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

SELMA ...

WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IN EFFECT UNTIL 9 AM CST SATURDAY...

TONIGHT...RAIN...CHANCE OF FREEZING RAIN...SLEET AND SNOW IN THE EVENING...THEN SLIGHT CHANCE OF SNOW AFTER MIDNIGHT. SNOW AND SLEET ACCUMULATION UP TO 1 INCH. ICE ACCUMULATION OF LESS THAN ONE QUARTER OF AN INCH. LOWS IN THE MID 20S. CHANCE OF PRECIPITATION NEAR 100 PERCENT.

SATURDAY...SUNNY. HIGHS IN THE MID 30S. NORTH WINDS 10 TO 15 MPH.

TUSCALOOSA ...

WINTER STORM WARNING IN EFFECT UNTIL 9 AM CST SATURDAY...

These are the latest school districts that have announced Friday closings due to concerns over snow. For the latest information on your child's school, call that school's front office--Pat Duggins

Colbert County Schools

Florence City Schools

Franklin County Schools

Muscle Shoals City Schools

Bibb County Schools

Blount County Schools

Chilton County Schools

Fairfield City Schools

Forestdale Baptist School and Kindergarten

Gadsden City Schools

Jefferson County Schools

Pelham City Schools

Lane Kiffin is being replaced as Alabama's offensive coach, one week before the national championship game against Clemson. Head coach Nick Saban says Kiffin will leave to focus on his new job as Florida Atlantic's head coach. Incoming offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian will replace him for next Monday's title game against Clemson in Tampa. Saban says he and Kiffin spoke following the semifinal game against Washington.

Alabama parents can now see how their child’s school is doing by going on-line. The Alabama Department of Education in December released the report cards. The system gives scores in four areas, including learning gains, student achievement, local indicators and the graduation rate for high schools. Parents can see how their school, or school system, compares to the rest of the state. The report cards won't include the letter grades ordered by state lawmakers. That feature goes into effect this December. The report cards can be viewed at: https://ap.alsde.edu/accountability/atof

The New Year means no more “common law” marriages in Alabama. The state will not recognize new common-law marriages beginning January first. Common-law marriages already in effect will continue to be recognized. That kind of marriage refers to couples who live together as a married couple, but who haven't gotten a state marriage license. Lawmakers voted earlier this year to prohibit the recognition of new common-law marriages. An appellate judge last year urged lawmakers to make the change.

SELMA

TODAY...PATCHY DENSE FOG EARLY IN THE MORNING. SHOWERS OR SLIGHT CHANCE OF THUNDERSTORMS IN THE MORNING...THEN THUNDERSTORMS IN THE AFTERNOON. HIGHS IN THE LOWER 70S. CHANCE OF RAIN NEAR 100 PERCENT.

TONIGHT...CLOUDY. THUNDERSTORMS IN THE EVENING...THEN CHANCE OF SHOWERS AND SLIGHT CHANCE OF THUNDERSTORMS AFTER MIDNIGHT. LOWS IN THE UPPER 50S. CHANCE OF RAIN 90 PERCENT.

TUESDAY...MOSTLY CLOUDY. HIGHS IN THE LOWER 70S.

TUSCALOOSA

From Donald Trump's pivotal campaign rally in Mobile, the death of writer Harper Lee, murder charges against former Astronaut Jim Halsell, the conviction of House Speaker Mike Hubbard, the suspension of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, Governor Robert Bentley's sex scandal, to the U.S. Department of Justice's investigation into Alabama's prison system--the national award winning Alabama Public Radio news team was there to keep you updated. Click below to hear some of the biggest stories of 2016. Pat Duggins

Fans of Alabama and Clemson may have the option to save money on souvenir hats and shirts this championship season. The Crimson Tide and the Tigers won the Peach Bowl and Fiesta Bowl, respectively, setting the stage for a re-match of last year’s College Football Playoff championship game, where Alabama came out on top. The Tide kept its number one ranking by scoring ten points off turnovers in a 24-7 win over the Washington Huskies at the Georgia Dome. Bo Scarborough carried the Tide's offense by running for 180 yards and two touchdowns to earn game MVP honors.

The Alabama Crimson Tide is packing its bags for Tampa. The top-ranked Crimson Tide beat the Washington Huskies in what college football historians may compare to Alabama’s 1926 victory over Washington to win its first national championship. The Tide scored ten points off turnovers, including Ryan Anderson's interception return for a touchdown late in the first half, and Scarborough’s sixty eight yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to clinch the victory. Head Coach Nick Saban is working to eclipse the record of legendary Alabama coach Bear Bryant who won six national titles.

The controversial chief of state for Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson is resigning. The Mayor’s office confirms that Colby Cooper is departing to pursue new opportunities. Cooper attracted national media attention after a tree in a Mobile park was chopped down to be the centerpiece of Donald Trump’s “victory lap” visit earlier this month. The loss of the fifty foot old growth cedar tree at Public Safety Memorial Park drew wide criticism. Cooper announced his intent to resign in a Tweet. Mayor Stimpson issued a press release announcing that he had accepted the decision by his chief of staff.

Organizers in Dothan are preparing for the city’s first peanut drop that will bring in the New Year. A giant peanut will hang on a crane in front of the clock tower on Foster Street and drop on New Year's Eve when the clock hits midnight. WSFA-TV reports the big plastic peanut was delivered Thursday and transported downtown for a test run on Friday. The Dothan Downtown Redevelopment Authority, says a kids zone is being set up and there's going to be a balloon drop for them. Peanuts are a prominent part of Dothan’s local economy. The industry claims seventy percent of the U.S.

SELMA

SATURDAY...CLOUDY. SLIGHT CHANCE OF RAIN SHOWERS IN THE MORNING...THEN RAIN SHOWERS LIKELY IN THE AFTERNOON. HIGHS IN THE MID 50S. CHANCE OF RAIN 60 PERCENT.

SATURDAY NIGHT...WARMER. RAIN SHOWERS. NEAR STEADY TEMPERATURE IN THE LOWER 50S. CHANCE OF RAIN 80 PERCENT.

TUSCALOOSA

SATURDAY...CLOUDY. CHANCE OF RAIN SHOWERS AND SLIGHT CHANCE OF LIGHT SLEET IN THE MORNING...THEN RAIN SHOWERS LIKELY IN THE AFTERNOON. HIGHS IN THE LOWER 50S. CHANCE OF PRECIPITATION 70 PERCENT.

Alabama’s Democratic and Republican parties are looking for candidates to run for a State House district northeast of Birmingham. Today’s the deadline for major party candidates to apply for the open seat in district fifty eight. State House member Oliver Robinson retired from that office earlier last month so his daughter could become the first African American woman to serve as Governor Robert Bentley’s liaison. Nancy Worley chairs the Alabama Democratic Party. She says understands Robinson’s decision to leave after eighteen years to help his daughter…

The Mobile area will be awash in orange during the Reese’s Senior Bowl next month, but not in Fairhope. The city on the Eastern Shore says it won't be hosting a Senior Bowl practice next month. City Council members earlier this month had questioned whether it was worth paying $35,000 to the Senior Bowl to host a practice ahead of the annual game. Fairhope Mayor Karin Wilson told AL.com that it's now too late to arrange to host a practice ahead of this year's Game. However, she said city officials are looking at possibly resuming the practice for the next year.

The Alabama Department of Public Health is offering help for people who want to quit smoking in the New Year. The agency has a telephone service called the Alabama Tobacco Quitline that operates daily, and help is also available through the website quitnowalabama.com. The phone number is 1-800-QUIT-NOW. The Quitline offers coaching and an eight-week supply of nicotine replacement therapy patches, and all services are free for people who are eligible.

Some of Alabama's largest cities are getting federal help for projects that involve upgrading their train stations or developing new ones. Al.com reports that Birmingham, Mobile, Anniston and Tuscaloosa are each getting a share of $728,957 in grants for Alabama. Also receiving grants are Baton Rouge, Gonzales and St. John Parish in Louisiana, and Biloxi, Gulfport and Pascagoula in Mississippi. All told, the three states are getting $2.5 million in federal money for train station-related projects.

SELMA

MONDAY...MOSTLY CLOUDY. HIGHS IN THE MID 70S.

MONDAY NIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH A 20 PERCENT CHANCE OF RAIN SHOWERS. LOWS IN THE UPPER 50S.

TUESDAY...CLOUDY WITH A 30 PERCENT CHANCE OF RAIN SHOWERS. HIGHS IN THE LOWER 70S.

Tuscaloosa

MONDAY...MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH A 20 PERCENT CHANCE OF RAIN SHOWERS. HIGHS IN THE LOWER 70S.

MONDAY NIGHT...CLOUDY WITH A 50 PERCENT CHANCE OF RAIN SHOWERS. LOWS IN THE UPPER 50S.

TUESDAY...CLOUDY WITH A 40 PERCENT CHANCE OF RAIN SHOWERS. HIGHS IN THE MID 60S.

Mobile

Pat Duggins

SELMA

CHRISTMAS DAY...PARTLY CLOUDY. HIGHS IN THE UPPER 70S.

SUNDAY NIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY. LOWS IN THE UPPER 50S.

MONDAY...MOSTLY CLOUDY. HIGHS IN THE MID 70S.

Tuscaloosa

CHRISTMAS DAY...PARTLY CLOUDY. HIGHS IN THE MID 70S.

SUNDAY NIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY. LOWS IN THE UPPER 50S.

MONDAY...MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH A 20 PERCENT CHANCE OF RAIN SHOWERS. HIGHS IN THE LOWER 70S.

Mobile

CHRISTMAS DAY...MOSTLY SUNNY. AREAS OF FOG IN THE MORNING. HIGHS IN THE LOWER 70S.

A group in the south Alabama city of Monroeville hopes to develop new attractions and draw more tourists to the hometown of the late "To Kill a Mockingbird" author Harper Lee. One project is a museum in the 1909 bank building that housed the office of Lee's father A.C. Lee. He served as the model for attorney Atticus Finch in "Mockingbird" and Lee's 2015 book "Go Set a Watchman." Other attractions could be added later, including reproductions of places mentioned in the books.

The Alabama Supreme Court has reversed a lower court and says the state can seize more than 800 electronic bingo machines from a west Alabama gambling hall. The unanimous decision released Friday involves the Greenetrack gambling facility, located in Greene County southwest of Birmingham. The justices say that eight hundred and twenty five machines confiscated from Greenetrack amount to illegal slot machines under state law. The justices rejected arguments that the machines are legal under laws that regulate bingo games.

Alabama officials say a tree cut down in a city park and used as a prop at President-elect Donald Trump's recent rally will be used to build cat scratching posts and bird houses. Colby Cooper of the Mobile mayor's office apologized for his role in having the large cedar tree cut down and decorated for Christmas. Cooper said he was "overzealous" in trying to meet expectations of Trump's team for the president-elect's "thank you" rally one week ago. City officials says Thursday the tree branches will be given to Girl Scouts so they can create cat scratching posts for animal shelters.

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USPS

If your neighborhood postal truck looks fuller than usual today, there’s a good reason. 

The U.S. Postal Service says today will be the busiest delivery day of the year around the country as well as here in Alabama. An estimated three quarters of a billion packages will find their way to mailboxes and doorsteps over the holiday season.

Debra Fetterly is the U.S. Postal Service’s regional spokeswoman in Alabama. She says this extra holiday business means a twelve percent increase over holiday parcel deliveries last year.

Alabama's unemployment rate rose slightly last month. The state says the number of Alabamians without work jumped to 5.9 percent in November. That's up from 5.7 percent in October. Alabama's jobless rate is still better than it was a year ago, but the state still trails the nation. The U.S. unemployment rate was 4.6 percent in November. The state says there are positive signs about Alabama’s economy with more workers on the job than at any other time in 2016. Shelby County has the best jobless rate at Shelby County at four point one percent.

The city of Mobile is the next stop for Donald Trump’s victory lap tour. The President elect will address supporters at Ladd-Peebles Stadium tomorrow at 3 pm. The Alabama visit is a departure for Trump, who’s spent most of his post-election visits in swing states. His last campaign rally in Mobile attracted an estimated twenty thousand people, which was seen as a symbolic turning point for Trump. One of his early cabinet picks was Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions. He was turned down for a federal judgeship in 1986 over allegations of making racist remarks.

An Alabama man is just hours away from execution by lethal injection. Ronald Bert Smith was sentenced to die for killing a convenience store clerk in 1994. It would be the first execution in the state since 2013. But it’s how a judge arrived at the death penalty in this case that has civil rights groups crying foul…

Ronald Smith’s jury recommended life in prison. The judge overturned that suggestion and imposed the death penalty. Alabama is the only state where a judge is empowered to do that. The APR news team reported on this policy during our series on justice reform.

Pat Duggins

The Alabama Crimson Tide became the SEC College Football Champions, for the third year in a row, by defeating the Florida Gators 54 to 16 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Florida was the underdog going into the game, but the Gator struck first by scoring a touchdown on their very first drive. That didn’t sit well with game MVP Reuben Foster of Alabama.

“We don’t like that," says Foster, "We don’t like giving points, we don’t like giving up first downs. We hate that. So, we had to overcome that and step up.”

Alabama Public Radio News Director Pat Duggins covered the Crimson Tide's victory in the 25th SEC Championship at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Prior to kickoff, Duggins shot this video from the sidelines during warm-ups for the Tide,.

While President-Elect Donald Trump assembles his White House team, Alabama Republicans have a laundry list of things they want from the new administration. The state gave the GOP nominee its nine electoral votes last week and Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions is part of Trump’s inner circle. State GOP Chair Terry Lathan says Republican voters in Alabama have specific goals in mind once Trump takes office in January…

Veterans’ advocates are making sure President-Elect Trump has the best interests of the nation’s veterans in mind as he prepares to take office. The group Disabled American Veterans has a list of priorities the next commander-in-chief needs to address during his administration. One key provision is assuring vets have access to quality and timely health care – something that’s received a lot of scrutiny recently here in Alabama. Joy Ilem is the Legislative Director for Disabled American Veterans.

Could Alabama be looking for a new U.S. Senator? President Elect Donald Trump acknowledged Alabama Republican Jeff Sessions during his victory speech in New York City. There’s already speculation Sessions could be the Defense Secretary in the new administration or even a member of the U.S. Supreme Court. Terry Lathan chairs the Alabama Republican party. She says there are a number of things Senator Sessions is qualified to do…

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