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, and 2013. 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 fifty 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

Today’s opening of the Paris Air Show included good news for the Mobile area. Hutchinson Corporation announced it will open an Aerospace Manufacturing Center of Excellence in Mobile. The facility will serve the region’s growing aerospace industry, including the new Airbus manufacturing plant. The center is expected to start operations later this year. No word on how many jobs this will mean for the Alabama gulf coast. The company specializes in improving customer comfort and safety.

Tuscaloosa World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Deontay Wilder won his first ever title defense before an Alabama crowd. The “Bronze Bomber” knocked down challenger Eric Molina several times before landing a hard right hook in the ninth round that ended the fight. Wilder made over forty percent of his jabs and fifty six percent of his power punches compared to only eight percent jabs for Molina and thirty seven percent of his punches. Observers expected Wilder to knock Molina out by the second round. However, the challenger held his own until the ninth and final round.

Former U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle "Gabby" Giffords of Arizona is being recognized with a Navy ship named in her honor at a shipyard in Mobile, Alabama. The former lawmaker is set to attend the christening of the USS Gabrielle Giffords. The four hundred foot ship was built at the Austal shipyard in Mobile. It's the Navy's tenth littoral combat ship designed to operate in shallow waters near the coast. Giffords was badly wounded in a 2011 shooting that left six dead and thirteen injured in Tuscon. The Democrat left Congress and later founded an organization that supports gun control.

Deontay Wilder makes his first ever boxing title defense in Birmingham against Eric Molina tonight. The Tuscaloosa native will fight on the campus of UAB, and not his hometown. Wilder won his first thirty two fights by knockout within the first four rounds before winning the title. He won a unanimous decision over Bermane Stiverne earlier this year. There hasn't been a title fight in Alabama, although native sons Evander Holyfield and Joe Louis were also heavyweight boxing champions. Eric Molina has won his last five fights, including three knockouts.

1/25/2015

Hundreds of Tuscaloosa residents turned out on Saturday to honor local boxer Deontay Wilder. Alabama Public Radio’s Pat Duggins was at the event and files this report…

Wellwishers lined Greensboro Avenue as Wilder drove past in a red open convertible. From there, hundreds packed the Tuscaloosa amphitheatre

Jay Deas—“I give you the heavyweight boxing champion of the world from Tuscaloosa, Alabama—the bronze bomber—Deontay Wilder!

Deontay – And, guess what? He’s from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, baby!

There’s still a lot of haggling going on over the state budget. Governor Robert Bentley wants to plug a spending shortfall by raising taxes and that’s not being welcomed by Republican members of the legislature. As contentious as this issue is, there are other things the House and Senate are dealing with. One subject is prison reform. Alabama Public Radio’s political commentator Steve Flowers has a few thoughts on that...

Monday is the fifth anniversary of the Gulf Oil spill. Below are links to Alabama Public Radio’s national award winning coverage of the aftermath of the disaster off Alabama’s gulf coast in 2010. “Oil & Water: Recovering From the Spill” examined the initial recovery efforts, as well as the long-term effect of the spill on the economy, environment, and mental health of the region. "Oil & Water" won first place for best news series from "The Public Radio News Directors' Incorporated" in 2012.  It was APR's first PRNDI award in a decade.

Governor Robert Bentley is looking for more sources of state revenue and one agency may have found one. The Alabama Department of Revenue is considering a new rule requiring companies that offer digital streaming services to pay a four percent state tax. The fee would apply to movies, television programs and music. The revenue department says it's an attempt to update tax code for the digital era. Governor Bentley wants new taxes to plug a half billion dollar hole in the state budget. Opponents say the rule overreaches the bounds of current tax law.

The budget standoff between Governor Robert Bentley and the state legislature now involves state parks. State House member Joe Faust wants to make state parks self sufficient, so Montgomery doesn’t have to spend tax dollars on them. Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores is one of five facilities statewide that turn a profit. Still, Park Director Lisa Larraway says any budget cuts would be felt. Governor Bentley says he’ll veto any budget bill that doesn’t raise taxes to plug a half billion dollar spending shortfall. He’s proposing ideas like hiking cigarette taxes as one solution.

The former financial chief of two Alabama nonprofits for the poor and homeless will plead guilty to defrauding millions of dollars from the clinics and the federal agencies that fund them. The U.S. Attorney's office says Terri McGuire Mollica has agreed to plead guilty to almost twenty counts related to fraud against the government, including wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering. Mollica worked for Birmingham Health Care and the Central Alabama Comprehensive Health Inc.

The Kentuck Art Center near Tuscaloosa kicked off a capital campaign to renovate its facilities with the receipt of a $50,000 donation from Alabama Power. Mark Crews, Vice President of the utility’s western division, presented the check to the Kentuck board during a member event at Chuck’s Fish in Downtown Tuscaloosa. The campaign seeks to raise over a million dollars to refurbish its five building complex in the town of Northport. Part of the Kentuck complex had to be evacuated when it became infested by bats.

Forecasters say strong storms with damaging winds could hit Alabama. The National Weather Service says a strong cold front and an upper level disturbance moving in from the west will create a chance for severe weather on Friday. The risk is greatest in Alabama's northwestern corner early in the day, and forecasters say storms will spread to the southeast during the day before exiting the state. The weather service says periods of damaging winds and large hail are possible. So are some short-lived tornadoes, although forecasters aren't expecting a major outbreak of severe weather.

Alabama Public Radio is looking back on the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Battle of Mobile Bay. The engagement, on August 5, 1864, was a turning point in the “war between the states.” APR listeners heard about the re-enactment of the Battle of Resaca yesterday, but that’s not the end of the story. An Alabama cavalry unit took part in the actual battle. And, we warn you, there’s a twist.

One hundred and fifty years ago, the battle of Mobile Bay helped bring the U.S. Civil War to a close. Historians also credit the engagement with helping Abraham Lincoln win a second term as President. Over the next half hour, Alabama Public Radio will look back on the battle and Alabama’s role in the Civil War in 1864. Stan Ingold will examine the Mobile campaign from the perspective of the man who lost. Ryan Vasquez will explain how Mobile resulted in more Congressional Medals of Honor than any other U.S. Naval battle.

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