In 2017, fires in Atlanta stopped traffic, first on the ground and then in the air. On March 30, Interstate 85 burned and collapsed, knocking out a critical travel artery through the city. As 2017 drew to a close, fire at the world’s busiest airport stopped all air traffic when power was knocked out. In between, News 95.5 and AM 750 WSB covered the inauguration of Donald J. Trump, the election of Karen Handel in the most expensive congressional election in history, a second runoff for candidate Mary Norwood in the race for Atlanta Mayor (she would lose to Keisha Lance Bottoms) and dozens of other stories. From Georgia's opioid crisis and spike in human trafficking, to the murders of two Georgia corrections officers and Equifax data breach. In addition, the Atlanta Falcons lost Super Bowl 51, opened a new stadium and advanced again to the playoffs. The Georgia Bulldogs had a great second season under the leadership of head coach Kirby Smart, winning the SEC and advancing to the College Football Playoff.
Submitted for consideration by judges selected by the APME, the Georgia Association of Broadcasters (GABBY) and the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) are examples of WSB Radio News coverage of some of the top stories of 2017. (Where noted, story summaries are from the AP)
BEST SPOT NEWS: I85 BRIDGE COLLAPSE
A fire that began beneath an Interstate 85 overpass forced both lanes of the busy interstate to close on March 30. The blaze burned with such intensity that it destroyed the concrete and steel overpass. Construction crews rushed to rebuild the overpass. Prosecutors accused a homeless man of setting the fire but then agreed to transfer his case to a behavioral health treatment court, which raises the possibility that charges against him could be dropped if he completes the program. (AP)
BEST SPOT NEWS: CORRECTIONS OFFICERS KILLED
Two inmates were accused of killing their guards on a Georgia prison bus in June. Donnie Russell Rowe and Ricky Dubose were accused of disarming and killing Christopher Monica and Curtis Billue while escaping from the prison transfer bus in Putnam County, southeast of Atlanta. Authorities say the pair then carjacked a motorist to get away. They were arrested two days later in Tennessee following a manhunt. (AP)
BEST GENERAL REPORTING: HUMAN TRAFFICKING
On the south side of Atlanta there is a growing problem with human trafficking. You don't have to go very far to find the victims. They are scattered between the strip clubs, sex shops and gas stations along Fulton Industrial Boulevard. The girls, each with their own story, are there waiting under the watchful and threatening eye of their pimp. January is "Human Trafficking Awareness Month" and Atlanta tops the list for cities where it's happening the most. WSB's Sabrina Cupit reports.
BEST SERIES REPORTING: ATLANTA FALCONS LOSE SUPER BOWL 51
In late 2017, the Atlanta Falcons opened their new home, the new Mercedes Benz Stadium. To start the year, the team closed out the historic Georgia Dome with a playoff win sending the team to Super Bowl 51 only to be crushed on the football’s biggest stage. The Falcons lost to the Patriots in overtime 34-28 in Houston. Listen to a sample of WSB Radio’s nine days of coverage from Super Bowl 51 in Houston Texas. WSB sports director Jay Black followed the Falcons and their fans every step of the way during their quest for their first championship in franchise history that ended with a second-half collapse never seen in Super Bowl history.
BEST STAFF COVERAGE: I85 BRIDGE COLLAPSE
A fire that began beneath an Interstate 85 overpass forced both lanes of the busy interstate to close on March 30. The blaze burned with such intensity that it destroyed the concrete and steel overpass. Construction crews rushed to rebuild the overpass. Prosecutors accused a homeless man of setting the fire but then agreed to transfer his case to a behavioral health treatment court, which raises the possibility that charges against him could be dropped if he completes the program. Our entry consists of 27 minutes of continuing coverage of the collapse, the subsequent commutes and construction updates through the reopening of the bridge after six weeks of rapid reconstruction.
BEST STAFF COVERAGE: CORRECTIONS OFFICERS KILLED
It was an intense three days. Two middle Georgia corrections officers began their day as normal - taking a group of inmates on a bus to a work detail. Then they were overpowered, lost their guns and were shot and killed. Two of the inmates had been plotting their escape and what followed was a three-day manhunt across two states. Even the Georgia Lottery offered a portion of ticket sales to the reward fund. Barely 72 hours after the murders and their escape, the two inmates were arrested in Tennessee. For judge's consideration are excerpts of WSB Radio News coverage of the story.
BEST NEWSCAST: ATLANTA’S MORNING NEWS MARCH 31, 2017
Atlanta's Morning News from the morning of March 31, 2017. This is the first morning rush hour following the collapse of the I85 bridge. Traffic is a major issue and daily story in Atlanta, and commuters either stayed home or headed to work unsure of how the collapse would impact rides on the metro areas other interstates.
BEST NEWSCAST: ATLANTA’S EVENING NEWS DECEMBER 8, 2017
Surprise! Snow falls on a Friday afternoon. It was shades of 2014's "snow-mageddon" with snarled traffic for some, a great start to the weekend for others. Reported by WSB's Chris Chandler.
BEST SPORTSCAST: WSB SPORTS FEBRUARY 6, 2017
WSB Radio Sportscast from the morning of February 6, 2017. Hours earlier, the Atlanta Falcons gave up 25 unanswered points to lose Super Bowl 51 to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Jay Black reports.
BEST SPORTSCAST: WSB SPORTS DECEMBER 4, 2017
WSB Radio Sportscast from the morning of December 8 2017. Hours earlier, the Atlanta Falcons came from behind to upset the New Orleans Saints to keep their playoff hopes alive. Additionally, the Georgia Bulldogs are headed to the College Football Playoff with a date for the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Jay Black reports.
BEST SPECIALIZED REPORTING: OPIOID CRISIS
Georgia is named as one of the worst states for Opioid addiction in the country. WSB Health reporter Sabrina Cupit covered the crisis throughout 2017.
BEST WEBSITE: www.WSBRadio.com