Denis O'Hayer

Host, Morning Edition

Denis O'Hayer, the host of Morning Edition, joined WABE in January, 2009 as host of All Things Considered and Marketplace.  Prior to that, Denis covered local affairs, politics and government for 11 years as a political reporter and public affairs program host for WXIA/11Alive.  In 2015, he was named to the Atlanta Press Club Hall of Fame.  The Georgia Association of Broadcasters selected him as its Broadcaster of the Year in 2014.

Although he has been with WABE since 2009, Denis has a much longer history with Public Broadcasting Atlanta.  He started as a pledge drive volunteer and host at PBA-30 in 1978.  Eventually, he began hosting PBA-30 specials on subjects ranging from the environment to the conflict in the Middle East.  In 1988, he began hosting a new show, The Layman’s Lawyer, a look at how the law affects everyday life.  It ran until 2004.  During that time, he also produced and hosted Atlanta This Week, a reporters’ roundtable, which ran from 1996 to 2001.  In 2012, he and Rose Scott, along with the PBA-30 team, won a regional Edward R. Murrow award for “How to Stop the Candy Shop,” a TV special on the fight against child sex trafficking in Atlanta.

O’Hayer began his career in radio in Connecticut in 1976 at WGCH-AM (Greenwich) followed by WELI-AM (New Haven). In 1978, his career led him to Atlanta where he accepted a position with WGST-AM/FM. O’Hayer worked at the station for more than 19 years in a variety of roles.  He hosted several news and public affairs programs; Counterpoint with Tom Houck and Dick Williams; Cover Your Assets, a consumer-oriented show; Lawn & Garden; The Home Show; and The Law Show.  From 1991 to 1997, O’Hayer hosted Sixty at Six, a daily, one-hour news and interview program. His broadcast career also includes on-air work with CNN’s Southeast Bureau and Georgia Public Broadcasting.

Denis has long been involved in the Atlanta community.  His work includes service on the boards of Families First and the Atlanta Press Club, where he served as President, and continues to work on the Debate Committee.

Denis graduated from Middlebury College in Vermont, with a degree in Spanish.  He and his wife Lisa live in Atlanta.

Ways to Connect

David Goldman / Associated Press

 The Veterans Administration continues its struggle with long wait times at its medical facilities, patient deaths, and allegations of mismanagement from government and congressional investigators.  

Mike Bowers on A Closer Look, March 27, 2015
Jason Parker / WABE

A new exchange of letters between interim DeKalb CEO Lee May and special investigator Mike Bowers reveals a fundamental dispute between the two about how long the government corruption probe headed by Bowers can continue.  In his message, May also sharply criticizes the language Bowers used in an earlier letter – in which Bowers said he found DeKalb County government “rotten to the core.”

Cutout from a letter to interim DeKalb County CEO Lee May, former Georgia Attorney General Mike Bowers
DeKalb County

Update 6:00 p.m. with a statement from Interim CEO Lee May.

WABE has obtained a copy of a letter sent to DeKalb County’s Interim CEO Lee May, sent by the special corruption investigators he appointed, which says “The DeKalb County government we have found is rotten to the core.”  The letter also indicates the investigators feel they are being improperly – and perhaps illegally – blocked from completing their probe.

Georgia Republican U.S. Senate candidate David Perdue arrives for his election night party, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in Atlanta.
David Goldman / Associated Press

On Wednesday, the U.S. Army announced plans to cut manpower by 40,000 soldiers nationwide over the next two years.

A total of 4,350 soldier positions would be lost in Georgia, at Fort Benning, Fort Stewart and Fort Gordon.

That was just one development in what has been a busy week in Washington, D.C. A deadline is approaching for the nuclear negotiations with Iran, and Republican presidential candidates are considering how to respond to fellow candidate Donald Trump's controversial comments on Mexican immigrants.

Michelle Malone (left) performs with Trish Land in the WABE studio.
Tasnim Shamma / WABE

Michelle Malone was born in Atlanta and grew up in a musical family.  Those may be a couple of the reasons she has been a big part of the city's music scene for more than two decades.  

She has performed with musicians who are known far and wide – from Elton John, to members of Sugarland, to the Indigo Girls.  Malone has also shared the stage with – and influenced – many performers on the local scene.

Former President Jimmy Carter stands with the co-leaders of his election delegation, (l-r) Dame Billie Miller of Barbados and Dame Audrey Glover of the United Kingdom and David Granger, candidate for President of Guyana, Sunday, May 10, 2015.
Courtesy of The Carter Center

Former President Jimmy Carter told an audience at the Atlanta-based Carter Center that he's fine, and "getting along well."  

The 90-year-old former president made an appearance Monday at the launch of a summit on sex trafficking, hosted by the Carter Center.  

Early Sunday morning, Mr. Carter had decided to abruptly end his election monitoring mission in Guyana; a statement from the Carter Center said he was "not feeling well," but gave no details.

The Associated Press reported that Carter said he had a "bad cold."

U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson
Jason Parker / WABE

In a wide-ranging interview on "A Closer Look," Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Georgia, had strong words for the new federal budget plan passed by the Republican majority in Congress.  

Johnson, whose district includes Rockdale County and parts of DeKalb, Gwinnett and Newton Counties, also discussed his recent speech on the House floor – in which he said, "It feels like open season on black men in America."  

Roger Blake /

Could legal betting on horse racing make some headway at the Gold Dome?  

House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, has indicated it's possible.  Ralston has always questioned whether horse track betting could survive economically without adding casino gambling.  But, in a segment of an interview with Denis O'Hayer, Ralston said the late Rep. Harry Geisinger, R-Roswell, "has brought me around a good ways" on horse racing bills.

Fulton County Jail
Alison Guillory / WABE

Conditions at the Fulton County Jail have been so bad, the jail has been under federal supervision for about a decade. 

That was part of the settlement of a 2004 lawsuit against the county, which cited things like overcrowding, low staff numbers and dangerously poor medical care.  The county has been working on improvements, and just last month a federal judge said it had done enough to lift the federal supervision.  

The big question now centers around what the county will do to remain out of legal trouble over the jail.  

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal talks with WABE’s Denis O’Hayer on Thursday, April 23, 2015. (Photo/Brenna Beech)
Brenna Beech / WABE

In a wide-ranging interview with Denis O'Hayer on "A Closer Look," Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said the state would implement any decision the U.S. Supreme Court reaches on gay marriage – even if the court throws out same-sex marriage bans like the one in the Georgia Constitution. 

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal talks with WABE’s Denis O’Hayer on Thursday, April 2015. (Photo/Brenna Beech)
Brenna Beech / WABE

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal says he will respect the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage when it rules. Georgia has a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, but the high court is expected to hear arguments on the issue next week. 

“Federal constitutional issues trump state constitutional issues, " Deal told "A Closer Look" host Denis O'Hayer. "So we will abide by whatever the Supreme Court rules as an interpretation of the United States Constitution.” 

Mike Bowers on A Closer Look, March 27, 2015
Jason Parker / WABE

Eleven former Atlanta Public Schools educators were found guilty of racketeering – some also were found guilty of lesser charges – in the APS test cheating trial.  The verdicts marked the end of an investigation that began in late 2008, when reporters for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution noticed some suspiciously-high test scores in five area schools.

Mike Bowers on A Closer Look, March 27, 2015
Jason Parker / WABE

In 1986, then-Georgia Attorney General Mike Bowers and his office won a U.S. Supreme Court case, which upheld the constitutionality of Georgia's sodomy law.  

In 1991, Bowers terminated an employment offer his office made to attorney Robin Shahar because she was planning a marriage to another woman.  Shahar sued, but eventually a federal appeals court ruled for Bowers, and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Shahar's appeal.

John Bazemore / Associated Press

The Atlanta Hawks have surprised nearly everyone in the basketball world this season.  

They are on the verge of breaking the franchise record for wins in a season; they hold the top playoff seed in the NBA's Eastern Conference; and they are regularly beating teams with much bigger reputations.  

The man providing play-by-play on radio has been setting records of his own.  

Georgia State head coach Ron Hunter cuts the net after defeating Georgia Southern 38-36 in the NCAA college basketball championship of the Sunbelt Conference tournament in New Orleans, Sunday, March 15, 2015.
Bill Haber / Associated Press

The men's basketball team from Georgia State University stunned and thrilled the nation on March 19 with a come-from-behind win over Baylor in the final seconds of their NCAA tournament game in Jacksonville, Florida.  

The Panthers, the 13 seed in their region, toppled the three seed Baylor Bears, 57-56, on a long 3-point shot by R.J. Hunter. He's the son of Panthers head coach Ron Hunter. Georgia State's veteran radio play-by-play broadcaster Dave Cohen spoke with Rose Scott and Denis O'Hayer on the March 20 edition of "A Closer Look."

Georgia School Superintendent Richard Woods in his office at the state Capitol, Feb. 13, 2015.
Alison Guillory / WABE

On March 16, 2014, the state Education Department released its ratings of the climate in Georgia’s schools. But these climate scores have nothing to do with the air conditioning.  These are evaluations of how safe your child’s school is.   

  Each school received a rating on a scale of one to five stars. Fifteen percent of the state's schools received ratings of unsatisfactory (one star) or below satisfactory (two stars).  

The Georgia Senate is scheduled to hear a proposal Thursday that would allow consumers to bypass a physician's referral when seeking physical therapy.
Ken Lund /


Most of the debate surrounding the controversial "religious freedom" bill (SB 129) has centered around whether or not it would clear the way for discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. But one constitutional scholar says there are other big ─ and unintentional ─ problems with the legislation as it is now written.  

Kelly Gissendaner
Georgia Department of Corrections

Update: The Supreme Court of Georgia has denied a stay of execution for Gissendaner in a 5-to-2 decision.

Later today, for the first time since the mid-40s, the state is scheduled to execute a woman.  

Kelly Gissendaner is set to die by lethal injection tonight for arranging the murder of her husband, Doug Gissendaner, in 1997.  

Last week, the State Board of Pardons and Parole denied clemency for Gissendaner.

NPR's Guy Raz, host of "The TED Radio Hour."
Kainaz Amaria / NPR

On March 6, 2015, the popular NPR series "The TED Radio Hour" launches a new collection of episodes, featuring more talks from the TED series.

Each week, the program collects TED talks that have common themes ─ from creativity to the source of happiness.

Host Guy Raz spoke with WABE's Rose Scott and Denis O'Hayer on the Feb. 27 edition of "A Closer Look." Among other things, Raz spoke about his favorite TED talk, by Ken Robinson on kids and creativity.  You can hear that here.

Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia), speaking to a breakfast meeting of Cobb County Republicans at the county GOP office in Marietta; Saturday, Jan. 10, 2014
Denis O'Hayer / WABE

At midnight on Friday, Feb. 27, 2015, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will run out of money, unless Congress approves a new funding measure. 

Some Republicans have tried to tie DHS funding to their bill to overturn President Obama's executive actions on immigration.  

On Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015, Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic leaders reached an agreement to hold a vote on DHS funding alone – without the immigration bill. House Republicans showed no signs of going along with that.  

Actors and extras work during the filming of the Walking Dead, Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Atlanta.
Mike Stewart / Associated Press

Atlanta is becoming more of a film capital than it has been in a long time. Television and film production is taking place all over the state of Georgia, with many entertainment projects drawn here by tax credits the state began offering some 10 years ago.

California has taken note.

Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed California’s own set of tax credits that will triple the dollars TV and film companies can earn there, as long as they stay in-state. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti was standing right beside Brown when he signed the measure.

Rep. Karla Drenner (D-Avondale) during an interview in her Capitol office on February 13, 2015.
Alison Guillory / WABE

The Georgia Legislature may soon be taking another look at the rights of the state's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens.  

After several previous efforts failed, Rep. Karla Drenner (D-Avondale) has introduced HB 323, which would ban the state government from discriminating in hiring and promotion against anyone based on sexual orientation.  

Georgia School Superintendent Richard Woods in his office at the state Capitol, Feb. 13, 2015.
Alison Guillory / WABE

Richard Woods is Georgia's new state superintendent of schools. He took office in January 2015 after winning the election last year.  

Woods, a Republican, had been in office barely a month when Gov. Nathan Deal announced his plan for the state to take over up to 20 failing schools each year. The schools would be placed in a new statewide district of their own, with its own superintendent who would report to the governor, not to Woods.  

Attorney Alan Begner, who represents many of Atlanta's strip clubs and other adult entertainment establishments, speaking during an interview with WABE's Denis O'Hayer at the station's studios on February 12, 2015
Brenna Beech / WABE

On Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015, the Georgia State Senate passed two pieces of legislation aimed at toughening prosecutions and punishments for child sex traffickers in the state.  

A crowd gathers downtown for the public opening of the Atlanta Streetcar on December 30, 2014
Ryan Nabulsi/ / for WABE

In his State of the City message on Feb. 4, 2015, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced plans to expand the city's new streetcar line to the east, which would connect it to the BeltLine.  

But will an expanded streetcar system succeed in Atlanta?  Other cities have had mixed results from their streetcar ventures.  

A recent article in Politico took a close look at why streetcars have succeeded in some cities, while others have shut down their projects.  

Charles Dharapak / Associated Press

On Feb. 2, President Barack Obama presented his budget plan for the coming fiscal year:  a nearly $4 trillion package that includes increased spending for public works projects like highways and bridges, increased capital gains taxes for upper-income couples, and two years of free tuition for community college students.  

  Republicans immediately declared the President's spending plan dead on arrival.  But even some Democrats are not in step on every item in it.  

Ric Feld / Associated Press

One of the leading Republicans in the Georgia House, Rep. Earl Ehrhart of Powder Springs, has filed a bill to do away with the exemption Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines has received on state fuel taxes since 2006.  

At the time lawmakers passed the exemption for Delta, the carrier was trying to emerge from bankruptcy and facing rising fuel costs.

But Ehrhart argues the exemption was not initially intended to be permanent, and Delta recently reported a $2.8 billion profit for 2014.

The waterways of the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) river basin.
Streamer from

The state of Georgia has fired the latest round in the decades-long water war with Florida (and sometimes, Alabama).  

Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols speaking with WABE's Denis O'Hayer on "A Closer Look" at the station's studios on January 30, 2015
Dan Raby / WABE

On Thursday, Georgia Power and its partners in the Plant Vogtle expansion project announced they expect a delay of another 18 months before construction is completed.  

The announcement projects the first of the two new reactors will now be finished in mid-2019; the second in mid-2020.  The delays are expected to add more than a billion dollars to the total cost of the project.  

Hundreds of cars remained stuck on I-85 northbound near Monroe Drive on Wednesday morning, January 29, 2014.  Some metro Atlanta drivers had been stranded for 12-20 hours.
Denis O'Hayer / WABE

On Jan. 28, 2014, a few inches of snow and ice paralyzed metro Atlanta.  Thousands of people were stranded in their cars--many for up to an entire day.  Much of the blame for the highway nightmare fell on state transportation officials.  A year later, the state's new transportation commissioner promised the state had done a great deal in the year since, to prevent a repeat when the next storm comes.  On the Jan. 28, 2014 edition of "A Closer Look," Commissioner Russell McMurry spoke with WABE's Denis O'Hayer.