Jim Burress

Host, Closer Look with Rose Scott and Jim Burress

Jim Burress is a proud native of Louisville, Kentucky. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Wabash College in Indiana, and a master’s in Mass Communication from Murray State University.  That's where Jim started his public radio career (WKMS-FM). 

Jim moved to Atlanta to work on his PhD, but after a year away from reporting, he realized he preferred the newsroom to the classroom.  He came to WABE in the spring of 2008 when there were just six people in the entire newsroom. 

As a licensed pilot, Jim is fascinated by airplanes and aviation, which is why you’ll often hear him report on the commercial aviation industry.   As a Kaiser Health News/NPR fellow, Jim also covers healthcare and healthcare policy for WABE. 

In 2014, Jim wrote and produced WABE's first news documentary in more than a decade, "Stuck in the Bluff." He also traveled to Liberia to document the West African country's efforts to rebuild post civil-war, and happened to be at the same hospital, the same week, where the massive Ebola outbreak started.  

Jim is a frequent contributor to the national show Marketplace, and his reports regularly air nationally on NPR's Morning Edition, and All Things Considered.

Jim has won numerous professional awards, including 1st place honors from both the Kentucky and Georgia Associated Press and several regional Edward R. Murrow Awards.  In 2010, the Atlanta Press Club awarded Jim its radio “Award of Excellence” for his reporting on unlawful practices within the Atlanta Police Department, and again in 2012 for a joint project looking at special needs students attending Clayton County schools. 

But his biggest prize came in 2001 when he won it all on the game show, "The Price is Right."  

Ways to Connect

Don Ryan / Associated Press

Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines posted on Wednesday a record profit for the first three months of the year. Net income climbed to $746 million. After special items, Delta posted a profit of 45 cents per share, beating analysts' expectations. 

“The business on the whole is performing quite well," said Delta CEO Richard Anderson on an investor conference call. 

Part of the increase comes from a strengthening U.S. economy and strong domestic demand. Fees for baggage and premium seats also helped, the airline said. 

But there were a few rough spots.

 In this April 4, 2010 file photo, a foreclosure sign sits atop a for sale sign in front of a single-family home tops the for sale sign in Denver on Sunday, April 4, 2010.
David Zalubowski, File / Associated Press

A little financial education can go a long way in helping people find a home or stay in the one they’ve got. 

That’s the idea behind $36 million in federal grants announced Tuesday. The money is earmarked for housing agencies across the nation, including Georgia.

Ten state agencies – mostly in Atlanta – will share in $1.8 million.

Martha Dalton / WABE

Fulton County Public Schools superintendent Robert Avossa is at the top of a short list to lead the Palm Beach County, Florida school district. 

More than 70 candidates applied, with Avossa ranking among the top three.  Thursday afternoon, he'll answer questions from the Palm Beach County School Board during a public meeting. 

Palm Beach County is the 11th largest school district in the U.S., and has about twice as many students as Fulton County.

season. Forecasters say the nation's dominate weather system will keep metro Atlanta wet for the next week or so.
Kay Gaensler / Kay Gaensler Photography - Creative Commons

Metro Atlanta has seen 5.26 inches of rainfall in the past 30 days. That's more than an inch above normal, according to the National Weather Service. 

Forecasters say that total is likely to increase over the next several days. 

“Sunshine is going to be hard to come by at all this week," says Jason Deese, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Peachtree City, Georgia.

Deese says flooding is possible, but severe weather is unlikely.

David Goldman / Associated Press

Planning on getting a new apartment in 2015? You're definitely not alone.

Norcross-based RentPath operates websites Rent.com and ApartmentGuide.com. The company says it saw a record 3.1 million leads for apartments in March.  

Much of that traffic comes from millennials, RentPath CEO Charles Stubbs says.   

"A number of them are less interested in home ownership and want the flexibility and amenities of an apartment community," Stubbs says.

Brittian Pendergrast (left) and Nan Pendergrast (right) sit in their West Paces Ferry Road home. They've lived here for 60 years, and just celebrated their 75th anniversary.
Jim Burress / WABE


It was the year Superman debuted, filming of “Gone With the Wind” started, and Oregon beat Ohio State in the first NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship.

It’s also the year Atlantans Brittain Pendergrast and Nan Schwab married.

This weekend, they celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary.

A travel advocate accuses Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines of shaming certain customers into buying a higher fare ticket. Delta says it's providing transparency as a way to better inform customers.
Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press

Delta Air Lines is asking the U.S. government for antitrust immunity so it can pursue a partnership with AeroMexico.

The Atlanta-based carrier says Mexico is its most popular international destination, which is one reason the airline cites for pursuing a new $1.5 billion joint venture with the Mexican carrier.

Delta says the partnership will give U.S. travelers more access to key Mexican cities, while AeroMexico customers will see new flights to Delta’s hub cities, including Atlanta.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.




One of the most noted rap songs of the early 1990s turned out quite different than was first envisioned. 

Rapper Sir-Mix-A-Lot made it big with his hit, "Baby Got Back." But originally, the song was titled, "Baby Got Bach." 

And the inspiration? 

A budding friendship between Anthony Ray (Sir Mix's real name) and WABE's own Lois Reitzes. 

For the first time, Reitzes shared her story with Senior Reporter Jim Burress. 

(To hear the interview, click the 'Listen' icon below.) 

Jacque Muther commissioned a T-shirt quilt to commemorate her nearly three-decade career in AIDS advocacy. It's now on display at Atlanta's Ponce de Leon Center, part of the Grady Infectious Disease Program.
Jim Burress / WABE

Jacque Muther has spent most of her career working to get low-income AIDS patients life-saving medications as part of the Grady Infectious Disease Program. 

In May, she'll retire. 

Over the years, Muther has amassed a sizable T-shirt collection from various nonprofits, events and people connected to the fight of HIV and AIDS. 

To preserve the memories (and clear out a few drawers), Muther commissioned master crafter Juanita Williams to turn the T-shirts into a quilt. 

The quilt is now on display at the Ponce de Leon Center in Midtown. 

Benjamin Ebeling of the University of Copenhagen prepares his team's case as part of Emory's Global Health Case Competition. Teams came to Atlanta from across the U.S. and as far away as Australia.
Jim Burress / WABE

“¡Alto a la Violencia!” ("Stop the Violence!") reads the prompt that 24 teams of students from across the U.S. and the globe had to work out this weekend at Emory University's Global Health Case Competition. 

The competition, now in its fifth year, includes undergraduate, graduate and professional school students from a variety of disciplines. Teams had less than a week to pore over a pre-written scenario and tease out important facts. On Friday, they gathered at Emory to strategize and present to a panel of judges how best to handle a global health threat. 

Emory University Hospital and Wellstar merger
Allison Guillory; Wellstar

If those behind the proposed merger of WellStar/Emory health systems are looking for a cheerleader, they won’t find one in Taryn Howard.

The Smyrna resident says her family has interacted with WellStar doctors, hospitals and even a hospice in the past year. She’s not happy with the care, but says there aren’t many options.

“It’s really very difficult to find a doctor in Cobb County that’s not a WellStar doctor,” Howard says.

The Georgia Senate is scheduled to hear a proposal Thursday that would allow consumers to bypass a physician's referral when seeking physical therapy.
Ken Lund / flickr.com/kenlund

A bill that would align Georgia law with 41 other states is expected to go to the Senate floor Thursday.

HB505 would allow patients to see a physical therapist without first getting a doctor’s referral.

“This will decrease the burden of being able to get access to rehabilitation services,” Dr. Joseph Donnelly, an associate professor of physical therapy at Mercer University, says.  “It will also cut costs for the consumer as well as the healthcare system in Georgia.”

Atlanta Police officer on patrol.
David Goldman / Associated Press

The city of Atlanta is promising to “vigorously defend” itself against a motion filed in federal court Tuesday that accuses the Atlanta Police Department of willfully violating the court’s order.

The case, Calhoun v. Pennington, dates back to 2009 when Atlanta Police officers stormed the Atlanta Eagle – a gay bar in Midtown — and unlawfully detained its patrons.

Nobody was suspected of committing a crime.

A year later, a federal judge ordered the Atlanta Police Department to — among other things — change its policy related to when it’s OK to detain someone.

A pair of Emory medical students celebrate Match Day Friday, having just learned they got into their "first choice" residency programs.
Jim Burress / WABE

At medical schools across the U.S. today, fourth-year medical students learned where they'll spend the next chapter in their lives.

It's known as "Match Day," and at Emory, it felt like Black Friday mayhem just before those $99 big screen TVs go on sale.

In the middle of the medical school atrium, 133 medical students stand nervously, watching the clock tick. 

“Seven. Six. Five…” they count in unison as the clock nears noon. When the hour and minute hands meet, students rush to a nearby row of tables where sealed envelopes wait.

Those suing Atlanta Police say officer conduct during local Ferguson, Missouri protests indicate the department isn't following a federal court order. In a letter to the court, the head of Atlanta's police union agrees.
Evan Jang / WABE

The head of the Atlanta Police Union says the city of Atlanta isn’t properly training its officers, and in an unusual twist, Ken Allen ─ International Brotherhood of Police Officers Local 623 president ─ has written a letter supporting a lawsuit against the department.

The letter, filed late Tuesday with Atlanta’s federal court, says the department’s shortcomings open officers to disciplinary action and the potential for criminal liability.

The Ginger Pride Parade in Rome, Ga grows every year. While the event primarily involves redheads, organizers say all are welcome
James Schroeder

Normally, parade organizers hope it won’t rain.

That’s not the case for those behind the fifth-annual Ginger Pride Parade, scheduled for noon Saturday in downtown Rome, Georgia. 

After all, no sunshine means no sunburns for the hundreds of marchers expected.  

The event is the brainchild of James Schroeder, who says even as an adult he gets taunted about his copper locks. 

“You get picked on and it’s not fun," says Schroeder. "You can’t help it.”

Atlanta Airport, air traffic control, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport
Jim Burress / WABE

Every time you take off from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International – or any domestic commercial airport – you and everyone else on the flight fork over $4.50 to pay the  Passenger Facility Charge, or PFC.

The money goes to fund airport infrastructure. PFCs paid for half of Atlanta's airport new $1.4 billion international terminal. They also funded a wildlife hazard study at Southwest Georgia Regional Airport in Albany.

Airports want the fee increased to $8, they say to keep up with their more than $14 billion in annual infrastructure costs. 

The sun sets on a rural village in Lofa County, Liberia. Most villages like this have no running water, paved roads or electricity.
Jim Burress / WABE

One year ago, WABE senior reporter Jim Burress traveled to Liberia on a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. He spent three weeks in the West African country, documenting how it is rebuilding more than a decade after the end of its brutal civil war.

Overhead bins often fill up before all passengers board a plane. Some say that's one reason airlines support newly-proposed guidelines for smaller carry-ons.
Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

When the bottom dropped out of the economy, airlines parked planes and pulled seat capacity.

Times are better, airlines are seeing more passengers, and they’re adding back in some of those lost seats. That's creating "capacity pressure" in a number of markets, including Atlanta.

"There are a number of skirmishes breaking out, and ultimately the marketplace and consumers will determine what happens with fares," said John Heimleich, cheif economist for the industry trade group Airlines For America.

A rolling billboard in opposition to "religious freedom" legislation circles the Georgia Capitol.
Jason Parker / WABE

Georgia’s “religious freedom” bill has sparked debate within the religious, business and LGBT communities.

If passed, the law could possibly weaken local anti-discrimination ordinances in Georgia cities ─ including Atlanta.

Such local policies go beyond the state’s protection.  For example, Atlanta’s ordinance says businesses can’t discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

However, state lawmakers behind the religious freedom bill are adamant ─ the measure wouldn’t strip those safeguards.

In this May 8, 2014 file photo, Emirates passenger planes are parked at their gates of Dubai airport in United Arab Emirates.
Kamran Jebreili, File / Associated Press

Atlanta maintains its long-standing bragging rights as home to the “World’s Busiest Airport,” at least in terms of passenger volume.

But from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, there’s just one flight to the Middle East.

And if you want to fly directly from Atlanta to India, you’re completely out of luck.

In fact, Atlanta trails a host of other U.S. cities in terms of International access, including: Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles and New York. Each of those cities offers non-stop service from Dubai-based Emirates.

Rev. Eric Terrell, President of the Southwest Chapter of the SCLC, who has worked in the Civil Rights movements for over 43 years, energizes Ferguson rally attendees as the crowd gathers.
Ryan Nabulsi / twinlensatl.com

Note: Story updated to include response from City of Atlanta

It’s been more than five years since Felicia Anderson saw Atlanta Police beating a handcuffed suspect, grabbed her cell phone and started taking pictures of the scene from her front porch.

Police arrested Anderson and took her phone.

Anderson sued the city and won.

John Raoux / Associated Press

With the deadline for open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act quickly approaching, health officials are on a last-minute push to sign eligible people up for a plan. 

Among those is Elise Blasingame, a certified navigator with Georgia Watch. Friday morning, she was helping female refugees in Decatur understand their options under Obamacare.   

“It’s been pretty amazing to see how interested they are in learning about the Act," Blasingame says. 

Mark Stevens / flickr.com/14723335@N05

Southwest Airlines, the No. 2 carrier by passenger volume at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, is offering the Atlanta market a perk normally reserved for the most elite travelers – a companion pass. 

The company called the promotion "historic." 

According to a Southwest press release, metro Atlanta residents "who fly three qualifying round trips on Southwest Airlines from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport between today and May 17, 2015, will earn a Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Companion Pass valid through the end of 2015."

An artist rendering of changes coming to I-285/Ga. 400. Construction will begin in 2016 and wrap up in 2019. The project's cost: $1 billion.
Georgia Dept of Transportation

Brace yourself, Atlanta commuters.  

Next year, the Georgia Department of Transportation begins a three year rework of the Interstate 285/Georgia 400 interchange. It promises to relieve congestion along one of the nation’s worst bottlenecks.

But the plan could already be outdated, thanks to recently-announced development.

AIDS quilt
Jim Burress / WABE


In June of 1987, a small group of people gathered in San Francisco, California. They feared history would soon forget their friends and loved ones who were quickly dying of AIDS.

Members of that group came up with a collective idea ─ make a quilt. Many now know it as the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt. It has more than 48, 000 panels, and it is housed and cared for here in Atlanta. 

Many who haven't signed up for a health plan under the Affordable Care Act seek in-person assistance. The deadline to sign up or face a penalty is Feb. 15th.
David Goldman / Associated Press

With just days left to sign up for health coverage through the Affordable Care Act’s insurance marketplace, there’s a last minute push to get Georgians signed up.

Even as health officials plan enrollment events throughout the state, new figures released Wednesday show Atlanta has the second highest number of Healthcare.gov sign-ups of any major metro (the data are only for the 37 states where the federal government operates the exchange). Only Miami had more.

Atlanta author Mary Kay Andrews (Kathy Trocheck) says Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird" influenced her own writing.
Bill Miles

Kathy Hogan Trocheck's byline was a staple in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in the 1980s. She left the AJC to write fiction full-time in 1991, and has authored a number of best-selling books under the penname "Mary Kay Andrews."

A Southwest Airlines B-737 taxis past a Delta jet parked at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
Jim Burress / WABE

Three years to the month after Southwest Airlines began service to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the Dallas-based carrier kicked off a campaign Monday aimed directly at luring local travelers.

Southwest calls it “Heartlanta.”

The kitschy advertisements feature smiling faces, dancing Atlanta-based employees and Southwest planes crossing the screen in dramatic slow motion.

“Hey Atlanta,” a female voice says at the start of the 15-second commercial. “You know how we know this is a real relationship? We’re picking you up at the airport.”