Android Security Issue

Georgia Tech researchers have identified a potential “security weakness” in Android-based mobile phones.  

But Android users shouldn’t be too concerned.

That’s because no one has actually exploited the security weakness.

“In Android, it’s pretty hard," says Byoungyoung Lee, the Tech PhD student behind the research. 

Lee says the potential glitch happened as speed and performance of Android phones increased.

To fix it, one option could be to slightly slow down those processes. 

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2:36 pm
Wed June 18, 2014

Georgia Premiums on Federal Insurance Exchange Among Lowest

Dan Tzros was Georgia's first licensed navigator. In this archive picture, he attempts to enter the healthcare marketplace online portal.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE

Georgians are paying some of the lowest premiums in the nation for insurance on the federal healthcare marketplace, according to data released Wednesday by the federal Dept. of Health and Human Services.

  The data compared 35 states that opted to let the federal government run their exchanges. 

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9:08 am
Sun June 8, 2014

Summer Road Construction Season Ramping Up

Credit Credit: Indiana Public Media / http://bit.ly/16wKUba

Roadwork this weekend caused backups across the metro area.  

Get used to it.

The summer road construction season is just beginning.  

Roadwork is a year-round proposition for G-DOT. But it really picks up when the weather warms, says spokeswoman Natalie Dale.

Some projects are so large, they can’t be finished in one weekend. That includes a $13-million rehab of a 17-mile stretch of I-285 between Paces Ferry Road and Camp Creek Parkway. 

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5:34 pm
Fri June 6, 2014

ATL's Friday Commute: What's Up With That?

Credit WABE

If it's Friday, and it's the afternoon, there's a good chance you’re stuck in traffic.  

But there’s an equally good chance you weren’t stuck in traffic earlier the same morning.  In a word, Atlanta's Friday traffic is enigmatic.  

For commuter Stephanie Saxon, Friday is the best of drives.  It’s the worst of drives.

“I shouldn’t divulge how fast I drive," she laughs as she talks about her quicker-than-normal Friday AM trek. 

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11:52 am
Fri June 6, 2014

Take That, Seattle: Atlanta No. 2 for Electric Cars

2014 Nissan LEAF

File this one under the categories of, “Who knew?” and “Really?”

Atlanta just beat environmentally-conscious Seattle for the number two spot for use of electric cars, according to IHS Automotive as reported by the Wall Street Journal.   

This ranking will make some ponder if Atlanta has suddenly become  the land of tree hug-ery, where we’ll will pay a hefty window sticker premium to blow off the corner gas station.

… not exactly.

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Atlanta's LGBT Community
12:03 am
Wed June 4, 2014

Transgender Community Asks for Apology, not Jail, Following MARTA Attack

Two uniformed MARTA Police Dept. officers were present at Tuesday's town hall forum addressing a recent attack of two transgender people on a MARTA train. Some feel officers failed to do enough to protect the two women.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE News

Members of Atlanta’s transgender community say they want an apology from - and not jail time for - two men accused of attacking two trans women on a MARTA train.

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3:48 pm
Thu May 29, 2014

GSU Economist: "Peach State Bets Gingerly on Growth"

GSU economist Rajeev Dhawan presents his quarterly economic forecast.
Credit Courtesy: Georgia State University

Gingerly.  It’s an adverb that means in a careful or cautious manner. 

And it’s how GSU economist Rajeev Dhawan characterizes the near-term growth of the economy on both the national and local fronts.   

Some of that tepidness comes from concern over when the Fed will raise interest rates.

Speaking at his quarterly economic forecast Thursday,  Dhawan predicted:

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3:04 pm
Wed May 28, 2014

Atlanta No. 16 on Fit City Index

An array of recreational opportunities, like the BeltLine project, helped Atlanta's index ranking.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE News

A new ranking puts Atlanta high on the list of healthy, fit metro areas. With a score of 56 out of 100, the 28-county metro region earned the 16th spot

“Atlanta’s doing pretty well," says Georgia State University’s Walt Thompson, who co-authored the American Fitness Index. Thompson says the City of Atlanta, specifically, has expanded offerings that promote health. That helped our ranking.

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9:22 am
Sat May 24, 2014

100 Profiles of Poverty in Pictures

Chanda Baptist holds her three-year-old daughter Journey. Until a few weeks ago, the mother and daughter lived in their car. Now, they call a modest apartment in College Park, 'home.'
Chris Ferguson WABE News

About one in five Georgians lives in poverty, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

But what does poverty look like?    

The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul Georgia wants to capture that in pictures.  The organization is behind an exhibit called, “100 Profiles of Poverty,” which coincides with the organization’s 100th anniversary.  

One of the profiles is 42-year-old mother Chanda Baptist.

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12:14 am
Fri May 23, 2014

Celestine's Centennial: Reporter. Columnist. Atlanta Icon.

Celestine Sibley came to the Atlanta Constitution in 1941, and worked for the paper (later the Atlanta Journal-Constitution) until her death in 1999.
Credit Courtesy: Atlanta Magazine

Celestine Sibley was more than just an Atlanta icon. She was a Southern icon.  

In fact, she was so representative of what it meant to be an Atlantan, the AJC featured her in an undated TV commercial.  

“We grew up reading Celestine Sibley at the breakfast table, just like countless other Atlantans," says Rich Eldredge, former AJC reporter, columnist with Atlanta Magazine, and editor of the 2001 book: "Celestine Sibley Reporter.”

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Airlines and Aviation
3:37 pm
Wed May 21, 2014

Virgin Atlantic to Service HJIA

Virgin Atlantic will begin servicing Atlanta on Oct. 26th.
Credit Courtesy: Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic, the British airline known for its unique style, will soon fly to Atlanta.  

The move is the result of a partnership formed in January with Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines, according to a press release

Delta owns a 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic. 

Under the deal, Delta will take over one of Virgin’s two daily flights between Los Angeles International and London-Heathrow.  It marks the first time Delta’s served London out of LAX with nonstop service.

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Primary Election Night
1:13 am
Wed May 21, 2014

Michelle Nunn Promises Bipartisanship, Civility

Nunn supporter LaTonya McClain cheers Tuesday night as her candidate, Democrat Michelle Nunn, accepts the Democratic nomination for Georgia's open U.S. Senate seat.
Credit Jim Burress/WABE News

In Georgia's closely-watched U.S. Senate race, Democrat Michelle Nunn easily won her party’s nomination.

While Republicans maintain a stronghold in Georgia, Nunn supporter LaTonya McClain wonders if the GOP base is fed up.  

  “We [Georgians] hold steady to our guns and our habits and what we believe in, but at some point in time, when things don’t work, we’re ready for change.”

Michelle Nunn told the crowd she will work across party lines to be that change.

Nunn, the daughter of former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn, also said she’ll follow her father’s advice:

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Health & Science
6:08 pm
Fri May 16, 2014

Truvada and the Question of PrEP

Truvada from Gilead Sciences.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation

The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this week certain people who are HIV-negative should take medication used to treat those who are HIV-positive.

The concept is called “PrEP,” for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis.  Many say it’s the closest thing yet to a cure for HIV.

Even so, PrEP remains controversial, even in communities highly affected by the virus.   

That doesn’t faze 4o year-old Eric McCulley, who is gay and HIV-negative.

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Airlines and Aviation
3:22 pm
Thu May 15, 2014

More Passengers to Fly This Summer, Trade Group Predicts

A4A predicts summer travel will approach pre-recession levels this year.
Credit Airlines for America

International travel is expected to set an all-time record this summer, according to a report released Thursday by the airline industry trade group Airlines for America. 

A4A also projects summer travel to reach its highest level in six years, with US carriers expected to accommodate 210 million passengers between June 1 and August 31.

That’s up a percent-and-a-half over last summer.

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Airlines and Aviation
12:47 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

Southwest Airlines' Growth Bypasses Atlanta

Southwest CEO Gary Kelly did not mention Atlanta Wednesday when he told investors the airline is “here to grow.” 

Speaking via webcast, Kelly did single out Dallas, Houston, Ft. Lauderdale and Los Angeles.

“As long as we have a competitive advantage, it makes sense for us to be investing in these facilities where we can grow,” Kelly said. “Competitive advantage is two things: a lower price and better service.”

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A WABE News Series
9:00 am
Mon May 5, 2014

Why Liberia?

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

This week, WABE News presents the series we're calling, "Why Liberia?" 

As part of a reporting trip paid for through a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, WABE's Jim Burress spent twelve days in the West African country looking at how it's rebuilding nearly a decade after its civil war ended, as well as how Atlanta is connected to those efforts. 

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Health & Science
6:37 pm
Thu May 1, 2014

Georgia Among Highest Rates of Enrollment through Healthcare Exchange

The federal government says 8 million Americans have enrolled in the online healthcare exchange, and Georgia’s sign-up rate is one of the highest in the U.S.

About one in three Georgians eligible to sign up for a policy on the federally-run exchange has taken the government up on the offer. 

In all, 316,543 residents purchased health insurance through the exchange, according to figures released Thursday by the Kaiser Family Foundation.  

Airlines and Aviation
1:07 am
Fri April 25, 2014

Delta CEO Comments Point Toward International Expansion

Credit Photo courtesy Delta Airlines

City officials want more passengers and more cargo to flow through what’s already the world’s busiest airport.

To sweeten the pot in an effort to make that happen, they’re offering $2-million a year to an airline or airlines that establish new passenger or cargo routes out of Hartsfield-Jackson.

But Delta, the airport's dominant carrier (accounting for about 75% of passenger and 30% of cargo traffic in and out of HJIA) plans to soak up most of those funds. 

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4:14 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

AirTran Parent Company, Southwest, Posts Record Profit

Dallas-based Southwest saw a record start to 2014

One day after Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines announced a record profit, Southwest Airlines, AirTran’s parent company, followed suit.

Southwest pulled in a net profit of $152-million for the first three months of 2014, even with significant losses from a long, harsh winter.

“The bad weather definitely cost us, but we still managed to stay on plan," said Southwest CEO Gary Kelly on an investor conference call. 

Much of that plan included further dismantling AirTran.

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12:17 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Delta Flies High on Record Profits

Despite an unprecedented winter full of revenue-busting cancellations, Delta made a record profit in Q1.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE News

Atlanta-based Delta Airlines Wednesday reported a record profit for the first three months of this year. That’s despite a tough start to 2014.

Delta canceled 17,000 flights in January and February due to relentless winter weather, or about twice the number of flights the carrier canceled in all of 2013.

“But for the weather, we would’ve had a $500-million pre-tax profit in the seasonally most-difficult quarter of the year," said Delta CEO Richard Anderson on an investor call. "And that says a lot of the franchise we have here at Delta.”

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5:33 am
Thu April 17, 2014

Georgia State Finance Professor Skeptical on Weibo IPO

Lixin Huang is a finance professor at Georgia State Univ. He's skeptical about investing in Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter.
Credit Courtesy: Georgia State University

Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter, goes public today.

It’s one of China’s most-visited websites.  Despite its popularity, analysts are watching to see if Weibo closes way low.

That’s because of users like Lixin Huang.  He’s one of 130-million active users the website claims as its customer base.  But he’s not exactly what you’d call “active.”

“I used it sometime last year when my friends were using it,” he says.

Huang, a finance professor at Georgia State University in Atlanta, now uses WeChat.  It’s growing at three times the rate of Weibo.

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9:33 am
Sat April 12, 2014

OurSong, Atlanta's Mixed LGBT Chorus, to Perform in Dublin

Members of OurSong perform in WABE's Studio 4
Credit Jim Burress / WABE News

OurSong's Ellen Chase says that since its inception 12 years ago, OurSong's mission has been to take its mixed-voice message abroad. This year, the LGBT-focused Atlanta choral group is doing just that. It's one of just six US groups selected to perform this June in Dublin, Ireland at Various Voices. 

OurSong recently paid a visit to WABE's studios to talk about the group, upcoming performances and raiding money for its trip to Ireland. 

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9:13 am
Sun April 6, 2014

Atlanta's Archbishop Will Sell Newly Renovated Mansion

Archbishop Gregory's new Buckhead residence, which is at the center of the controversy. Saturday, he agreed to sell the 6,400 square foot home.
Credit Denis O'Hayer/WABE

The Archbishop of Atlanta is apologizing for renovating a multi-million dollar home with money earmarked for charitable use.

Saturday, Archbishop Wilton Gregory said he will sell the Habersham mansion which was recently renovated for $2.2 million.

In an interview with WABE’s Denis O’Hayer, Gregory said he was wrong to spend so much money without seeking guidance.

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3:09 pm
Wed April 2, 2014

Low Pilot Pay Sends Newbies Looking Elsewhere

Pilot Doug Fowler, fed up with low pay, quit an Atlanta-based regional airline. He now flies corporate customers out of DeKalb-Peachtree Airport.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE News

There’s a huge demand for pilots at the nation’s regional airlines. The Government Accountability Office says the small airlines need thousands of new pilots.

So you’d think lots of folks would be in line. After all, top captains at airlines like Atlanta-based Delta can pull in a cool quarter-million a year.

But starting salaries are sending some Atlanta pilots elsewhere.

Like Doug Fowler, who quit Atlanta-based regional carrier Atlantic Southeast Airlines (now ExpressJet), after nine months.  Just walked away.

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5:17 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

Morris Brown President: No Way Around Selling Property

Credit Jim Burress / WABE News

Morris Brown College’s plan to emerge from bankruptcy and eventually re-gain accreditation involves selling off a portion of the Atlanta school's assets.

“In order for us to get the resources needed, we’re going to have to divest ourselves of some of the physical assets,”  Morris Brown president Dr. Stanley Pritchett tells WABE.  

Two recent deals to liquidate property fell through. 

Morris Brown is now asking a bankruptcy court for permission to retain a real estate agent to sell 35 acres. 

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12:22 pm
Sun February 16, 2014

Southwest CEO on Future Merger: No Current Airline Like AirTran

Credit Dylan Ashe / via Wikimedia Commons

  Southwest Airlines continues its merger with AirTran Airways, which operates its main hub in Atlanta.

But not at the pace planned when the deal was announced in 2010.

Dallas-based Southwest never hinted the integration would be quick.  Initially, executives planned to finish it early this year.  

Southwest CEO Gary Kelly says high fuel prices partly slowed the process.

“The AirTran brand will be retired by the end of the year.”  

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9:57 am
Sun February 16, 2014

My Gay Banjo Isn't Quite Bluegrass, but Maybe a Tad Country?

The duo My Gay Banjo is Owen Taylor and Julia Steele Allen.  They’re playing an intimate concert at Grocery on Home on Feb 27th. 

Recently, they spoke with WABE's Jim Burress about what their music is, and what it isn't.  To hear the conversation as first aired on Weekend Edition, click on the listen icon below. 


Owen Taylor and Julia Steele Allen recorded a few live songs for WABE.  To hear them, click below. 

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7:40 am
Sat February 15, 2014

Earthquake Felt in Atlanta

The tremor hit at 10:23 Friday night.

The U.S. Geological Survey reports the quake measured a 4.1 on the Richter Scale.

It was centered seven miles west of Edgefield, S.C.  But the quake shook homes as far west as Atlanta, and as far north as Hickory, North Carolina. Each is about 150 miles from the epicenter.

No significant damage or injuries have been reported. 

Quakes hit this region once every year or two. 

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5:59 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

Airport Overwhelmed as Flights Get Back to Normal

A passenger looks at the flight board Thursday at Hartsfield-Jackson. About half of Thursday's departures and arrivals were canceled, an airport spokesman said.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International has been a virtual ghost town much of this week.  Delta, Southwest, AirTran and other carriers canceled thousands of flights. 

By Thursday, air travel in and out of Atlanta began a slow improvement. 

Security check lines were short by late morning, and travelers in the main atrium seemed calm even before a musical duo filled the area with smooth jazz.

“I thought there was going to be a lot more people here,” said Jessica Vickson of Peachtree City as she entered the main security checkpoint. 

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