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.

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It will likely be Wednesday morning before complete damage reports can be made from rough weather that hit parts of west central Alabama. A pair of tornadoes and straight line winds reportedly damaged homes, tore down trees and power lines, and caused injuries.

Hail and strong winds are expected to hit parts of the state on Tuesday. Forecasters say it isn’t uncommon to see major storms this time of the year. The rise in temperature has caused some things to become unstable which can result in strong to severe storms. Chelly Amin is a Meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Huntsville. She says high winds are expected and possibly more…

Fans of the Alabama Crimson Tide braved blustery sub-freezing temperatures to celebrate this month's College Football Championship victory over the Clemson Tigers. The players, led by team captains Jake Coker, Derrick Henry, Ryan Kelly, Reggie Ragland, and head coach Nick Saban paraded from Denny Chimes to Bryant-Denny stadium. That's where Saban officially received the Cotton Bowl trophy for the team's semi-final victory over Michigan State.

An Alabama senator says legislature is considering a raise for education employees with a performance-based model for teachers. Senator Del Marsh told the Dothan Eagle the amount of the raise has yet to be determined, but there is an emerging consensus that education employees should receive a raise. The last time Alabama teachers got a raise was in 2013, the same year their contributions to retirement increased. Senator Marsh's promise comes at a time when state lawmakers are expecting another tight budget year, with more spending cuts possible.

This is the latest list as 10 am this morning. For up-to-date information on your child's school, contact that school's front office. Pat Duggins•

Athens City Schools o Elementary schools, grades K-4 will dismiss at 11:30 am o Grades 5-12 will dismiss at 11:45 am. All activities for Friday and Saturday are canceled.

Athens Bible School -- Elementary school will dismiss at 11:30 a.m. Grades 5-12 will dismiss at 11:45 a.m. •

Bethel Baptist School in Hartselle will dismiss at 12 pm.

Colbert County Schoolswill dismiss at 11:30 a.m.

Thousands of Alabamians flocked to Birmingham last night for a rally held by Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. APR’s Alex AuBuchon attended the rally and files this report.

Remembering Dr. King...

Jan 18, 2016

Click below to hear selections from Alabama Public Radio's coverage of Dr. Martin Luther King, junior and the Alabama civil rights movement, including national and international award winning stories...

State health officials say three people are dead from tuberculosis in the west Alabama town of Marion. The Health Department says twenty people from the community south of Tuscaloosa have been diagnosed with the respiratory illness in the last year. Four others have been diagnosed with TB around Tuscaloosa, and two in Centreville. That’s one hundred times the average tuberculosis rate for Alabama. Health officials are planning a community meeting about the outbreak in Marion on Thursday. It's offering twenty each to Marion residents who come in for TB blood tests.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban is now within one championship of equaling the six championship record of the legendary Paul “Bear” Bryant. The Crimson Tide defeated the Clemson Tigers 45-40, in a hard fought game, to claim its first College Football Championship title. That, plus three BCS titles at Alabama, and one during his tenure at LSU, gives Saban his total of five championships.

Residents of Birmingham are still picking up the pieces following a Christmas night tornado that hit a suburb southwest of town. Jefferson County is working to fix storm sirens that didn’t go off as the storm closed in. The County Commission blames the failure on maintenance projects that have fallen behind as the county comes out of a multi-billion dollar bankruptcy. The National Weather Service confirms an EF-2 tornado with one hundred and thirty mile an hour winds hit that Birmingham suburb.  

The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating an outbreak of listeria involving Blue Bell ice cream. The probe has implications here in Alabama. Blue Bell Ice Cream’s plant in Sylacauga was among those shut down due to the presence of listeria. The U.S. Justice Department wants to know when company officials knew the potentially dangerous bacterial outbreak was present and how Blue Bell responded. Records indicated that the company knew one plant was contaminated at least as early as 2013. The ice cream maker shut down all of its factories in April.

Jefferson County, and specifically the city of Birmingham, saw a steep rise in the number of homicides in 2015. Jefferson County had a 62 percent increase in murder cases overall. The county had one hundred and forty three homicides—that’s up from eighty eight in 2014. Al.com reports there were ninety two homicides in Birmingham. That’s a fifty five percent increase compared to 2014. Birmingham had fifty nine homicides in 2014. The 2015 number represents the most homicides the city has experienced since 2008.

The Cotton Bowl may have been good for the Alabama Crimson Tide and its fans, but advertisers on ESPN might tell a different story. Television ratings for the College Football Playoff semifinals dropped approximately thirty six percent from last season. Bear in mind that 2014 game was played on New Year's Day instead of New Year's Eve for the Tide rout of Michigan State. Some fans reportedly grumbled over having to change to their New Year’s Eve plans to travel to Dallas for the game, or watch on TV. ESPN announced the overnight ratings Friday.

TUSCALOOSA

SATURDAY...MOSTLY SUNNY. HIGHS IN THE UPPER 40S.

SATURDAY NIGHT...MOSTLY CLEAR. LOWS AROUND 30.

SUNDAY...SUNNY. HIGHS IN THE LOWER 50S.

SUNDAY NIGHT...CLEAR. LOWS IN THE UPPER 20S.

MONDAY...SUNNY. HIGHS IN THE UPPER 40S.

MOBILE

SATURDAY...MOSTLY CLOUDY. HIGHS IN THE LOWER 50S.

SATURDAY NIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY. SLIGHT CHANCE OF RAIN SHOWERS AFTER MIDNIGHT. LOWS IN THE MID 30S. CHANCE OF SHOWERS 20 PERCENT.

Governor Robert Bentley has indicated he’d sign a gas tax increase, if state lawmakers sponsored it. Now, he may get the chance. Alabama lawmakers might soon debate a possible hike in the state's gasoline tax to pay for road and bridge construction. If it passes, it would be the first raise in the state gas tax since 1992. The Alabama Legislature's Joint Transportation Committee will hold five meetings around the state in January to discuss the idea. A bill introduced in the recent special session would have raised the tax by 5 cents per gallon.

The Alabama Crimson Tide will face the Clemson Tigers for the College Football Championship in Glendale, Arizona. The Tide defeated Michigan State in a thirty eight to zero shutdown. The last time Alabama kept an opponent scoreless in a bowl game was the 2012 BSC title game against LSU. Alabama’s victory was punctuated by scores by Derrick Henry. The Heisman Trophy winner shared the spotlight with Calvin Ridley who caught two passes for touchdowns, and Cyrus Jones who returned a punt for another score.

Alabama reserve defensive back Tony Brown will miss tonight’s Cotton Bowl game against Michigan State. The player was suspended after a violation of team rules. Coach Nick Saban issued a statement saying an internal decision was made to send Brown home. This isn't the first controversy involving Brown. Tuscaloosa Police arrested him in 2014 for resisting arrest during a loud party.

As if rising flood waters weren’t enough, Alabama public health officials are offering safety tips to people who use septic tanks and wells after recent floods. The Alabama Department of Public Health says residents on septic systems should try using less water following torrential storms in our state. Homeowners are also advised to consider having their tanks pumped to keep their systems working right. The state says slowly draining sinks and toilets and sewage becoming visible outside the home are signs that a septic system isn't functioning properly.

Two deaths are now attributed to last week’s violent Christmastime weather. The Coffee County Coroner’s office says the body of a missing man, believed swept away in his car, was found Sunday morning. The victim was accompanied by a five year-old boy, whose remains were recovered on Saturday. The two were killed when their vehicle was overtaken by floodwaters while attempting to cross a bridge Friday near the town of Jack, just northwest of Dothan. The deaths brings the number of people killed in severe weather in the Southeast last week to nineteen.

Flooding remains a concern as Alabama approaches the New Year’s holiday. The state is still drying out and cleaning up from tornadoes that hit Tuscaloosa County and Birmingham. The National Weather Service says a warm Christmas week contributed to the instability that generated the twisters. Forecasters expect the unseasonably warm conditions to persist until Thursday. And, with Alabama’s rivers still saturated with water from last week week’s storms, weather watchers say any more rain could create more flooding.

Alabama has arrived in North Texas for the College Football Playoff after some severe weather at home. Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban says there were some difficult circumstances with the weather. But the coach says everyone who was supposed to be on the team plane Saturday made it, and there were no issues with the flight. The second-ranked Tide play number three ranked Michigan State on New Year's Eve in the Cotton Bowl, one of the two semifinal games. The winner of that game, will face the winner of the Sugar Bowl, either Clemson or Oklahoma.

TUSCALOOSA

SUNDAY...PARTLY CLOUDY WITH A 30 PERCENT CHANCE OF THUNDERSTORMS. HIGHS IN THE MID 70S.

SUNDAY NIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH A 50 PERCENT CHANCE OF THUNDERSTORMS. LOWS IN THE UPPER 60S.

MONDAY..

THUNDERSTORMS. HIGHS IN THE LOWER 70S. CHANCE OF RAIN 90 PERCENT.

SELMA

SUNDAY...PARTLY CLOUDY WITH A 20 PERCENT CHANCE OF THUNDERSTORMS. HIGHS IN THE UPPER 70S.

SUNDAY NIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH A 50 PERCENT CHANCE OF THUNDERSTORMS. LOWS IN THE UPPER 60S.

MONDAY...THUNDERSTORMS. HIGHS IN THE MID 70S. CHANCE OF RAIN 80 PERCENT.

NWS

Damage assessment teams from the National Weather Service spent the day investigating violent Christmas night weather in Central Alabama. Their preliminary report is that two tornadoes hit the area, one near Coaling in Tuscaloosa County and the other near downtown Birmingham. Tuscaloosa’s twister was measured as an EF-0, with winds at 75 mph and as wide as the length of one and a half football fields. An EF-0 is considered the weakest type of tornado, but still able to do damage to homes and businesses.

National Weather Service

Overnight rescue efforts continued in the Birmingham area following heavy rain, flooding and tornadoes that pounded the South. The National Weather Service confirmed a tornado touchdown that hit a Birmingham neighborhood Christmas evening. Search and recovery crews worked through the night looking for people believed trapped inside wrecked houses. Early reports included several injuries, but no fatalities. Alabama Power says some 10,000 customers are without power, mostly in the Birmingham area.

TUSCALOOSA

SATURDAY...PARTLY CLOUDY WITH A 30 PERCENT CHANCE OF SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS. LOCALLY HEAVY RAINFALL POSSIBLE. HIGHS IN THE UPPER 70S.

SATURDAY NIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH A 30 PERCENT CHANCE OF THUNDERSTORMS. LOWS IN THE MID 60S.

SUNDAY...PARTLY CLOUDY WITH A 30 PERCENT CHANCE OF THUNDERSTORMS. HIGHS IN THE MID 70S. SUNDAY NIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH A 50 PERCENT CHANCE OF THUNDERSTORMS. LOWS IN THE UPPER 60S.

SELMA

Rescue teams, as well as and assessment crews from the National Weather Service, spent Christmas night fanning out after forecasters and witnesses confirmed a tornado touchdown near downtown Birmingham, which put violent weather on a path through populated areas like Mountain Brook and Homewood. Preliminary reports are that several structures were damaged, and victims required aid. Calls for first responder help reportedly overwhelmed 9-1-1 operators. Birmingham declared a civil emergency asking motorists to stay off the roads overnight, to ensure public safety.

TUSCALOOSA

THURSDAY...THUNDERSTORMS LIKELY. HIGHS IN THE MID 70S. .THURSDAY NIGHT...CLOUDY WITH CHANCE OF SHOWERS AND SLIGHT CHANCE OF THUNDERSTORMS. LOWS IN THE MID 60S. CHANCE OF RAIN 50 PERCENT.

CHRISTMAS DAY...CLOUDY WITH A 50 PERCENT CHANCE OF THUNDERSTORMS. HIGHS IN THE UPPER 70S.

FRIDAY NIGHT...CLOUDY WITH CHANCE OF SHOWERS AND SLIGHT CHANCE OF THUNDERSTORMS. LOWS IN THE MID 60S. CHANCE OF RAIN 40 PERCENT.

.SATURDAY...MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH A 30 PERCENT CHANCE OF THUNDERSTORMS. HIGHS IN THE MID 70S.

SELMA

Alabama is in store for a very wet Christmas, and forecasters are currently tracking the threat of severe storms and possible tornadoes. The National Weather Service in Birmingham has indicated parts of central and southern Alabama will be at risk of severe weather Wednesday afternoon and evening. Strong storms may produce tornadoes along with golf ball-size hail, 70 mile per hour winds. John De Block is the warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Birmingham. He offers some simple safety advice in the event of severe weather.

Birmingham Mayor William Bell and City Councilman Marcus Lundy are hospitalized following what’s described as a physical altercation. Witnesses say both men left the city council chamber, and a fight ensued. Bell was taken by a private car to a local hospital for treatment, while Lundy was transported by an ambulance. Police Chief A.C. Roper says assault charges may be made in the case, but he did not specify whether that action would be taken against Bell or Lundy or both.

A historical marker in the town of Brighton remembers a black coal miner who was lynched in 1908. The Equal Justice Initiative placed the marker near Brighton City Hall. The Montgomery based legal organization said the Brighton marker is the first in an effort to mark lynching sites in the South. William Miller was taken from his jail cell and lynched by a white mob after he lobbied for better wages for black coal miners. The group says the nation must confront the truth about its past in order to heal.

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