1:35 pm
Thu August 27, 2015

Atlanta's Traffic Woes Trace Back To Railroads, Land Lotteries

The state's transportation management center in Atlanta fields calls from commuters stuck in traffic.
Alison Guillory GDOT, traffic

For some people, the first image that comes to mind when you think of Atlanta is gridlock. 

To deal with the slow-moving traffic, you can even find how-to videos on YouTube:


But why is the traffic so bad here? How did our founders design Atlanta that makes it different from other major cities? 

Tom Weyandt, Mayor Kasim Reed's former transportation adviser for the city of Atlanta, said there’s no natural reason for Atlanta to exist. 

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11:34 am
Mon August 24, 2015

Retiree Braves The Stage To Perform Stand-Up For First Time

Retiree Jean El Guindi took to the Cobb County Senior Center stage to perform her comedy act.
Credit Melissa Terry / WABE

What’s the one thing you always wanted to do but, for whatever reason, just never got around to doing?  Was it learn to play an instrument? Climb Stone Mountain? Learn a foreign language? However, as we get older, we recognize that at some point, it is now or never.

Well, for retiree Jean El Guindi, that thing was stand-up comedy.

Through the Cobb County Senior Center, she signed up for an acting class, and the rest is now a fun part of her storied history, as we hear in this Atlanta Sounds piece when she braved the stage for the very first time.   

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11:03 am
Mon August 17, 2015

100 Years Ago: Leo Frank Lynched By Mob In Marietta

Leo Frank was lynched by a mob in 1915.
Credit georgiainfo.galileo.usg.edu


Today marks 100 years since Leo Frank was lynched by a mob in Marietta. 

During a conversation, Georgia State University associate professor of history Clifford Kuhn revisits the sensational murder case and subsequent lynching.  

In 1913, Frank was the Jewish superintendent of the National Pencil Co. in Atlanta.  

Mary Phagan was a 13-year-old employee of the factory. When she was found murdered -- and presumably raped -- Frank was accused of the crime.

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12:16 pm
Thu August 6, 2015

This Day In History: Ga. Governor Signs Prohibition Law

Liquor, if found, was often poured out during Prohibition.
Credit Library of Congress / commons.wikimedia.org

If we were to turn Georgia's clock back 108 years to this date in 1907, we'd witness Gov. Hoke Smith signing into law a statewide prohibition of alcoholic beverages.  

The movement to ban liquor had been gaining momentum in various parts of the country since the 1880s, and, as Georgia State University associate professor of history Dr. Clifford Kuhn explains, by the early 20th century many Progressives had adopted prohibition as part of their reform agenda, including the South.

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11:20 am
Wed August 5, 2015

Crowdfunding Concept Developed In Georgia Slow To Catch On

Shaun Lee, co-founder of Atlanta-based Bohemian Guitars, holds the company's newest product. To fund a launch of its ukulele, Bohemian turned to Indiegogo, an online crowdfunding website.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE

Bohemian Guitars claims an expansive, yet modest industrial loft in Atlanta's Old Fourth Ward as its worldwide headquarters. While small compared to most corporate main offices, it's a far cry from Stephen Lee’s basement. That’s where, about four years ago, his sons Shaun and Adam first started turning old oil cans into distinctive-sounding guitars.

"It became a warehouse,” Lee said. “I was only too happy to have them there because it was where they started to grow.”

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11:43 am
Thu July 30, 2015

Ga. Special Education Segregates, Lacks Programs, DOJ Says

A sidewalk and parking lot are shown at one of the GNETS programs in Fayette County. The Department of Justice said some programs are in "poor-quality" buildings, and the programs are illegally segregating children from their peers.
Credit Elly Yu / WABE

Sixth-grader Kellan Powell walks outside in his backyard in Fayetteville, where he gathers pieces of quartz.

His backyard, which is lined with trees, is where he does his own science explorations – listening to cicadas, picking up beetles and finding iron-filled pieces of rock.

He said science is his favorite subject, but at school he doesn’t get do to anything that’s hands-on. He said it’s taught from a computer.

“I also don’t get science labs like where I can do little experiments,” he said.

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2:12 pm
Wed July 29, 2015

This Day In History: American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association Founded

Mother Lodge members and chapter delegates get their photo taken at the first AHEPA Supreme Convention, which was held in Atlanta October 14-17, 1923.
Credit Courtesy of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association

If we were to turn Atlanta's clock back 93 years from this past Sunday to 1922, we'd witness the creation of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association by a group of citizens of Greek descent. 

As Georgia State University associate professor of history Dr. Clifford Kuhn explains, AHEPA, as it came to be known, was founded in reaction to the widespread xenophobia sweeping the South and the nation following World War I.

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3:26 pm
Thu July 16, 2015

Super Soaker Inventor Now Engineers Batteries At Atlanta Lab

Engineer Lonnie Johnson stands in his laboratory.
Alison Guillory WABE

Chances are you’ve heard of the Super Soaker – the colorful water gun that lets you power spray just about anyone in your path.

Since it debuted in the early 90s, it’s generated more than $1 billion in global sales.

The man who invented the Super Soaker is Lonnie Johnson. He’s lived in Atlanta for the last few decades and holds over 100 patents for other projects.

When Johnson first came up with the idea for the Super Soaker, he was working as an engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA's Galileo Mission, but that was his day job.

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8:49 am
Wed July 15, 2015

The B52s' Fred Schneider Recollects Years Of Music Making

Singers Fred Schneider and Kate Pierson of the music group “The B-52s” perform on NBC’s “Today Show” in Rockefeller Plaza May 26, 2008, in New York.
Credit Peter Kramer / Associated Press

It's been nearly 40 years since a band out of Athens, Georgia, called The B52s laid the foundation for a genre of popular music that came to be labeled, "New Wave."  

The original members of the group ─ Ricky and Cindy Wilson, Kate Pierson, Keith Strickland and Fred Schneider ─ combined a campy, off-the-wall stage presence with infectious dance melodies. Cindy Wilson, Pierson and Schneider are still touring together; although each are involved in their own side projects.

Recently, Schneider spoke with WABE's Steve Goss.

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A Closer Look
11:56 am
Wed July 8, 2015

Georgia's New Hotel Tax Creates Confusion, Concern

The Budgetel Inn on Fulton Industrial Boulevard in southwest Atlanta is home to many who are one step away from living on the streets. Georgia's new $5 a night hotel tax has an exemption for stays longer than 30 days, but both hotel operators and guests remain confused.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE

Every time someone spends a night in a Georgia hotel, the state collects $5. The charge, which went into effect July 1, is earmarked to pay for state transportation projects.

But the fee is causing confusion, especially for those living in extended stay hotels.

That includes 58-year-old Marshall Rancifer, who fears the tax will fuel a wave of homelessness across Georgia.

Rancifer ended up at the Budgetel Inn off Fulton Industrial Boulevard in January after the house he was renting fell into foreclosure.

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8:49 am
Wed July 8, 2015

NEH Chairman William D. Adams Discusses Role of Humanities

William D. Adams, chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, weighs in on the debate about the practicality of pursuing an education in the humanities.
Credit Tom Wolff / courtesy of National Endowment for the Humanities

There's been a debate in recent years about the relevance or practicality of pursuing an education in the humanities -- history, literature and philosophy.  

William D. Adams, chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, begs to differ.  

In fact, the NEH has launched an initiative called "The Common Good" to address that debate. In a recent conversation with WABE's Steve Goss, Adams talked about the goals of "The Common Good."  

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12:31 pm
Tue July 7, 2015

Atlanta Vs. Silicon Valley: Differences In Gaining Investors

Large local corporations, like AT&T and Coca-Cola, are looking to invest in startups and absorb the companies into their accelerator programs. Entrepreneurs and investors mingle after a Corporate Shark Attack event at the Atlanta Financial Center in Buckhead.
Credit Tasnim Shamma / WABE


Many local startups say their biggest hurdle is cash. 

It’s such a common complaint, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed says he’s launching a venture capital fund by the end of the year to help tech companies get off the ground.

But there’s an interesting difference between how investors work in Atlanta versus Silicon Valley.          

On the 18th floor of the Atlanta Financial Center in Buckhead, tech entrepreneurs are pitching to potential investors over wine and brie. 

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11:19 am
Mon July 6, 2015

Lifecycle Building Center Gives Construction Waste A Second Chance

More and more doors to see in the door section at the Lifecycle Building Center of Greater Atlanta.
Brenna Beech WABE

After a home is built or demolished, most building materials end up in landfills.

But at least 25 percent of materials – like tiles and kitchen cabinets – don’t belong there.

A local nonprofit, the Lifecycle Building Center, has been helping to make the construction industry more sustainable.   

At the 100-year-old warehouse on Murphy Avenue in Southwest Atlanta, operations director Adam Deck shows off a set of three high-quality windows.

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2:13 pm
Wed July 1, 2015

Ga. Rolls Out New Regulations For Uber, Lyft And Taxis

Georgia will start to regulate ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft along with traditional taxi cab companies.
Credit Nathan Congleton via flickr

As of Wednesday, Georgia will start to regulate ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft. The new law also gives the state the power to oversee taxi cabs. That’s a big change because inspections and permitting used to be handled by local governments like the city of Atlanta.

On a recent Sunday afternoon, taxis are lined up near the Hyatt Regency in downtown Atlanta. Otis Sales is in the third cab back. He’s been driving a taxi part time for over 40 years. But in the past year or so, he’s noticed a drop in business.

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Baton Bob
5:03 pm
Mon June 29, 2015

Baton Bob's Wedding Celebration Rocks Park Tavern

Baton Bob models his wedding dress for the gathering crowd of visitors.
Ryan Nabulsi WABE

He's celebrated for his colorful costumes, but Friday night, Bob Jamerson, better known as "Baton Bob," was all dressed in white.

Jamerson and his husband Gary Bender were married in a private ceremony, but invited all of Atlanta to their reception at Park Tavern. The event, called “The Conscience Coupling Coronation and Costume Ball,” included a silent auction, live entertainment from 3D the Bomb, and, as the invitation said, "Twirling and gowns galore!"

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8:49 am
Mon June 29, 2015

This Day In History: MARTA's East Side Rapid Rail Line Opens

Workers installing ceiling forms, East line near Decatur Station; circa 1977
Credit Kenan Research Center at the Atlanta History Center; Martin Stupich, photographer / Kenan Research Center at the Atlanta History Center

Tuesday is June 30. If we were to turn Atlanta's clock back 36 years to that date in 1979, we'd witness the grand opening of MARTA's East side rapid rail line. 

The concept of introducing rapid transit in metro Atlanta had been debated off and on since the 1940s.  

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In Conversation
4:22 pm
Fri June 26, 2015

Producer 'Mama' Jan Smith On Her Past, The Industry And More

Atlanta's own Jan Smith of Jan Smith Studios.
Credit Jan Smith Studios

In this installment of "Valerie Jackson In Conversation," Valerie talks with Jan Smith – one of the most sought after vocal producers in the music industry.  

"Mama Jan," as she is more affectionately known, is the Grammy nominated producer and Georgia Music Hall of Fame inductee.  Jan Smith Studios is widely credited for voice producing such high profile clients as The Band Perry, India Arie, Drake, Justin Bieber, Sugarland and Usher. 

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Atlanta Sounds
1:30 pm
Fri June 26, 2015

"There's A Whole Dance To Shooting A Cannon": A Conversation With A Cannoneer

Brad Johnson, a member of the volunteer cannon crew, at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park.
Credit Ryan Nabulsi/WABE

With its tree canopy and winding trails, Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park offers a quiet, serene escape from the city. That is, until the park's volunteer canon crew arrives.

A handful of days each year, the group of men, young and old, assembles on the mountain, dressed in wool uniforms. And they do what their name implies – shoot off cannons. 

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8:49 am
Thu June 18, 2015

Nate DiMeo Of 'Memory Palace' Discusses Art Of Storytelling

As part of WABE's recent expansion of news and information programming, we've added a feature called "The Memory Palace" – that typically can be heard on Morning Edition each week in the 9 a.m. hour.

It's a series that, simply put, brings light to forgotten stories of the past.  

Nate DiMeo is the creator, and in a recent conversation with WABE's Steve Goss, he began by talking about what inspired his fascination with history.  

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A Closer Look
6:37 pm
Mon June 15, 2015

Reflections On Rachel Dolezal: When Race, Identity Collide

Spokane NAACP Chapter President Rachel Dolezal has resigned after her parents outed her as a white women.
Credit Nicholas K. Geranios / Associated Press

Two weeks ago, little was know about Rachel Dolezal. 

She's a part-time professor at Eastern Washington University, but now her bio and course description has been omitted.

Earlier it read, "Dolezal holds her Master's degree from Howard University and is a professor in the Africana Studies Program at Eastern Washington University."

Now, Dolezal, the former president of the NAACP’s Spokane Washington chapter has resigned amidst the core of a firestorm.

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A Closer Look
12:00 pm
Thu June 11, 2015

Atlanta Conference Focuses On LGBT Inclusion In The Church

Matthew Vines, author of the book “God and the Gay Christian,” talks to WABE’s Jim Burress for Thursday’s “A Closer Look.” Vines is behind a conference at the Sheraton Atlanta geared toward fostering LGBT inclusiveness in the church.
Credit Jason Parker / WABE

By the end of the month, the U.S. Supreme Court will determine the legality of same-sex marriage in the United States.

And many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Christians ─ and their supporters ─ are concerned whether the church will accept them.

This week, about 300 Christians will convene at the Sheraton Atlanta for what organizers call a “Bible-based training to advance LGBT inclusion in the church.”

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7:06 am
Mon June 8, 2015

Fulton County Doesn't Spend, Loses HIV Prevention Money

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention allocates millions of dollars to cities to help prevent HIV and encourage testing.
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press

Even as Atlanta struggles with one of the nation’s highest HIV infection rates, the agency tasked with curtailing the epidemic here is failing to spend millions of dollars set aside for HIV prevention.

In some years, the Fulton County Health Department has given back to the federal government as much — or more — than it spent.

Change in national HIV policy

The HIV/AIDS rates in certain areas of the U.S. are so bad, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  in 2012 decided to change the way it tackled the epidemic.

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12:15 pm
Mon June 1, 2015

Cellphone Companies Work To Prepare For Natural Disasters

In a disaster, the same conditions that destroy homes and buildings can take out vital cellular communications. The nation's largest mobile phone service providers say they're already making plans to work around storm damage.
Credit Danny Johnston / AP Photo

Hurricane season officially begins today.

And when disaster hits — be it a hurricane or something else — few things become more critical than our wireless phones. They keep us connected to loved ones, often serve as lifelines and can provide access to essential information.

But even as far inland as Atlanta, sustained, tropical-force winds and rain can cause flooding and knock out cell towers.  

In a situation like that, how confident can we be that our smartphones will connect?

Mike House is almost certain the call will go through. 

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Atlanta Sounds
6:00 am
Mon June 1, 2015

The True Story Behind Atlanta Twirler ‘Baton Bob’

Bob Jamerson, also known as Baton Bob, strikes a pose in Buckhead. He first moved to Atlanta in 1979. He performs at parties and practices his routines on the streets a few times a week.
Alison Guillory WABE

You’ll know Bob Jamerson when you see him. He can sometimes be seen twirling a baton, whistling and marching through the streets of Atlanta in a pink tutu. He's also known as "Baton Bob."

But what you may not know is that Baton Bob was born out of a tragedy and debuted first in St. Louis, just after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.

That's when he was furloughed from his job as a flight attendant and was looking for something to cheer himself up. He noticed his costumes and twirling routines were making others smile as well.

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7:12 am
Thu May 28, 2015

DeKalb Residents Ready To Fight For New Cities

The proposed city of Greenhaven would include about 300,000 people.
Credit Elly Yu / WABE

Editor's note: Read part one and part two of this series. 

Voters will decide this year on creating two new cities in DeKalb County. If passed, LaVista Hills and Tucker would be the eighth and ninth cities formed in metro Atlanta over the past decade. 

Supporters say incorporation is a better use of tax dollars, but not all in the county agree.

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1:08 pm
Wed May 27, 2015

This Day in History: UGA Students Meet The Iron Horse

The Iron Horse sculpture surveys the scene near Watkinsville, Georgia.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

Today is May 27.  

If we were to turn Georgia's clock back 61 years to this date in 1954, we'd witness a rather extreme reaction by University of Georgia students to the placement of a horse on their campus.  

As Georgia State University associate professor of history, Dr. Clifford Kuhn explains, the horse was a sculpture and part of a well-intentioned effort to expose the university community to some "culture."  

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A Closer Look
6:29 pm
Thu May 21, 2015

Nuns Lead Life Of Solitude, Prayer At Snellville Monastery

Sister Josefa Maria, left, and Reverend Mother Jane Frances Williams, sit in the common room at the Monastery of the Visitation in Snellville. The Catholic nuns lead a life of prayer.
Credit Mary Claire Kelly / WABE

A monastery nestled along a winding road in Snellville is home to a group of nuns who spend the majority of their days in prayer and meditation.

The Monastery of the Visitation was founded in 1954 and, in the decades since, has watched its numbers dwindle as fewer women – and men too – are called to the religious life.

The nuns in this order rarely leave the monastery. So Rose Scott, Denis O’Hayer and Mary Claire Kelly traveled to them to talk about their lives of prayer, an average day at the monastery and just how important their work is in this modern age.

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11:54 am
Thu May 21, 2015

Local Honey As A Cure For Allergies: The Debate Buzzes On

Master beekeeper Linda Tillman checks a frame of honey to see if it's ready for harvest.
Brenna Beech WABE

The tree allergy season is winding down, but for those with grass allergies, the misery is just beginning.

And if you’ve had itchy eyes and a runny nose, you’ve probably heard the advice to eat local honey. WABE took a look at whether it can help with allergies, or if it’s just an old wives' tale.

About 1,000 bees fly all around in Linda Tillman’s Atlanta backyard. She’s been a beekeeper for about a decade and swears by her daily dose of local honey.

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A Closer Look
3:35 pm
Wed May 20, 2015

Costa Rican President Looks To Strengthen Ties With Atlanta

Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis sits down with Jim Burress to talk about the relationship between Atlanta and the Central American country. Pres. Solis says strengthening partnerships with high-tech centers, like those found in Atlanta, is key to the country's future success.
Credit Brenna Beech / WABE

The president of Costa Rica is in the U.S. this week visiting several key “tech hub” cities.

That includes Atlanta.

President Luis Guillermo Solis said building on existing relationships between the Central American country and cities like Atlanta is key to his country’s success.

"That's why I'm here, seeking more investments," Solis said. "When the U.S. economy grows, the Costa Rican economy thrives. That's the overall lesson we've learned." 

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1:46 am
Sun May 17, 2015

Decatur Honors Historic Beacon Neighborhood With New Center

Former mayor Elizabeth Wilson stands next to a plaque dedicated to her in the courtyard of the new Beacon Municipal Center. Wilson was the city of Decatur's first African-American elected official in 1984.
Tasnim Shamma WABE

Metro Atlanta has a history of demolishing and renaming streets and sometimes wiping out entire neighborhoods. In the city of Decatur, there used to be an African-American neighborhood called “the Bottom” or later Beacon. 

The city of Decatur is dedicating its new $38 million Beacon Municipal Center to that community.

The center pays tribute to the historically African-American neighborhood that once stood in its place.

Former Decatur mayor Elizabeth Wilson says she remembers when she first moved into the Beacon neighborhood in 1949.

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