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."  


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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Around the Nation
4:00 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

Something Winter This Way Comes: The South Braces For Storms

Originally published on Wed February 12, 2014 8:00 pm



This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.


And I'm Robert Siegel.

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6:04 am
Wed February 12, 2014

Airlines Cancel Most Flights In/Out of Atlanta

Today and tomorrow, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International will have a hard time claiming the title, "world’s busiest airport.” 

Weather-related flight cancelations could keep the place looking more like a ghost town.

Combined, airlines have canceled two-thirds of all scheduled flights in and out of Hartsfield-Jackson today.

That includes all AirTran and Southwest operations, and at least 1,600 Delta  flights.

Read more
1:45 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Atlanta Airport, Airlines, Prep for Winter Storm

Airlines, including Atlanta-based Delta, are asking travelers in and out of Hartsfield-Jackson to rebook their flights, if possible.
Credit Corey Seeman / http://www.flickr.com/photos/cseeman/7606634758/

Air travel through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport could get especially tricky as severe winter weather bears down on the area. 

Delta Air Lines spokesman Morgan Durrant says the Atlanta-based carrier will cancel “many” flights this week.

That's why Delta and other airlines are encouraging travelers coming in and out of Atlanta to shift their travel plans. Those who must travel should monitor Delta's website or mobile app, Durrant says. 

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4:13 pm
Sun February 9, 2014

Drug Overdose Bills to be Introduced in Georgia House, Senate

Under current state law, only a licensed medical practitioner can administer naloxone. But that could change under proposed legislation about to hit the Georgia House.
Credit Courtesy: Hospira.com

Two heroin users in west Atlanta overdosed Friday night. 

But they didn’t die.  

A quick-acting community member administered an overdose-reversing drug known as Naloxone.

“That makes the fifth person this year who’s been saved by having Naloxone in a community member’s hand," says Atlanta Harm Reduction Coalition executive director Mona Bennett. 

AHRC workers often carry the drug.  But they, like the unnamed community member, are breaking Georgia law because they are not licensed medical personnel.   

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3:55 pm
Sun February 9, 2014

DeKalb Wants Residents' Input to End "Nightmare" Permitting Process

DeKalb interim CEO Lee May says residents should have a say in where the county goes in the coming years.
Credit Lee May

“DeKalb County Needs Your Feedback,” reads the headline on inserts stuffed alongside county water bills this month. 

The enclosed flier asks residents to offer ideas to include in DeKalb’s long-term strategic plan. 

“God knows this is something that’s never been done in DeKalb County," says DeKalb interim CEO Lee May. “This is our way of establishing who we are as a county, understanding our assets, and really writing a plan that brings all that together.”  

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4:59 pm
Fri February 7, 2014

What Does The Farm Bill Mean For Georgians?

Credit Flickr/UGA College of Ag

(Story updated to include full audio interview with Society of St. Vincent Depaul--Georgia)

Crop insurance, peanut subsidies, corn production – they’re all part of the farm bill, signed today by President Barack Obama after two years of congressional debate.

Food stamps are the biggest slice of that nearly $1 trillion dollar pie, and that program is seeing a cut. Farmers will also see some changes under the new bill, primarily to crop insurance and subsidies.

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5:58 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

UPS to Customers: We're Making Changes

Credit UPS Inc.

UPS says with few exceptions it’s now caught up on metro Atlanta deliveries delayed by last week’s winter weather.

Even so, the Sandy Springs-based shipper continues to work how it handles weather delays.

Company spokeswoman Susan Rosenberg says the company understands it let down consumers.

“We listen to what customers say, and we actually are making changes," she says. 

Rosenberg says internally, UPS is looking at how it forecasts volume, its capacity to move shipments, and whether it needs to upgrade facilities.    

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4:27 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

UPS Says It Will Deliver All Delayed Packages by End of Day Wednesday

UPS is scrambling to clear out a backlog of packages delayed, the company says, by bad weather.
Credit UPS

UPS is telling local customers it should deliver all delayed packages by the end of the day Wednesday.

The statement comes as the company continues to play catch-up after last week’s winter storm.

This week, the shipping giant has started a lot of its tweets with the word, “Sorry.”   

UPS suffered winter storm gridlock like the rest of metro Atlanta.  

As roads cleared, packages rushed in to the Atlanta sort facility faster than they could go out.

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Stuck in the Bluff
7:49 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

Stuck In The Bluff: AIDS, Heroin, and One Group’s Illegal Quest to Save Lives

AHRC's Marshall Rancifer discusses his work in the organization.
Credit Katie King / WABE

Twice a week, the rickety Winnebago operated by Atlanta Harm Reduction Coalition (AHRC) pulls up to one of the most troubled intersections in the Southeast. A line quickly forms. 

(To view a verbatim transcript of this program, click here.) 

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4:34 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Tech Ventures in Georgia Prosper As Health Care Law Kicks In

EndoChoice CEO Mark Gilreath.
Jim Burress WABE

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 7:36 pm

Georgia is fighting the health care law at every political turn.

Gov. Nathan Deal, a Republican, chose not to expand Medicaid, despite the increased federal funding made possible by the Affordable Care Act. And Ralph Hudgens, the state's insurance commissioner, publicly vowed to obstruct the law.

But that doesn't mean that Georgia isn't seeing some financial benefits from the law.

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12:02 am
Mon January 6, 2014

Delta to Fly Final DC-9 Flight

This DC-9 seen at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport was delivered new to North Central Airlines in 1978. Thanks to airline mergers, it was absorbed by Republic then Northwest. In 2008, Delta inherited the aircraft when it merged with Northwest.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE News

Delta Air Lines will fly the last scheduled passenger flight on a DC-9 Monday afternoon, ending a nearly half-century run for an aircraft credited with bringing jet service to most small and medium US cities.

Delta was the launch customer for the Douglas DC-9 back in in 1965.

In the early '90s, the Atlanta-based airline sold its fleet to smaller carriers.  

Many of the planes found their way to Northwest Airlines.  When Delta and Northwest merged in 2008, Delta suddenly found itself back with the model.

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Health & Science
5:31 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

A Mixed Report on Georgians' Health

A national report out Wednesday ranks Georgia the 38th healthiest state. 

That’s one spot better than Georgia fared in last year’s America’s Health Rankings report.

It considered 30 different health measures—everything from chlamydia rates to obesity to violent crime.

Noted bright spots for Georgia include a low prevalence of binge drinking, low incidence of whooping cough, and high immunization rates among children.   

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Airlines and Aviation
1:46 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Delta Leads Attempt at Fare Hike

Delta Air Lines is testing the market by adding $4-$10 per ticket, each way.
Credit Delta Air Lines

Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines is hiking domestic ticket prices. 

FareCompare.com CEO Rick Seanyy says Delta is testing the waters by adding between $4 and $10  each way on domestic tickets.

Of the 12 attempted fare hikes this year, Delta has led eight. 

In order to stick, other carriers must also match the increase.  Otherwise, price-conscious shoppers will book on other airlines. That's happened just three times this year. 

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10:43 am
Sun December 8, 2013

Equifax Warns Shoppers of Holiday "Cat and Mouse" Game Known as Identity Theft

The holiday shopping season is especially appealing to identity thieves.  That’s why Atlanta-based Equifax is warning consumers to be extra vigilant. 

“It’s a cat and mouse game at many levels with the thieves always one step ahead of the good guys," says Scott Mitic, a senior vice president with Equifax's consumer credit division.  

But consumers can limit their vulnerability.  Equifax recommends:

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9:52 am
Sun December 8, 2013

Metro Atlanta Teen Honored for Motivating Youth Environmentalists

Charles Orgbon III was named this year's "Captain Planet Young Superhero for Earth."
Credit Jim Burress / WABE News

Charles Orgbon III is this year’s Captain Planet Young Superhero for Earth.  His non-profit, Greening Forward, has grown to support young environmental change makers across the globe.  And when he spoke with WABE's Jim Burress before Friday’s event gala, Orgbon said it all started when he decided to pick up trash at age 12.

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As heard on Weekend Edition Saturday
9:28 am
Sat December 7, 2013

A Conversation with Erin Brockovich, "Protector of the Earth"

Erin Brockovich (left) speaks to WABE's Jim Burress (right) about her continued efforts to protect the environment. The Atlanta-based Captain Planet Foundation named Brockovich "Protector of the Earth."
Credit WABE News

Erin Brockovich Friday night earned the honor of “Protector of the Earth.”

That’s what the Atlanta-based Captain Planet Foundation calls the award given annually to what organizers call “real-life environmental superheros.”

Many know Erin Brockovich’s story thanks in part to the 2000 movie by the same name starring Julia Roberts.

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The Affordable Care Act
5:47 pm
Thu December 5, 2013

Not Expanding Medicaid Will Cost Georgia $4.9 Billion in 2022, Study Finds

By 2020, had Georgia participated in the Medicaid expansion, almost twice as many uninsured Georgians would have received coverage compared to current projections based on the state’s decision not to participate.
Credit Courtesy: The Commonwealth Fund

If Georgia does not expand Medicaid, as is now Governor Nathan Deal’s plan, the state’s economy will do without about $4.9 billion in the year 2022.  The figure comes from a newly-released Commonwealth Fund report on how states will gain or lose in the Medicaid expansion equation.  

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The Affordable Care Act
5:04 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Technical Work-Around Could Mean Medicaid Headache for Georgia

Some Georgians shopping for health insurance on the federally-run exchange are learning they actually qualify for Medicaid, the joint federal/state program for those in the lowest income brackets.

While that's generally considered a positive effect of President Obama's signature healthcare law, a technical issue at the federal level is putting Georgia and other states in a bind.

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