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

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.

Forecasters say they're expecting high winds in parts of central and north Alabama. The National Weather Service issued a wind advisory that will be in effect between 4 p.m. Sunday and 4 a.m. Monday Forecasters say they're anticipating winds of between 15 and 20 mph with gusts of up to 35 mph. Officials say the high winds could topple trees and branches. Forecasters say trash cans and holiday decorations should be secured and drivers of high-profile vehicles should use extra caution. The forecast also calls for up to a one hundred percent chance of rain overnight, and into the morning

A historical marker will be placed in the town of Brighton today to remember a black coal miner who was lynched in 1908. 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 organization said the Brighton marker is the first in an effort to mark lynching sites in the South. The Equal Justice Initiative, a Montgomery-based nonprofit legal firm, will help place the marker near Brighton City Hall. The group says the nation must confront the truth about its past in order to heal.

Alabama junior running back Derrick Henry won the 2015 Heisman Trophy over Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey, and Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson. Now, speculation is beginning on how the Crimson Tide standout will do in the NFL draft. Henry is expected to declare his intent to go professional after this month’s Cotton Bowl game against Michigan State, and the College football championship, if Alabama wins.

Alabama junior running back Derrick Henry won the 2015 Heisman Trophy over Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey, and Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson. Today’s ceremony in New York City followed a rare trifecta at the ESPN Home Depot College Football awards on Thursday. The Alabama standout took the Maxwell Award (best college football player,) Walter Camp Award (player of the year,) and the Doak Walker Award (best running back.) Despite his performance this year, Henry was not the top choice among all pundits.

Health officials in Alabama are warning beach goers to be on guard due to a red tide bloom along the Mississippi and Louisiana coasts. Anyone with respiratory problems should avoid mists from the affected waters, which means avoiding the beach despite unseasonably warm temperatures. Red tides release toxins that can contaminate shellfish and kill fish. They also can cause human respiratory problems, along with irritation of the nose, throat or eyes .Officials in Mississippi and Louisiana closed beaches and oyster beds due to the potential for fish kills and human health problems.

A committee from the United Nations may have something to say about human rights violations in Alabama today. The UN panel is looking into discrimination against women in our state. The representatives from The United Kingdom, Israel, Costa Rica and Poland visited Alabama’s black belt region as well as Oregon and Texas. The group spent nine days gathering first-hand information on how women are doing. Female workers in Lowndes County were asked about their pay and overall job conditions. The UN human rights report will be presented today during a press conference.


Both Alabama and Florida Football teams are going through their final preparations for tomorrow's SEC Championship. APR's MacKenzie Bates is at the Georgia Dome and has this preview...

The Crimson Tide is 11-1 on the season while the Gators are 10-2. A win for Alabama likely puts the Tide in the College Football Playoff. This is the fifth title game in eight years for the Tide under Coach Nick Saban. He's won three titles leading up to tomorrow. To make it a fourth... Saban says his defense has to play well against Florida's dual threat quarterback Treon Harris...











The Thanksgiving travel season is here. And, many Alabamians will be hitting the road to visit family and friends. Triple A -Alabama says a big drop in gas prices will most likely impact travel conditions this weekend. Triple-A spokesman Clay Ingram says research shows that there is a point six percent increase in people traveling this year.

We could have another brief brush with freezing temperatures tonight. The forecast calls for Tuscaloosa to reach thirty two degrees for an hour or two tomorrow morning. Selma will be just above freezing tonight. That’s a warm spell compared to temperatures in the twenties this morning. Forecasters were warning residents to cover their plants and bring in the pets with a cold blast making Alabama as cold as the northern plains states. The outlook looks milder heading into Thanksgiving.

An African American activist was reportedly attacked by supporters of Republican Presidential contender Donald Trump. The GOP hopeful was in the middle of a speech at the BJCC in Birmingham, when a black activist identified as Mercutio Southall, Junior began chanting “black lives matter.” Trump asked that the man be removed, and that’s when witnesses say bystanders began punching and kicking Southall, who was escorted out by security. Trump later commented how Democratic contender Bernie Sanders allowed “black lives matter” activists to take over his microphone during a rally in Seattle.

Both the Alabama Crimson Tide and Auburn Tigers handily defeated their opponents yesterday, setting up both teams for the annual Iron Bowl rivalry game next Saturday. Cyrus Jones returned two punts for touchdowns, the only Alabama player to do so since 1944, according to school records. Derrick Henry also scored twice as the Tide pounded Charleston Southern 56-6. For Auburn, Jeremy Johnson threw two touchdown passes and ran for two more scores to lead Auburn to a 56-34 victory over Idaho.

Republican Presidential contender Donald Trump will press the flesh with supporters in Birmingham today. The GOP hopeful's campaign stop today at the BJCC follows up Trump’s last trip to Alabama, which generated what was called the biggest political rally for any presidential candidate. Trump's visit to Mobile follows up a stop by Ben Carson, who met with supporters at the University of South Alabama. Once Trump and Carson move on, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio will visit Guntersville on December first.

When the Alabama Crimson Tide faces the Charleston Southern Buccaneers today, there will be heightened security at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Governor Robert Bentley says he has asked for increased scrutiny at major college football games as a precaution. Bentley says there have been no known threats in Alabama. However, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency will provide additional support at games at Auburn University and the University of Alabama. The governor says it was important to step up security and monitoring at large gatherings in light of terrorist attacks around the globe.


GOP Presidential hopeful Ben Carson will return to Alabama next week. The Republican contender will appear at the University of South Alabama Mitchell Center for a free rally next Thursday afternoon. There will be a fundraiser at a private residence afterward. Republican hopefuls Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Mike Huckabee have attended similar rallies in Alabama, as well as Democratic contender Hillary Rodham Clinton.  

An Alabama death row inmate wants the state Supreme Court to review his case. Bill Kuenzel argues jurors never heard critical evidence that could have proven his innocence. He claims prosecutors withheld details in the 1987 slaying of a Sylacauga convenience store clerk. A witness, who placed Kuenzel at the scene, initially told the grand jury she couldn't see who was at the store that night. A man who claimed to be Kuenzel’s accomplice owned a shotgun similar to the one that killed clerk Linda Offord. An appeals court ruled the inmate missed a deadline to raise the claim…

The Tuscaloosa Police Department identified the three officers involved in an incident that went viral on the internet. Officers James Kent, Phillip Champion, and Gregory Pimm are on paid leave while an internal investigation is made into Sunday morning’s arrest of three University of Alabama students. The officers are seen on video using a taser and a nightstick to subdue them. APR news director Pat Duggins took the sound of several videos shot during the incident, along with the reaction from Tuscaloosa Police Chief Steve Anderson to create this audio postcard.


All year long on Alabama Public Radio, we’re been looking at water. In other words, we’ve been reporting on Alabama’s water supply and the health of our rivers. Critics of Alabama water policy often focus on a lack of state regulation. Environmentalists say this failure of oversight has impacted the state’s ecology in ways ranging from minor to catastrophic.

The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is set to reopen this week in time for the holiday season. Building repairs prompted the facility's unexpected closure. Officials said in a statement that the institute is scheduled to reopen to the public at 10 a.m. on Tuesday. Institute President and CEO Andrea Taylor says contractors addressed water leaks and worked to seal gaps in the building's walls. Taylor says institute officials are pleased to reopen in time for the holiday season.

Florence restaurants that allow smoking may be putting their staffs in danger. That’s the point of a new air quality study. It says workers in smoke-free eateries are exposed to fewer harmful air particles than those working in smoking environments. The Florence Times Daily reports that the study says workers in smoking-allowed restaurants are exposed to a 66% higher rate than the opposite. It was released this week by the Partnership for a Tobacco-Free Shoals and Smoke-Free Shoals. The study was performed by Roswell Park Cancer Institute this year.

A Soggy Halloween...

Oct 31, 2015

An umbrella or a water proof costume might be a good idea for trick or treaters in Alabama on this Halloween. The weather forecast statewide calls for rain, including a flash flood watch and a sixty percent rain chance by 6 pm for Mobile. Tuscaloosa is just as wet with a six in four percent chance of stormy weather at 11 am, with the rain returning by 6 o’clock. In the Huntsville area, the outlook includes a sixty percent chance of showers starting just after lunch time, increasing to a ninety percent chance later in the evening.

Alabama's reigning "teacher of the year" fired off a resignation letter out of exasperation with the "wall of bureaucracy." State and local education officials listed Ann Marie Corgill as "unqualified" to teach the fifth grade. She started off teaching second grade this semester, before being moved to fifth grade class. Corgill was Alabama's 2015 teacher of the year and a finalist for national teacher of the year for the 2014-2015 school year. She was told she lacked credentials for her new job teaching fifth-graders at a low-income, federally funded school in Birmingham.

Alabama’s teacher of the year may be looking for a new job. Ann Marie Corgill resigned after being told she wasn’t qualified to teach. Corgill says she resigned in confusion about her certification after state and local education officials say she was only certified to teach up to the third grade. Corgill says she started this school year at Oliver Elementary School teaching second grade, but was moved to a fifth-grade class. Birmingham City School officials say they’re no comment and were working the matter.

Heavy rains are causing flooding in southwest Alabama as remnants of Hurricane Patricia move across the northern Gulf Coast. The National Weather Service says as much as 4 inches of rain already has fallen in the area, and another 2 inches is possible. Part of the Alabama Public Radio's year long examination of the state's water supply and the health of our rivers focused on the threat of storm water runoff to Mobile Bay. Click here for that story from APR's Stan Ingold...

The Alabama Crimson Tide defeated the Texas A & M 41 to 23. One unusual element to this story is that Alabama’s defense outscored the offense. The defensive squad, whose job it was to keep the Aggies from scoring, caught a record three interceptions for touchdowns. Two of these plays were by freshman Minkah Fitzpatrick. On the offensive side, running back Derrick Henry set a team record by rushing for a touchdown in his twelfth game in a row. Alabama built a 28-6 lead in the second quarter thanks to 55- and 6-yard touchdown runs by Henry and interception returns of 33 and 93 yards.

Presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton blasted Alabama Governor Robert Bentley for closing driver's license offices in thirty one counties. The former Secretary of State and First Lady points out the residents of those counties are mostly African-American. Alabama requires photo identification to vote. Clinton says she'd champion voting rights in the White House.

The Alabama Democratic Party is pulling in the “welcome mat” for former congressman Artur Davis. The party’s executive state board will not allow Davis to run as a Democrat in upcoming elections. The panel voted down a request to reinstate Davis who spoke at the Republican National Convention in 2012. A party rule prohibits someone from running as a Democrat if they supported another party in the last four years. After unsuccessfully running for governor in 2010, the high-profile Democrat announced he was switching to the GOP.

The 44th annual Kentuck Folk Art Festival gets underway today in Northport, near Tuscaloosa. The internationally acclaimed event features close to three hundred folk artists, including Ab “The Flag Man,” Chris Hubbard, “Missionary Mary” Proctor, and Ruby Williams (pictured above.) The Festival attracts artists from twenty seven states, some of whose work has been displayed at the Smithsonian. Their work includes sixteen forms of art ranging from mixed media, clay, glass, photography, sculpture, and book arts. The event includes live music and activities for children.

Alabama’s share of an eighteen billion dollar settlement following the 2010 Gulf oil spill might be clearer today. The U.S. Justice Department plans to file details into the agreement with BP oil after years of legal fighting over damage done by the spill. A sixty day public comment period will come after the deal with Alabama and four other Gulf states is laid out. That’s the next step toward final court approval. BP paid nearly six billion dollars in payments to businesses impacted by the spill already.