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

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.

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.

APR

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...

Selma

FRIDAY...PARTLY CLOUDY. HIGHS IN THE LOWER 70S

.FRIDAY NIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY. LOWS IN THE LOWER 50S. .

SATURDAY...PARTLY CLOUDY. HIGHS IN THE LOWER 70S.

Tuscaloosa

FRIDAY...PARTLY CLOUDY. HIGHS IN THE UPPER 60S.

FRIDAY NIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY. LOWS IN THE MID 50S.

SATURDAY...MOSTLY CLOUDY. HIGHS AROUND 70.

Huntsville . FRIDAY...MOSTLY CLOUDY. HIGHS IN THE UPPER 60S.

FRIDAY NIGHT AND SATURDAY...MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH A SLIGHT CHANCE OF SHOWERS. LOWS IN THE LOWER 50S. HIGHS IN THE UPPER 60S. CHANCE OF RAIN 20 PERCENT. 

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.

NPR

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…

Pages