Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Chamber chief: Racial reconciliation bred ATL business boom

While other Southern cities such as Birmingham and New Orleans suffered highly-publicized racial conflicts during the civil rights era of the 1960’s, Atlanta integrated its restaurants and schools with relative peace.

“No one knew which of these three cities was going to win the economic battle of the South,” said Sam Williams, president of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. “But an important source of Atlanta’s ultimate victory came out of the leadership of this biracial business community.”

Williams addressed the Buckhead Rotary Club as it presented its annual Robert Ross Johnson Humanitarian Award to Jesse Hill, who was instrumental in the peaceful integration Williams credits with Atlanta’s economic boom.

As an executive and later CEO of Atlanta Life Insurance and leader in the NAACP, Hill acted as intermediary between other civil rights leaders and wary white businessmen. He also advised President Lyndon Johnson, Martin Luther King Jr., and many of the South’s first black elected officials.

In this podcast, Williams explains how white business leaders came to understand “the civil rights movement was about customers, employees and making money.” Introduction by Jim Breedlove.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Public Broadcasting Atlanta GM: Want more WABE news? Go HD

WABE bills itself as “Home of the Classics and NPR News.” Audiences who like each want more of one and less of the other. John Weatherford, senior vice president and general manager of Public Broadcasting Atlanta, which holds the licenses for WABE radio (90.1 FM) and WPBA TV (Channel 30), says the solution is “HD Radio,” a digital signal that “rides on the back” of the analog broadcast signal, but enables WABE to split the signal into three channels, one each for news and classical music and a third for a mix. It’s all free once you buy an HD Radio (less than $100). WABE is also working to make all locally produced content available on the Web.

On the TV side, Weatherford has struck a deal with GPB (seen locally on Channel 8) to reduce the duplication of programming between them. He says the result is a 22% jump in ratings.
Weatherford says technology isn’t the only thing changing in broadcasting, and that public broadcasting performs an increasingly important service.

In this podcast, Weatherford also laments the change in standards among commercial stations owned by media giants, who he says have lost focus on the original mission of broadcast media.

“Broadcasters are still in the business of being issued licenses on behalf of the federal government,” Weatherford says, “on behalf of you, the communities that we serve, to provide something important to you. And if we’re not doing that, then we deserve not to be around.”
Public Broadcasting Atlanta is controlled by Atlanta Public Schools and is not to be confused with Georgia Public Broadcasting, a network of stations across the state, seen locally on Channel 8.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Atlanta Hawks and Thrashers sell entertainment, not wins

The owners of the Atlanta Hawks and Thrashers sell entertainment, not wins. Bernie Mullin, president and CEO of Atlanta Spirit LLC, says trying to sell wins is a losing proposition because you can't guarantee them.
"We provide a complete entertainment package inside and outside the white lines," Mullin told Buckhead Rotary this week.
Mullin says Atlanta Spirit, which also owns Philips Arena, is collectively losing money on the three entities, but moving toward profitability. Philips Arena makes money. The Thrashers lose about $20 million a year. The Hawks break even, the difference mainly due to more money from revenue sharing and taxes from other NBA teams that exceed the league salary cap.
In this podcast, Mullin also predicts hard times for the Atlanta Braves, figuring Liberty Media bought into Major League Baseball for a tax break and will not invest enough in salaries to generate a strong team.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Mayor Franklin: Save water or lose the argument

Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin acknowledges the push to conserve water will have minimal impact on the flow of the Chattahoochee, our main water source. Speaking to Buckhead Rotary on Monday, Mayor Franklin said we must at least try to conserve in order to have a strong bargaining position in our 18-year water war with Alabama and Florida. The governors of all three states are in Washington this week to work out a temporary plan for how they will share what's left of the water in Lake Lanier.

"If we cut our water usage by 50%," Mayor Franklin said, "it will only have a four-percent impact on the Chattahoochee." However, she said we must wage an aggressive conservation campaign, else have a weak bargaining position with the other states, which accuse Georgia of failing to conserve.

Alabama Governor Bob Riley recently told a newspaper, "Atlanta can’t spend all summer during a drought watering their lawns and flowers and then expect someone else to bail them out."

In this week's podcast, Mayor Franklin makes a case for restricting water use, even discouraging the capture of "grey water" from showers for watering plants, but rather taking quick showers and sending all water down the drain and back to the Chattahoochee.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

UGA AD: Women's lacrosse next NCAA sport, men's soccer must wait

UGA's next NCAA sport will likely be women's Lacrosse, says Athletic Director Damon Evans.

"We do need to add another female sport at the University of Georgia," Evans told the Buckhead Rotary Club this week. "Lacrosse is a sport that is getting great consideration."

UGA already has organized men's and women's lacrosse teams, but they are "club sports" along with paintball, karate and dozens more.

Evans said men's soccer will have to wait due to Title IX (UGA has a women's soccer team), which requires universities to try to provide athletic opportunities proportionate to the gender make up of the student body.

In this podcast, Evans explains what's next for UGA's athletics program including stronger efforts to play far flung teams like Oklahoma and Notre Dame.

Introduction by Jim Breedlove.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Governor Perdue: How to make health insurance affordable to small businesses

Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue is proposing a "health insurance partnership initiative" to help small businesses offer coverage for their employees. The plan will split the costs among the state and federal governments, employer and employee.

In this Podcast, Governor Perdue explains how the state will use its bargaining power to reduce costs to small businesses.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Why we don't stand behind old men when waiting to use the restroom

Here’s a quiz. You’re in line for the restroom at the football game. Do you line up behind the young guy or the older guy? Even Dr. Nikhil Shah’s 10-year-old nephew knows you don't wait behind the old guy, because his grapefruit-sized prostate will likely make you miss the next set of downs.

Dr. Shah is Director of Minimally Invasive Surgery and Robotic Urology at St. Joseph's Hospital, where he uses robots to perform prostate and other surgeries using the latest technology.

In this podcast, Dr. Shah reveals what every man should know about his weight, cholesterol and prostate.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

To save Grady, Cobb chair says look under Gold Dome

Saving Grady Memorial Hospital from financial ruin requires a state-wide solution. So says Atlanta Regional Commission chair Sam Olens. He says Cobb County, where he chairs the board of commissioners, can't bail out Grady because Cobb hospitals spend more on Atlanta's indigent patients than vice-versa.

In this Podcast, Olens also predicts Atlanta's long legal battle over water is likely to end up in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Coca-Cola Company archivist seeking "The Real Thing"

Phil Mooney wants an original Coca-Cola serving tray and three Norman Rockwell paintings commissioned by Coke. Mooney has served as The Coca-Cola Company archives director since 1977. The company's collection dates to Coke's creation in 1886, thousands of the items on display in the new World of Coke museum, which opened in May in downtown Atlanta. Mooney only pursues artifacts that will fill a void in the company's collection.

Two categories he seeks:
  1. An original serving tray
  2. Norman Rockwell paintings (Coke commissioned six but only has three of them)
In our Podcast this week, Mr. Mooney recounts Coca-Cola's storied past from the triumphant reign of Robert Woodruff to the branding debacle commonly known as "New Coke."

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy vows always to close on Sunday and never to go public

With a third generation of Cathy's rising through the Chick-fil-A ranks, founder and CEO Truett Cathy insists "Chick-fil-A will always be closed on Sundays and will never go public." The chain has doubled its business in recent years thanks to a remarkably successful "Eat More Chicken" campaign featuring semi-literate cows, as well as an abiding commitment to customer service.

At 86, Cathy still runs the company (with his son Dan serving as COO), gives frequent speeches, and sells books promoting his story and values. "I have to sell them because I'm told that if I give them away for free, you won't read them," he says.

In this Podcast, hear why Chick-fil-A is closed on Sundays and why Mr. Cathy once asked a woman to give him back a toy cow.

Introduction by Ty Tippett.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

"President Bush and I tumbled down a mountain with a live chainsaw" ...and other stories by a former Secret Service agent

On 911, David Wilkinson was one of two Secret Service agents assigned to President Bush. He has lots of stories, though he can’t tell you most of them. The president awarded him the distinguished service award for supervision of agents and for decisive actions on 911. He joined the Secret Service at age 22, and rose to the pinnacle of his profession during more than two decades in the service, eventually overseeing 350 Secret Service agents and 650 uniformed officers that guard the perimeter of the White House.

Through his experiences traveling with the president and all of the disruptions that entails, Agent Wilkinson decided that law enforcement doesn’t collaborate enough with the community to address our safety needs.

In this PODCAST, Agent Wilkinson explains why he accepted a job of President/CEO of Atlanta Police Foundation, where he seeks to develop a system to PREVENT crime instead of responding to it.

In his new role, he also convened the Atlanta Security Council to address common safety and security issues for City of Atlanta and to develop a plan for emergency preparedness for the state of Georgia. Their efforts led to Operation Shield, a fully integrated video surveillance system that you can ready about here:

Monday, August 6, 2007

Once not even on radar, terrorism now tops federal law enforcement's agenda

David Nahmias, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, describes the challenges facing federal law enforcement, including the new number one priority: terrorism. 911 changed the nature of the Justice Department from one of reacting to violent attacks to preventing them. In this podcast, Nahmias says he is certain that terrorist will attack us again, so he encourages everyone not only to practice terrorism and armed intruder drills in which you stay inside.

Other priorities for Nahmias's office:
  1. Street gangs (bigger problem in metro area than in the City of Atlanta )
  2. Methamphetamines – Knocked out 70% of meth labs, but now higher quality, lower priced meth is coming from Mexico , with Atlanta as “huge staging ground” for drugs covering the southeast, topping even Miami. The good news: Teen-aged drug use is down 23% in five years, and violent crime is down 50% in ten years, mainly due to education, not federal law enforcement.
  3. White collar crime - have prosecuted more than 200 corruption cases, including many in mortgage fraud, dropping us from number one to number four in the nation in mortgage fraud. Nahmias encourages whistleblowers, saying says his office would have had more evidence against former mayor Bill Campbell if more whistleblowers had come forward.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

From paralysis to action: Shepherd Center namesake inspires hope in victims of spinal cord and brain injuries

James Shepherd set out on a backpacking trip around the world in 1973 after graduating from the University of Georgia. While bodysurfing off a beach in Rio de Janeiro, he nearly drowned when a wave slammed his body against the ocean floor. James, who was 22 at the time, was instantly paralyzed from the neck down.
Today, the Shepherd Center, which he and his family founded and still run, is one of the nation's leading rehabilitation hospitals, specializing in the treatment of people with spinal cord injuries, acquired brain injuries, multiple sclerosis and other neurological conditions.
In this podcast, James Shepherd recounts his devastating injury and the inspiring life he has led since.

Monday, June 4, 2007

People with disabilities working to pay their own way

Ray Charles Simms cuts his grass at two o'clock in the morning. He says it's cooler then. Besides, he lost his sight in an industrial accident when he was 33, so light isn't an issue. In addition to yardwork, Ray performs packaging and assembly using skills he developed at the Tommy Nobis Center, which equips physically and mentally challeged people with job skills so they can work to support themselves.
Executive Director Connie Kirk says the investment pays off as trainees become taxpaying citizens.
The center is the namesake of Atlanta Falcons football star Tommy Nobis, who remains actively involved in the center.
Listen as Tommy and Connie address Buckhead Rotary regarding the remarkable accomplishments of their trainees. Introduction by Tony Walker.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Ben Carter presentation to Buckhead Rotary makes news

Real estate developer Ben Carter made news when he told Buckhead Rotary new details about his $850 million Buckhead Avenues development:

From today's
Atlanta Business Chronicle:

Carter told the Buckhead Rotary Club that he's scouring a database of 250 retailers and would attract names that are carried in luxury department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. Read more

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Goodbye to "the projects": AHA changing model for providing affordable housing

Renee Glover, president and CEO of Atlanta Housing Authority, tells Buckhead Rotary how AHA is transforming the way Atlanta provides an opportunity for affordable housing. Listen to Glover's presentation.