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

Lisa Willoughby/Grady High School

Last weekend, two members of the Grady High School Debate Team won the National Urban Debate championship in Washington, D.C.  Holden Choi and Ben Dean compete in policy debates.  They spoke with WABE's Denis O'Hayer.  Also joining the conversation:  Holden and Ben's debate teammate, Isabelle Taft, who's one of the best in the country in extemporaneous speaking competitions.

Denis O'Hayer

While presidential candidates debate the price of gasoline, and who's to blame, energy experts are taking a much longer view of our future needs, and the risks to our security.  Daniel Yergin won a Pulitzer Prize for his book, "The Prize:  the Epic Quest for Oil Money and Power."  His latest book is "The Quest:  Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World."  During a visit to Georgia Tech for an energy security forum on April 16th, Yergin spoke with WABE's Denis O'Hayer.

Denis O'Hayer

On Monday, April 16th, former Georgia Democratic Senator Sam Nunn hosted a policy forum on energy and security at Georgia Tech.  Nunn, a former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is now the co-chair of the Nuclear Threat Initiative and a Distinguished Professor at Georgia Tech.  WABE’s Denis O’Hayer spent a few minutes with Sen. Nunn, to get his thoughts about the recent failed rocket launch by North Korea; the risks of Iran’s nuclear program; and the ongoing partisan wars in Washington, D.C.

On Monday, Governor Nathan Deal signed the controversial bill which requires some applicants for welfare benefits to pass drug tests, or lose the benefits.  The Governor made no public comment as he signed the bill.

Bob Churi, via US Fish and Wildlife Service

The descendants of a group of black farmers in Georgia's coastal McIntosh County are going to Congress, to try to win the return of the land their ancestors owned and farmed.  A major Atlanta law firm has taken their case for free.  WABE's Denis O'Hayer spoke with Robert Highsmith, executive partner at the Atlanta office of Holland and Knight.

To view detailed breakdowns and other information about Georgia's graduation rates, click the links below.   All information is courtesy of the Georgia Department of Education.


As soon as former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum announced he was suspending his Republican presidential campaign, former Georgia Congressman, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich announced he was staying in the race.  But Gingrich faces long odds as he tries to remain more than just an influence on the party's ideology.  WABE's Denis O'Hayer spoke with Atlanta pollster Matt Towery, the president and CEO of InsiderAdvantage.  Towery was a campaign chair for Gingrich during the '90s.

Nathaniel Dyer

A flyer depicted APS Superintendent Erroll Davis in Ku Klux Klan attire with the words All I Need Is 5 Votes and Black On Black Crime was passed out during a community meeting regarding D.H Stanton Elementary School. The elementary school was added to the list of closures in the final redistricting plan for the Atlanta Public Schools. APS Superintendent Erroll Davis will present the plan during the next Atlanta Board of Education meeting. A simple majority vote is all that's needed for the plan to be approved. 

Georgia General Assembly

After the Legislature failed to pass a bill to continue to give MARTA flexibility in how it spends its sales tax money, MARTA officials warned they will probably have to impose service cuts, or fare hikes--or both--in their budget for the coming fiscal year.  But the chairman of the Legislature's MARTA Oversight Committee says it's not to late to work something out to avoid those impositions for MARTA riders.  DeKalb County Republican Representative Mike Jacobs spoke with WABE's Denis O'Hayer.

In an apparent jab at the author of a bill banning picketing at some private homes, members of Occupy Atlanta rallied outside a midtown condo building Wednesday, April 4th.  Campaign disclosures indicate that’s where Gwinnett County Republican State Senator Don Balfour stays at times during the legislative session.

Southern Center for Human Rights

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal is now considering whether to sign a bill passed by the Legislature last week, in the final hours of the 2011-2012 session.  The controversial measure, HB 861, would require applicants for state welfare benefits to pass drug tests in order to receive the benefits.  Even before the Governor makes his decision, an Atlanta civil liberties organization is assembling a lawsuit, challenging the constitutionality of the bill.  WABE's Denis O'Hayer spoke with Gerry Weber, senior counsel for the Southern Center for Human Rights.

Georgia Health News

While the U.S. Supreme Court waits to release its decision on the challenge to the nation's health care law, Georgia consumers and businesses wait for the impact of whatever that decision might be.  No matter what the Court rules, there will be lots of confusion, and many problems will remain in our health care system.  That's the conclusion drawn by Andy Miller, CEO and editor of Georgia Health News, a nonprofit publication that covers health care.  Miller spoke with WABE's Denis O'Hayer.

Brian Robinson

On March 29th, in the final hours of the 2011-2012 legislative session, Gov. Nathan Deal (R-Georgia) sat down with WABE's Denis O'Hayer in the Governor's office at the State Capitol.  In part 2 of their conversation, the Governor talked about his major initiatives this year:  criminal justice reform, and an overhaul of the state's tax system.  He also hinted that the income tax rate cut so many of his fellow Republicans want to see may be difficult to achieve.

Brian Robinson

On Thursday, March 29th, as the 2011-2012 session of the Georgia Legislature was in its final hours, Gov. Nathan Deal (R-Georgia) spoke with WABE's Denis O'Hayer in the Governor's Office at the State Capitol.  In Part 1 of their conversation, they talked about where millions of dollars in mortgage settlement and tobacco settlement money ends up; about the budget and possible pay hikes for teachers; and about several controversial bills that were still pending on the last day of the session. 

  Tuesday, March 27, was the second day of arguments in the U.S. Supreme Court over the nation's new health care law. 

Georgia is one of 26 states participating in the challenge to the law, which was passed in 2010. 

In the second of two interviews with Georgia members of Congress, WABE's Denis O'Hayer spoke with one of the law's strongest supporters:  Democratic Congressman Hank Johnson.

U.S. House of Representatives

On Monday, March 26th, the U.S. Supreme Court began 3 days of hearings on the legal challenge to the nation's health care law.  Georgia is one of 26 states participating in the lawsuit.  In the first of two interviews with Georgia members of Congress, WABE's Denis O'Hayer spoke with Republican Representative Phil Gingrey, who's also a physician.  He opposed the law when in passed in 2010.

Denis O'Hayer

An Atlanta-based non-profit, Global Resource Services, is hoping to bring North Korea's National Symphony Orchestra to the United States sometime within the next year.  If it happens, the tour would make history, and it would start in Atlanta.  But any project involving North Korea involves logisitical and political challenges.  WABE's Denis O'Hayer spoke with Global Resource Services President and CEO Robert Springs.

Counts Law Group

The Georgia General Assembly is close to approving HB 397, which expands the state's Open Meetings and Open Records Act, often called the Sunshine Law.  The bill makes it easier for citizens and journalists to track what government officials are doing.  It also provides much tougher penalties for officials who violate the law.  WABE's Denis O'Hayer spoke with 1st Amendment attorney Cynthia Counts, who said the bill still has some gaps in it.  But she said it's a big improvement over the law we have now.

On Monday March 19th, the Center for Public Integrity released a state-by-state ranking of ethics laws and enforcement.  The report was a joint project of CPI, Public Radio International, and Global Integrity.  In the overall ranking, Georgia placed dead last.  WABE's Denis O'Hayer got in-depth reviews of the report from both sides:  in conversations with Jim Walls, the Atlanta-based journalist who compiled the Georgia report, and with Rick Thompson, a former executive secretary of the State Ethics Commission, who disagrees with Walls's conclusions and the low ranking for Georgia.

Georgia ranks dead last in a major new state-by-state survey of ethics laws and enforcement.  The State Integrity Investigation is a joint project of the Center for Public Integrity, Public Radio International, and Global Integrity.

Pate and Brody

A major overhaul of the state's prison sentencing laws is still pending in the Georgia Legislature, with just days left in the 2011-2012 session.  WABE's Denis O'Hayer took a look at the major provisions and possible problems in the bill, with Atlanta criminal defense attorney Page Pate, who serves as WABE's legal analyst.

Johnny Isakson John Cornyn Saxby Chambliss
Denis O'Hayer / WABE

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) is the Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.  He was in Atlanta on Monday, March 12th, for a fundraiser.  After the event, he joined Georgia Republican Senators Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss for a question-and-answer session with 5 reporters, including WABE's Denis O'Hayer.  What follows are the unedited questions and answers; with the exception of some opening remarks about the U.S. Senate elections nationwide, which had to be omitted for computer file capacity.

MARTA CEO Dr. Beverly Scott

In the last few years, MARTA ridership has dropped amid service cutbacks and fare hikes.  But now, with rising gasoline prices, MARTA's ridership is expected to increase again.  The question:  Does the system have the resources to handle it?  WABE's Denis O'Hayer spoke with MARTA CEO and General Manager Dr. Beverly Scott about that, and about the ongoing battle in the Legislature over MARTA's future.

In the last few days, Maine Republican U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe announced she will not seek re-election.  In the process, she said the Senate had become so polarized, it's impossible to achieve anything of significance.  WABE's Denis O'Hayer spoke with Georgia Republican Senator Johnny Isakson, who has built a reputation--and sometimes been criticized--as someone willing to work across party lines. 

In a conversation with WABE broadcast on Friday, Feb. 24th, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed made the case for the regional transportation sales tax, or "T-SPLOST," which goes before voters in July. But also last week, the DeKalb County Branch of the NAACP announced it will campaign for a "no" vote. Branch president, and former DeKalb County Commissioner, John Evans spoke with WABE's Denis O'Hayer.

Several prominent Republicans in the state House have just introduced two measures which would halt this summer’s scheduled vote on a regional transportation sales tax, or T-SPLOST.  As WABE’s Denis O’Hayer reports, the move raised more questions about the prospects for the T-SPLOST, and about the support of state leaders.

Former Atlanta U.S. Attorney Richard H. Deane, Jr. is the attorney for former Atlanta School Superintendent Dr. Beverly Hall. WABE's Denis O'Hayer spoke with Deane about Dr. Hall's response to the state investigation that found widespread cheating during her watch at the Atlanta Public Schools.

Also taking part in the conversation was David J. Bailey, Deane's partner at the law firm of Jones Day.