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.

Ways to Connect

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 myajc.com.

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.

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton debates with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump during the third presidential debate at UNLV in Las Vegas, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016.
Mark Ralston/Pool via AP

As expected, the final debate between the major party presidential candidates produced a long string of claims and counter-claims on issues from immigration to the economy to the national debt. 

For example, Donald Trump argued that Hillary Clinton had once supported a wall along the Mexican border; Clinton said Trump still wants to deport every immigrant who is in the country illegally.

On "Morning Edition," Denis O'Hayer got a truth check on the candidates from Jim Tharpe, editor of PolitiFact Georgia, which appears in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and on myajc.com.

Al Such / WABE

Richard Thompson has been performing professionally and writing songs for nearly 50 years.  Starting with his work with the seminal British folk-rock band Fairport Convention, Thompson has assembled a long line of critically-acclaimed albums which feature his unique songwriting style. Rolling Stone ranked him as one of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time, and his albums regularly appear in best-of lists.

President and CEO of NPR Jarl Mohn during a national road tour of NPR member stations.
John Haas / WABE

President and CEO of National Public Radio Jarl Mohn is on a coast-to-coast road tour of member stations. He stopped in Atlanta recently and spoke with WABE’s "Morning Edition" host Denis O’Hayer on the business model of public radio, digital media and the future of the network.

“I think if you attempt to make everybody happy, you probably fail,” Mohn said. “I think what we have to do is not overly complicate things. We have to think about what sounds good, what sounds right, what fits with our brand and what sounds like the future.”

Mohn said the network isn’t trying to find exact replicas of shows that have new hosts or hosts who are retiring like "A Prairie Home Companion" and "The Diane Rehm Show," but is experimenting with different sounds that fit the brand. He said it will require giving shows longer than the six-month test runs most traditional media outlets allow.  

“It is a hell of a challenge. It’s very difficult to do,” Mohn said. “Because every one of those shows, which are big monster hits, took years to develop. They were not overnight hits. None of them were. They took time to develop. So there are a lot of ideas out there and if we discover that idea tomorrow or this afternoon, it’s probably going to take years before we can really see the success.”

Mohn started his career as a DJ in 1967 before joining MTV as an executive in 1986. He later created E! Entertainment Television, spent time at VH1, CNET and served on the board of XM Radio.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump answers a question as Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton listens during the presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., Monday, Sept. 26, 2016.
AP Photo/David Goldman

After the first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed urged national Democratic leaders to send more money and resources to the state -- despite pre-debate polls showing Trump with a small but steady lead.

Al Such / WABE

NPR’s "Morning Edition" co-host Steve Inskeep spent Monday and Tuesday broadcasting from the WABE studios and listening to the voices of Georgia voters.

It was part of NPR’s “Divided States” project, which will sample voter attitudes in states where the presidential election is expected to be especially close.

In a conversation with WABE’s "Morning Edition" host Denis O’Hayer, Inskeep talked about the challenges media outlets like NPR face in covering this most unusual election.

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Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton are introduced during the presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., Monday, Sept. 26, 2016.
David Goldman / Associated Press

Monday night’s debate between Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump gave fact-checkers a new trove of claims to examine.

But on the eve of the debate, WABE "Morning Edition" host Denis O’Hayer explored some of their statements before they took the stage, in a conversation with Jim Tharpe. He is the editor of PolitiFact Georgia, which appears in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and on myajc.com.

Former Georgia Senator Sam Nunn speaks during a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016.
AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin

National security and the fight against terror were two of the subjects that provoked some sharp exchanges in Monday night’s first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

He charged that, as Secretary of State, she didn’t do enough to stop the growth of the so-called Islamic State; she blasted his complimentary statements about Russian president Vladimir Putin, saying it shows he doesn’t understand the kinds of threats facing the U.S.

Shawty Lo performs at the 21st annual ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Music Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif. on Monday, June 23, 2008.
AP Photo/Matt Sayles

Atlanta rapper Carlos Walker, known professionally as Shawty Lo, was killed in an early morning vehicular accident on the Westside Perimeter Wednesday.

Fulton County police say it happened near the Cascade Road ramp.  

"The driver appeared to have lost control and hit a couple of trees," said Cpl. Maureen Smith with the Fulton County Police Department. "The vehicle caught on fire. The driver, the male, the one that was deceased was ejected. And there were two female passengers that were transported to Grady."

Andrew Harnik / Associated Press

On Sept. 16, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump admitted President Barack Obama was born in the United States. In the process, Trump – who had advanced the "birther" rumor for years – argued that the first person to question the president's origins was Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, during her 2008 primary campaign against then-Sen. Obama.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a rally, Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016, in Clive, Iowa.
AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Recent polls show the 2016 presidential race in Georgia is close. Some polls show Donald Trump slightly ahead of Hillary Clinton; others give Clinton a tiny edge. Either way, Georgia is in a statistical tie.  

But is it really winnable for the Democrats this year? That's just one of the items on the menu for this "Political Breakfast." 

American Bar Association president Linda Klein speaks with Denis O'Hayer on Morning Edition.
Al Such / WABE

On Aug. 8, 2016, Atlanta attorney Linda Klein began a one-year term as the president of the American Bar Association, one of the most influential organizations in the country.

Elly Yu / WABE

Former Georgia Congressman -- and former House Speaker -- Newt Gingrich was back in the Atlanta area on Monday, campaigning for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. During a town meeting at Kennesaw State University, the former Speaker attacked the "basket of deplorables" comment by Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Gingrich said it showed Democrats have lost the ability to debate.

Andrew Harnik / Associated Press

Recent polls show the race for president tightening – at least in terms of the popular vote – with one, from CNN/ORC, showing Republican candidate Donald Trump slightly ahead. Meanwhile, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton has bought some TV ad time in Georgia – the first time a Democrat has done that since the late stages of the 2008 campaign.

With the election just over two months away, the rhetoric from the two major party campaigns has only intensified.  But there's still the question of whether all that talk carries much truth.

Consultant Blake Fulenwider and Georgia Chamber task force spokesman Brian Robinson, speaking with Denis O'Hayer in the WABE studios on August 31, 2016.
Faith Williams / WABE News

  

This week, a health care task force created by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce released its much-anticipated report on ways the state could expand medical coverage for the uninsured. The report outlined three possible paths for lawmakers to consider this coming legislative session.

Ga. Chamber Releases Plans For Expanding Health Care Access

Republican vice presidential candidate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence speaks at the Charlotte Pipe and Foundry Company in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016.
Chuck Burton / AP Photo

  

In the past week, former President Bill Clinton visited Atlanta to raise money for his wife Hillary's presidential campaign. And next week, Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence hits town for a GOP fundraiser.

So Georgia is fulfilling its traditional role as a bank for both parties' campaigns. But with polls showing the state might be winnable for the Democrats, there are signs the Clinton and Trump forces might actually deploy some ground forces here. 

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