BJ Austin | KERA News

BJ Austin

Reporter

BJ Austin has more than 25 years of broadcast journalism experience, anchoring and reporting in Atlanta, New York, New Orleans and Dallas. Along the way, she covered Atlanta City Hall, the Georgia Legislature and the corruption trials of Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards.

At KERA, BJ was runner-up for Texas Health Journalist of the Year in the 2013 Anson Jones, M.D., Awards from the Texas Medical Association. She earned a 2009 Texas Associated Press Broadcasters honorable mention for best specialty/beat reporting and a 2010 honorable mention for best general-assignment story for "Zoo Poo." She has also shared several awards, including a a 2010 TAPB first-place trophy for KERA’s radio series "Living with the Trinity: Thirsty"; a 2009 TAPB second-place honor for best continuing coverage for "Family Values: What Voters Want"; and a 2010 regional Edward R. Murrow Award from the Radio Television Digital News Association for "The Economy Project."

Ways to Connect

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Downtown Dallas is getting a FREE shuttle to move visitors, residents and office workers to restaurants, convention meetings, and downtown attractions.  It’ll be running in time for the large crowds expected for the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination.

BJ Austin / KERA News

The State Fair of Texas opens Friday.   This year’s theme is “The One & Only” and the star will be Big Tex, making a return after catching fire last year.

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We’re getting an idea of what health insurance may cost through the Affordable Care Act marketplace that opens in Texas next week. A report released today puts a dollar figure to ‘affordable’ health insurance.

A week from today, Oct. 1, is a make-or-break moment for the Affordable Care Act. On that day, the health insurance “marketplace” opens for business. Because Texas refused to set up its own marketplace, the federal government will run the show here. And there are still a lot of questions — including how much insurance will cost. 

Sujata Dand / KERA News

The Dallas school board talked for four hours Thursday night about the future of superintendent Mike Miles, but came to no decision. Miles told board members he’s ready to “reset” his relationship with them and focus on educating children.

Protesters outside the Dallas School District Administration building called on the school board to fire Miles.

The Board went behind closed doors at 5:42 this evening to hear from the Superintendent for the first time after an independent investigation found he violated district policy in an effort to discredit board members in the media.

Miles has said he wants to renew a good relationship with the Board.

Trustees could decide tonight whether to fire Miles, discipline him, or move on.

Shutterstock

Dallas Police Chief David Brown has fired a sergeant for keeping quiet about a murder suspect.

Police say that Sgt. Carlton Barnes failed to give homicide detectives information from a capital murder case in September 2011 after he recognized the suspect as a former classmate. 

U.S. Marine Drum and Bugle Corps

Don't strike up the band.

Sad news for State Fair music fans: For the first time in 50 years, the U.S. Marine Drum and Bugle Corps won't perform at the State Fair of Texas.

Fair officials say this year’s daily performances at Marine Corps Square in Fair Park have been cancelled because of federal budget cuts.

Van Dralan Dixson, a former southern Dallas crime watch captain, has been extradited from Baton Rouge, La., where he was arrested last week.

On a trip to Maryland, Governor Rick Perry said Congress should improve Obamacare, not defund it as Texas Senator Ted Cruz wants to do.

NCinDC / flickr.com

Two former US defense secretaries talk to SMU students about Monday’s shootings at the Navy Yard, security clearances and background checks. Robert Gates and Leon Panetta appeared at SMU as part of the Tate Lecture Series.   

Drriss&Marrionn / flickr.com

More than 50,000 highway bridges in Texas have structural problems or are ‘functionally obsolete’.  That means the bridge is carrying more vehicles than planned in the original design.

helloitserica / flickr.com

A new national poll shows Americans say they would trust their doctors the most to give them information about the Affordable Care Act and the new health insurance marketplaces.  But the Kaiser Family Foundation survey says people aren’t turning to their doctors to learn more.

The Texas Medical Association wants to get doctors and patients engaged in a conversation about the healthcare law and new insurance marketplaces.  TMA has launched an online campaign called “Hey, Doc”.

For the first time, the American Red Cross' Dallas-Fort Worth chapter is seeking digital volunteers to get information out during big storms and other events.

About 100 students at Nimitz High School have been notified they could have been exposed to tuberculosis last spring.

A student at Nimitz is currently being treated for TB.  Officials are not releasing any more information about the patient. Next Wednesday, the Dallas County Health Department will do free TB testing on campus to screen for infection.

pato_garza

Being a Red Cross volunteer has become a lot more than setting up cots and handing out coffee. Red Cross DFW is seeking digital volunteers, people to live-Tweet during storms or other events.

Southwest Airlines is changing the way it handles no-shows. Passengers could lose money if they don't cancel or change reservations ahead of time.

The Fort Worth based carrier's plan to exit bankruptcy includes a merger with US Airways to become the world's largest airline.

BJ Austin / KERA News

Atwell Middle School in Dallas got an extreme makeover yesterday. Nearly 500 volunteers spent the day cleaning, painting and redecorating the school as part of “Freedom Day”, the day of service to honor the victims of 9-11.

'Conversations About Race' Coming To Dallas

Sep 11, 2013
BJ Austin / KERA News

The city of Dallas is launching a series of "Conversations About Race" this month. Four public dialogues will lead up to "Dallas Faces Race" next fall -- a national conference in the "Facing Race" series. Mayor Mike Rawlings says the preliminary series is not about racism or discrimination, but to help get a bigger picture of how people perceive and understand the different cultures and ethnicities that make up the city.

The first session is scheduled for 10 a.m. Sept. 21 at City Performance Hall, 2520 Flora St.

WNYK2012

The measles cases connected to a North Texas mega church may have run their course.

This morning, Tarrant County epidemiologist Russ Jones told County Commissioners there have been 21 overall cases in the cluster, 16 in Tarrant, the rest in Denton County. The onset of the latest case was August 21st, and Jones says if there are no new cases confirmed this week, that’s likely the end of the North Texas outbreak.

Dallas police

UPDATE AT 4 p.m.: The neighborhood watch volunteer suspected of raping four women in southern Dallas has been arrested in Louisiana.

Van Dralan Dixson, 38, was arrested in a motel near downtown Baton Rouge around 2 this afternoon, Dallas police announced at a press conference.

Police believe a single attacker sexually assaulted as many as nine women since June in the Fair Park area.

Police say the attacker forced victims at gunpoint into secluded areas and sexually assaulted them.

Dallas police

UPDATE AT 4 p.m.: The neighborhood watch volunteer suspected of raping four women in southern Dallas has been arrested in Louisiana.

Van Dralan Dixson, 38, was arrested in a motel near downtown Baton Rouge around 2 this afternoon, Dallas police announced at a press conference.

Police believe a single attacker sexually assaulted as many as nine women since June in the Fair Park area.

Police say the attacker forced victims at gunpoint into secluded areas and sexually assaulted them.

BJ Austin / KERA

The brain of a middle school child is a mystery. If you’re a parent, you may have found yourself saying “What were you thinking?” or “Use your brain”.  That’s just what 6th, 7th and 8th graders in West Dallas are going to do at a brain-training boot camp. Nine language arts teachers at Edison Middle School and Learning Center are using a new program to teach kids critical thinking, starting today.

Dallas Police say the hunt for a serial rapist in the neighborhood south of Fair Park is still “open and active” even with the overnight arrest of a person of interest.  Detectives urge people to keep calling the tip line.

Nick Harris

Tarrant County leads Texas in the number of babies that die before their first birthday. The JPS Health Network is launching some new programs to fight that grim statistic.

Dallas City Council members are expected to give final approval to use $7 million in funds from a special taxing district to start work on a high tech proton treatment center in the city's Medical District.

advancedparticletherapy.com

Preliminary work on a proton cancer center at the site of the old Dallas Apparel Mart is expected to begin soon. And the city is making plans to kick in $7 million to jumpstart construction.  Proton technology more precisely attacks tumors with fewer side effects.   

State health officials have issued a whopping cough alert.  Dr. Lisa Cornelius, infectious diseases medical officer, calls the number of pertussis, or whooping cough cases in Texas extremely concerning.

The state is on pace to see the most cases since the 1950’s, and state officials are urging people to make sure they are vaccinated.  Texas reports nearly 2,000 cases so far this year with two deaths. Both were infants too young to be vaccinated.

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A new Texas law banning anyone under 18 from using UV tanning beds went into effect Sept. 1. State lawmakers toughened the age restrictions in the interest of public health.

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