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." 


3:57 pm
Wed July 3, 2013

Hartsfield-Jackson Leads Nation in Confiscated Firearms

TSA agents at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport confiscated this pistol Wednesday morning. In 2012, Atlanta led the nation in the number of seized weapons.
Credit Courtesy: TSA

Wednesday morning proved eventful for Transportation Security Administration screeners at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. 

That's because in two separate instances, passengers arrived at the security checkpoint with a gun in their carry-on luggage. 

It’s a trend officials say is growing at airports across the nation, but no where is it happening more than here in Atlanta. 

Of the 1,549 firearms TSA agents found on passengers last year, about 100 were confiscated at Hartsfield-Jackson.

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9:49 am
Sun June 30, 2013

Delta Flight Museum to Open to Public Next Summer

This rendering is what the entrance to the new Delta Flight Museum will look like.
Credit Courtesy: Delta Airlines

The museum at Delta Air Lines’ corporate headquarters is undergoing a $6.3 million make-over, and will open to the public next June. 

Delta has had a museum on its campus at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport since 1995. But vice president of community affairs Tad Hutcheson says many folks don’t know about it.

“Right now the majority of the visitors to the museum are connected to Delta in one way or another," he says.  "And we want to open the museum up to more people.”

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9:21 am
Sat June 29, 2013

Georgia Power Asks for 6% Rate Hike

Georgia Power late Friday asked the state Public Service Commission for a $482-million rate increase. 

For the average residential customer, that comes out to a hike of about $7.84 per month.

Why the increase?

The company says it’s to cover the costs of pollution controls, smart-grid technology, transmission lines and customer service.

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4:13 pm
Fri June 28, 2013

State Dems Fire Political Director Rashad Richie

Credit Democratic Party of Georgia

Rashad Richie is no longer an employee of the Democratic Party of Georgia, confirmed interim director Nikema Williams Friday.  

She said there are “several reasons” for his firing.

“Since it’s a personnel issue, I don’t want to comment what the reasons were for the termination,” Williams told WABE.

Williams said an executive assistant also resigned, leaving the organization with six full-time employees.

The firing is the latest in a string of bad publicity for the states's democratic party. 

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9:14 pm
Wed June 26, 2013

Atlanta's LGBT Community Celebrates DOMA Decision

Hundreds line the corners of 10th & Piedmont to share in an historic ruling by the US Supreme Court. Although gay marriage remains out of reach to Georgia's LGBT population, there's a renewed hope that one day they'll be able to marry the person they love.
Credit Charles Edwards / WABE News

Underneath flying rainbow flags and amid car horns honking in support, Nabil Mousa stands at the intersection of 10th and Piedmont in Midtown Wednesday afternoon with partner Scott Richter at his side.

They, along with hundreds of other members of Atlanta's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities, celebrate what most consider a gay rights victory: the end of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. 

Tears well up in Nabil's eyes. 

“I cried like a baby, and I still am," he says. 

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5:54 pm
Wed June 26, 2013

Georgia Gay Marriage Ban Largely Unaffected by SCOTUS Ruling

What "life after DOMA" means depends on where you live. In Georgia, the Supreme Court's Decision likely does little for married lesbian and gay couples.
Credit Courtesy: Lambda Legal

In light of Wednesday's Supreme Court decision that strikes down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act,  many are asking “What comes next?”

The complex answer essentially boils down to where you live.  And if you live in Georgia or one of 36 other states that do not recognize same-sex marriage, the answer is: very little. 

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Atlanta Sounds: Airline Pilot
10:52 am
Wed June 26, 2013

Airline Pilot

Michael D. "Mad Dog" Watson is an Atlanta-based pilot for AirTran Airways. He got his nickname when he was in the army when he and a friend were flying in a bi-plane. During the flight Watson motioned to his friend that he wanted to get out on the wing of the plane. His friend, piloting the plane, shrugged his shoulders yes. While on the wing they buzzed what was then the Bear Creek Airport, today near the Atlanta Raceway, and he waved at everyone.

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3:22 pm
Fri June 21, 2013

Be Prepared for Heinous Weekend Traffic

G-DOT will close three lanes of the Downtown Connector in each direction this weekend to accommodate road work. It's one of many projects that promise to cause headaches for motorists.

It’s the weekend.  It’s Atlanta. And that means construction delays. 

If this story sounds like one you've heard before, it's because you have.  And will.  

“Get used to it.  There will always be projects going on," says Georgia Dept. of Transportation spokeswoman Jill Goldberg.

Sure, you might get a break along your route here and there. 

But with so many roads blanketing metro Atlanta, and so many cars using them, Goldberg says there’s almost always constant weekend construction.  

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6:24 pm
Thu June 20, 2013

Gays and Lesbians More Likely to Face Housing Discrimination, Study Finds

Those who identify as lesbian or gay are more likely to face discrimination when it comes to renting a home  according to a first-of-its-kind report released this week by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The study involved 7,000 Internet posts for rental housing in 50 US cities, including Atlanta.

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7:03 pm
Wed June 19, 2013

Conference Addresses Business Side of Affordable Care Act

Marilyn Tavenner, Administrator for the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, gives the keynote address at the 2013 Georgia Chamber Health Care Conference.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE News

Lots of businesses are unsure what changes mandated in the Affordable Care Act will mean to their bottom line. 


Answering those questions was at the heart of a health care conference put on Wednesday by the Georgia Chamber.

Marilyn Tavenner, head of the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, gave the keynote address.

She told the few hundred attendees at the Georgia Tech Conference Center she avoids calling the law by name.

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Georgia Tech Grad Students Reach Out
11:45 am
Sun June 16, 2013

Tech Grad Students to Help Teens Interested in STEM Field

Ga Tech grad student Jose Garcia answers questions from Jovanay Carter, a student at Coretta Scott King High School. Carter was one of 12 students selected for ProjectENGAGE.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE News

A dozen Atlanta high school students are spending their summer in research labs at Georgia Tech.

While the thought would make many teens cringe, there were about three applicants for each opening in Tech's “Project ENGAGE” (Engaging New Generations at Georgia Tech through Engineering) program.

But Tech grad students don’t want the high schoolers who weren’t selected to lose interest.

That’s why a group is organizing a science club that will go out to schools to give students hands-on research experience. 

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6:57 am
Sat June 15, 2013

MARTA Seeks Public Input on I-20 East Project

Credit Courtesy: MARTA

MARTA is inviting the community to learn about proposed transit projects in the I-20 East Transit initiative.

The transit agency plans to hold open houses on the projects later this month. 

The meetings will give participants a chance to review the locally preferred alternative that has been identified based on studies, public input and preliminary findings from environmental studies.

The open houses feature both formal presentations and a question-and-answer session.

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4:01 pm
Wed June 12, 2013

Can a Brain "Biomarker" Guide Treatment of Depression?

Dr. Helen Mayberg is a Professor of Psychiatry, Neurology, and Radiology at Emory University. She's also co-author of the just-published study on biomarkers and depression treatment.
Credit Courtesy: Emory University

When a person seeks help for major depression, there are generally two options: medication or behavior therapy. 

Whichever a doctor chooses, that initial treatment is effective only about 40% of the time.

A just-released study shows there could be a way to improve that percentage based on the individual patient, and it starts with a look at the person's brain. 

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5:44 with Denis O'Hayer
5:17 pm
Fri June 7, 2013

Medical Records Meet 21st Century with GeorgiaDirect

As more health care providers transition to electronic medical records, stacks of alphabetized folders will likely go away. GeorgiaDirect allows a secure way for providers to exchange patient records.
Credit Courtesy: Cal State University at Chico

The state says it’s well on its way toward implementing an electronic system where patients, doctors,  hospitals and other health care providers across Georgia can access medical records.

The goal is to improve efficiency and deliver better patient care.

The first phase is called GeorgiaDirect, and it's a offered through the Georgia Health Information Network. Now that it’s up and running, it promises to make sharing medical data easier.  

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6:00 pm
Wed June 5, 2013

Delta to Drop Memphis Hub

Delta Air Lines regional jets line the tarmac at Memphis International Airport. Delta inherited Memphis as a hub city when it merged with Northwest Airlines in 2008. Because of high fuel prices, Delta is phasing out most of its smallest regional jets.
Credit Courtesy: Wikimedia.org

In a memo circulated to employees Tuesday, Delta Air Lines executives said high fuel costs and a reliance on inefficient 50-seat regional jets mean Memphis is no longer a profitable hub. 

As such, the airline will reduce the number of daily flights there to about 60, in the process unraveling the airport’s hub-status.

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Operation Homefront
11:08 am
Sun June 2, 2013

Five Troops Get Free Homes

Army Specialist Joe Wallace, seen here with his wife and three children, will soon move from Alaska back to metro Atlanta. Operation Homefront, Wells Fargo and United Rentals donated homes to five servicemen Saturday.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE News

Five military families are about to move into metro Atlanta homes that had been in foreclosure.

Four are Army soldiers and one is a Marine, and each was forced out of the military by injuries.  All have ties to Georgia, but were scattered all over the country.

At Stone Mountain Park Saturday, the five families gathered under a towering American flag.  They had no idea what was about to happen.

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4:12 pm
Fri May 24, 2013

Sixteen Hospitalized After Crash Near Airport

A shuttle bus hits a tractor-trailer near Atlanta's airport Friday. Sixteen people were taken to local hospitals with injuries.
Credit Courtesy: NBC News

Sixteen people were taken to area hospitals after a hotel shuttle bus collided with a tractor-trailer near the Atlanta airport Friday morning.  

Police say the tractor-trailer was making a U-turn at an intersection on Loop Rood near I-85, just off the Atlanta airport. 

The driver of a private shuttle carrying passengers from three nearby hotels reportedly slammed on the breaks, skidded 90 feet, then hit the semi’s trailer, which was blocking the intersection.  

Sgt. Keith Stanley is with the College Park Police Department, which is leading the investigation. 

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12:01 am
Mon May 20, 2013

Atlanta Suburbs See Alarming Rise in Poverty, Study Finds

Credit Courtesy: Brookings Institution

Suburbs are becoming home to more and more of our nation’s poor.

A Brookings Institution study released Monday finds nowhere is that trend more evident than in metro Atlanta.

As a whole, researchers found an average increase in poverty of 64% in the nation's largest 100 metro areas.  

In Atlanta, the figure is close to 159%, making it the the largest increase of any US city. 

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9:49 am
Sat May 18, 2013

For God, Country, and Coca-Cola

Author Mark Pendergrast just released the third edition of "For God, Country & Coca-Cola."  

He talked to WABE's Jim Burress about the mystique that still surrounds the brand more than a century after John Pemberton mixed the first versions of the soft drink. 

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5:59 am
Fri May 17, 2013

Airlines Say FAA Dragging Heels on Parts of NextGen

Air traffic controllers at HJIA manage traffic approaching the airport.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE News

The top airline industry trade group is criticizing the federal government’s slowness to implement part an updated air traffic control system known as NextGen.

NextGen, the FAA says, will revamp air traffic control as we know it, making   the nation's air system more efficient, improve on-time performance, and all while reducing emissions.

In a webcast Thursday, Airlines For America’s Dan Elwell said carriers have invested a lot of money to accommodate NextGen, but that the FAA is failing to deliver on needed policies, procedures and training.

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4:35 pm
Thu May 16, 2013

More Passengers Expected to Fly This Summer

Credit Courtesy: Airlines For America

After years of cutbacks, bankruptcies, and mergers, there's further evidence the nation’s airlines are rebounding.

The industry trade group Airlines For America Thursday reported the major carriers saw a resoectable 1st Quarter, with an even stronger summer on the horizon.

A4A expects 209-million US passengers will fly somewhere this summer, making it the best outlook in years, and just 4% below the all-time best record set in 2007. 

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5:10 pm
Wed May 15, 2013

Reporter's Notebook: The BeltLine Then and Now

In this picture from Nov., 2008, volunteers clean up tons of trash under the Freedom Parkway overpass.
Credit WABE News

A national conference kicked off Wednesday here in Atlanta, bringing together stakeholders from all over interested in redeveloping so-called “brownfields.” [A brownfield is land once occupied by industry, but is now undeveloped or underdeveloped because of either real or perceived contamination.]

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11:52 am
Sun May 12, 2013

Delta to Pay Dividends, Further Boost Shares

Credit Courtesy: Delta Airlines

In what Delta Air Lines is calling a “milestone,” the Atlanta-based carrier has announced a $5-billion plan to boost its stock value which includes returning a billion dollars to shareholders over the next three years.

Delta will pay a six-cents per share quarterly dividend. That accounts for half.

The carrier is also buying back $500-million in stock.

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9:35 am
Sun May 12, 2013

Brian Sharp's Nashville Dream

Guitarist John Harwell (left) and Brian Sharp (right) in WABE's Studio IV. Sharp, a police officer by day, is following his dream to get to Nashville.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE News

Brian Sharp’s day job as a local police officer involves a gun and a badge. 

But his other gig involves a microphone, a country song, and a dream of Nashville.

To get there, Sharp’s started a Kickstarter campaign

[Kickstarter is a web portal where a person sets a financial goal and a timeline for raising a certain amount of money.  People make donations.  But if Sharp comes up just a dollar short, everyone gets their money back and he gets nothing.]

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8:28 am
Sat May 11, 2013

"On These Courts" Author Wayne Drash Talks About Penny Hardaway

In the 1990s, Penny Hardaway was nearly as big a name as Michael Jordan. 

But an injury took him off the court and, almost by accident, back to his hometown of Memphis. 

CNN journalist and Atlanta author Wayne Drash has just published a book about Hardaway's unlikely and inspiring story called "On These Courts."

[To hear the interview between Drash and  WABE's Jim Burress, click the 'play' icon below.]

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3:46 pm
Fri May 10, 2013

BeltLine Gets Brownfield Bump

The EPA is providing $600,000 to the Atlanta Beltline to help develop its northeast corridor between Monroe Dr. and Buford Hwy.
Credit Atlanta Beltline Inc.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency has awarded the Atlanta BeltLine $600,000 to clean up so-called “brownfields.” (A brownfield could be a former industrial or commercial site that is potentially contaminated.)

The grant will help the BeltLine develop its northeast corridor between Monroe Drive and Buford Highway.

Developers often shy away from redeveloping brownfields because of cost or liability concerns.

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3:23 pm
Thu May 9, 2013

Give OUT Day Raises Profile of, Cash for, LGBT Non-Profits

One report says fewer than five-percent of those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender give to related non-profits.

Here the percentage is even lower, says Georgia Equality Executive Director Jeff Graham.

“Of the estimated 300,000 people who identify as LGBT here in Georgia, less than one-half of one percent are actually giving to LGBT organizations,"

But Graham says because most LGBT organizations don’t qualify for federal funding, they rely heavily on the community.

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Health & Science
4:39 pm
Wed May 8, 2013

Hospitals Charging Wildly Different Amounts for Same Conditions, Report Finds

Treatment for pneumonia at North Fulton Regional in Roswell tops $79,000, according to CMS data. Treatment for the same condition at DeKalb Medical Center Hillendale averages about $18,000.

For the first time, there’s a comprehensive, nation-wide report on what hospitals charge for services.

The federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services just released a massive compilation of cost data for more than 3,000 facilities.

And variations between facilities can be eye-opening. 

Take pneumonia. 

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10:10 am
Sun May 5, 2013

Strict Terms Part of Delta's New eGift Certificates

Credit Courtesy: Delta.com

Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines for the first time is selling gift certificates on-line.

The unveiling is the latest in a long-term --and expensive-- effort to improve customer satisfaction.

Delta says the eGift certificates are part of its $140-million digital customer improvement plan.

For that price, the airline has so far updated its website, iPhone and iPad apps, and self-service airport kiosks.

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9:49 am
Fri May 3, 2013

Atlanta's Small Business Friendliness Grade: A-

When it comes to being friendly to business, the metro Atlanta area gets high marks.

The survey from Thumbtack.com in partnership with the Kauffman Foundation queried 8,000 businesses in 57 metro areas.

It asked owners to rate how they felt about everything from ease of hiring to regulation to the simplicity of starting a business.

And Atlanta did pretty well, with a grade of A-.  Last year, we earned an A.

Sander Daniels is co-founder of Thumbtack.com:

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