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
4:21 pm
Fri October 17, 2014

Emory Learns Lessons Treating Ebola Patients

Media livetrucks line Clifton Rd. outside of Emory Univ. Hospital. The hospital's received local, national and international news coverage of its Ebola treatment efforts.
Credit Ryan Nabulsi / twinlensatl.com

Earlier this summer, Emory University Hospital was given just three days’ notice to get ready for two U.S. missionaries stricken with Ebola.

Despite the short notice, Emory had a good handle on how to do it. But the Ebola team didn’t see everything coming.

Dr. Bruce Ribner, the head of Emory’s Ebola treatment efforts, shared some of those lessons last week at an Infectious Disease conference in Philadelphia.

As Ribner told it, even the basics raised questions. Like, “Where do you do laboratory testing?”

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5:51 pm
Fri October 10, 2014

Artists Could Crash Controversial Krog Tunnel Masquerade

Some local artists plan to "white-wash" the Krog Street Tunnel to show their displeasure with a planned masquerade, which will close the thoroughfare Oct. 25th.
Credit Evan Jang / WABE

Northeast Atlanta’s Krog Street Tunnel is an ever-changing tapestry of graffiti — as much urban art installment as traffic and pedestrian thoroughfare.

In a few weeks, the iconic tunnel will close for part of the weekend to host for the first time what promoters call a European-like masquerade.

Renyoldstown resident Greg Frayser said the closure is inconvenient, but he’s more concerned with how promoters approached the Oct. 25th masquerade.

“The event was sold as having the full support of the community, and that clearly is not the case,” he said.

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6:49 pm
Wed October 8, 2014

Heightened Ebola Screening Coming to HJIA Next Week

Those arriving to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International from one of three West African airports will undergo heightened health screenings, the CDC announced Thursday. Atlanta is one of five airports stepping up efforts to stop an Ebola outbreak in the U.S. before it starts.
Credit Courtesy: Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport

Starting next week, travelers arriving at Atlanta’s airport from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone will face heightened health screenings.

The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the plan Wednesday afternoon.

CDC Director Dr. Tom Freiden said health officials hope to minimize the potential of an Ebola outbreak in the U.S.

The screenings will capture about 150 arriving passengers a day, and serve to bolster existing pre-screening efforts at the West African airports.

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Airlines and Aviation
1:25 pm
Tue September 30, 2014

Dallas-Love Field Denies Delta

Since 2008, Delta has flown directly from Atlanta to Dallas-Love Field, the city's in-town airport. In two weeks, it must stop that service.
Credit Courtesy: Aviationblog.Dallasnews.com

(Note: This updated version includes link to letter the City of Dallas gave Delta, as well as statement from Delta Air Lines.)

In two weeks, Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines will have to halt its five daily flights to Dallas-Love Field, the city's in-town airport.

To understand why, you have to venture back 35 years.

In 1979, an obscure law called the Wright Amendment became federal law. Part of its purpose was to keep the newer, bigger Dallas-Ft. Worth International Airport busy.

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9:03 am
Sun September 21, 2014

Task Force for the Homeless Could See Water Shut Off

It's not clear what would happen to the homeless who seek shelter at the Metro Atlanta Task Force. Some media reports indicate the United Way has a plan to move at least some.

An Atlanta homeless shelter could have its water shut off as soon as Tuesday, despite a last-minute effort to pay part of its bill.

The Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless drafted the city a cashier’s check for $100,000 last week. But the city said, 'No thanks,' noting the shelter at Peachtree and Pine Streets owes $600,000 for water it’s used.

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8:55 am
Sun September 21, 2014

UGA to Hike Football Ticket Prices

  The price to attend a Univ. of Georgia football game is on the rise, as the school plans two ticket price hikes in the coming years.

The first is a $5 jump, which takes the price of a home game ticket from $40 to $45. The second increase comes in 2017, when the price grows to $50.

The annual Georgia/Florida game, held in Jacksonville, will increase by $10.

Student prices remain the same.

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5:40 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

A Decade in the Making, Buckhead Atlanta Opens

Dene Oliver, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, and former Atlanta mayor and current president of Buckhead Coalition, Inc., Sam Massell, pose for cameras before installing a commemorative brick at Buckhead Atlanta.
Credit Katie King / katiekingphotography.com

Buckhead Atlanta, a luxury development project started nearly a decade ago as "Streets of Buckhead," finally opened Thursday.

As the elite and wealthy gathered for the celebration, a quartet played the Stevie Wonder song, “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.” It seemed fitting for a project some thought would never happen.

“Today, Buckhead Atlanta goes from being the developer’s project to being the community’s destination,” said Hunter Richardson, an executive with project developer OliverMcMillan.

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Airlines and Aviation
1:08 pm
Thu September 11, 2014

Delta, AirTran At Top of On-Time Performers

A Southwest Airlines B-737 taxis past a Delta jet parked at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE

Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines was among the best at getting passengers to their destinations on-time in July, the U.S. Department of Transportation said.

Delta was on time 86% of the time.  That’s second only to Hawaiian.

AirTran ranked fourth, at 83%. 

Southwest, which is in the final stages of absorbing AirTran, was next-to-last at about 69%.   

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12:13 am
Thu September 11, 2014

Small Business Optimism Improves, Still Low

Credit tcbmag.com

Small business owners are becoming more optimistic about the economy, according to a newly-released survey from the National Federation of Independent Business.

Even so, there's a continued concern among small business operators that times aren't as good as they should be. 

Even as economic indicators like unemployment and housing starts improve, small business owners feel the economy isn't rebouing as quickly as they'd like.

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2:43 pm
Wed September 10, 2014

UPS Pilots say Company Puts Safety Second

The NTSB concluded pilot error caused UPS flight 1354 to crash on approach to Birmingham, Al in August, 2013.
Credit Courtesy: NTSB

Pilot error, not fatigue, was the main reason a UPS cargo jet crashed at Birmingham’s airport last year, according to a National Transportation Safety Board investigation.

The report finds the pilot and co-pilot maintained an “unstable approach” as they attempted to land. Pilots also failed to properly monitor altitude, the NTSB says.  Together, those factors caused the Airbus A-300 to crash off Birmingham’s runway 18, killing both crew members.

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Health & Science
4:57 pm
Wed September 3, 2014

Ebola Patient Treated at Emory Speaks About Her Recovery

Nancy Writebol smiles Wednesday at a press conference near Charlotte. This is the first time she's addressed the media since her release from Emory University Hospital, where she was being treated for Ebola.
Credit Courtesy: AP

For the first time since contracting the Ebola virus in Liberia, an American missionary treated here in Atlanta spoke about her recovery.

Nancy Writebol looked healthy and strong as she addressed reporters at a press conference held Wednesday near Charlotte at the headquarters of missionary group SIM-USA.

“There were many mornings I woke up and thought, ‘I’m alive.’  And there are many mornings I thought, ‘I don’t think I’m going to make it anymore’" she said.

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Airlines and Aviation
2:15 pm
Wed September 3, 2014

Delta Exec Predicts Income of $4 Billion

One way Delta is reducing costs is by phasing out small, regional jets like the one pictured. In their place, Delta is using larger and more efficient jets.
Credit Courtesy: Wikimedia.org

Delta CFO Paul Jacobson says the airline expects to earn $4 billion in pre-tax income this year. That’s a billion and half more than last year, which was the best in Delta's history.

Speaking Wednesday from Boston via webcast, Jacobson inserted some long-term caution with his optimism.   

“Clearly, a level of growth that long-term may not be sustainable,” he said.

But right now, the gettin' is good. 

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American Graduate
5:43 pm
Tue September 2, 2014

Despite High HIV Rates, Georgia Schools Ignoring LGBT Sex Ed

Kaleb Anderson, a junior at B.E.S.T Academy in Southwest Atlanta, takes in a movie at Atlantic Station. He says what limited sex education is offered at his school doesn't involve LGBT-related issues.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE News

Pick 100 high schools across the state, and the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says an average of one will include sex education targeted to LGBT youth.

Kaleb Anderson's is not one.  

Kaleb is a junior at Atlanta’s B.E.S.T Academy High School, an all-male, mostly African-American public high school in Southwest Atlanta.

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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.  


Read more
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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