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

Governor Robert Bentley statements about possibly expanding Medicaid is drawing political heat. Members of the Tea Party sent Bentley a letter asking him to promise never to expand the federally funded health system for the poor. The Alabama Hospital Association says it appreciates the Governor being open the idea. Bentley says he’s exploring a possible state-designed program that uses a Medicaid block grant to bring private insurance coverage to people at the poverty line. The Governor says he’d like to include the requirement that recipients look for a job or get job training…

Former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman will stay in jail for now. U.S. District judge Clay Land of Georgia is denying Siegelman's request to get out of prison while he continues to appeal his 2006 bribery conviction. The Judge says the defense raised significant issues that deserve serious consideration. Still, Judge Land believes an appeal isn’t likely to result in a new trial or a lower sentence. The former Democratic governor is arguing his 2006 trial was tainted by the involvement of a prosecutor with ties to GOP politics.

A federal appeals court is upholding Alabama's ballot access law. Third party presidential candidates trying to get their names before voters in 2012 challenged the measure. Alabama requires third-party candidates to collect signatures equal to 3 percent of the votes cast in the last governor's election to get on the ballot. The Alabama Green Party, Constitution Party of Alabama, Libertarian Party of Alabama claimed discrimination. The appellate panel says the candidates didn’t show how the state's requirement was overly burdensome.

A State and Federal partnership plans to spend three hundred thousand dollars in Alabama’s Black Belt region to help generate jobs. The Delta Regional Authority will target Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Escambia, Monroe, and Washington counties where unemployment is typically high. Half of the grant will be spend on a system to help employers identify and train new workers. The other half is for a study on how to better train groups like young people and native Americans. The Delta Regional Authority was created by Congress to address unemployment.

Former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman could go free pending his appeal. U.S. District judge Clay Land says he will decide by the end of the week if Seigelman should be released from prison while appealing his 2006 bribery conviction. Land questioned the prosecution and defense on whether the original U.S. attorney's ties to Republican politics tainted the prosecution of the former Democratic governor. The prosecution says Laura Canary’s participation was minimal. The defense says she championed the case even after recusing herself.

The State may cut tax deduction exemptions to balance the budget. At least, that’s what some Alabama republicans are suggesting. Governor Robert Bentley will propose Alabama's first major revenue-raising package since 2003. Since then, the General Fund budget has been patched together with borrowed money, federal stimulus funds and other non-recurring revenue. Bentley says he's working a bold, long-term solution to make the budget work. The one thing Bentley says he won’t support is the expansion of gambling. `

Birmingham News/Birmingham Bar Foundation

“For me, it was just a day of resolve and resolution, and I said ‘sign me up,” says James Stewart “Well, the first thing I tell them is that I went to jail, and they go ‘Oooh, Grandmama,” and I say well, let me explain…” recalled Eloise Gaffney. “It was just…you knew God was on your side,” says Washington Booker. “And we knew that it didn’t matter what we were facing. You knew if God was on your side, you’d overcome it.” Stewart, Gaffney, and Booker are all in their early sixties. They’re all from Birmingham. They’re all African American. And fifty years ago, they made national news.

Pat Duggins

Alabama Public Radio is looking back on the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Battle of Mobile Bay. It was on August 5, 1864 when the engagement helped to both seal the fate of the Confederacy, and put Abraham Lincoln into a second term in office. The APR news team is examining Alabama’s role in the Civil War in 1864. For some, the conflict has turned into an expensive hobby that can get pretty loud…

A former Dothan hospital employee has been sentenced to two years in prison for stealing patients' identities to file fraudulent tax returns. Kamarian Millender of Headland received the sentence Friday in Montgomery. He pleaded guilty in July to one count of aggravated identity theft. Court records show Millender worked as a lab technician at Flowers Hospital in Dothan and stole patient records containing personal identifying information. Then he used the information to file fraudulent tax returns and obtain refunds from the Internal Revenue Service.

Governor Robert Bentley may be softening his position on expanding Medicaid. But there would be conditions. The Governor he says he's somewhat open to the idea. However, any Medicaid reform plan would have to be designed by the state and there would be rules. Bentley told state lawmakers he's willing to consider a state-designed program. Bentley says he would want the program to require recipients to look for a job, or join a job-training program. It would also use the private sector.

Alabama preschoolers could soon benefit from a federal grant. Our state is one of eighteen in the nation receiving federal grants to boost access to preschool programs. Washington is awarding more than two hundred and twenty six million dollars nationally. Alabama will be given seventeen and a half million in development grants. The development grants are meant to help states with no or small preschool programs. Federal officials say they expect the grants to help states develop high-quality preschool programs in regionally diverse communities ranging from urban to suburban and rural.

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City officials in Montgomery are thinking about making much of their town a no smoking zone. The Montgomery Advertiser reports the proposed ordinance would also prohibit smoking within twenty feet of business entrances, public transportation stations or playgrounds. The city's Health, Education & Recreation Standing Committee on Tuesday heard concerns from residents. City Councilman C.C. Calhoun says more must be done before the ordinance is brought before the city council for a vote, such as whether to "grandfather" certain businesses that already allow smoking.

The Alabama Republican party will have to find another chairman. Bill Armistead says he won't run for a third term when the party's executive committee meets next February. He was elected to a two-year term in 2011 and re-elected in 2013. Armistead says he wants to be involved in the 2016 Republican presidential primary. He says that would not be possible if he were party chairman because the chairman is supposed to be neutral. During Armistead's leadership, the GOP won every race for statewide offices in 2012 and 2014.


It’s Alabama versus Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl. The committee that names the final four teams for the championship playoffs selected Alabama, FSU, Oregon, and Ohio State  for the semi-final games. The announcements comes after Alabama’s victory over Missouri in the SEC championship. Wide Receiver Christion Jones was quick to spread the credit around following the game….

“It feels great man! Proud of our team, our coaches, it feels great, man. We got a long road ahead, we know what’s at stake right now. We just know we put ourselves in a good position.”

We're about one minute away from the liftoff of an Alabama built rocket carrying NASA's unmanned Orion capsule.

The latest on that planned launch from the Kennedy Space Center. There's been a delay in the liftoff so far of the new Orion crew capsule. A boat apparently went into the safety zone in the Atlantic Ocean, and NASA doesn't want to launch the rocket with the possibility of dropping booster parts on a boat. So, they're trying to chase the boat away so they can proceed. While this goes on, the City Decatur will be closely watching today’s test launch. APR student reporter Josh Hoppenstein has more on north Alabama’s role in the blastoff…

2015 could mean higher power bills for customers of Alabama Power. The utility is planning a rate hike that will mean a monthly increase of close to seven dollars for the average household. Alabama Power says the increase is due to higher costs including overhauling its coal fired plants to reduce pollution. Alabama Power is allowed to file for yearly adjustments. The last one was in 2011. The increases will begin in January unless staff at Alabama Public Service Commission staff object to the company's calculations.


The National Labor Relations Board says the Mercedes plant in Tuscaloosa did violate federal labor laws. The panel upheld a ruling that Mercedes broke the law when it kept UAW supporters from handing out leaflets. The ruling by the three-member panel means Mercedes to update its employee handbook to allow union activities and to post notices admitting it did wrong. Mercedes has long declared that it is neutral on union questions. The UAW has been ramping up unionization efforts.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A new report from a child advocacy group shows Alabama's children are making improvements in early education, fewer are being born to unwed teens, and less are dying from preventable causes. But the report also shows more are living in poverty and much remains to be done for Alabama to catch up with most other states. The Montgomery-based advocacy group VOICES for Alabama's Children issued the Kids Count Data Book with the help of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The foundation ranks Alabama 44th among the states in child well-being.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — The Ebola scare is subsiding in the United States, but an Alabama manufacturer is still trying to catch up with a glut of orders for gear to protect against the disease. Dennis Sanders of Kappler Inc. says the Guntersville company has about 75,000 protective suits on back order. He says workers will stay busy filling orders through April. Kappler typically gets only a few orders annually for the type of suit needed by health workers who are in contact with Ebola patients. Sanders says that changed once the disease showed up in Texas.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — As the Auburn Tigers and the Alabama Crimson Tide prepare to face off on the football field, the mayors of their towns have made a friendly wager. The Opelika-Auburn News reports that Auburn Mayor Bill Ham Jr. and Tuscaloosa Mayor Walter Maddox have bet $100 on Saturday's Iron Bowl in Tuscaloosa. The money will be donated to a charity chosen by the winning team. If Auburn University wins, the money will go to the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Lee County. If the University of Alabama wins, the money will go to the Tuscaloosa Pre-K Initiative.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Alabama-based Civil Air Patrol will be awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in Washington, D.C., next month. The Civil Air Patrol said in a statement that the award is being given in honor of the organization's founding members for their role in protecting the U.S. against German U-boat attacks during World War II and carrying out other wartime domestic missions. The Congressional Gold Medal ceremony is scheduled for Dec. 10 in Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol.

That's a wrap! The grand finale of season two of "Alabama, Inc" aired last night on Alabama Public Television and APR. Along with lots of listeners and viewers, we received over, 8,000 "Tweets" on APR's twitter page. Click here for links for all ten of APR's profiles!

The second season of “Alabama, Inc” wraps up tonight on your local Alabama Public Television station. The APR newsroom is collaborating on this television show about business by focusing on translation. Alabama is home to companies that do business in German, Japanese, French and so on. I'll profile a Huntsville entrepreneur who has the job of keeping all those languages clear…

“How do you say it’s raining cats and dogs in…. say Spanish or French?"

Alabama Public Radio continues its collaboration on the television show about business called Alabama, Inc. So far this year, I've profiled business leaders specializing in advertising, construction, architecture, and sporting goods, among others. Tonight, the spotlight falls on Dottie King. She could be mistaken for your favorite aunt. The catch is, she’s saved clients millions of dollars…

“Middle aged women are very trustworthy.”

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) — Forecasters say they're expecting wind gusts of up to 25 mph and wind chills in the single digits in parts of north Alabama early this week. National Weather Service forecasters say high winds are expected Monday afternoon and frigid wind chills are expected to move in on Tuesday morning in an area including Florence, Decatur, Huntsville, Cullman and others. Meteorologists say wind chills could drop to the single digits and below zero in high altitude areas. Forecasters say they're anticipating a mix of rain and sleet early Monday morning and possible snow flurries.





A little warmer today!

Nov 15, 2014





An Alabama woman will not get a new trial for a murder in Mississippi. That state’s supreme court denied a re-trial for Rebecca Jones. The Lauderdale County woman was sentenced to life in prison in 2013 for the murder of her mother. Jones argued in court documents that her mother was shot during a struggle over a gun. Prosecutors say there was no evidence that’s the way it happened. The Mississippi high court ruled seven to two against Jones.