Denis O'Hayer | WABE 90.1 FM

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.

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Al Such / WABE

As if the dizzying rush of events in Washington were not enough, Atlanta area politics have gone through a frenzied week, too.  

Mayor Kasim Reed held a news conference and released more than a million pages of documents relating to the City Hall bribery scandal; airport officials tried to assess the possible impact of President Donald Trump's travel order (if it's upheld by the courts); and gun rights advocates brought "campus carry" legislation back to the State Capitol.

Al Such / WABE

As Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed prepared for a news conference about the developing bribery scandal at City Hall, one big question dominated everything else: who took money in exchange for city contract awards? The Reed administration is releasing more than a million pages of documents related to the case.

John Bazemore / Associated Press

So, the Falcons lost the Super Bowl.  But, at least they got there.  Still, did their amazing season give anything more than a psychological lift to folks around here? Perhaps, an economic jolt?  

According to Kennesaw State University sports economist J.C. Bradbury, there are studies that suggest local economies do improve when their sports teams start to do better.  But, on "Morning Edition," Bradbury told Denis O'Hayer the studies didn't find any major jumps.  

Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates listens while testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Oct. 19, 2015, before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015.
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

It was a dizzying week in Georgia politics. Leaders from the state – and from both sides of the aisle – played central roles in the ongoing battles in Washington. Meanwhile, Atlanta's City Hall was engulfed by a developing scandal involving bribes, just as Mayor Kasim Reed delivered his final State of the City address. Business owner Elvin "E.R." Mitchell pled guilty to federal conspiracy charges in January; this week, the mayor agreed to release more than a million pages of documents related to the case.

Mary Kate MacIsaac / CARE

On Jan. 27, hours after President Donald Trump signed his executive order on travel and immigration, the president and CEO of Atlanta-based CARE posted a statement sharply criticizing the order.  

Mary Claire Kelly / WABE

The Atlanta area city of Clarkston, has become famous for its large and diverse refugee community.  So of course, one might expect President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration would raise personal concerns among families there.  But Clarkston's mayor says there are economic worries in the community, too.

Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) during a hearing at the Senate Finance Committee, May, 2013.
Charles Dharapak / Associated Press

In a statement released early Monday afternoon, Georgia Republican U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson criticized the process by which the Trump administration issued its travel order, without specifically questioning its motives.

On Sunday, Isakson declined a request for an interview. The statement, sent to WABE on Monday by Isakson's press office, says:

Pixabay Images

Why would President Donald Trump attack the validity of an election that he – and Republicans in Georgia and nationwide – won?  That's the question on the mind of Republican strategist Brian Robinson.  He's a former deputy chief of staff and communications director for Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal.

In a conversation with Denis O'Hayer on "Morning Edition," Robinson talked about the effects the President's claims might have on Georgia's top voting official, Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp.  

Alison Guillory / WABE

Supporters of legalizing casino gambling in Georgia are introducing legislation to do just that.  

The proposed constitutional amendment – and a companion bill to outline how and where casinos would operate – call for the state to put some of the money it would collect from casinos into the HOPE scholarship program.  Another share of the state's take would go to a plan for scholarships based on need.

David Goldman / Associated Press

It was a busy first week of the Georgia Legislature's 2017-18 session.  Governor Deal delivered his State of the State message, with a focus on failing schools; supporters of a "campus carry" bill took their first steps toward reviving it; and there were quiet, high-level meetings about possible casino legislation.

Former President Jimmy Carter speaks with WABE's Denis O'Hayer about his efforts to eradicate Guinea worm disease.
Alison Guillory / WABE

On Jan. 20, former President Jimmy Carter will be at the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump. When the two men meet, the former president says he'll talk to the new one about the Carter Center's three-decade effort to eradicate Guinea worm disease, which has long plagued parts of Africa. The parasite, which people get from drinking contaminated water, can disable victims for months.

Charles Rex Arbogast / Associated Press

In his farewell address Tuesday night, President Barack Obama talked about some of the campaign promises that he fulfilled during his eight years in office. But the checkers at PolitiFact found some went unfulfilled too, while others ended with compromises on what the president originally intended.

On "Morning Edition," PolitiFact Georgia editor Jim Tharpe looked at the fate of a few of the president's promises, in a conversation with Denis O'Hayer.

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David Goldman / Associated Press

On Monday, the Georgia Legislature convened for its 2017-2018 session.  

From old battles like guns on college campuses and "religious freedom" bills, to responding to the new administration's decision on Obamacare, state lawmakers will face some big and complicated issues this new year.  On "Morning Edition," WABE reporters Elly Yu and Johnny Kauffman talked with Denis O'Hayer about what to expect.

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Al Such / WABE

This week, Republican leaders in the new Congress hope to hold confirmation hearings for key members of the incoming Donald Trump administration. However, Democrats – and even some Republicans – are worried by the president-elect's continuing skepticism about U.S. intelligence findings that Russian hackers attacked the Democratic National Committee.  

On "Morning Edition," Georgia's senior senator, Republican Johnny Isakson, talked about that, Obamacare's future and other issues with WABE's Denis O'Hayer.

Al Such

State lawmakers returned to the Capitol on Monday, for the first day of the 2017-2018 session.

The GOP enjoys big majorities in both the House and the Senate, but they and Republican Gov. Nathan Deal will be greatly affected by what the incoming Trump administration and the new Congress do on issues like healthcare.

On Friday, in the midst of storm preparations, the Governor spoke with WABE's Denis O'Hayer about the upcoming debates under the Gold Dome.

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Al Such

2016 was a vintage year for political lies. But PolitiFact's editors decided to bestow their Lie of the Year title, not on a person or a political party, but on a trend: fake news.  

Deciding on what qualifies as fake news – and how to slow its spread – are quite difficult things to do. On "Morning Edition," PolitiFact Georgia editor Jim Tharpe talked with Denis O'Hayer about how all of us can search for truth in an age of lies. PolitiFact Georgia's work appears in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and on

Although it is located in the middle of one of the Atlanta region's fastest-growing areas, DeKalb Medical Center recently laid off 60 workers; eliminated 80 positions that were already vacant; and accepted the resignations of its chief executive officer, chief operating officer and chief financial officer.  

DeKalb Medical has admitted its financial performance has not been satisfactory.  DeKalb Medical board vice chair, and former DeKalb County District Attorney Bob Wilson is the new CEO.  

Georgia Capitol Building
Al Such / WABE

There has been no post-election lull in Georgia politics.  

State leaders in both parties have begun drawing battle lines for the upcoming session of the Legislature. One example:  On "Morning Edition," House Democratic leader Stacey Abrams said that her caucus will continue to fight for Medicaid expansion in the state.

Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., speaks during the Road to Majority 2015 convention in Washington, Friday, June 19, 2015.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press

Georgia Republican U.S. Sen. David Perdue was an early supporter of President-elect Donald Trump. So, Perdue thinks he understands what Trump meant when he strongly criticized the CIA finding that Russia hacked the Democratic Party's computers with the aim of helping Trump win the White House.

Al Such / WABE

They are outnumbered in the Georgia House of Representatives by almost two-to-one, but Democrats plan to dig in on several issues when the Legislature returns next month.  

That's the message from House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, D-Atlanta.  Although Republicans in Washington have promised to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (also called Obamacare), Abrams promises Democrats will continue to push Georgia officials to expand the state's Medicaid rolls, to cover more uninsured people.  

J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press

Atlanta-area Republican Congressman Tom Price, who chairs the House Budget Committee, is President-elect Donald Trump's choice to be Secretary of Health and Human Services.  In the past few years, Price has made some strongly-worded statements about the health of the U.S. economy and the growth of the national debt.

DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis, with his wife Philippa, and defense attorney Craig Gillen, speaks during a press conference Thursday for the first time since he was convicted a year and a half ago following a second trial in DeKalb County.
Tasnim Shamma / WABE

Suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis spoke out on Thursday for the first time since he was convicted a year and a half ago following a second trial in DeKalb County.

This is after the State Supreme Court reversed Ellis' corruption convictions.  He is accused of pressuring vendors for campaign contributions.

Ellis thanked his supporters, family and legal team during the “unimaginably horrific journey.”

Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga.,  July 23, 2013.
Charles Dharapak / Associated Press

President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for Health and Human Services Secretary has been in the U.S. House of Representative for 12 years.  But Tom Price got his start in the Georgia State Senate, where he served eight years, becoming the first Republican Senate majority leader since Reconstruction.

Lawmakers who served with Price in the Legislature say he will bring that state government experience –along with his background as an orthopedic surgeon – to his new job, should the Senate confirm him.  

Now that the 2016 U.S. elections are over, the names of several Georgia Republican leaders continue to appear on lists of those likely to win appointments to top posts in President-elect Donald Trump's administration.  

Meanwhile, Democrats in Georgia, and around the nation, are trying to figure out a new strategy for the coming four years.

Faith Williams / WABE

In January, DeKalb County will see its third head of government in three and a half years.  

Michael Thurmond was elected as CEO on Nov. 8.  As a former state labor commissioner and former DeKalb school superintendent, Thurmond is no stranger to difficult jobs.  

The White House as seen on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016 in Washington.
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

From former officeholders -- and former Georgians -- like Newt Gingrich, to rising GOP stars like U.S. Sen. David Perdue, several leaders with Georgia ties are in the rumor mill as possible choices for top posts in the administration of President-elect Donald Trump.

On "Morning Edition," Denis O'Hayer ran through the list with WABE politics and government reporter Johnny Kauffman, who talked about what the implications might be for the state.

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Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press

Recent presidential election polls in Georgia have been -- to coin a phrase -- all over the map. Some show Republican Donald Trump with a solid lead over Democrat Hillary Clinton; others have the race as a statistical dead heat.

Alison Guillory / WABE

Early voting headed into its final days with big turnouts in counties throughout Georgia.  But there have been controversies – and even lawsuits – as well.  On Morning Edition, Denis O'Hayer talked about it all with the state's highest election officer, Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp.

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Dan Raby / WABE

Although the votes haven't yet been counted, people who work in media are trying to figure out what they learned about their own work in the 2016 campaign.

It presented challenges – and levels of hostility – that even veteran reporters had not encountered before.

Branden Camp / Associated Press file

This week, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced he is joining the opposition to the Opportunity School District measure, which is on the Nov. 8 ballot.

This puts the Democratic mayor at odds with Republican Gov. Nathan Deal, with whom Reed has worked closely on other issues, including economic development. Reed said he does not question the governor's commitment to the state's children -- and Deal has recently hit the road to campaign personally for his plan, which would allow the state to take over some failing schools.