Tanya Ott

Tanya Ott is a part-time editor at WBHM and instructor for the University of Alabama's journalism department. She hosts a podcast on business strategy and emerging technologies and trains public radio newsrooms around the country. Over her 30+ year career, she has reported for Marketplace, NPR and other networks and worked at local stations in Florida, Colorado, Georgia and Alabama, including as WBHM's news director from 2002-2013.

Home Energy Efficiency

It's cold outside... and maybe inside, if your house isn't properly insulated. Home energy efficiency is a big issue and a new study gives Alabama high marks - and low marks - for how the state handles it. WBHM's Tanya Ott has our story.

Mo Rocca: A Life on Stage

You may know him from the Daily Show with John Stewart or from NPR's quiz show Wait Wait Don't Tell Me. But Mo Rocca has had an incredibly varied career. He'll talk about that and more when he takes the state at Birmingham's Alys Stephens Center Friday night. He may even talk about his early start in musical theatre...

The Reconstruction of Asa Carter

In 1976, The Education of Little Tree was published as the autobiography of a little known southern author, Forest Carter. Carter's earlier novel, Josey Wales, had been turned into a successful film by actor Clint Eastwood. Little Tree was the story of Carter's childhood as an Indian boy who grew up on a reservation. He was orphaned, then taken away from his grandparents and raised by missionary types. He got through it, though, and got through it well. But the Education of Little Tree wasn't what it seemed. It wasn't even an autobiography, but a work of fiction, by one of the Alabama's most notorious Klan leaders.

John Archibald

Our weekly segment features The Birmingham News columnist John Archibald, discussing the city politic (and county and state politic too). Instead of being unplugged as he is in the newspaper, we offer him a bullhorn. Sort of.

Alabama Immigration Law Attracts Washington Attention

Pressure is mounting against Alabama's "toughest in the nation" immigration law. last week, a group of national labor leaders visited the state to protest the law. And last night, nearly 3,000 immigrants and supporters converged on a church with strong ties to the civil rights movement. As WBHM's Tanya Ott reports they heard from Democratic members of Congress who vow to get the law repealed.

John Archibald on Jefferson County’s Bankruptcy

Jefferson County officials have filed the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. Commissioners voted 4-1 yesterday to file an estimated $4.1 bankruptcy. Shortly after the vote, attorneys filed the paperwork. But what happens next? Birmingham News columnist John Archibald tells WBHM's Tanya Ott.

Jefferson County Votes to File for Bankruptcy

Jefferson County Commissioner voted this afternoon to file bankruptcy. The estimated $4.1 billion filing will be the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.

Alabama Immigrants: Skilled or Unskilled Labor?

One of the consequences of Alabama's new "toughest in the nation" immigration law is a flight from the workplace. Immigrants (both undocumented and documented-but-scared) are leaving farms, processing plants, and construction sites. And leaving employers in a bind. Last month, the state launched a program to match unemployed Alabamians with suddenly-open jobs. There were few takers. When he launched the program, Governor Robert Bentley bristled at the notion that Alabamians are unwilling to do "hard work". Birmingham Attorney Richard Newton says he doesn't doubt that, but the Governor misses a fundamental point.

Max’s Delicatessen & the Immigration Law

Alabama's new immigration law has been in the news a lot lately. There've been stories about police setting up road blocks outside immigrant neighborhoods and how schools are losing students. But this month one businessman has found himself at the center of the controversy - in a spotlight he never anticipated - or wanted. WBHM's Tanya Ott reports.

School Closures

Torrential downpours yesterday flooded Birmingham area roads, downed trees and left thousands of homes and businesses without power. Classes are canceled today in all Birmingham City and Jefferson County Schools.

Gulf Coast Consortium: the BP Oil Spill

On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, resulting in the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. The "BP Oil Spill", as it came to be known, killed 11 men, injured another 17 and sent nearly 5 million barrels of oil spewing into the gulf until it was capped three months later. WBHM partnered with public broadcast outlets across the Gulf Coast region to create the Gulf Coast Consortium, a multi-media project to expand reporting on the spill. You can access our stories here.

Alabama Organic Agriculture

In the United States, sales of organic food and beverages have grown from $1 billion in 1990 to nearly $25 billion in 2009. There are five million certified organic acres in the U.S.. But you won't find many in Alabama because, as WBHM's Tanya Ott reports, a combination of cultural and market forces means this state has the fewest certified organic farms per-capita in the country.

The 2011 Tornadoes: Birmingham’s Aftermath

Several southeastern states are digging out today after a violent storm system that spawned dozens of tornadoes. Alabama was hardest hit. The full scope of the devastation is still unknown, but at least 162 people are dead in Alabama and thousands of homes, businesses and government buildings were destroyed. Birmingham took a direct hit from a large tornado that skirted just north of downtown. WBHM's Tanya Ott spent this morning visiting affected areas.

Northern Beltline: Environmental Impact

Birmingham's Northern Beltline has been in the planning stages for decades. But there's a renewed sense of urgency to get the multi-billion dollar project moving forward. The Alabama Department of Transportation has said it could issue the first contracts by the end of this year. But as Tanya Ott reports environmental concerns could put the brakes on the project, at least temporarily.

Northern Beltline: Overview

$90 million per mile. That's the latest price tag for the proposed Northern Beltline around Birmingham. Proponents say it will spur economic development in the northern part of the county. Opponents say it's a price tag they can't afford for a road they don't need. This week, WBHM examines the Northern Beltline proposal.

WBHM Needs Your Input on Education Issues

WBHM's new Education Desk needs your help. We're conducting a survey to determine what are the biggest issues facing Alabama's schools.


For the third year in a row, WBHM-FM/WSGN-FM has been recognized as the Most Outstanding Radio News Operation in Alabama. WBHM/WSGN won a total of eight Alabama Associated Press (AP) awards, the most of any radio station in the state.

Spring Awakening

Nearly 125 years ago a German dramatist penned a play that criticized the sexually-oppressive culture of his country. It offered a vivid dramatization of the erotic fantasies of young teenagers who were just discovering their bodies. As you might expect, it was pretty controversial material. The play was often banned. More than a century later, it still raises eyebrows. And this month, it's on stage at the Alabama School of Fine Arts. WBHM's Tanya Ott pulls back the curtain for an intimate look at Spring Awakening.

On The Line: STUFF

Stuff. Everybody's got it. Some of us want more. Some of us don't know what to do with what we already have. Friday (1/28) at noon we open our phone lines for your questions, comments (and yes, even complaints) about the Stuff in your life.

Stuff: Telling the Story of Alabama’s First African-American Architect

Nearly 20 years ago Bessemer resident Allen Durough found something in his barn that he thought was junk. But it turned out to be a life changing discovery related to Alabama's first African American architect. A man by the name of Wallace Rayfield.

Defense Spending Boosts Huntsville’s Economy

Many state and local governments are struggling to cut services as they try to head off billion dollar deficits. But new research suggests there may be truth in one old political standby.

Alabama and The Oil Spill: GM to Recycle Booms into Chevy Volt

As oil spill cleanup continues along the Gulf coast, one of the big questions is what to do with oil-soaked booms. Clean-up crews deployed about 100 miles of booms along the Alabama and Louisiana coast. Environmental groups worry those used booms could end up in landfills. But General Motors has announced plans to repurpose the booms as parts for its new electric hybrid car.

Alabama and the Oil Spill: Environmental Justice

This week, environmental leaders from across the country will meet in Washington for the White House Environmental Justice Forum and the BP Gulf Oil Spill will be front and center.

NASCAR Retailer Perfects the Two Minute Hiring Pitch

With more people looking for work these days, smaller companies with a job to fill are being flooded with applicants. How's a small business owner supposed to keep up? One Pelham company is using technology to speed up the screening process.

On The Line: Ask The Mayor

The city of Birmingham faces a major financial crunch with salaries and services likely taking cuts. Its mass transportation system remains unreliable. At the same time, there there are success stories such as the opening of Railroad Park and luring the Birmingham Baron's to a downtown baseball stadium. Mayor William Bell joins us for On The Line: Ask the Mayor.

Rent-a-Goat Business Takes Off

What do you do when you've got a large tract of land that's overgrown with weeds and brush? You could bring in big lawnmowers and bushhogs. But if you don't want the carbon dioxide they spew into the air, you might consider something a little more low-key: renting goats.

House District 47 Pits Jack Williams Against Chip McCallum

Alabama voters will decide many races in the mid-term elections next week, but one of the more contentious fights is over House District 47, which covers parts Vestavia Hills and Hoover. WBHM's Tanya Ott reports on the battle pitting incumbent Republican Jack Williams against Independent Chip McCallum.


You recycle, right? Of course you do! But what about that "less-than-smart-phone" you just replaced with the latest model? What about those batteries in the clock? Sometimes it's hard to know what to do with electronic gizmos, but as WBHM's Tanya Ott reports some e-recycling is up dramatically in the south.

WBHM Partners on Gulf Coast Consortium to Cover Oil Spill

WBHM is partnering with public media outlets across the Gulf Coast region to create the Gulf Coast Consortium, a multi-media project to expand reporting on the Gulf oil spill.

Jefferson County Attorney’s Pay

Across the country, city and county governments are laying off employees in droves to deal with budget deficits. Jefferson County is no exception, so it may come as a surprise that the county's legal team appears to be among the highest paid local government attorneys in the country.

The Tea Party in Alabama

Tea Party members are celebrating big wins in several states after yesterday's primaries. Across the country, the Tea Party movement continues to put pressure on incumbents. But here in Alabama the movement has been relatively quiet. WBHM's Tanya Ott wondered why.

Conservation: The Behavior Gap

What are you doing to help the environment? Have you ditched the plastic water bottles and carry a reusable one instead. Maybe you bike to work a couple days a week. According to a recent study, there's sometimes a big gap between what we say we should do and what we actually do.