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

Elly Yu / WABE

This week, the state Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit by some Georgia students who were brought to this country illegally, when they were children. They wanted to pay in-state rates for college tuition because they live here and have legal protection against deportation under the federal program Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals -- often called DACA.   But the court found the Board of Regents has legal protection of its own -- a shield against lawsuits like this.  It's an old legal concept called sovereign immunity.

Alison Guillory / WABE


It's been a busy week in Georgia politics, and it's only going to get more frenetic once the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries are over and presidential candidates start heading south for the March 1 SEC primaries.

Before they get here, though, state political leaders have been occupied with -- among other things -- the delay in Gov. Nathan Deal's education reform package and the continuing pressure to expand the state's Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act -- something the governor has so far refused to do.

J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press

Just three months after he was elected Speaker of the House, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) urged his fellow Republican leaders to pay more attention to fighting poverty in America.  Ryan hosted a summit on the issue on Jan. 9 in South Carolina.

Poverty is an issue more frequently raised by Democrats.  But one Georgia Democrat, Atlanta-area Congressman David Scott, is delighted Ryan is calling attention to it.  Scott spoke with Denis O'Hayer on "Morning Edition" about what he supports in Ryan's poverty plan.


The city of Atlanta recently made a $9.1 million payment to the Atlanta Public Schools.  It's part of an effort to resolve a long-running battle between the city and APS over how, when – and how much – the city will repay APS for school tax money Atlanta used to build the BeltLine.

Stephen B. Morton / ASSOCIATED PRESS

After keeping their focus almost exclusively on New Hampshire and Iowa, the Democratic presidential candidates looked south in their recent debate in Charleston.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders will compete in the South Carolina primary on February 27, but Georgia and 11 other states weigh in on March 1.

Governor Nathan Deal speaks to Denis O'Hayer
Alison Guillory / WABE

Georgia Republican Gov. Nathan Deal made education reform the centerpiece of his agenda for the Legislature in 2016.

He selected a commission to recommend reforms to the state's 30-year-old formula for funding public schools. The commission presented its recommendations late last year, but there was immediate criticism from teachers' groups, among others.

Seth Wenig / Associated Press

In Georgia, Donald Trump maintains a double-digit lead over the rest of the Republican presidential field, while Ted Cruz is picking up ground in second place. That's according to a new poll conducted by Opinion Savvy for Fox-5 and InsiderAdvantage.

Molly Samuel / WABE

The U.S Army Corps of Engineers has proposed a new plan for how to manage the water in Lake Lanier, Georgia, and in other reservoirs down the Chattahoochee River, and other rivers that feed into the Gulf of Mexico.

This water has been the center of conflicts between Georgia, Florida and Alabama for decades. While the plan clarifies some questions, it won’t be the last word in the water wars.

Long-Delayed Update           

Alison Guillory / WABE

 The Georgia General Assembly convened Monday to begin the second year of a two-year session.

Republicans hold big majorities in both the House and the Senate, but House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams (D-Atlanta) says Democrats can still make a difference.  

In a wide-ranging conversation with Denis O'Hayer, Abrams talked about where and how Democrats can draw battle lines to get what they want -- and where they will have to simply resist new GOP legislation they might not like.

It's an election year, and they can't raise campaign money when they're in session, so many Georgia lawmakers want to get this year's work done in a hurry.  But when they convene on Monday, legislators will be facing several possible battles ─  including the governor's education reform plan; casino gambling; and renewed fights over medical marijuana and religious freedom bills.  

Alison Guillory / WABE

 North Korea jolted the rest of the world this week with its announcement that it had tested a hydrogen bomb.  International leaders and observers aren't so sure it was a hydrogen device, but it has still caused great concern.  

Former Georgia Democratic Sen. Sam Nunn has spent years studying the threat of nuclear expansion.  He is the co-founder (with Ted Turner) of the Nuclear Threat Initiative and a distinguished professor in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at Georgia Tech.  

Lobbyists and lawmakers walk through the Georgia Capitol with a just a few days remaining in the 2015 legislative session Thursday, March 26, 2015, in Atlanta. Several major items still are being negotiated by House and Senate members including a transpor
David Goldman / Associated Press

The Georgia Legislature resumes next Monday, and many of the debates will be continuing chapters in battles that started in 2015.

Jim Tharpe, the editor of PolitiFact Georgia, discussed the Georgia General Assembly's 2016 session in a conversation with Denis O'Hayer on "Morning Edition." Tharpe checked the facts in what's been said so far on some of these Georgia issues and talked about the presidential candidate that PolitiFact rated the biggest fibber of the past year.

The Atlanta region's economy is improving, and unemployment is dropping. But for some folks in the area, it is still very difficult to find jobs, partly because available jobs often are not located in places the workers can reach.  

Jeff Chiu, File / Associated Press

WABE's news reporters, producers and editors are already looking toward 2016.

"Morning Edition" host Denis O'Hayer says he is curious about Obamacare and what the state of Georgia will decide to do about Medicaid:

"Part of the dispute is whether the state would expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, and Gov. Deal has said, 'no no no.' There have been rumblings for a long time that the state would try to negotiate some sort of third way with the feds, something between 'absolutely no' and 'we're going to expand Medicaid.'"        

Susan Walsh / Associated Press

No Child Left Behind is no more.  Congress and President Obama have replaced the controversial federal education framework with a new law, called Every Student Succeeds.  The new rules will certainly affect Georgia, as it strives to improve its student performance and graduation rates.

Brenna Beech / WABE

This week's Republican presidential debate focused on international terrorism and national security.  

But the candidates weren't always secure in the truth of the claims they made about the issues -- and each other.  

On "Morning Edition," Denis O'Hayer sifted through some of the rhetoric with Jim Tharpe, editor of PolitiFact Georgia, which appears in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and on

On Friday, a group of Atlanta-area mosques and other Muslim organizations took out a full-page ad in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution expressing support for the victims of the San Bernardino, California, massacre and their families.  

Investigators have found evidence that the shooters, a young American Muslim and his wife,  became radical supporters of the organization calling itself the Islamic State. 

Seth Perlman / Associated Press

Georgia politics were in anything but a holiday slowdown this past week.  

Secretary of State Brian Kemp continued his damage control efforts, following a breach of voter data; Donald Trump's comments on Muslims overshadowed the visits by two other GOP presidential hopefuls; and state lawmakers prepared for fights over legalized gambling and the cultivation of medical marijuana.

ASSOCIATED PRESS / Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Donald Trump is not the only political leader making some big claims these days. Fact checkers have had to work overtime just to keep up with all the rhetoric coming from all sides of the political spectrum.

On "Morning Edition," Denis O'Hayer sifted through some of the most recent broadsides with Jim Tharpe, editor of PolitiFact Georgia.

atlexplorer /

Talk about climate change:  Georgia's political atmosphere is quickly heating up, with the legislature getting ready for a new session, a presidential election year looming and battles over Syrian refugees and transportation.  

But this week, the mass killing in San Bernardino loomed over it all, as state leaders again debated whether to make any more changes to Georgia's gun control laws.  

Brian Robinson, former deputy chief of staff to Gov. Nathan Deal, discussed all the issues with Denis O'Hayer on "Morning Edition."  

Johns Creek Kids Fishing Event on the Chattahoochee River
Steve Harwood /

Georgia's Environmental Protection Division Director Judson Turner says a group of environmental organizations ought to be "cheering the state on" for its work on the quality of the water in the Chattahoochee River near Atlanta.  

In an interview with Denis O'Hayer,  Turner responded to the recent "Dirty Dozen" report from the Georgia Water Coalition.  The report listed the Chattahoochee as one of the waterways in peril.  

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.