Pat Duggins

News Director

Pat Duggins is news director for Alabama Public Radio.  If his name or voice is familiar, it could be his twenty five years covering the U.S. space program, including fourteen years on NPR.  Pat’s NASA experience began with the explosion of Space Shuttle Challenger in 1986, and includes 103 missions.  Many NPR listeners recall Pat’s commentary during Weekend Edition Saturday on February 1, 2003 when Shuttle Columbia broke apart and burned up during re-entry.  His expertise was utilized during three hours of live and unscripted coverage with NPR’s Scott Simon.  Pat later wrote two books about NASA, Final Countdown: NASA and the End of the Space Shuttle Program and Trailblazing Mars, both of which have been released as audio books.  Pat has also lectured about the future of the space program at Harvard, and writes about international space efforts for "Modern Weekly" magazine in Shanghai, China.

Duggins experience goes beyond NASA.  He led the APR news team through the tornadoes of 2011.  Along with dawn to dusk rescue and recovery updates, the news crew also provided national and international coverage for the BBC in London, MSNBC, CBC in Canada, and Australia Broadcasting in Sydney and Melbourne.  Duggins’ efforts, and that of the APR news team, were twice recognized with National Sigma Delta Chi awards from the Society of Professional Journalists. The Radio Television Digital News Association also honored Pat and the team with a national Edward R. Murrow Award for overall excellence. The Alabama Associated Press also recognized APR as the "Most Outstanding News Organization" in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015. And, Duggins' news series on the long-term impact of the Gulf oil spill won a national PRNDI award for best series from the Public Radio News Directors' Association, and a regional Murrow. His documentary "Civil Rights Radio," on the 1963 "children's march" in Birmingham was honored with the international "Silver Radio Award" from the New York Festivals radio competition, and with a "Gabriel Award" from the Catholic Church. 

Pat’s work isn’t limited to radio, with regular appearances on TV.  He also conducts interview/profile segments for "Alabama, Inc." a new University of Alabama TV series on business on airs statewide on Alabama Public Television. Pat also co-hosted “Your Vote Counts,” a program featuring college-age voters who critiqued the final debate between Robert Bentley and Ron Sparks in the 2011 race for Alabama Governor. 

Since his arrival at APR, Pat and the team have won more than sixty awards for excellence in journalism, including a second national Sigma Delta Chi award and the international Gabriel award. Duggins is also the recipient of a Suncoast Regional Emmy.

Ways to Connect

All may not be well with Alabama’s Republican legislature. GOP House member Ed Henry says his colleagues are "deeply divided" over floor leadership and the direction as a caucus. Henry went as far as to ask for a "no-confidence" vote Wednesday in longtime Majority Leader Micky Hammon. Henry resigned as vice-chairman of the caucus. He says Hammon narrowly held on to his position, although other Republicans said the vote results are confidential. Hammon says he remained majority leader after Henry raised his concerns.

Alabama’s prison system has been in the news a lot this year, and not for good reasons. Inmate riots, allegations of mismanagement and corruption, and a failed prison building plan in the state legislature have pointed out plenty of problems. The Alabama Public Radio news team has spent the past several months examining what happens as people go into the state’s prison system and what happens when they come out.  I looked into the on-going complaints over how Alabama judges sentence people to death.  

Retired Lt. Gen. Harold G. "Hal" Moore who was portrayed by actor Mel Gibson in the motion picture "We Were Soldiers" has died. Moore became a war hero known for saving most of his men in the first major battle between the U.S. and North Vietnamese armies. Joseph Galloway co-authored Moore's book "We Were Soldiers Once ... and Young." He confirmed Moore's death to The Associated Press. The General died late Friday in his sleep at his home in Auburn, Alabama. Moore was just two days shy of his 95th birthday.

Lawyers for Alabama prison inmates want a federal judge to force the state to put additional suicide prevention measures in place. All sides will gather on Monday for a settlement conference. This follows a motion to the court last Thursday, where the inmates’ legal team argued the Department of Corrections has failed to comply with an agreement reached in January after a prisoner killed himself. His death came just days after testifying in the class-action lawsuit alleging Alabama provides inadequate psychiatric care.

New Alabama AG, Old Problems

Feb 11, 2017

Governor Robert Bentley appointed district attorney Steve Marshall to be Alabama’s new attorney general. Marshall inherits what could be a legal and political hornet’s nest related to allegations that Bentley had an affair with a top staffer. The Governor appointed former AG Luther Strange to fill the U.S. Senate vacancy left when Jeff Sessions confirmed as U.S. attorney general in the Trump administration. Members of the state legislature are waiting to see if Marshall moves ahead with the investigation into Bentley’s alleged wrongdoings with former aide Rebekah Caldwell Mason.

APR

“Is it five years? Oh, my gosh…”

Steve Miller’s come a long way since April 27, 2011. He lives in Tuscaloosa’s Hillcrest neighborhood. His new home has lots of windows and there’s plenty of art on the walls. You might not think anything was out of the ordinary. But, the first time APR visited here, things were a lot different.

APR

The Alabama Public Radio news team is welcoming journalist Ousmane Sagara. He's a veteran radio reporter from the west central African nation of Mali, and part of a three week visiting journalist program. Ousmane arrived in the United States on January 20th, in time to witness the inauguration of Donald Trump as President. Below is his account, of that day and the protest marches that followed, for the Renouveau News Service in Mali's capitol city of Bomako--Pat Duggins

Governor Robert Bentley hopes the incoming Trump administration will allow states to charge Medicaid premiums and set enrollment requirements. The Republican governor wrote House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy the day before Trump's inauguration, as Congress works on a repeal and possible replacement for the Affordable Care Act. Bentley says states need flexibility to set Medicaid enrollment requirements, reduce benefits and impose premiums on recipients. Bentley cautioned repealing the Affordable Care Act without a "clear replacement" could cause some insurers to withdraw from the market.

"Fly Me To The Moon..."

Jan 21, 2017

The University of Alabama in Huntsville is aiming for the moon. The School is making a quarter billion dollar proposal to NASA to launch a satellite to lunar orbit. The mission is called the Lunar Occultation Explorer astrophysics mission. It would put a satellite with gamma-ray sensors in orbit around the moon to study exploding stars known as supernovae. Earth's atmosphere screens out most gamma rays, making a vantage point around the airless moon better for scientific study.

APR--Pat Duggins

Alabama head coach Nick Saban will have to wait until next season to try to tie the national championship record of the legendary Bear Bryant. The Crimson Tide lost the College Football Playoff Championship to Clemson in a game that came down to some critical mistakes by Alabama and a last minute score by the Tigers. APR’s Pat Duggins was at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa and files this reports…

The University of Alabama reports the Crimson Tide arrived in Tampa at noon today for Monday's championship game against Clemson. The Tigers own flight landed hours later. Some college football fans may not have as smooth a trip. Forecasters are saying travel could be a problem through Saturday, and some flights already have been canceled because of the weather. The game is Monday night. Elsewhere, state government offices in Montgomery and northward closed early Friday because of potential travel problems.

Today’s winter storm warning has already closed schools and governmental offices in Alabama, as well as the southeastern U.S. Forecasters are concerned how freezing temperatures after the snow falls could mean ice on the roads that southern drivers aren’t used to handling. What’s worse, snowy condition could mean delayed package deliveries. Shipping giant FedEx says delays are possible for parcels delivered across the country Friday due to winter weather that has swept through its home base in Memphis.

SELMA ...

WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IN EFFECT UNTIL 9 AM CST SATURDAY...

TONIGHT...RAIN...CHANCE OF FREEZING RAIN...SLEET AND SNOW IN THE EVENING...THEN SLIGHT CHANCE OF SNOW AFTER MIDNIGHT. SNOW AND SLEET ACCUMULATION UP TO 1 INCH. ICE ACCUMULATION OF LESS THAN ONE QUARTER OF AN INCH. LOWS IN THE MID 20S. CHANCE OF PRECIPITATION NEAR 100 PERCENT.

SATURDAY...SUNNY. HIGHS IN THE MID 30S. NORTH WINDS 10 TO 15 MPH.

TUSCALOOSA ...

WINTER STORM WARNING IN EFFECT UNTIL 9 AM CST SATURDAY...

These are the latest school districts that have announced Friday closings due to concerns over snow. For the latest information on your child's school, call that school's front office--Pat Duggins

Colbert County Schools

Florence City Schools

Franklin County Schools

Muscle Shoals City Schools

Bibb County Schools

Blount County Schools

Chilton County Schools

Fairfield City Schools

Forestdale Baptist School and Kindergarten

Gadsden City Schools

Jefferson County Schools

Pelham City Schools

Lane Kiffin is being replaced as Alabama's offensive coach, one week before the national championship game against Clemson. Head coach Nick Saban says Kiffin will leave to focus on his new job as Florida Atlantic's head coach. Incoming offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian will replace him for next Monday's title game against Clemson in Tampa. Saban says he and Kiffin spoke following the semifinal game against Washington.

Alabama parents can now see how their child’s school is doing by going on-line. The Alabama Department of Education in December released the report cards. The system gives scores in four areas, including learning gains, student achievement, local indicators and the graduation rate for high schools. Parents can see how their school, or school system, compares to the rest of the state. The report cards won't include the letter grades ordered by state lawmakers. That feature goes into effect this December. The report cards can be viewed at: https://ap.alsde.edu/accountability/atof

The New Year means no more “common law” marriages in Alabama. The state will not recognize new common-law marriages beginning January first. Common-law marriages already in effect will continue to be recognized. That kind of marriage refers to couples who live together as a married couple, but who haven't gotten a state marriage license. Lawmakers voted earlier this year to prohibit the recognition of new common-law marriages. An appellate judge last year urged lawmakers to make the change.

SELMA

TODAY...PATCHY DENSE FOG EARLY IN THE MORNING. SHOWERS OR SLIGHT CHANCE OF THUNDERSTORMS IN THE MORNING...THEN THUNDERSTORMS IN THE AFTERNOON. HIGHS IN THE LOWER 70S. CHANCE OF RAIN NEAR 100 PERCENT.

TONIGHT...CLOUDY. THUNDERSTORMS IN THE EVENING...THEN CHANCE OF SHOWERS AND SLIGHT CHANCE OF THUNDERSTORMS AFTER MIDNIGHT. LOWS IN THE UPPER 50S. CHANCE OF RAIN 90 PERCENT.

TUESDAY...MOSTLY CLOUDY. HIGHS IN THE LOWER 70S.

TUSCALOOSA

From Donald Trump's pivotal campaign rally in Mobile, the death of writer Harper Lee, murder charges against former Astronaut Jim Halsell, the conviction of House Speaker Mike Hubbard, the suspension of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, Governor Robert Bentley's sex scandal, to the U.S. Department of Justice's investigation into Alabama's prison system--the national award winning Alabama Public Radio news team was there to keep you updated. Click below to hear some of the biggest stories of 2016. Pat Duggins

Fans of Alabama and Clemson may have the option to save money on souvenir hats and shirts this championship season. The Crimson Tide and the Tigers won the Peach Bowl and Fiesta Bowl, respectively, setting the stage for a re-match of last year’s College Football Playoff championship game, where Alabama came out on top. The Tide kept its number one ranking by scoring ten points off turnovers in a 24-7 win over the Washington Huskies at the Georgia Dome. Bo Scarborough carried the Tide's offense by running for 180 yards and two touchdowns to earn game MVP honors.

The Alabama Crimson Tide is packing its bags for Tampa. The top-ranked Crimson Tide beat the Washington Huskies in what college football historians may compare to Alabama’s 1926 victory over Washington to win its first national championship. The Tide scored ten points off turnovers, including Ryan Anderson's interception return for a touchdown late in the first half, and Scarborough’s sixty eight yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to clinch the victory. Head Coach Nick Saban is working to eclipse the record of legendary Alabama coach Bear Bryant who won six national titles.

The controversial chief of state for Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson is resigning. The Mayor’s office confirms that Colby Cooper is departing to pursue new opportunities. Cooper attracted national media attention after a tree in a Mobile park was chopped down to be the centerpiece of Donald Trump’s “victory lap” visit earlier this month. The loss of the fifty foot old growth cedar tree at Public Safety Memorial Park drew wide criticism. Cooper announced his intent to resign in a Tweet. Mayor Stimpson issued a press release announcing that he had accepted the decision by his chief of staff.

Organizers in Dothan are preparing for the city’s first peanut drop that will bring in the New Year. A giant peanut will hang on a crane in front of the clock tower on Foster Street and drop on New Year's Eve when the clock hits midnight. WSFA-TV reports the big plastic peanut was delivered Thursday and transported downtown for a test run on Friday. The Dothan Downtown Redevelopment Authority, says a kids zone is being set up and there's going to be a balloon drop for them. Peanuts are a prominent part of Dothan’s local economy. The industry claims seventy percent of the U.S.

SELMA

SATURDAY...CLOUDY. SLIGHT CHANCE OF RAIN SHOWERS IN THE MORNING...THEN RAIN SHOWERS LIKELY IN THE AFTERNOON. HIGHS IN THE MID 50S. CHANCE OF RAIN 60 PERCENT.

SATURDAY NIGHT...WARMER. RAIN SHOWERS. NEAR STEADY TEMPERATURE IN THE LOWER 50S. CHANCE OF RAIN 80 PERCENT.

TUSCALOOSA

SATURDAY...CLOUDY. CHANCE OF RAIN SHOWERS AND SLIGHT CHANCE OF LIGHT SLEET IN THE MORNING...THEN RAIN SHOWERS LIKELY IN THE AFTERNOON. HIGHS IN THE LOWER 50S. CHANCE OF PRECIPITATION 70 PERCENT.

Alabama’s Democratic and Republican parties are looking for candidates to run for a State House district northeast of Birmingham. Today’s the deadline for major party candidates to apply for the open seat in district fifty eight. State House member Oliver Robinson retired from that office earlier last month so his daughter could become the first African American woman to serve as Governor Robert Bentley’s liaison. Nancy Worley chairs the Alabama Democratic Party. She says understands Robinson’s decision to leave after eighteen years to help his daughter…

The Mobile area will be awash in orange during the Reese’s Senior Bowl next month, but not in Fairhope. The city on the Eastern Shore says it won't be hosting a Senior Bowl practice next month. City Council members earlier this month had questioned whether it was worth paying $35,000 to the Senior Bowl to host a practice ahead of the annual game. Fairhope Mayor Karin Wilson told AL.com that it's now too late to arrange to host a practice ahead of this year's Game. However, she said city officials are looking at possibly resuming the practice for the next year.

The Alabama Department of Public Health is offering help for people who want to quit smoking in the New Year. The agency has a telephone service called the Alabama Tobacco Quitline that operates daily, and help is also available through the website quitnowalabama.com. The phone number is 1-800-QUIT-NOW. The Quitline offers coaching and an eight-week supply of nicotine replacement therapy patches, and all services are free for people who are eligible.

Some of Alabama's largest cities are getting federal help for projects that involve upgrading their train stations or developing new ones. Al.com reports that Birmingham, Mobile, Anniston and Tuscaloosa are each getting a share of $728,957 in grants for Alabama. Also receiving grants are Baton Rouge, Gonzales and St. John Parish in Louisiana, and Biloxi, Gulfport and Pascagoula in Mississippi. All told, the three states are getting $2.5 million in federal money for train station-related projects.

SELMA

MONDAY...MOSTLY CLOUDY. HIGHS IN THE MID 70S.

MONDAY NIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH A 20 PERCENT CHANCE OF RAIN SHOWERS. LOWS IN THE UPPER 50S.

TUESDAY...CLOUDY WITH A 30 PERCENT CHANCE OF RAIN SHOWERS. HIGHS IN THE LOWER 70S.

Tuscaloosa

MONDAY...MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH A 20 PERCENT CHANCE OF RAIN SHOWERS. HIGHS IN THE LOWER 70S.

MONDAY NIGHT...CLOUDY WITH A 50 PERCENT CHANCE OF RAIN SHOWERS. LOWS IN THE UPPER 50S.

TUESDAY...CLOUDY WITH A 40 PERCENT CHANCE OF RAIN SHOWERS. HIGHS IN THE MID 60S.

Mobile

Pat Duggins

SELMA

CHRISTMAS DAY...PARTLY CLOUDY. HIGHS IN THE UPPER 70S.

SUNDAY NIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY. LOWS IN THE UPPER 50S.

MONDAY...MOSTLY CLOUDY. HIGHS IN THE MID 70S.

Tuscaloosa

CHRISTMAS DAY...PARTLY CLOUDY. HIGHS IN THE MID 70S.

SUNDAY NIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY. LOWS IN THE UPPER 50S.

MONDAY...MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH A 20 PERCENT CHANCE OF RAIN SHOWERS. HIGHS IN THE LOWER 70S.

Mobile

CHRISTMAS DAY...MOSTLY SUNNY. AREAS OF FOG IN THE MORNING. HIGHS IN THE LOWER 70S.

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