Richard Banks

Morning Edition Host



Richard Banks has worked in print, digital, and broadcast media throughout his career. He’s covered agriculture and climate (including a nine-part series on how Israel is attempting to mitigate its water scarcity), race and politics, culture and adventure sports, even who has the best pies in the South (in one, three-day stretch, he sampled 17 pies, as well as some Pepto-Bismol).

Banks earned his journalistic chops at his high school and college radio stations. He later became the editor of his hometown magazine, Memphis.

In 2000, he and his family moved to Birmingham to work for Southern Progress and its parent company Time Inc., where he was the first online editor at Southern Living and helped develop the magazine’s early forays into video.

Now, at WBHM, Banks is thrilled to be back in front of a mic and working with an absolutely top-notch team, dedicated to fact-based coverage of the news and service to a community he loves ... just as long as he’s not asked to do stories about pie.

After years of increases, Jefferson County sees a decline in overdose fatalities

Following years of record-breaking increases, Jefferson County is finally seeing a decline in overdose fatalities. We talk to local officials to better understand the reasons for the drop, and if it’s a sign of a longer-term trend.

Alabama to begin working with a consulting company that’s under criminal investigation 

McKinsey & Company, an international consulting business, will help the state of Alabama develop a new strategic economic growth plan. The company is undertaking that project, while also dealing with a probe into whether it engaged in a criminal conspiracy.

BSC’s Daniel Coleman talks about his years-long effort to save the school and what happens next.

After the news that Birmingham-Southern College is closing, we sat down with the school’s president, Daniel Coleman.

A mother asks what’s next after Alabama Supreme Court ruling that frozen embryos are children

Dr. Aubrey Coleman, who’s a mom, pediatrician, and IVF patient, discusses the far-reaching repercussions of the Alabama Supreme Court ruling that finds embryos are legally the same as children.

What the Lost Cause narrative masks about Alabama history

Many Alabama officials have for generations pushed the false narrative that residents of the state were nearly unanimous in their support for succession prior to the Civil War. Howell Raines, former executive editor of the New York Times and an Alabama native, says otherwise.

Alabama Power partners with a company accused of misleading customers

A flier promoting the program began hitting mailboxes in November. In this new arrangement, HomeServe wants to sell what it calls an emergency home repair program to Alabama Power customers.

Why trees are an environmental and health Swiss army knife

Cool Green Trees plants trees in under-resourced communities in the Birmingham area to help mitigate climate change and advance environmental justice initiatives.

Birmingham-Southern hoped to borrow money. Now the school is on borrowed time

Birmingham-Southern College is running out of money and time. After the State Treasurer rejected the school’s $30 million loan application, school officials must now consider their options, including closing the 167-year-old campus on Birmingham’s west side.

Alabama’s John Christy may be the country’s best known and most criticized climate change skeptic

Alabama’s State Climatologist John Christy is no stranger to controversy and doesn’t shy away from the spotlight. His critics say his work has been plagued by errors and many of his conclusions dismissed.

The connection is growing between climate change and big storms

The connection between climate change, hurricanes and tornadoes is not so clear. But data is beginning to show some relationship. That's the topic of the latest story in our series "Alabama's Hot Topic: What Climate Change Could Bring."

From drought to heavy rain, climate change means more of both

Climate change is spurring more big rain events, when several inches fall in a short amount of time. Meanwhile, climate change also makes droughts more frequent, longer, and severe. There's more the latest installment of our series “Alabama’s Hot Topic: What Climate Change Could Bring.”

Heat is the top weather-related killer. In Alabama, it may just be getting started

Heat kills more people than any other type of weather. Human-caused climate change stands to make that worse. Alabama is one of the few places where temperatures have not increased. But that appears to be changing. It's the latest in our series, “Alabama’s Hot Topic: What Climate Change Could Bring.”

Meet the Alabama scientists connecting soaring global temperatures to carbon dioxide

Two Alabama researchers study ice cores and fossil records from Antarctica, helping connect an alarming increase in the earth’s temperature to rising levels of carbon dioxide.

Alabama has escaped the worst of climate change. Is our luck about to run out?

This summer, headlines have screamed climate change. Globally, July was the hottest month on record. Smoke from forest fires choked many parts of the U.S., and the Gulf of Mexico hit a record high for average weekly sea surface temperatures. Here in Alabama, we’ve been spared many of the effects of climate change, but that appears to be changing. We take a look in a new series on climate change called “ Alabama's Hot Topic.”

$50 million HUD grant expected to “transform” west Birmingham neighborhoods

HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge announced Wednesday that a Choice Neighborhood grant—the largest of its kind—will go towards the revitalization of Smithfield, Graymont, and College Hills.

Lawmakers begin redrawing Alabama’s congressional map

On Tuesday, the effort to redraw the map began with a public hearing at the State House. This follows the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision upholding a lower court’s ruling that Alabama’s congressional map does not reflect the state’s Black population.

Former governor says Alabama’s approach to the death penalty should shock the conscience

Don Siegelman served as both Attorney General and Governor in Alabama. He says he’s come to believe that the state’s approach to the death penalty is flawed.

Tuberville defends hold on defense nominations, says Pentagon wrong to screen out white nationalists

U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville defends his hold on DOD nominations, and speaks about his bill to ban transgender athletes from competing in women’s sports and his objections to what he says are attempts by the Pentagon to screen out white nationalists.

New exhibition driving bill would stiffen penalties, including fines and jail time

People have been injured, even killed, in exhibition driving-related incidents in Birmingham. Now, lawmakers are addressing the issue on a statewide level.

Hoover City Schools canceled Derrick Barnes’ visit. He says it’s political

Hoover school officials say they canceled the Black children's book author's visit due to a controversial social media post. Officials never saw the post after an anonymous parent reported it.

An old school in Birmingham’s Bush Hills is now an urban farm. Residents are thinking bigger

The Bush Hills Community Garden and Urban Farm grows truckloads of produce each year that’s given to area residents free of charge. In addition, the old elementary school on the property will soon be home to a teaching kitchen and community center.

Officials see hurdles to putting out landfill fire near Moody as neighbors suffer

Residents near landfill fire say the smoke is affecting their health, but officials are still trying to figure out how to put out the blaze — and who will pay for it.

Investigation accuses Alabama Power of funneling money to local news sites for favorable coverage

A trove of leaked documents allegedly shows Alabama Power indirectly and covertly paid news outlets for favorable coverage. A story from NPR and the nonprofit news collaborative Floodlight says the practice continued for almost a decade and hid transactions by utilizing nonprofits and shell companies.

Alabama has a trash fee exemption. Why didn’t the elderly people of Valley know about it?

In Alabama, elderly residents have been arrested, handcuffed, and taken to jail for unpaid trash bills. However, a little-known state law could allow free trash pickup for some residents.

Advocates hope Alabama’s execution moratorium leads to change but say the blame is misplaced

Equal Justice Initiative Director Bryan Stevenson says Alabama’s failed executions were “shocking, torturous conduct that provided justice to no one.”

Racist wording is still in the Alabama Constitution. Voters can erase it

The Alabama Constitution of 1901 contains racist language regarding slavery, poll taxes, and school segregation. If approved by voters, a recompilation measure on the November 8, 2022 ballot will remove that language, as well as reorganize the constitution.

Here are the 10 statewide amendments voters will see on the ballot in November

From "Aniah's Law to economic development, the November 8 ballot will give Alabamians the opportunity to vote for 10 statewide amendments.

Martin Luther King’s 1963 Birmingham arrest spurred a Supreme Court case. The ruling still matters

The case is Walker v. City of Birmingham, which ruled on the legal principles that allowed Bull Conner and Birmingham to jail Martin Luther King Jr. on Good Friday, 1963. Harvard law professor Randall Kennedy explains why the case continues to impact legal thinking during these tumultuous times.

Musicians say The World Games is shorting their payment for performances during the opening and closing ceremonies.

According the American Federation of Musicians, The World Games changed the contract for orchestra performers after the fact, causing payments to musicians to be reduced by about one-third.

Combating gun violence remains a top focus of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

As violent crime in Birmingham and the surrounding area continues to increase, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, Prim Escalona, uses a variety of tools and strategies to get firearms and bad guys off the street.

Bill Clark has a knack for making comebacks. Will he make one more? 

Bill Clark has had to overcome some serious hurdles during his career at UAB, as well as in his personal life. He not only resurrected a football program that had been neglected—and then out-right killed—he’s also been fighting through what he’s called a serious injury since childhood.

Acclinate Races Against The Clock To Increase Diversity In Clinical Drug Trials

A lack of racial diversity in clinical trials can make new drugs and treatments less effective for people of color. According to one recent study, 78% of trial participants were white. Acclinate, a new Birmingham-based company, is trying to correct that imbalance by connecting underserved populations with researchers.