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

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle (R-Georgia), speaking with Denis O'Hayer in the WABE studios on May 17, 2016.
Alison Guillory / WABE



Republican Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle is proposing a major overhaul of the board that governs MARTA, in exchange for something MARTA has long wanted:  state funding. The proposed change would be a step in developing a larger, regional transit system for the Atlanta area.  

Courtesy of Kennesaw State University

Kennesaw State University is in the process of finding a new leader.

On Tuesday night, KSU President Dr. Dan Papp surprised nearly everyone with an announcement that he is retiring, effective June 30. His announcement came after 43 years with the state university system -- 10 of those as KSU president.

In a wide-ranging conversation with Denis O'Hayer on "Morning Edition," Papp said his retirement was not forced by anyone, and he looked back on his term, which saw rapid expansion and enrollment growth at KSU.

 An election for county district attorney usually gets little attention — even in the county involved. But this year, one county’s May 24 contest for the top prosecutor’s job has drawn interest from around the Atlanta area.

That’s because the county is DeKalb, which has seen a series of corruption scandals that included prison time for former county commissioner Elaine Boyer and suspended CEO Burrell Ellis.

Mike Stewart / Associated Press

For years, we have heard that Atlanta is one of the nation's top destinations for young professionals, who are transforming the planning done by political and economic leaders.  

Three weeks from today, on May 24, 2016, voters across the Atlanta area will decide Democratic and Republican nominees for a wide assortment of offices – including a U.S. Senate seat, all of the U.S. House seats, posts in the state legislature and many city and county positions.

Among the most closely watched local contests will be in DeKalb County, where major issues like police-community relations, transportation and the revival of economically struggling areas have been overshadowed by the county's effort to emerge from a string of ethics scandals. /


As if what actually happened this week in Georgia politics were not enough, much of the time was spent wondering about what might happen.  

Republican Gov. Nathan Deal continued to deliberate whether to sign or veto the "campus carry" bill, which would allow permit holders to carry concealed weapons in many places on college campuses.

DeKalb County ethics officer Stacey Kalberman, speaking with Denis O'Hayer in the WABE studios on April 26, 2016
Johnny Kauffman / WABE News

DeKalb County is trying to get past a string of ethics scandals in its government.

Suspended CEO Burrell Ellis has just finished a prison sentence on a corruption conviction, which he is still appealing; Commissioner Elaine Boyer was sentenced to 14 months in federal prison on fraud charges; and a string of other ethics lapses resulted in a report from special investigator Mike Bowers that called DeKalb's government culture "rotten to the core."

Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press

Five more states ─ Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Delaware, Maryland and Connecticut ─ will hold presidential primaries on Tuesday.  Front-runners Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are expected to do well in the Democratic and Republican contests.

Mark Lennihan / Associated Press


It has now been 10 years since StoryCorps began its Atlanta project (nationwide, StoryCorps is nearly 13 years old).  

To mark the occasion, Denis O'Hayer spoke with StoryCorps founder Dave Isay about the work of those 10 years and about his newest book of StoryCorps stories, ''Callings,'' which is all about work, and finding the work each of us is meant to do.


Andrew Harnik / Associated Press

Donald Trump's Republican presidential campaign has hit some speed bumps lately – most recently in Colorado, where rival Ted Cruz was able to capture all of the state's delegates to this summer's Republican National Convention.

  It's the latest evidence that candidates don't just need to get out their voters; once the voting is over, they need to win the battles for convention delegates. That means knowing the sometimes head-spinning state party rules for the delegate selection process.

State Sen. Greg Kirk, R-Americus, speaks on a bill he plans to introduce that provides religious exemptions in the wake of last year's U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016, in Atlanta.
David Goldman / Associated Press


The 2015-16 Georgia Legislature adjourned the week before, but the state Capitol was anything but quiet during the last week of March.  

Wilfredo Lee / Associated Press

The three remaining Republican presidential candidates have a town hall meeting scheduled for Tuesday, ahead of the April 5 Wisconsin primary.  

But, in addition to the back-and-forth between a Ted Cruz-connected super PAC and Donald Trump over their spouses, the candidates have found some time to talk about issues.  

On "Morning Edition," Denis O'Hayer delved into some of those statements with Jim Tharpe, editor of PolitiFact Georgia, which appears in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and on  

For years, Ga. House Speaker David Ralston has led a push in the Georgia Legislature to expand where licensed gun owners can legally carry their weapons.
Alison Guillory / WABE

Republican House Speaker David Ralston, in an interview with WABE Monday, said the chamber would not pass new measures in the final days of the legislative session to address concerns from Republican Gov. Nathan Deal, and other critics, over a “campus carry” bill passed by the General Assembly.  

“If you start trying to pick at the threads of some of these things, sometimes you can end up gutting the entire intent of the law, and I’m not going to ask this House of Representatives to do that,” Ralston said.  

The morning sun illuminates the Capitol in Washington as Congress returns from a district work week, Monday, March 24, 2014.
J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press

Georgia Democrats and Republicans voted in the Mar. 1 Super Tuesday presidential primaries, but their job isn't done.  On May 24, they'll go back to the polls to choose their nominees for U.S. Senate and House seats, plus seats in the state House and Senate.

The week-long period for candidates to sign up and pay their qualifying fees just ended.  Political reporter Johnny Kauffman surveyed the field with Denis O'Hayer on "Morning Edition."

Denis O'Hayer / WABE

Despite years of public awareness campaigns, tougher prosecutions and specialized training for law enforcement officers, Georgia continues to see increases in the number of people who die in domestic violence incidents.

Wilfredo Lee / AP Photo

Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have seen a lot of each other lately.

On March 6, they traded fire during a CNN-sponsored debate in Flint, Michigan. On March 9, they collided again in Miami, Florida, in a debate sponsored by Univision.

As they watched the Miami debate, many Democratic voters were likely still sorting out the claims the candidates made during the exchanges in Flint.

In early February, the DeKalb County public school system regained full accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, or SACS. It had been some three years since SACS put DeKalb on probation, citing board mismanagement and an atmosphere of "conflict and chaos" in the school system.

Jacquelyn Martin / AP Photo

The U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday heard oral arguments in one of the most important abortion cases in recent years. At issue is a Texas law, which says doctors who provide abortion services must have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

The law also requires clinics to have facilities that are close to hospital standards.

Texas state officials argue they are simply trying to protect women's health. Opponents charge the law places undue burdens on a woman's right to seek an abortion.

Jae C. Hong / Associated Press

In this polarized and angry time, could you ever imagine voting for a conservative Republican AND Democratic socialist Bernie Sanders at the same time?  Turns out, in Vermont, they have. Sanders, an independent, has won statewide elections in Vermont since 1990. Republican Jim Douglas has done the same -- with one brief break -- between 1980 and 2008. He was Vermont's governor for eight years. So there have been quite a few elections in which Vermonters have chosen both of these very different politicians -- for different offices. That puts former Gov.

A voter inserts his paper ballot at the Belvedere Park polling booth in East Los Angeles on Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010.
Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press

 On Tuesday, Georgia voters in both major parties will get their chance to name their choices for president of the U.S.  

New WABE polls show Hillary Clinton with a strong lead among Georgia Democrats, while Donald Trump is well ahead among Republicans.  

Donald Trump rallies supporters in Atlanta.
Al Such / WABE

With the March 1 primary fast approaching, several recent polls show Donald Trump maintains a solid lead among the field of Republican presidential candidates in Georgia.  On the Democratic side, the polls indicate Hillary Clinton has a big lead over Bernie Sanders in the state.

One of the recent surveys was conducted for Fox-5 by Opinion Savvy.  Pollster Matt Towery analyzes the persistence of Trump's popularity in Georgia, in a conversation with Denis O'Hayer on "Morning Edition."

Rep. Al Williams (D-Midway), speaking with Denis O'Hayer in his office in the Coverdell Legislative Office Building on February 15, 2016.
Denis O'Hayer / WABE News


February is Black History Month.  The Legislature is in session, too.  For many years, some African-American lawmakers tried to pass a resolution in which the state government apologizes, or expresses "regret," for its role in perpetuating slavery.  In some years, the proposed resolution went nowhere;  in other years, negotiators came close to compromise agreements, only to see them fall apart at the last minute.

Dr. Rosemarie Kelly, public health entomologist with the Georgia Department of Public Health, speaking with Denis O'Hayer on February 15, 2016 in the DPH offices in downtown Atlanta.
Nancy Nydam / Georgia Department of Public Health


Chances are, just a few months ago, most of us had not heard of the Zika virus.  

Zika was a relatively mild disease mostly confined to Africa. But then, it started moving, eventually reaching Latin America. And there are signs Zika is linked to microcephaly -- mothers giving birth to infants with abnormally small heads -- though there is still no definite proof that Zika is the cause.  

Denis O'Hayer / WABE


 One of Georgia's Supreme Court justices has vivid memories of the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.  

David Nahmias clerked for Scalia in the early '90s.  

In a conversation in his chambers at the state Supreme Court, Nahmias remembered Scalia as a demanding, but kind boss, who -- for all the controversy surrounding him -- tried to get everything right.  

Speaking with Denis O'Hayer, Nahmias also reflected on the ways in which Scalia changed the Supreme Court's decision-making process, and he answered questions about his own future. 

Evan Vucci / Associated Press

When President Barack Obama nominates a successor to the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the Senate Judiciary Committee will be the first stop in the confirmation process. 

Georgia Republican Sen. David Perdue is a member of the Judiciary Committee.  So far, he is saying nothing about whether he wants the Senate to move on a nomination or wait until the next president takes office.

David Goldman / Associated Press

With the New Hampshire presidential primaries over, candidates in both parties moved quickly to South Carolina. But Georgia is in their sights for the March 1 Super Tuesday contest, also called the SEC primary because Georgia is one of several (mostly Southern) states holding their primaries on that day.

David Goldman / Associated Press

With New Hampshire voters set for their presidential primaries on Tuesday, the Democratic and Republican candidates staged some occasionally fiery debates in the final days. On Thursday, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders squared off on MSNBC.

After a mostly polite start to the campaign season, Clinton and Sanders went at it, with each making some bold claims about the other's record. But did Sanders (as Clinton charged) really propose putting Iranian troops on Israel's doorstep? And did Clinton really flip-flop on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal?

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.