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

News Reports: Baton Rouge shooter a UA student

Jul 17, 2016

A suspect in the killing of three Baton Rouge police officers was reportedly a student at the University of Alabama. Lawmen shot Gavin Long to death following an ambush.  Multiple news reports are quoting the University of Alabama’s website that Long was on the Dean’s list at the Tuscaloosa campus. The suspect was reportedly enrolled at the Tuscaloosa campus for one semester in 2012. Three others police officers were wounded in the attack, one critically. The Associated Press reports two other "persons of interest" are being questioned.

Tuscaloosa WBC Boxing Champion Deontay Wilder retained his title with a technical knockout in the eighth round against Chris Arreola. The hometown boxer fought at least half of last night's bout with a broken right hand and a torn right bicep, and still won the match by TKO . Arreloa's corner stopped the fight after the challenger's left eye appeared swollen shut, and he had been knocked down in the fourth round. Wilder visibly winced in pain as trainer Jay Deas removed his right glove during a post-fight interview and applied an ice bag to the boxer's right bicep.

A judicial ethics panel wants Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore swiftly removed from office for urging the state's probate judges to defy the federal courts on gay marriage. The Judicial Inquiry Commission says that Moore's actions merit the highest possible sanction against a sitting judge, which is immediate removal from office. Moore told state probate judges in January that a state injunction against gay marriage was in "full force and effect" despite higher court rulings.

The Alabama Public Radio news team spotlighted the diversity of its statewide audience in 2015 with on-going coverage of issues, including the same sex marriage debate in Alabama, the 50th anniversary of the "bloody Sunday" attack on voting rights marchers in Selma, as well as Tuscaloosa's welcome home parade for WBC World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Deontay Wilder. Our entry for the RTDNA National Kaleidoscope Award also includes a feature on the "Bal Masque," a Mardi Gras celebration where Tuscaloosa's gay community interacts with its conservative Christian neighbors in Alabama.

The Radio-Television Digital News Association today named Alabama Public Radio the winner of its national “Kaleidoscope Award” for diversity coverage. APR news spotlighted the diversity of its statewide audience in 2015 with on-going coverage of issues including, the same sex marriage debate in Alabama, the 50th anniversary of the "bloody Sunday" attack on voting rights marchers in Selma, as well as Tuscaloosa's welcome home parade for WBC World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Deontay Wilder.

LBGT groups in Alabama are holding vigils to remember the victims of the Orlando Nightclub shooting. The University of Alabama group called Spectrum will gather at Gorgas Library on the Tuscaloosa campus tonight at 7:30 p.m. for a candlelight remembrance. The group Druid City Pride is planning a similar event at city hall. There will also be a vigil at 6:30 at the Civil Rights Memorial Center in Montgomery. A lone gunman killed at least fifty people during the early Sunday morning rampage at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando…

Alabama Public Radio is airing NPR's rolling coverage following this morning's shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. This programming will continue through All Things Considered, and then the news team will break in as needed. Be sure to tune in for the latest during ATC and tomorrow on Morning Edition on APR.

APR

Alabama Republican Mike Hubbard was once a man who moved political mountains. He’s credited with helping to stage the 2010 GOP takeover of the state legislature which gave the Republicans a supermajority. It also gave Hubbard the gavel as House Speaker. Now, his political career is in tatters as he faces up to 240 years in prison after being convicted of 12 felony ethics charges.

A business in Alabama is helping NASA move forward with its Orion deep space exploration project. Space Science Services is currently working on NASA projects including modification of the structure complex for the mobile launch platform for the Orion Project. That's the new space capsule designed to carry astronauts out of Earth orbit for the first time since 1972. The company is also testing on the vertical assembly building platform for that project. The company has been in business since 1961 and has had a site in Dothan for about 25 years.

A new Louisiana State University policy could keep the University of Alabama's "million dollar band" from taking the field during November's football game between the Crimson Tide and the LSU Tigers. The new policy will bar opponents' marching bands from performing at halftime of football games at Tiger Stadium during the upcoming season. LSU team spokesman Michael Bonnette tells The Advocate newspaper it's a "safety issue." LSU says the field's sidelines aren't large enough to accommodate bands from both schools as the first half of a game is about to end.

APR

Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard's conviction on ethics charges automatically removes him from office and could mean years in prison for the powerful Republican. He faces up to 20 years in prison for each count, or 240 years total. Sentencing is set for July 8. Jurors on Friday found the one-time GOP star guilty of 12 counts of public corruption for using the influence of his political office to benefit his companies and clients. He was acquitted of 11 other counts.

Alabama Public Radio staffers, including news director Pat Duggins, assistant news director Stan Ingold, Morning Edition host Alex AuBuchon, Digital Media Center Director Elizabeth Brock, Classical Music director David Duff, and Development director Jeff Deneen met with Gulf coast listeners over the weekend. APR held a "donor dinner" for major contributors and underwriters at Mobile's Carnival Museum. That event was followed by the 2nd "Putting The Pub in Public Radio" at Fairhope Brewing Company. Many thanks to all who came out! Click on the "Youtube" link at the bottom to see the video...

Things got testy when former Alabama Governor Bob Riley took the witness stand again in Speaker Mike Hubbard’s ethics trial. The prosecutors tried to keep Riley from going on too long with his answers. The former governor accused Matt Hart from asking questions out of context. The prosecutions wants Riley to help them build the case that Hubbard illegally used his position as Alabama House Speaker to help himself and his businesses. There are twenty three felony counts against him. Hubbard says he did nothing wrong.

The trial of Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard is entering its third week. Former Governor Bob Riley is expected to return to the witness stand. Last Friday, he told jurors how Hubbard emailed him several times asking for a job. Riley says other conversation were just banter. Prosecutors called Riley to testify as they seek to prove Hubbard improperly asked lobbyists for work, investments and financial favors. The speaker is facing twenty three ethics charges. Conviction of any one of them could mean his ouster from his post in the state house.

Memorial Day means lots of people out on Alabama waterways. The State’s Marine Patrol is urging boaters to be careful. Alcohol and a lack of lighting are common factors in accidents and fatalities. The state reports fifteen boating accidents with seven deaths on the state's lakes and rivers so far this year. 2015 had twenty five accidents with six fatalities. The Marine Patrol is predicting a two hundred percent increase in boat traffic during Memorial Day. Wearing your life jacket is the message being pushed by the Coast Guard Auxiliary

The jury in the ethics trial of Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard will show up to hear evidence today. Hubbard faces twenty three counts of misusing his public office for personal gain. Prosecutors say Hubbard used both his office and past position as chairman of the Alabama GOP to solicit business for himself and his companies. Conviction on even one would result in his ouster as speaker of the state House.

An Alabama teenager set a Florida state record for catching the biggest flathead catfish. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says 13-year-old Charles Patchen of Gordon, Alabama, caught a nearly sixty four pound flathead. Patchen pulled in the enormous catfish from the Chattahoochee River in Jackson County. It took Patchen nearly two hours to land the big fish. The fish needed to be rolled into the boat because it was too large for the net. The previous certified state record flathead catfish weighed just over fifty five pounds and was caught on the Yellow River in 2011.

Meet MARTE 3.0

May 15, 2016

A team of University of Alabama engineering students is defending its national championship, not in football, but in a NASA space mining robot competition. MARTE 3.0 will compete against close to fifty other entries from universities. The robot that digs the most simulated moon dirt wins. Click on the second "YouTube" link...

Governor Robert Bentley’s prison building plan isn’t a done deal just yet. The eight hundred million dollar proposal is undergoing length debate in the State House. Supporters say the building project would solve safety and financial problems, while critics say it will make matters worse. Bentley wants to build three new mega-prisons for men that would hold four thousand inmates each. There would also be a new prison for women. Lawmakers’ complaints include the economic impact of counties that lose prisons.

A House committee has approved a watered-down payday lending bill. A-P-R’s Stan Ingold has more…

A state ban on a commonly used abortion procedure is a step closer to reality. The Alabama Senate voted thirty to two to ban what’s known as dilation and evacuation. Critics call the procedure “heinous" and "barbaric." The bill would allow the procedure in the event of a "serious health risk to the mother." Mississippi Governor. Phil Bryant signed a similar bill into law earlier this month. Similar bans in Kansas and Oklahoma have been struck down by state courts.

If you’ve driven past Tuscaloosa’s Snow Hinton Park recently, you’ve no doubt noticed the strange red pyramid-like structure and towering spiral slide. The pyramid is called a space net, and despite its futuristic name, it’s actually a playground – and it’s been grabbing the attention of children and adults alike. APR student intern Josh Hollis has more...

Ten-year-old CJ is certainly a fan: “I’ve been on it more than twenty-five times today.”

APR

Picture this: you find yourself in an unfamiliar room. The only obvious exit is locked and there are no windows. Hidden in the room are locked boxes, random clues, and secret keys—all things you’ll need to escape. But you’d better hurry, because you only have 60 minutes to get out. APR Student reporter Josh Hollis has more...

Escape rooms are a growing trend across America and this form of escapist entertainment, literally speaking, has just reached Alabama. Three different escape room businesses have opened in the state since April.

 

This Sunday the city of Selma will remember the fiftieth anniversary of an event that became known as Bloody Sunday. Voting Rights marchers crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge in 1965 were attacked by state troopers and a sheriff’s posse. History like this may be fresh in the memories of our parents and grandparents. But a group of student journalists from the University of Alabama got to experience the story for themselves. Alabama Public Radio newsroom intern Sarah Sherrill was among them, and she files this report…

Next week marks five years since Alabama's super tornado outbreak of 2011. The National Weather Service recalls 154 tornado warnings across the state that day. The Alabama Public Radio news team will be checking back with many of the people our listeners heard from in the hours following the killer storms. APR's Pat Duggins put together this audio remembrance from that day.

All this week on Alabama Public Radio, we’re looking back on the tornadoes that hit Alabama on April 27, 2011. In Tuscaloosa, twelve percent of the city was destroyed and fifty four people were killed. The home of the University of Alabama wasn’t the only community hit with a life altering storm that year. And, how Tuscaloosa went about the process of rebuilding was considered controversial. Five years later, here's  a report card in this "tale of two cities…"

“At that point, we understood this was going to be something like we’ve never seen in the history of our city.”

APR

All week long on Alabama Public Radio, we’re looking back on the tornadoes that hit the state five years ago on April 27, 2011. Twelve percent of Tuscaloosa was destroyed, over fifty people were killed, and countless lives were changed forever. The very first victim of the tornado APR met face to face was Steve Miller. Now, five years later, I checked in to see how Miller is doing…

The owner of the Cleveland Browns NFL team is trying to avoid testifying in an Alabama court case. Jimmy Haslam and his brother, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, are accused of cheating customers at the Pilot Flying-J truck-stop chain the two co-own. Mobile based Wright Transportation is one of several companies suing the Haslam’s and their Knoxville-based Pilot Flying J. The brothers and their company are accused of trying to cheat customers out of promised discounts and rebates. The Tennessean newspaper reports Jimmy Haslam filed a motion after an Alabama judge ordered his deposition.

An estimated 76,000 Crimson Tide football fans crowded Bryant-Denny stadium at the University of Alabama for the annual “A-Day” game. The team split into “Crimson” and “White” squads and played each other in a game that left some sports commentators yawning. The Tide defense dominated, only allowing seven points for the White team, and three for the Crimson. For all the talk among fans and pundits about Cooper Bateman as the leading contender for quarterback, Freshman Jalen Hurts scored the only the touchdown of the day with a pass to Derek Kief late in the game. The A-Day crowd was ten thousand more than last year’s attendance, but twenty thousand short of 2011’s audience. That was the year the University of Alabama unveiled head coach Nick Saban’s statue at the stadium’s “walk of champions.” Click the second "Youtube" link at the bottom for a video with highlights of the game.

The Alabama Department of Mental Health has decertified the owner of nine group homes in northern Alabama. The Decatur Daily reports that state officials delivered the notice Thursday to K&D Group Home executive director Katie M. Smith that the state was immediately revoking her license. Smith was licensed to operate group homes in Decatur that serve patients with intellectual disabilities. Mental Health Commissioner James V.

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