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 both a host and reporter. 

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. 

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.  

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."  


Shots - Health News
3:22 pm
Mon November 12, 2012

Georgia Immigration Law Trips Up Doctors And Nurses

Workers in the Georgia secretary of state's office have fallen behind on licensing applications for nurses.
Jim Burress WABE

Originally published on Tue November 13, 2012 7:39 am

Hundreds of health care workers in Georgia are losing their licenses to practice because of a problem created by a new immigration law in the state.

The law requires everyone — no matter where they were born — to prove their citizenship or legal residency to renew their professional licenses.

With too few state workers to process the extra paperwork, licenses for doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health professionals are expiring.

Read more
10:13 am
Sun November 11, 2012

APD Remembers Fallen Officer Shawn Smiley

Atlanta Police Dept. Officer Richard Halford, left, was piloting a helicopter that crashed on a northwest Atlanta street Nov. 3rd. Officer Shawn Smiley, right, was assisting in the search of a missing boy. Both were killed in the crash.
Credit Atlanta Police Dept.

For the second time in as many days, the Atlanta Police Department yesterday attended a funeral for one of their own.

On Nov. 3rd, Officer Richard Halford was flying a police helicopter in search of a missing 9-year-old.  Officer Shawn Smiley sat next to him, assisting.  For reasons not yet know, that helicopter struck power lines and crashed on a northwest Atlanta street, killing both.

Saturday, his friends, family, hundreds of police officers and some who never met him gathered to say goodbye.

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6:46 pm
Wed October 24, 2012

Medical Association of Georgia Drafts Official Stance on Medicaid Expansion

Two hundred physicians attending the Medical Association of Georgia's annual meeting in Savannah last weekend drafted MAG's official position on expanding Medicaid.  

Executive Director Donald Palmisano, Jr. says after much debate, attendees came down neither firmly “for” nor “against” expansion.

“Our physicians wanted to see more information on what impact this large number of individuals that would come into the system be," says Palmisano. "Additionally, they wanted to see changes in the Medicaid program.”

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12:00 am
Mon October 22, 2012

Preservationists Ready to Sue City to Save Building

This building at 771 Spring Street opened in 1928 as the regional office for insurance company Crum & Forester.
Midtown Patch

(Note:  Original story updated to include statement from the City of Atlanta and follow-up response from Attorney Mary Huber)

A four-year fight to keep the Georgia Tech Foundation from demolishing the historic Crum & Forster building in Midtown moves forward today.   

Attorney Mary Huber says she’ll file notice of ante litem Monday on behalf of five Atlantans who believe the City is ignoring its own preservation regulations. [Georgia law requires the notice, which tells a local government of the intent to sue.]

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6:09 pm
Thu October 18, 2012

Tech Alums Among Most Conservative, Report Finds

If Buzz graduated from Ga Tech, a new report says there's a good chance he's a conservative.

Most college ranking guides rate colleges from top to bottom.  But a new book from Atlanta-based “The Alumni Factor” instead rates them from right to left-- as in where their alumni fall on the political spectrum.

The Alumni Factor sampled 42,000 alums from 177 colleges and universities across the U.S. 

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2:45 pm
Thu October 18, 2012

Southwest to Replace AirTran in Four More Cities

Along with the AirTran brand, Southwest is getting rid of the airline's fleet of Boeing 717s, seen here. Southwest will lease the planes to Altanta-based Delta Air Lines.
Courtesy: AirTran Airways

Southwest Airlines said Thursday it’s pulling the AirTran brand out of four more markets.

Charlotte, NC, Flint, MI, Rochester, NY and Portland, ME will each see Southwest planes replace AirTran service starting in April.   

Eventually, the AirTran brand -- and its Atlanta hub -- will go away. 

Speaking to investors about Q3 results, Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said Southwest and AirTran will connect their networks early next year. 

Read more
9:43 pm
Sun October 14, 2012

How Well is APD COPS Program Doing? Survey Asks for Your Response

The federal government wants to gauge how well the Atlanta Police Department is doing when it comes to its Community Oriented Policing Section, or "COPS" unit. 

Officers with Atlanta’s COPS unit are those you don’t necessarily see responding to the typical 911 call,  says Major Valerie  Dalton:

“They have the time ... to get out there and engage and address issues that those 911 officers can’t.”

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8:34 am
Sun October 14, 2012

Tornado Won't Stop Inaugural Paulding Air Show

It’s been seven months since a powerful tornado ripped through Northwest Georgia.

Paulding County was the hardest-hit, where more than 160 homes were damaged or destroyed.

The storm also caused millions of dollars of damage to the county’s new airport, leaving some questioned whether its inaugural air show, scheduled for this month, would go forward.

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9:48 am
Wed October 10, 2012

State to Privatize Hospitality Services at Two North Georgia State Parks

Over the next few months, many operations at two North Georgia state parks will be outsourced to a privately-owned company.

On November 1st, Florida-based Coral Hospitality will take over running restaurants and lodging at Unicoi State Park in White County.

A month later, Coral will take similar control at Amicalola Falls State Park in Dawson County.

“Sometimes it’s best to have a single-minded, single-focused individual that is specifically paying attention to that particular businesses component," says Coral Hospitality CEO Lee Weeks.  

Read more
1:03 pm
Mon October 8, 2012

Youth Homeless Shelter Expands After Increases in Demand

Covenant House Georgia in Southwest Atlanta has long provided shelter to homeless youth.

But recent demand has far outpaced the non-profit’s ability to house those in need.

The center has 15 beds.  Each night, those are full, says executive director Allison Ashe.

“Almost every night we have at least 25 kids in the shelter," she says. "That’s 15 in beds and 10 more sleeping on mats in our lounges and our hallways.”

An average of 140 boys and girls are turned away each night.

Read more
12:04 am
Tue September 25, 2012

Southwest Drives Down Some ATL Airfares, But Little Effect on Market Overall

The day following Southwest's innagural flights between Atlanta and Louisville, city officials there held a press conference to talk about the importance of the route. More passengers fly between Louisville and Atlanta than any other city.
Jim Burress WABE News

It’s been seven months since Southwest Airlines began service into Atlanta. 

That’s the same time when average airfares out of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport reached an all-time high -- $392.

Since Southwest acquired AirTran, it’s been slowly phasing out the AirTran brand.

But what about prices?

Is Atlanta seeing the so-called “Southwest Effect,” where prices overall plummet when the airline enters a new market?  

On most routes, the answer is "no."

Read more
1:42 pm
Sun September 23, 2012

Cumming and Forsyth to Enter Mediation Over Water Dispute

Cumming has a direct intake from Lake Lanier, and provides water to Forsyth Co.
Courtesy: Cumming Utilities

Cumming draws water from Lake Lanier, and has long provided it to Forsyth County at an untreated rate of 10-cents per thousand gallons.

That contract expired, and Cumming officials said they will only sell treated water to Forsyth, at a cost of $2.50 per thousand gallons. 

Forsyth County leaders threatened a lawsuit.

But after Cumming agreed to hold off on the increase for 30 days while the sides enter mediation, Forsyth backed off its threat.

9:50 am
Sun September 23, 2012

AJC Finds Schools Lax When Investigating Cheating

After uncovering in 2008 what became the largest case of standardized test cheating in US history, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution continues to take on the issue.

Sunday, the paper publishes the latest in its ongoing investigation into test cheating—not just in Atlanta, but across the nation.

From Mobile to Houston to East St. Louis, the paper found not only widespread cheating, but a culture where top administrators refuse to adequately address the problem.

WABE's Jim Burress spoke with Kevin Riley, Editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, about the report. 

9:31 am
Sat September 22, 2012

Chick-Fil-A Statements Come Under Question by Human Rights Campaign

Atlanta-based Chick-Fil-A again found itself tangled in the debate over same-sex marriage this week.

In July, the fast-food chain’s leader, Dan Cathy, said he operates Chick-Fil-A on Biblical principles.  That  includes a belief that marriage can only be between one man and one woman, Cathy said. 

That statement, coupled with the restaurant’s support of organizations that some call “anti-gay,” led lawmakers from some of America’s biggest cities to block openings of the restaurant.

Read more
7:11 pm
Thu September 20, 2012

More Parents Opting Out of Vaccines in Some States, Emory Study Finds

Prof. Saad Omer is the study's lead author. He says he's concerned at the trend of parents opting out of vaccinations.
Courtesy: Emory University

A new study from Emory University shows that in states where it’s relatively easy for parents to opt out of vaccinating their children, more are choosing not to vaccinate.  

All 50 states allow parents to opt out of vaccinating their children.

But some states—like Georgia--- have stricter requirements than others for granting an exemption. 

Read more
6:41 pm
Thu September 20, 2012

New Leaf Turned at Chick-Fil-A? Not Quite, Say Some LGBT Groups

Chick-fil-A is making another statement about recent reports that it will stop giving money to groups that oppose gay marriage.

But the Atlanta-based company did not make any clearer whether it is still funding them.

Chick-fil-A's statement Thursday said: "part of our corporate commitment is to be responsible stewards of all that God has entrusted to us. Because of this commitment, Chick-fil-A's giving heritage is focused on programs that educate youth, strengthen families and enrich marriages, and support communities."

Read more
5:52 pm
Thu September 20, 2012

"Partisanship" a game-changer in the political modeling game, says Emory's Abramowitz

Dr. Alan Abramowitz, political science professor at Emory University.
Credit Emory University

The latest Reuters poll shows President Obama with a 5% lead over opponent Mitt Romney.

But for months now, a handful of political scientists have used models -- not polls -- to predict a winner.

Some say political modeling is voodoo science.

But many others say the proof is in the pudding.  

  And Emory University’s Alan Abramowitz has developed among the most respected—and most accurate—presidential prediction models.

Read more
1:22 pm
Wed September 19, 2012

Chick-Fil-A Will No Longer Fund Anti-Gay Causes, Group Says

Chick-fil-A Inc.

Chick-Fil-A, the fast-food chain that’s been at the center of the recent gay marriage debate, will no longer give money to groups opposed to LGBT rights. 

The shift comes two months after Chick-Fil-A president Dan Cathy said the Atlanta-based company stands for “traditional” marriage. 

LGBT advocates and lawmakers from across the company said they'd block any efforts to expand. 

One of the most outspoken was Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno, who vowed to stop a new restaurant from opening in Chicago's First Ward. 

Read more
Health & Science
1:01 am
Mon September 10, 2012

Emory Study Connects Dots Between Inflammation and Depression

Inflixihmab, sold under the brand name Remicade, costs about $20,000 a year.

A drug used to treat inflammatory disease like rheumatoid arthritis may help those with difficult-to-treat depression, according to newly-published research from Emory University.  

Emory’s Dr. Andrew Miller says previous studies have shown a link between inflammation and depression. 

“If we cause inflammation in individuals, they become depressed," says Miller.  "The next piece of the puzzle is if we block inflammation in people with high inflammation, they become less-depressed.”

Read more
12:01 am
Sun September 9, 2012

Federal Mediators to Facilitate Talks Between Dock Workers, Port Officials

The union representing dock workers at ports along the East Coast is threatening to strike. 

If that happens, ports at Savannah and Brunswick would all but shut down.

But now there’s new hope a resolution will come before that happens.

The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service says it will facilitate contract negotiations between the International Longshoreman’s Association and the US Maritime Alliance. 

A few weeks ago, independent talks between the two groups broke down in a matter of hours.

Read more
5:42 pm
Thu September 6, 2012

Delta revenue up, but so are prices

Courtesy: Delta Airlines

Delta Air Lines says August was a profitable month for the Atlanta-based carrier.  Even so, high fuel costs continue to challenge its bottom line.

Delta recently purchased a Pennsylvania refinery to help control its fuel costs.  Now, it’s looking at buying one in North Dakota. 

Despite the cost of jet fuel, Delta said the money it made off of each passenger rose about 4-percent compared to last year. 

10:55 pm
Wed September 5, 2012

Black Baptists/NAACP Join in "Get Out the Vote" Message

Representatives of the five largest African-American Baptist conventions joined with the NAACP to urge churchgoers to get out and vote.
Jim Burress WABE News

What was dubbed a press conference felt more like a Sunday morning mega-church service at the Georgia World Congress Center Wednesday. 

The topic:  getting African-Americans to the polls.

“It makes it more necessary and crucial that we help register, educate and urge people to turn out on Nov. 6th and vote," said Dr. Julius Scruggs, president of National Baptist Convention USA, Inc.

The group's 132nd annual conference is in Atlanta this week.  

Read more
Health & Science
12:04 am
Tue September 4, 2012

Emory Study Finds Possible Link Between PFCs and Obesity

PFCs are found in everything from non-stick pans to cardboard, making avoiding exposure difficult.

New research from Emory University shows exposure to a chemical found in everything from non-stick pans to clothing could lead to obesity later in life.  

Four-hundred fourty-seven pregnant women who were exposed to high levels of polyfluoralkyl compounds, or PFCs, had babies that were smaller than average at birth, but larger than average at 20 months.

“There’s growing evidence that certain chemicals in our environment may also be contributing to obesity and diabetes,” says Emory’s Dr. Michelle Marcus, the study’s lead researcher:

Read more
8:52 am
Sun September 2, 2012

Delta Adds Flights for UGA/Mizzou Game

Delta is adding an additional regional jet flight between Atlanta and Columbia, MO to accommodate fans heading to UGA's SEC opener.

Delta Air Lines has added an extra flight each way between Atlanta and Columbia, Missouri—but only for next weekend.

That’s when the University of Georgia opens SEC play against Mizzou, a school new to the conference.

Delta spokesman Trebor Banstetter says Delta often adds flights to accommodate big sporting events. 

“They’re a lot of fun, actually, to be on," says Banstetter.  "The planes tend to be mostly filled with people who are flying for that specific event.  You’ll see a lot of your fellow fans if you’re on these flights."

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3:41 pm
Fri August 31, 2012

Dock Worker Strike Could Ripple Through GA Economy

Mercedes-Benz imports many of its cars through the Port of Brunswick.

Longshoreman along the East Coast are threatening to strike after contract talks broke down this week between the dock workers and cargo shippers.   

A strike at Georgia’s ports could have a drastic effect on the state’s economy, as one in 12 Georgians’ jobs is dependent on the ports."

“A very short strike would have almost no impact; a very prolonged, drawn-out strike would have a substantial impact," says UGA economist Jeffrey Humphreys.

The effects would show everywhere from store shelves—some of which could be empty—to Atlanta’s airport, says Humphreys.

Read more
Health & Science
12:00 am
Fri August 31, 2012

Ga Doctors' Organization Concerned SCOTUS Decision Could Give Feds Too Much Power


The US Supreme Court will soon decide whether Georgia has the power to approve hospital mergers, even if consolidations create monopolies. 

But an organization representing Georgia physicians is concerned the decision could create an “unintended consequence.”

The case stems from Albany, where Phoebe Putney Hospital acquired nearby Palmyra Park Hospital.

The Federal Trade Commission says that gives Phoebe Putney too much control.

But a Georgia law basically shields hospital authorities from anti-trust concerns.

Read more
5:40 pm
Fri August 24, 2012

Walmart to Add Vaccine Kiosks

Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, sees growth opportunities in healthcare services offered in-store.

Starting Monday and going through mid-November, the Arkansas-based retail giant has plans to offer vaccinations at 2,700 US stores.

Some retail pharmacies, like Walgreens and CVS, already provide some immunizations.

But through a network of temporary vaccine kiosks, Walmart will offer 10 vaccinations recommended as essential by the CDC. 

That includes everything from Hepatitis to Meningitis, although specific immunizations will vary by store. 

Read more
10:04 am
Fri August 24, 2012

Randstad Survey Says Employees Confused about Future Advancement

A new report by staffing firm Randstad finds 40% of surveyed workers plan to search for a new job in the next six months. 

But more than half of those think a different company won’t hire them.

Eileen Habelow is a vice president with Randstad.  She says that paradox is just one of several contradictions employees gave.  

Read more
6:04 am
Fri August 24, 2012

Lockheed Martin Job Cuts: Economic or Political?

Marietta's Lockheed Martin facility has built variants of the C-130 since the mid-1950s.
Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin announced Wednesday it is cutting 550 jobs at its Marietta plant.  The manufacturer says decreased domestic demand for its C-130J cargo plane is to blame.

That doesn’t mean 550 people are losing their jobs.

The reductions began a few months ago, the company says. But Lockheed won’t say how many workers, if any, have actually gotten a pink slip.

In an Email to WABE, Lockheed Martin spokesman Johnny Whitaker says “normal attrition has accounted for most reductions to date.”

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10:10 pm
Wed August 22, 2012

Southwest Flight Attendants Asked to OK International Expansion

Southwest Airlines wants to expand to Hawaii, Alaska and internationally.

But first, the Dallas-based airline must get the OK from its flight attendants. 

In May, Southwest flight attendants rejected the airline’s offer, which would have established new rules for scheduling, pay, and per diems on international flights.   

The Associated Press reports the flight attendant union last week reached a new agreement with airline management, addressing those concerns.    

Southwest flight attendants will vote next month on the revised deal. 

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