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."  


Health & Science
4:25 pm
Thu August 21, 2014

Ebola Patients Cured, Released from Atlanta Hospital

Dr. Kent Brantly stands with his wife Thursday at a press conference at Emory University Hospital Thursday. Brantly says he is going away for a while to reconnect with his family.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE

Three weeks after arriving in Atlanta for treatment for Ebola, American missionaries Nancy Writebol and Dr. Kent Brantly have been released from Emory University Hospital.

Writebol asked for privacy, and did not speak to media after her discharge on Tuesday.  But Brantly did speak briefly to reporters before his release Thursday.

With his wife by his side and a tear in his eye, a waifish Kent Brantly thanked God for his recovery.  He also praised the Emory team of five doctors and 21 nurses who worked to restore him to good health.

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Health & Science
8:31 am
Thu August 21, 2014

Emory Releases Ebola Patient

Kent Brantly and his wife stand arm-in-arm at the Emory press conference.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE

Update 11:15 a.m. -- Emory has released Dr. Kent Brantly. Jim Burress is tweeting from the press conference; follow us at @wabenews.

  At least one of two Americans undergoing treatment in Atlanta for the Ebola virus will be released today.

Kent Brantly is expected to attend a morning press conference before leaving the hospital.  

The aid group sponsoring Dr. Kent Brantly in Liberia, Samaritan’s Purse, confirms the 33-year old's release.

An Emory spokeswoman says Brantly will make a statement, but will not accept media questions. 

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9:45 am
Sun August 17, 2014

Whew. Georgia's Short-Lived "Aquairium" Now Fixed

GDOT quickly replaced this sign on I75/85 Southbound in Atlanta. The word "Aquarium" was misspelled.
Credit Courtesy: AJC.com

A road sign on the Downtown Connector is now fixed. But, last week, the sign at exit 249-C southbound had motorists scratching their heads.

The word "aquarium" gained an "i." It invited motorists to exit for the Georgia Aquairium.

Don’t blame the Georgia Department of Transportation though.  Spokeswoman Natalie Dale says a subcontractor who builds the signs got it wrong.

Last month, a road sign along Highway 316 directed folks to Georgia Gwinett College, not Gwinnett.  


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9:46 am
Sat August 16, 2014

How to Heal a Moral Injury

Small breakout groups consider the concept of "moral injury" Friday at the Loudermilk Center in downtown Atlanta.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE News

(This feature originally aired on Weekend Edition Saturday.)

War generates wounds.  In battle, a slight movement of finger fires a bullet that injures or kills.

A click of a button releases a missile that wounds a landscape.

Sometimes, the warrior whose finger pulls the trigger is wounded.  They don’t bleed. But they do hurt. 

The concept is called “Moral Injury.” Thirty-nine-year-old Mark Jarrett lives it daily.  

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4:05 pm
Fri August 15, 2014

Ebola Patient Looks Forward to Release from Emory

Dr. Kent Brantly (left) says he looks forward to reuniting with his wife (right) and his other family.
Credit Samaritan's Purse

An American doctor undergoing treatment for Ebola remains hospitalized in a special isolation unit at Emory University Hospital. 

In a statement released Friday, Dr. Kent Brantly says he he is “recovering in every way.” He goes on to say he still faces a few hurdles before being discharged, but that he looks forward to reuniting with his wife, children and family “in the near future.”

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5:37 pm
Thu August 14, 2014

Emory Doctor Reflects on Treating Ebola Patients

Dr. Alex Isakov is an emergency medicine physician at Emory University, and was responsible for transporting two Ebola patients from the airport to Emory University Hospital.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE News

Federal medical privacy regulations prevent Dr. Alex Isakov from sharing specifics on conditions of two patients undergoing treatment at Emory University. 

Dr. Alex Isakov, an emergency medicine physician at Emory, was in charge of transporting both Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol from a private medical jet to a special containment unit at Emory.

But when asked whether he's confident the two patients will walk out the doors they walked in, Isakov responded, “It’s too early to make any predictions.”

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12:46 am
Thu August 14, 2014

Small Biz Optimism Up, Kinda

Small business owners think the economy is improving, if only slightly.

The National Federation of Independent Business latest survey shows small business owners’ optimism rose a fraction of a percent in July to 95.7.

The NFIB sampled 1,645 random small businesses.

WABE sampled two, including Jake Rothschild, founder of Jake’s Ice Cream at the Irwin Street Market.

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8:34 am
Sun August 10, 2014

Tech, UGA Welcome Bright(est) Freshman Classes

Becoming a Georgia Bulldog is becoming an increasingly-difficult proposition.
Credit University of Georgia

(Note: Story updated with broader figures for Ga Tech's freshman admission rate, corrects UGA admission rate.)

Students entering Georgia’s two flagship public universities are among the best performers ever admitted.

Officials with The University of Georgia say this year’s incoming freshman class has the highest average GPA in the school’s history:  3.9 on a 4.0 scale.

SAT scores are also the highest in UGA history, with an average 1913 out of a possible 2400.  That’s a 16 point increase over last year’s entering class.

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8:28 am
Sun August 10, 2014

New LGBT Liaison Hopes to Improve Communication Between Community, APD

Officer Eric King will serve as one of two liaisons between APD and Atlanta's LGBT communities.
Credit Courtesy: Atlanta Police Dept.

The Atlanta Police Department has named a new liaison to the city’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. Officer Eric King joins SPO Brian Sharp in the two-person section.

King says the department first contacted him about a year-and-a-half-ago, but he wasn’t immediately interested.

“At that time, I was like ‘No, not really.’  But I kind of got involved from that point on," he says.

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Health & Science
4:38 pm
Fri August 8, 2014

Ebola Affects Atlanta Aid Workers, Universities

A CDC map of the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia as of August 7, 2014.
Credit CDC

The deadly Ebola outbreak in West Africa has prompted the World Health Organization to declare the virus an international public health emergency.

In countries like Sierra Leone, CARE workers facilitate nutrition classes for pregnant women.

In Liberia, programs such as financial empowerment are made available.

But for now, safety is the number priority says Dr. Helene Gayle, president and CEO of CARE.

“So we’ve had to ask our staff to limit their movement, and, in some cases, have staff work from home and not do their normal activities.”

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Atlanta Public Schools
3:42 pm
Thu August 7, 2014

Top APS Students to Get Full Tuition Scholarship to Georgia Tech

APS superintendent Dr. Meria Carstarphen stands with Georgia Tech president Dr. Bud Peterson at Booker T. Washington High School Thursday. The pair just announced a program that will give top APS students full scholarships to Ga Tech.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE News

Atlanta Public School students who graduate at the top of their classes can now go to one of the nation’s top institutions of higher learning.  For free.

The deal is the result of a program announced Thursday called APS Scholars@Georgia Tech. 

The idea’s simple: Graduate as valedictorian or salutatorian of your high school class, and you get comp’d four years of tuition as a Yellow Jacket.

Speaking Thursday at Booker T. Washington High School in southwest Atlanta, Superintendent Meria Carstarphen praised the partnership for opening new doors.

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5:21 pm
Wed August 6, 2014

Georgia City Among Tops in Transit

Athens Transit provides transit and charter bus services.
Credit UGA

  The website FivethirtyEight.com took US Census population numbers by city.  Then it divided those by mass transit trips – how many times someone got on a bus or a train.

The idea is that, per capita, one could see which cities had the most uptake in mass transit.

New York City, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. topped the list.  But #4?  That goes to Athens-Clarke County. 

… does it surprise Butch McDuffie?

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Goats and Soda
3:47 am
Wed August 6, 2014

Liberians In America Help Dispel Ebola Myths Back Home

Employees of a petroleum company in Liberia help to curb Ebola's spread via a public health awareness campaign Monday. West Africa is facing its first Ebola outbreak, so questions abound.
Abbas Dulleh AP

Originally published on Wed August 6, 2014 5:29 pm

Amelia Togba-Addy lives in Atlanta, but Ebola is always on her mind.

Like many Liberian Americans, she has family and friends in West Africa, where Ebola has killed nearly 900 people. In Liberia alone, the World Health Organization has reported almost 500 cases and more than 250 deaths so far.

So when Togba-Addy's aunt called early one morning last week, she panicked.

"The first thing I thought about was, 'Oh! A family member has come down with the virus,' " she says. "So I started crying."

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Health & Science
10:49 pm
Sun August 3, 2014

Atlanta's Liberian Community Holds Town Hall on Ebola

Atlanta's Liberian community addresses how to tackle the Ebola crisis in West Africa Sunday night in Lilburn.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE News

As the deadliest Ebola outbreak in history worsens across West Africa, those in metro Atlanta's sizeable Liberian community want to know what they can do to help stop the virus. 

That meant coming together Sunday night for a "Stop Ebola" town hall meeting at the Liberian Association of Metro Atlanta's office in Lilburn. 

For attendee and speaker Taiyee Quenneh, Ebola isn't just a virus.  It's what killed his friend Patrick. 

“He calls me Quebey," he recounts of his friend, stressing the 'b' sound.  "My name is Quenneh.  But every time, [Patrick] calls me Quebey.”

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8:49 pm
Sat August 2, 2014

Gov. Deal: I Support Decision to Treat Ebola Patients in Georgia

Credit Michelle Wirth/WABE News

Even before the first of two American citizens stricken with the deadly Ebola virus arrived at Atlanta's Emory University Hospital for medical treatment, some are challenging the decision to bring Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writbol  onto U.S. soil. 

There's never been a documented case of Ebola in the Western Hemisphere.

Public concern is putting the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the defensive.  

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Health & Science
1:52 pm
Sat August 2, 2014

First of Two Ebola Patients Now in Atlanta

One of two American citizens stricken with the deadly Ebola virus has arrived safely in the U.S after leaving Liberia.

Late Saturday morning, an ambulance greeted a medical transport jet at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta.  The plane was carrying 33-year-old physician Kent Brantly.

Emory University Hospital confirms the patient arrived at its campus at approximately 12:30 PM Saturday.

Brantly will be housed in an isolation unit.  Emory constructed the unit twelve years ago to handle such emergency cases.

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Health & Science
4:30 pm
Fri August 1, 2014

Two Ebola Patients Coming To Emory Hospital

Credit Dan Raby / WABE


[Updated 6:30 p.m. with expanded audio.]

Emory University Hospital officials just wrapped up a news conference on the hospital’s plans to treat two patients, infected with the Ebola virus, being brought here from Liberia.

Jim Burress was at the news conference and filed this brief report from the scene.

Jim will expand on this report with our All Things Considered host Denis O'Hayer, live on WABE 90.1 FM at 5:44 p.m. this afternoon.

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Airlines and Aviation
5:26 am
Fri August 1, 2014

Low Cost Carriers See Atlanta as New Frontier

Low cost carriers Frontier and Spirit see Atlanta as a growth market.

  Atlanta as an airline market is changing.

For years, AirTran’s low cost and low fare structure kept local airfares in check.

But since Dallas-based Southwest has absorbed AirTran, prices here are going up.

And that means low cost carriers are seeing Atlanta as a new frontier.

“Clearly, the change in the competitive dynamics in the marketplace have benefited us,” says Daniel Shurz, a senior vice president with Denver-based Frontier Airlines. 

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12:37 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

Beazer Homes Reports Loss for 3Q

Despite an improving home building market, Atlanta-based Beazer Homes Thursday reported an overall loss for the third quarter of its fiscal year. 

Beazer says it earned $6.6-million dollars for the quarter that ended June 30th. But factor in a $19.8-million loss due to debt restructuring, and the national home builder fell short of analyst expectations.

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Health & Science
4:12 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

Atlanta At Center Of Ebola Containment Efforts

Luanna Korvah, a mental health clinician, walks toward her office at a small hospital in northern Liberia. This is where the first cases of the latest Ebola outbreak were recorded.
Jim Burress WABE News

More than 600 people have died from an Ebola outbreak that has spread across West Africa.

The latest outbreak reportedly began in February in Guinea, which borders Liberia. By March, some victims had crossed the boarder into the small town of Voinjama to seek treatment at Telewonyana hospital. 

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Airlines and Aviation
1:52 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

Delta's ATL Hub Helps Boost Strong Profits

Delta Air Lines Wednesday posted double-digit profit gains for the June quarter and beat Wall Street's profit expectations. 

Everything seems to be going right at the Atlanta-based airline, at least from a balance sheet perspective. More passengers boarded Delta aircraft, and they paid a higher premium to do so.  

Delta says it earned $889-million during April, May and June. That’s a 17-percent increase over the same period a year ago.  

During an investor webcast, Delta president Ed Bastian said Atlanta was one of the airline’s bright spots.

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1:10 am
Wed July 23, 2014

Loudermilk Easily Beats Barr for 11th Dist. Seat

Barry Loudermilk thanks supporters at his victory celebration in Acworth Tuesday. He easily beat former Congressman Bob Barr.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE News

Former U.S. Representative and Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr kept supporters waiting at his run-off party until a bit after 9 PM Tuesday. Even though he was trailing by some 30%, Barr put on a hopeful face, citing returns coming in slowly from Cobb County.

“We don’t want to make any announcements based on partial numbers,” he told the crowd. “We want to see what the actual numbers are, and there are still a lot that are coming in.”

Despite his strong name recognition, Barr’s hopes to return to Congress were dashed.

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4:56 pm
Fri July 18, 2014

Teavana Leaving Atlanta for Seattle

Since its founding in 1997, Teavana has called Atlanta home. But that's about to change.  Starbucks, which purchased Teavana for $620-million in 2012, is moving the retailer's operations to its Seattle base. 

“I think it was just a matter of time before they would consolidate those operations," says ITG restaurant analyst Steve West. "There’s really a lot more international potential for tea rather than coffee.”

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3:47 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

Delta Routing Planes Around Ukrainian Airspace

Credit Delta Air Lines

In the wake of the crash of Malaysian Airlines flight 17 over the Ukraine today, Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines says it's stopped routing flights through Ukrainian airspace out of "an abundance of caution." 

From Delta:

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Real Estate
5:10 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Atlanta Housing Market Bucks National Trend

The hot real estate market is cooling across the nation, as buyers are becoming less willing to engage in bidding wars for available property. That’s according to real estate company Redfin.

But Atlanta? 

“Atlanta actually is different," says Nela Richardson, Redfin's Chief Economist. "We’re seeing big differences.”

Unlike most of the US, it’s still a sellers’ market here.

Richardson says there are several reasons , including low inventory of homes on the market. But the main reason: it’s still cheap to buy in Atlanta.

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Health & Science
12:34 pm
Thu July 3, 2014

Emory Healthcare, Select Medical Join as Partners

Atlanta-based Emory Healthcare has partnered with one of the nation’s largest outpatient rehabilitation providers.

The deal with Select Medical is billed as a way to improve “efficiency and effectiveness” for both.

Emory’s focus is heavy on inpatient rehabilitation in a hospital setting. Select Medical’s 23 area facilities focus on outpatient services.

So, of a patient from, say, Dacula comes to Emory for a brain injury, she could have to travel repeatedly back to Atlanta for follow-up rehabilitation.

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3:05 pm
Wed July 2, 2014

"Guns Everywhere" Law an Added Cost to City

Credit Michelle Wirth/WABE News

The so-called “Guns Everywhere” bill went into effect this week.

It allows Georgians with a concealed carry permit to bring firearms into churches, libraries, restaurants and government buildings.

Early on, the law is already proving to be an added expense for Atlanta taxpayers.

City of Atlanta spokesman Carlos Campos confirms Mayor Kasim Reed is spending taxpayer money for private security at 24 city recreation centers.

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7:22 pm
Sun June 29, 2014

The Good/Bad of Atlanta's Hotel Pricing

Credit Pablo Henderson

Metro Atlanta is among the most affordable markets in the nation for a hotel room, according to discount travel site Hotwire.com.

The site looked at the top-10 most reserved cities on its website, and ranked them by average nightly price.

Atlanta visitors pay about $75, the website says.  That puts it square in the middle--#5.

In comparison, Orlando is the cheapest -- $56 a night. St. Louis came in the most expensive, at $92.

Whether that’s good or bad depends on whom you ask.

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Health & Science
8:02 am
Fri June 27, 2014

Map Shows HIV/AIDS Infection Rates High in Atlanta's Core

The AIDSvu Map shows HIV/AIDS infection rates by ZIP code. Parts of metro Atlanta are among those hardest hit by the virus.
Credit AIDSvu.org

Plotting HIV infection rates is essential to targeting the epidemic, says Emory epidemiologist Dr. Patrick Sullivan.  He’s behind the newly-released AIDSvu map, which visualizes HIV/AIDS rates by ZIP code.

“The ways to help avert new HIV infections is to intensify our efforts in those communities that are most heavily impacted by HIV," says Sullivan.

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11:09 am
Thu June 26, 2014

IKEA to Implement "Living Wage" at 38 U.S. Locations

Workers at Atlanta's IKEA will be among those in 38 US stores to see a bump in minimum compensation.
Credit flickr.com

IKEA, the world’s largest furniture retailer, is changing the way it calculates wages for workers at its 38 U.S. locations.

The company says it will pay workers a living wage instead of a minimum one.

IKEA says the change will bump the average minimum hourly wage in its stores to $10.76. That’s more than $3.50 higher than the federal minimum wage.  

Rob Olson, president of IKEA US, tells WABE he sees it as a "Win-Win-Win." 

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