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


Restaurants come and go these days. But, in Birmingham, Highlands Bar & Grill just turned thirty years old. It’s here that veteran chef Frank Stitt won the prestigious James Beard award for best southern chef in the year 2000. But, don’t talk to him about hitting the three decade mark. “I don’t really, kind of knowledge or comprehend this ten year, twenty year, thirty year,” says Stitt. “I just feel engaged day to day.” But, people inside and outside of the restaurant industry say Stitt influence is widespread.

Editor's note: Alabama Public Radio will take NPR's live coverage following the Connecticut school shooting at 1 pm. Pat Duggins News Director NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) — An official with knowledge of a shooting at a Connecticut elementary school says 27 people are dead, including 18 children. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is still under way. State police Lt. Paul Vance says only that staff and students at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown are among the victims. He says the shooter was dead in the school.

Editor's Note: APR news will be tweeting updates of the Iron Bowl from Bryant Denny Stadium.

University of Alabama

University of Alabama President Guy Bailey today announced that he will be leaving his post at the school, citing family reasons. Dr. Bailey asssumed leadership of the University of Alabama in early September, after the U of A Board of Trustees approved his hiring unanimously back in July. University of Alabama President Guy Bailey’s statement: Today I have notified Chancellor Witt that I am stepping down as President of The University of Alabama.


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — A study show that 44 percent of Alabama's college graduating class of 2011 finished with debt and the average amount was more than $25,000. reports the Alabama figure was below the national average of $26,600. The study by the Project on Student Debt found that the most indebted Alabama students graduated from Alabama A&M. Ninety-five percent of the Class of 2011 had debt, and the average was slightly more than $33,000. At Auburn University, 47 percent of the graduates had debt, and the average was nearly $24,800.


MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A new program of the National Governors Association aimed at stopping prescription drug abuse is meeting in Montgomery. Gov. Robert Bentley is co-chairman of the NGA's Prescription Drug Abuse Reduction Policy Academy, and he will address its opening session Monday in Montgomery. The academy is spending a year looking at how to reduce prescription drug abuse in Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Kentucky, New Mexico, Oregon and Virginia.


APR—The Alabama Public Radio news team was honored with the National Edward R. Murrow Award for overall excellence. Elizabeth Brock, director of the Center for Public Television and Radio and APR news director Pat Duggins accepted the honor on behalf of the news department at the Radio Television Digital News Association banquet in New York City.

University of Alabama

The new president of the University of Alabama is settling in. Dr. Guy Bailey officially took over as leader of the Tuscaloosa campus. Bigger enrollment and more research are just two of his goals. Dr. Bailey says the University’s engineering and science departments may soon be the focus of greater research. The new president adds that the liberal arts could shine as well… “We’ve always had a great creative writing program here." says Bailey. "The English program is good…after all, it produced me!


The approach of Isaac put much of the northern Gulf coast on alert. Here in Alabama, the major concern was tropical storm force winds, the threat of spin up tornadoes, and flooding from storm surge. Homeowners in flood prone areas along Mobile Bay were placed under a voluntary evacuation order. But, not all residents with beach front property were able to move. Some were dug in…literally.


The executive board of Alabama Public Television voted unanimously to hire WVUA-TV General Manager Roy Clem as its new executive director. The selection follows the controversial firing of former APT Chief Allan Pizzato and one of his lieutenants. The oustre is reportedly due to disagreement between Pizzato and members of the APT board on the airing of conservative christian programming. Mr. Pizzato is suing the board on the grounds that his firing was in violation of state law.


Alabama Public Radio News Director Pat Duggins spoke with host Sacha Pfeiffer on NPR station WBUR's nationally broadcast program "Here & Now" about the upcoming landing of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover. Duggins covered NASA for NPR for 25 years, authored the book "Trailblazing Mars," and writes about space for the magazine "Modern Weekly" in China.


Not every lesson on the football field involves passing or blocking.

APR News

The Alabama Public Radio news team collected a national Sigma Delta Chi award at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. for best breaking news coverage of the Tuscaloosa tornado. News Director Pat Duggins was joined at the podium by reporters Ryan Vasquez, Maggie Martin and Stan Ingold for the presentation of the bronze medallion.

Alabama Public radio news director Pat Duggins reports on today's vote by the University of Alabama board of trustees to name Dr. Guy Bailey, of Texas Tech, as UA's new president. The appointment is a homecoming for Dr. Bailey, who earned a bachelors degree in Tuscaloosa, and then a masters in 1974.

All week long on Alabama Public Radio, the news department is revisiting the people we heard from in the hours and days following the April 27th tornadoes that struck the state a year ago. Last night, the Tuscaloosa city council approved rezoning in the areas hit hard by the storm. Pending a final vote, this will set the city's rebuilding plan into full motion. APR's Pat Duggins takes us to the small town in Kansas which helped pioneer the "green" rebuilding ideas that may take root here.

This week marks one year since the tornadoes that tore through Alabama, killing over two hundred people and disrupting the lives of thousands of families. All week long on Alabama Public Radio, we'll revisit many of the people and places you heard from in the hours and days following the storm. APR news director Pat Duggins has this preview...