Gigi Douban

News Director



Gigi Douban has reported for public radio since 2006. She’s filed stories for WBHM, NPR, Studio 360, and Public Radio International’s The World. Most recently, Gigi reported for Marketplace, bringing the country stories about toxic landfills, debtors prisons, and lighter fare, like why urinals are ubiquitous in public bathrooms, but not in homes. She's also written for Bloomberg News and Runner’s World, and on occasion, actually runs.

House Approves Largest Education Budget in Years

The Alabama House passed a $6.4 billion education budget this week, the biggest the state has considered in nearly a decade. Alabama Public Television’s Don Dailey gave WBHM’s Gigi Douban some of the highlights of that spending proposal, including $12 million more dollars for the state’s K through 12 schools.  

Historic Monuments Bill Passes, City Council Raises Blocked

This week in the Alabama legislature, the Senate voted to block a big pay raise for the next Birmingham City Council. And after hours of heated debate Thursday, lawmakers in the Alabama House passed the controversial historic monuments bill.

Bruised Fruit? Wilted Greens? Don’t Toss Just Yet

Saturday is Earth Day, and if you’re looking to turn over a new leaf, one place to start is in the kitchen. Each year, Americans toss out 133 billion pounds of food, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. The number one wasted food category? Fresh produce.

House Approves Autism Therapy Coverage, Monitors Church Day Cares

Members of the state House of Representatives on Thursday passed these two bills many parents across Alabama were watching. Don Dailey, host of Alabama Public Television’s Capitol Journal talks with WBHM’s Gigi Douban about them.

Bill Would Require Licensing for Religious Day Care Centers

Gigi Douban talked with Reveal reporter Amy Julia Harris, who investigated incidents of abuse and neglect at Alabama’s religious child care centers.

Widening Rifts and Unfriending in Politically Tense Times

Thirteen percent of people, according to one survey say they blocked, unfriended, or stopped following someone on social media because of what they posted about politics. Haden Holmes Brown takes a look at tensions over politics three months into President Donald Trump's time in office.

Gov. Ivey Briefs Reporters and Lawmakers Advance Autism Bill

The legislature this week tried to get on with business as usual following the resignation of Gov. Robert Bentley on Monday. As Don Dailey, host of Alabama Public Television’s Capitol Journal tells WBHM’s Gigi Douban, legislative committees were busy this week. And so was Gov. Kay Ivey, who met with reporters on her third full […]

When Single Mothers Make Too Much for Government Help But Too Little to Pay the Bills

For a single mom with two children in Jefferson County, covering life’s most basic expenses  — rent, food, some health insurance — costs about $49,000 a year. A new report from the Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham surveyed single mothers who work full-time, and who earn less than $30,000 a year. WBHM’s Gigi Douban spoke […]

What to Expect From Bentley Impeachment Hearings

The Alabama House Judiciary Committee begins Impeachment proceedings for Gov. Robert Bentley today. On Friday, Bentley’s attorneys tried to stop the proceedings, and a Montgomery Circuit Judge ruled in their favor. But on Saturday the Alabama Supreme Court allowed the Judiciary Committee to move forward with the impeachment process. WBHM’s Gigi Douban talked with University […]

House Judiciary Committee Releases Bentley Impeachment Report

UPDATE: The Alabama Supreme Court stayed the injunction issued by Montgomery County Circuit Judge Greg Griffin against the start of impeachment proceedings, allowing them to go on. Click here for more info.

Why I Support WBHM: Jeanne Shanks

My mother’s been a reader of The New York Times. That’s her source of information to the point where my father once said she had a medical degree from The New York Times. It must be genetic, but for me it’s NPR. That’s my source of all information. I think my daughter will follow in […]

Changes to Historic Tax Credits May Put Legislation on Shaky Ground

Twenty million dollars. That’s how much Alabama would award each year in historic tax credits with the latest bill under consideration. There are two versions: One in the House and one in Senate. Some have concerns over how the Senate proposes to divide the money statewide, and the potential effect on Civil Rights landmarks.  Virginia Martin […]

A Murder in Rural Alabama? S-Town Podcast is on the Case

The creators of This American Life and the popular murder-mystery podcast Serial released a third season today. This one’s called S-Town, and it’s set right here in Alabama. WBHM’s Gigi Douban got a preview of the first two episodes, and S-Town host Brian Reed tells her his reporting revealed some painful truths about life in […]

Bills on Prisons, the Budget, and Driver’s License Offices Move Ahead

It was a busy week in Montgomery. The Senate passed a bill on driver’s license offices, and a prisons bill. The House debated church daycare licensing. And House representatives passed a general fund budget that level funded most agencies except one: Medicaid. It got a small increase, though there’s still concern among lawmakers, and some […]

Momentum Helps Women Overcome Tough Work Issues

It’s Women’s History Month, and we thought we’d bring you some voices of Alabama women who are shaking things up. Momentum is a women’s leadership program in Birmingham. WBHM’s Gigi Douban spoke with Joy Carter of Momentum and communications manager at Alabama Cast Iron Pipe Company. They chat about the things working women struggle with most. […]

Lawmakers Consider a Slimmer Prisons Bill and Monument Preservation

The Senate this week passed a monuments bill, and a committee passed a scaled down version of Gov. Robert Bentley’s prisons bill. The prisons plan price tag went from $800 million to $775 million. Don Dailey, host of Alabama Public Television’s Capitol Journal tells WBHM’s Gigi Douban the revamped plan would build three large prisons, rather than […]

Legislature Weighs Removing Gun Permit Requirement

A gun bill sponsored by Sen. Gerald Allen moved ahead in the legislature this week. Allen’s legislation would repeal the permit requirement on concealed pistols. And the Senate Judiciary Committee held a public hearing on Gov. Bentley’s $800 million prison construction bill. Lawmakers can expect to see a downsized version of the plan amid questions around […]

Giving Juries The Last Word On The Death Sentence

In Alabama, nearly 1 in 5 people on death row were sentenced to death through judicial override, according to the Equal Justice Initiative. Judicial override allows judges to impose the death penalty after a jury returns a life verdict, and Alabama is the last state to allow it. Critics have called override unreliable and arbitrary. Now there's a bipartisan effort in the legislature that could abolish the procedure.

Alabama Senate Votes to End Judicial Override

Alabama is the only state left allowing judicial override. That’s where elected judges can overrule a jury verdict of life to impose a death sentence. But that might come to an end.  This week, the Alabama Senate passed a bill that would prohibit the practice. WBHM’s Gigi Douban talked with Don Dailey of Alabama Public […]

Week Two of the Legislature: Impeachment Proceedings Gain Momentum, Civics Test Requirement

In its second week of the session, the Alabama Legislature began laying the groundwork for a vote on an impeachment resolution against Gov. Robert Bentley. This after lawmakers put concerns on hold at the behest of former Attorney General Luther Strange, who indicated his office was looking into possible wrongdoing by Bentley. Now legislators are […]

How the Transgender Bathroom Bill Could Affect Business

One item soon to make its way through the Alabama Legislature is the bathroom bill. It’s officially known as the Alabama Privacy Act, and it’s believed to target transgender people. Sen. Phil Williams pre-filed the bill, which requires that an attendant be stationed inside mixed-gender bathrooms. On this week’s Magic City Marketplace, Ty West, editor of […]

Pro-Life, Higher Ed Bills Gain Traction Days Into The Legislative Session

Funding cuts for public colleges and universities that don’t follow federal and state immigration law, and an amendment declaring Alabama a pro-life state were among the issues quickly making their way through the Alabama legislature this week. It mirrors a trend we’re seeing in other states where Republican lawmakers are acting quickly to approve legislation that […]

By Bus, Train, and Plane, Alabama Women Head to Washington

Beginning today, hundreds of thousands will travel to the Women’s March on Washington this Saturday. It’s a grassroots protest highlighting women’s rights. About 2,000 of those protesters are expected to come from Alabama. Nine buses will carry hundreds to the nation’s capitol, while other women will fly or carpool to the march. WBHM’s Gigi Douban talked with […]

Incoming Jefferson County District Attorney Under Indictment

Note: this story has been updated on Saturday January 14 at 8:10 p.m. See update below.    Jefferson County’s newly-elected district attorney, Charles Todd Henderson, was indicted on a felony perjury charge Friday.  Henderson surrendered at the Jefferson County Jail and was soon released on $2,500 bond. Late Friday afternoon, Attorney General Luther Strange announced the indictment, […]

Birmingham Civil Rights District Named National Monument

Birmingham city leaders announced Thursday evening that the Birmingham Civil Rights District, once a hub of violence and aggression toward African-Americans, is now a national monument. President Obama named it one of three new monuments Thursday, as part of his administration’s commitment to protecting culturally and historically significant places, according to the White House. Mayor William Bell, joined […]

Birmingham Revitalization: Developers Spur Growth in Avondale, Downtown

Behind every new coffee shop and oyster house and once-vacant building is a real estate developer. The same goes for parks and condos and baseball fields. To understand how developers choose where to invest, we'll start in Avondale.

State’s Historic Tax Credit Expires this Month

From the Lyric Theater in downtown Birmingham to the Howell School in Dothan, a number of renovations have been supported by the state’s historic tax credit. It offered developers financial incentives to take on projects that might have come with big risks. But the bill to renew those tax credits has died this legislative session, and the tax will expire this month.

North Alabama Residents Sue 3M Over Drinking Water Contamination

Safe drinking water is an issue that’s been playing out from Parkersburg, West Virginia to Hoosick Falls, New York. It’s a question many courts are taking on. Among the most recent is in North Alabama, where residents and a water authority are suing 3M, maker of products from Scotchgard to Post-It Notes in connection with toxins in the water supply. The EPA is expected to release new guidelines on safe levels this spring. Meanwhile, the fight is on over who might foot the bill if a cleanup is in order.

Some Doubt Gov. Robert Bentley’s Prison Reform Plan

Critics call them five-star prison hotels. Fact is, Alabama’s prisons are among the most overcrowded in the nation. The state’s correctional facilities, designed to hold 13,000 inmates, instead house almost double that. State prisons are also chronically understaffed, a factor thought to have contributed to two recent inmate riots at Holman Correctional Facility and a fatal inmate stabbing at Elmore Correctional Facility. A Senate budget committee approved Governor Robert Bentley’s proposed solution to the problem. But there’s uncertainty as to whether that’s indeed the way out.