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

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — State education officials say they expect to assemble a new list of failing schools before the end of the year. Alabama Department of Education spokeswoman Malissa Valdes-Hubert told AL.com test scores from last spring are likely to be released this fall and the data will help state officials recalculate schools' test scores. Valdes-Hubert says parents have until Jan. 1 to let schools know if they plan to transfer students based on the new failing schools list. She says parents are eligible for a $3,500 tax credit to help pay for private school tuition.

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The launch of an initiative aimed at addressing childhood obesity in Alabama has slowed an increase of overweight children compared to other states, but hasn't improved Alabama's childhood obesity rate. The Montgomery Advertiser reported that obesity rates in Alabama's children and teens have increased by nearly 5 percent since 1999 despite an effort by the Alabama Department of Education to control what types of snacks are sold in vending machines on school campuses.

Smithsonian Institution

When people go to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., they seem to have a checklist of what they want to see. At the National Air and Space Museum, visitors frequently start at the Apollo 11 capsule that carried astronauts to the Moon. After that, it’s the “Spirit of St. Louis,” that Charles Lindberg flew across the Atlantic. For many, the next stop is upstairs, to an airplane with tan canvas wings and a wooden frame, which flew for just twelve seconds.

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — A small number of U.S. states are joining a fight against the nation's leading name in green building, saying its standards discourage builders from using wood grown in their own forests. The U.S. Green Building Council's program is called Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED. It's so popular it grants voluntary environmental certification to roughly 1.5 million square feet of new construction daily. But some governors and lawmakers say strict standards for what LEED considers sustainably grown wood are hurting growers in their states. Georgia Gov.

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CULLMAN, Ala. (AP) — Authorities in Cullman County have arrested nearly 60 people following an investigation into drug activity. The Cullman Times reports the county-wide roundup came after a six-month investigation by local law enforcement. Ninety warrants were served, and 58 people were arrested over a two-day period. The charges include distribution and manufacturing of a controlled substance, as well as a variety of lesser drug charges. Officers from the Cullman County Sheriff's Office, Cullman Police Department, and Hanceville Police Department participated in the effort.

City of Gadsden

GADSDEN, Ala. (AP) — A historic black cemetery in Gadsden has been named to the Alabama Historic Cemetery Register. The Gadsden Times reports that the Alabama Historic Commission says the largely abandoned cemetery has been known by several names, including Sixth Street and Sunset, but Southern Hills is the most familiar. The earliest known headstone in the cemetery dates to 1888. The commission says burials at the cemetery stopped in the 1940s when the city took the neighborhood by eminent domain. Area residents moved to another part of town, abandoning the cemetery.

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Gov. Robert Bentley says he believes Alabama's new private school tax credits should not apply to students who never enrolled in a failing school. Bentley says the tax credits should only apply to a student who transfers out of a failing school, but he says the final determination is up to the state Department of Revenue. He expects that to be done before school resumes in August. Exactly who will qualify for the tax credits has been in question since Bentley signed the Alabama Accountability Act in March.

University of Alabama

In June of 1963, Vivian Malone and James Hood finished the trail Autherine Lucy blazed. Lucy was the first African American to enroll at the University of Alabama in 1956. She lasted only a few days after facing segregationist protesters who burned an effigy copy of the U.S. Supreme Court decision Brown V. Board of Education, which ordered schools be integrated. Malone and Hood’s ambitions to go school at the Tuscaloosa campus in 1963 prompted a political cash of titans. “It was an iconic time,” says Dr. Culpepper Clark, author of the book The Stand in the School House Door.

AP

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Louis Farrakhan and others are planning a caravan across Alabama on June 14 to encourage the U.S. Supreme Court to save a major portion of the Voting Rights Act. Southern Christian Leadership Conference CEO Charles Steele said the National Coalition of Leaders to Save Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act is also calling on Justice Antonin Scalia to step aside from the court case because of public comments he made. The leaders, including state Sen.

Jacksonville State University

ANNISTON, Ala. (AP) - Court records indicate that a lawsuit over alleged hazing at a Jacksonville State University fraternity will be handled outside of court. The Anniston Star reports that the plaintiff, Jason Horton, and the defendants, Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, its JSU chapter and fraternity officials, have agreed to mediation. Michael Petway, Horton's attorney, said the agreement gives all parties involved 30 days from Friday to agree on a mediator and 30 days after that to set up the mediation.

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GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) — State officials are warning that the water along several stretches of beach in Harrison County may have high bacteria levels that could expose swimmers to an increased risk of illness. The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality issued a warning Saturday for two beach segments in Biloxi and Gulfport. Neither area has been closed to swimming. Officials issued the same warning Friday for three other stretches of beach in Harrison County. The department said it is working with local officials to inform residents about the potential problem.

NOAA

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama officials are alerting residents to be ready as hurricane season begins, even though it's been nearly a decade since the state took a direct hit from a storm. The 2013 Atlantic hurricane season began Saturday and runs through Nov. 30. Gov. Robert Bentley and forecast officials are underscoring the need for residents to prepare for the worst should the season usher in another Ivan, which decimated tourist areas in Baldwin County in 2004.

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — The former commander of the West Alabama Narcotics Task Force has been charged with stealing about $125,000 in drug proceeds that were seized by the agency. U.S. Attorney's officials say 55-year-old Jeffrey Lynn Snyder, of Carrollton, has agreed to plead guilty to stealing from the task force between June 2010 and June 2012, when he left the organization. The task force is staffed with police from Tuscaloosa, the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff's Office, the Northport Police Department and the University of Alabama.

des moines register

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — Former presidential candidate Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania has endorsed conservative writer and former Congressional aide Quin Hillyer of Mobile for a soon-to-be vacant south Alabama Congressional seat. Santorum said Tuesday that he supports Hillyer's position on strengthening America's economy and for his standing up for American values. Santorum says he plans to join Hillyer on the campaign trail and tell Alabama voters why Hillyer would be "the right conservative" to serve in the First Congressional District seat.

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A central Alabama woman has pleaded guilty to gathering personal information that was used to file fraudulent tax refunds. Department of Justice officials say Lea'Tice Phillips, a former state employee, had access to state databases containing personal information. Authorities say Phillips used her state email account to send personal information to a co-conspirator, Antoinette Djonret, who then used the information to file fraudulent tax returns. Officials say the women recruited others to buy prepaid debit cards they could use to launder the money.

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MOBILE, Ala. (AP) - The Mobile City Council is blocking the planned expansion of an Islamic center, a decision the head of the religious organization blames on discrimination. Council members cited parking concerns Tuesday in overturning a previous decision to approve an expansion of the Islamic Center of Mobile. Center president Shafik Hammami calls the decision a "travesty of justice." He claims religious discrimination is behind the decision. Opponents of the planned expansion deny that religion has anything to do with their position.

State of Alabama

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — An aide to Governor Robert Bentley says the administration will continue to explore its options after lawmakers adjourned Monday without acting on 70 nominees to various state boards. Jennifer Ardis, a spokeswoman in the governor's office, said the administration is worried that some boards may not have enough qualified members to do business. Many of the boards, however, allow sitting members to continue serving until their replacement are confirmed.

APR/ CPT & R

This Wednesday marks the season finale of “Alabama, Inc.,” the television program about business that airs on Alabama Public Television. The APR newsroom has been collaborating on the show, with News Director Pat Duggins conducting entrepreneur profile segments. This Wednesday, Pat sits down with Dr. David Bronner, the head of Retirement Systems of Alabama, or RSA. “I’ve had governors, a few of them, like me,” says Bronner. “I’ve had most governors hate the sight of me.” That might not be something you want on your resume. But, David Bronner doesn’t seem to mind.

Birmingham News/Birmingham Bar Foundation

“For me, it was just a day of resolve and resolution, and I said ‘sign me up,” says James Stewart

“Well, the first thing I tell them is that I went to jail, and they go ‘Oooh, Grandmama,” and I say well, let me explain…” recalled Eloise Gaffney.

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NORTH COURTLAND, Ala. (AP) — Students at a north Alabama high school are campaigning to change traffic laws after a teenager died in a wreck at what they say is a dangerous intersection. Students at R.A. Hubbard High School in North Courtland want to lower the speed limit at an intersection where Hatton High School junior Caitlyn Martin was killed in April. Hubbard students are writing letters to legislators to lower the 65 mph speed limit at the intersection of Alabama 157 and Highway 101. Math teacher Karen Posey tells The Decatur Daily that traffic goes too fast at the intersection.

APR

Alabama Public Radio continues its collaboration on a new television program about business. It’s called Alabama, Inc. and it airs tonight at 10 pm on your local Alabama Public Television station. So far this season, APR news director Pat Duggins has interviewed entrepreneurs who build shopping malls, design high-end fashions, and clean up toxic waste. This Sunday, the topic is a “sweet” family business based in Birmingham. Tricia Wallwork hears the stories from customers all the time.

APR/CPT & R

Alabama Public Radio continues its collaboration on the new television program, Alabama, Inc. The show is about business in Alabama, and it airs every Wednesday on your local Alabama Public Television station. This week, how do you go green at your house? We recycle at the Duggins’ household, and we have re-usable canvas shopping bags at the supermarket, and a tankless water which uses less energy. We’re feeling “environmentally friendly,” right? That is, until I met Shannon Riley of Birmingham.

Westervelt-Warner Transportation Museum

Alabama Public Radio is collaborating with the Westervelt-Warner Transportation Museum on an oral history project connected the second anniversary of the tornado that hit Tuscaloosa on April 27, 2011.

Westervelt-Warner Transportation Museum

Alabama Public Radio is collaborating with the Westervelt-Warner Transportation Museum on an oral history exhibit for the second anniversary of the killer tornadoes that tore through our state. The goal is to preserve what survivors saw and heard on April 27, 2011, including Dr. Andrew Lee of Tuscaloosa… When the storm first passed, we didn’t really realize the extent of what just happened. Our ER entrance faces to the north, and we looked outside and it was actually a really pretty day, and windy. We didn’t really realize the devastation that happened behind us.

Westervelt-Warner Transportation Museum

Alabama Public Radio is collaborating with the Westervelt-Warner Transportation Museum on an oral history exhibit for the second anniversary of the killer tornadoes that tore through our state. The goal is to preserve what survivors saw and heard on April 27, 2011, including Wade Robbins of Tuscaloosa… “I was working at the Dollar Store, and I had just started my night shift. The weather was getting bad, so there were hardly any customers. I looked around, and the lights went off, and I thought to myself…it’s here.

Birmingham News/Birmingham Bar Foundation

“For me, it was just a day of resolve and resolution, and I said ‘sign me up,” says James Stewart

“Well, the first thing I tell them is that I went to jail, and they go ‘Oooh, Grandmama,” and I say well, let me explain…” recalled Eloise Gaffney.

“It was just…you knew God was on your side,” says Washington Booker. “And we knew that it didn’t matter what we were facing. You knew if God was on your side, you’d overcome it.”

Birmingham News/Birmingham Bar Foundation

Jail was like hell. It was four days of really hell. James Stewart of Birmingham was just a teenager on April 2, 1963. He took part in the Children’s March, and he was one of the first to arrested and jailed… “We were put in a room that could hold fifty or sixty people comfortably. They put three hundred of us in that room. It was standing room only,” Stewart recalls. “It was a concrete floor, it was concrete walls, very small windows with the bars on them. It was very hot. And they just kept putting us in that room. We had to develop a system just to sleep.

Birmingham News/Birmingham Bar Foundation

Birmingham area disc jockey Shelley the Playboy may have signaled the start of the children’s march in 1963, but he didn’t organize it. The credit goes to a lieutenant of Dr. Martin Luther King, the reverend James Bevel. One of the teenagers he inspired was James Stewart… “He wore one of the blue jeans suits, and had badges from everybody, and pins all over, and he was baldheaded and wore this skull cap,” Stewart remembered, “And he’s the one who was the kids’ ‘pied piper,’ he talked to us about getting involved.

Birmingham News/Birmingham Bar Foundation

“Let me know at the start of this conversation that I have never been a civil rights activist of any kind,” says former Birmingham radio disc jockey Shelley Stewart. “I want to make that perfectly clear.” The teenagers who took part in the 1963 children’s march see it differently They say they relied on signals and code words from Stewart’s radio show to know when the protest would begin. And even Shelley admits he knew firsthand what school kids, both black and white, could do in the race of racism. When he wasn’t on the air, Shelley the playboy played records at dance parties.

hmdb.org

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Relatives of four black girls killed when Ku Klux Klan members bombed an Alabama church are split over how to mark the crime 50 years later. Sisters of two victims said Friday they favor a proposed congressional medal honoring the girls and aren't interested in financial compensation. Their opinions differ from those of the bombing's lone survivor and the brother of another victim. They told The Associated Press earlier this week they want money and call the medal an unneeded token.

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