ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

cloudy-day
73°
Partly Cloudy
H 90° L 68°
  • cloudy-day
    73°
    Current Conditions
    Partly Cloudy. H 90° L 68°
  • cloudy-day
    90°
    Today
    Partly Cloudy. H 90° L 68°
  • cloudy-day
    91°
    Tomorrow
    Partly Cloudy. H 91° L 69°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Wsb news on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Wsb traffic on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Wsb weather on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

Local
Gridlock Guy: How we decide where the WSB Skycopter flies
Close

Gridlock Guy: How we decide where the WSB Skycopter flies

Have you ever wondered how much time on average you spend in traffic a year? Do you think your commute is bad? Check out the worst in the country.

Gridlock Guy: How we decide where the WSB Skycopter flies

One assumption about traffic reporters is that all of us fly in a helicopter. In fact, most — almost all — do not. Smilin’ Mark McKay, Ashley Frasca, and I are the only airborne traffic reporters left in Atlanta. McKay is in the WSB Skycopter each morning drive and I take flight in the afternoons. Frasca has recently gotten the chance to fill in for us, as she gets the feel of both looking at traffic from above and arranging and leading the WSB Triple Team Traffic reports for the rest of the team on the ground.

» RELATED: Gridlock Guy: WSB Triple Team Traffic App helps navigate commute

But none of us has a pilot’s license. We have a rotation of pilots, led by our Monday-through-Thursday stalwart Bob Howdy, a former police officer who prefers that pseudonym. And we carry a videographer on each flight, Brett Barnhill, who has the responsibility of providing a feed that all four TV news stations in Atlanta use. This cross-pollination allows us to stay airborne, but this balance with the needs of TV stations also can influence where we fly.

Doug Turnbull, WSB Skycopter
The WSB Skycopter flew over this bad dump truck crash on Fairburn on Highway 29 on March 14th, 2019.
Close

Gridlock Guy: How we decide where the WSB Skycopter flies

Photo Credit: Doug Turnbull, WSB Skycopter
The WSB Skycopter flew over this bad dump truck crash on Fairburn on Highway 29 on March 14th, 2019.

I recently got a question from a WSB listener and viewer about how we decide where to go. I had not explained that in a while, so I found it a worthy topic for this column.

The pilot has the ultimate say in where we fly. If they have to avoid busy airspaces around airports or cannot lift off in bad weather, that is their call. Regardless of how bad the weather is, they always drive in and make that call from the hangar at DeKalb-Peachtree Airport. There are so many stimuli to consider as a pilot that we would have no way as reporters of doing that job simultaneously. We do traffic every six minutes and they carry in their hands life or death; we “let” the pilots fly.

When TV stations have special video requests or if we find something that the other stations want, Barnhill has to check with his producer on the ground to make sure to stay at those scenes long enough. If, say, I am ready to move to another problem, we cannot go until Barnhill is cleared. Balancing the demands he receives with what we want for News 95.5/AM750 WSB makes both of our jobs harder, but the reward of flying is worth the pause.

All else being equal — i.e., when we do not have to wait for TV — we are a traffic helicopter. And that is more than 90% of the time. So we simply fly up and down the interstates when there aren’t any big wrecks or news stories that alter our routes. We generally do not go south of I-20, because Hartsfield-Jackson’s airspace is so wide. We have to make such a wide route to fly to McDonough or Fairburn that going that way isn’t worth the time cost, unless there is a big problem. In this past week, however, we have flown to the south side multiple times for different traffic issues.

» RELATED: Gridlock Guy: When traffic is stopped and you need to go

We try to make our decisions to maximize our time flying over interstates, in hopes that we discover something new. Finding a crash that we didn’t already know about in the WSB 24-Hour Traffic Center “pays” for the whole two-hour ride in the Skycopter. We take the airborne advantage seriously and want to leverage it to help Atlanta commuters to the greatest extent. Earlier this month, we flew over a wreck during PM drive on I-85/northbound at Jimmy Carter Blvd. It took forever to clear, and the Traffic Team had a live ground shot of it on the WSB Jam Cam. But we stayed over it to get more detail and see the impact on surrounding roads. We noticed that commuters heavily underutilized Oakbrook Pkwy. as an alternate and started telling traffic to go there. Observing small details like that or something in a wreck that might make the clean-up last longer are the added value we can still give. And that is value that automated traffic apps still do not offer. Common sense is a great human trait.

With technology becoming smarter and more superfluous, we tailor our flight paths differently. If we know that the Traffic Team has a good feel on a wreck without us flying over it, we don’t waste the fuel going there. We try to maximize our advantage. News helicopters generally fly a la carte to stories, whereas the WSB Skycopter flies for a couple of hours each morning and afternoon drive. Some days are very humdrum, but others see major problems. In a city with traffic jams like ours, WSB knows the importance of staying airborne in the Skycopter.

In this time of automation, we have seen news organizations wave white flags for traffic reporting. They outsource it to bigger companies that assign one reporter to five stations and who just read crashes. We cover multiple stations in the WSB Traffic Center, but they are all local and we do it with the best tools and the most expertise in the city. We know your ride is important and we want the information you need to come at you constantly on radio, TV, online, on social media, and on the Triple Team Traffic Alerts App. The WSB Traffic Team is still on offense against Atlanta gridlock, and the WSB Skycopter is a huge weapon. 

» RELATED: Gridlock Guy: Residential cost of GA-400 expansion illustration of bigger conundrum

Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on News 95-5 FM and AM-750 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also writes a traffic blog and hosts a podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@coxinc.com.

Read More

News

  • A man said his pain medication and a broken back door are what led to his 2-year-old son wandering onto a busy Florida highway. Jacob Krueger, 25, and the child's mother, 28-year-old Yajaira Tirado were both arrested on neglect charges after their son was found on the highway around 10:30 a.m. Monday with a dirty diaper and bug bites covering his arms.  'I'm sorry,' Krueger said after walking out of jail Tuesday. 'I didn't mean for it to come down to this.' Krueger explained that he and Tirado are on medications for conditions that he said kept them asleep during the ordeal. He also blamed a broken door at the home they rent as why his son was able to escape. >>Read: Toddler wearing dirty diaper, covered in bug bites found crossing highway, police say; 2 arrested When asked why there wasn't any attempt to fix the door to prevent an incident like this, Krueger said, 'There's no way. Doesn't matter if I tried doing something to it.' Krueger went on to deny a responding deputy's claim that his home was littered with broken bottles and smelled like feces. >> Read more trending news  'I love my child. I want the best for them (and) don't ever want to hurt them,' Krueger explained.  Officials said they had been to the home in 2018 for another case of child neglect in which Tirado was arrested after a 1-year-old and 2-year-old were left at the home alone, according to the Volusia County Sheriff's Office.  Deputies said the toddler found crossing the highway was placed in the custody of the Department of Children and Families. Tirado remains in the Volusia County Jail.
  • The Democratic presidential primary debates begin Wednesday with 10 candidates going head-to-head in Miami as the 2020 presidential election season gets underway. >>Read more trending news Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Beto O’Rourke, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and seven others will likely face questions on border security, health care and climate change on the first night of the two-night event. >>Jamie Dupree: Warren leads Democrats into first night of 2020 debates Here’s what to know about and how to watch Wednesday’s Democratic debate.  When and where is the debate being held? The debate will be broken up into two nights with 10 candidates on the stage to debate each night. The debates will take place on Wednesday and Thursday at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami. Who will be on the stage on Wednesday? Here is the lineup for Wednesday’s debate: Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey  Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts  Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke of Texas  Former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii  Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota  Former Housing Secretary Julián Castro  New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington  Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio  Where will they stand onstage? The candidates will stand from left to right in this order – de Blasio, Ryan, Castro, Booker, Warren, O’Rourke, Klobuchar, Gabbard, Inslee, Delaney.  Who will be asking the questions at the debate? Lester Holt, Savannah Guthrie, Chuck Todd, Rachel Maddow and José Diaz-Balart will moderate the debate. Holt, Guthrie and Diaz-Balart will moderate the first hour, with Holt, Todd and Maddow asking questions in the second hour. How can I watch the debate? NBC is sponsoring the debate, but it will be shown on all three major networks and on cable news channels. It will stream online free (without requiring an account with a television provider) at NBCNews.com, MSNBC.com, the NBC News Mobile App and OTT apps, and Telemundo's digital platforms. What time wil it be on? The debate will air from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Wednesday. Where can I watch the livestream? Here is the livestream link of the debate from YouTube Live coverage: Come back here beginning at 7 p.m. for live coverage of the first night of the debate. 
  • Police arrested a woman who allegedly tried to kidnap a couple’s children in the atrium of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport on Saturday morning. Police said Esther Daniels, 26, tried to grab a stroller with a child in it before being fended off by the child’s mother. She then picked up one of the couple’s other children and walked away, but the father took the child back from her, Atlanta police spokesman Sgt. John Chafee said in an emailed statement. >> Read more trending news  An officer responded a few minutes later and found Daniels in a frenzied mental state, Chafee said. She then allegedly ran toward a nearby family and had to be restrained by the officer, Chafee said.  Daniels, who lives in Kansas, eventually calmed down and was escorted to the police precinct in a wheelchair, the statement said. She was checked out at Grady Memorial Hospital before being taken to the Clayton County Jail. Daniels was charged with kidnapping and obstructing an officer. Her bond has not been set.
  • A Virginia man and woman are facing homicide charges after their 2-month-old daughter died from cocaine and heroin intoxication last year, authorities said. According to WDBJ-TV, police on Tuesday arrested Eugene Chandler Jr., 27, and Shaleigh Brumfield, 26, of Danville, on felony homicide charges in the baby's November 2018 death. Officials also charged the pair with child abuse and neglect, the news station reported. >> Read more trending news On Nov. 24, Danville police and emergency crews responded to a report of an infant who couldn't breathe, according to court documents. The child, identified as Marleigh Rain Chandler, was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital, the Danville Register & Bee reported. While searching the family's home, investigators discovered evidence of drug use, including marijuana and drug paraphernalia, WSET reported. The Western District Office of the Chief Medical Examiner conducted an autopsy, which revealed that Marleigh died from 'acute heroin and cocaine intoxication in a setting of co-sleeping,' officials said. Chandler and Brumfield were booked into the Danville City Jail, where they are being held without bond.
  • When the first Democratic presidential primary debate kicks off Wednesday night, Kirkland Dent will be watching. Dent, 28, a medical librarian at Mercer University in Macon, has been trying to keep up with the sprawling Democratic field aiming to unseat President Donald Trump — “I can probably name 80% of them,” he said. But he is looking forward to seeing them in action. “I’m curious about what their goals are, what issues they want to tackle.” So are Judy Hauser, Michael Murphy-McCarthy and John Chastain. They are among about a dozen Democratic and independent voters in Georgia who have agreed to take part in an informal focus group organized by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution to discuss the 2020 Democratic primary race. The AJC checked in with them for the first time ahead of the debates Wednesday and Thursday in Miami, the first opportunity many voters will get to see the candidates answer questions for a national audience. THE LATEST | Georgia Presidential candidate visit tracker MORE | Democratic presidential hopefuls emphasize Georgia’s big role in 2020 For the most part, the Georgia voters said they have been paying some attention to the race but want to know more. That’s true of Democratic voters nationally, too. According to a poll released this week by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs, only 35% of Democrats who are registered to vote say they’re paying close attention to the campaign. The size of the field doesn’t help, and most of the Georgia voters who talked to the AJC said they are eager for it to thin out a bit. The debates, which will feature 10 candidates on stage each night, won’t give the contenders a lot of time to make their case. “It’s going to be really, really hard to stand out in that big a crowd,” said Murphy-McCarthy, who lives in Peachtree Corners and works in IT. “It will be easier to fall down than to stand out.” Dent said a number of candidates have stood out for him so far: Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Andrew Yang. But he’s open to being surprised by lesser-known candidates. “It’s important for our generation to start paying attention a lot more,” he said. RELATED | Biden reverses stance on Hyde abortion amendment at Atlanta event MORE | Georgia’s ‘heartbeat’ law targeted by Democratic presidential hopefuls Chastain, 73, lives in largely Republican Cherokee County. “If I say I am a Democrat, it’s like I have the plague,” he joked. He said he’s very interested in the Democratic primary race and wants to hear candidates get specific at the debates. “I’m looking for some action plans,” he said, “I want to know what they are going to do, not just getting Trump out.” He’s retired and said health care is a top issue. Hauser, a registered nurse from Buckhead, wants a candidate who can win. “We need someone who is going to be able to take on Trump and his mouth,” she said. She said she likes Biden but is also interested in Buttigieg and Harris. Biden, she said, “has very good core values. Yes, he’s made some mistakes, but who hasn’t?” His age doesn’t bother her. “I see him as a one-term president that will bring this country back on even keel,” she said. Murphy-McCarthy, 51, said he’s been impressed by Warren but says he’s open to the others. “I’m OK with somebody coming out of nowhere,” he said. DEEPER COVERAGE | Which Democratic candidates have raised the most in Georgia PHOTOS | Top Democratic presidential contenders campaign in Atlanta Howard Giambrone of Coweta County is an independent who has mostly voted for Republicans in the past, but he is considering a Democrat in 2020. It won’t be Bernie Sanders or Warren, who he says are too liberal. He said he is looking for a candidate who is fiscally responsible, supportive of the military and has what he considers a moderate view on immigration. Giambrone’s wife is from Colombia and he doesn’t like Trump’s immigration policies. “I want to strengthen the border but make coming here (legally) less difficult,” he said. So far he thinks Biden and Cory Booker are possibilities. What can the candidates say to win him over? “I want to hear fresh ideas and get away from trashing Trump,” he said. William Black, 38, is a housekeeper in Jones County. He said his top issues are race relations and global warming, and his favorite candidates so far are Sanders and Biden. He isn’t too worried about the size of the field. “They will weed themselves out,” he said. He’s happy to see the enthusiasm. “It’s good for the Democratic Party that there’s that level of interest of people who want to change the country.” How to follow Democratic presidential debates NBC will host the first Democratic presidential debates Wednesday and Thursday, starting at 9 and concluding at 11 each night. Each night will feature 10 candidates. The debates will be broadcast by NBC News and also appear on MSNBC and Telemundo. Telemundo will broadcast the debate in Spanish. They also will stream online free on NBC News’ digital platforms, including NBCNews.com, MSNBC.com, the NBC News Mobile App and OTT apps on Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV, in addition to Telemundo’s digital platforms. NBC News will also stream the debates live and in full on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
  • A 58-year-old man is behind bars after police said he raped a child nightly over a three-year period. According to the Jackson Sun, William Paul Godwin of Parsons, Tennessee, was arrested Sunday and charged with 12 counts of child rape, as well as one count of continuous child rape, authorities said. >> Read more news stories Godwin is accused of forcing the girl into sexual intercourse nightly beginning in fall 2012, when she was 5, the Sun reported. The victim said the rapes continued until summer 2015, according to court documents. Godwin was jailed on $100,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in court July 8, WBBJ reported. Read more here or here.