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

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.


October 3, 2015 marks ten years since Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox first took office. APR news director Pat Duggins takes us "behind the scenes" to today's media briefing on the Mayor's first decade in office and what is ahead.

Carli Lloyd had her second straight three-goal game to lead the United States to an 8-0 victory over Haiti. Lloyd scored all three goals in the first half for her fifth hat trick and second in three days, then sat out the second half. She also did it Thursday night in the first game against Haiti, which substituted for the Australian team mired in a labor dispute. She has sixteen goals this year, one more than her previous high set in 2012 and matched in 2014.

Fans of both the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Auburn Tigers went home empty handed. Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly completed a deflected sixty six yard touchdown pass to help the Rebels beat the Bama 43-37 on Saturday night. Ole Miss left the topsy-turvy game with their first victory in Bryant-Denny Stadium since 1988. The Rebels made two final defensive stands, the first when Tony Bridges intercepted a deep ball from Jake Coker, who came off the bench to lead a second-half comeback.

The Alabama Supreme Court says it does not have to recognize a lesbian woman's adoptions of her ex-partner's children that were granted in Georgia. Alabama justices say a Georgia court was wrong to allow the adoptions, arguing that Georgia law doesn't allow such second-parent adoptions. The woman in 2007 adopted the three children that her female partner gave birth to during their sixteen year relationship. The justices overturned an Alabama family court decision that recognized the adoption and granted visitation rights after the couple broke up in 2011.

Alabama's unemployment rate is looking a little rosier compared to the same time last year. The latest numbers of six point two percent are slightly higher than the six point five percent we had at the time last year. However, the August jobless rate is unchanged from unchanged from July’s numbers. Alabama’s unemployment numbers are still well above the U.S. unemployment rate of just over five percent. Wage and salary employment increased only slightly in August by 900 jobs. Unemployment is lowest in Shelby County at four point seven percent. Wilcox County is worst at sixteen percent.

With the Alabama Crimson Tide gearing up for Saturday's SEC season opener against Ole Miss, APR's Pat Duggins takes you "behind the scenes" at the press box of Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa. Radio, television, and print reporters, as well as students studying journalism, all crowd the press box to cover the Tide, including the team's first home game of 2015 against Middle Tennessee.

Smithsonian Magazine

It was on this date back in 1963, when four black girls were killed when a bomb went off during Sunday services at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham. Three Ku Klux Klansmen were eventually convicted for their roles in the blast. Ceremonies in Birmingham remembered the victims of the attack. Click here to listen to some of Alabama Public Radio's international award winning coverage of the civil rights movement...


All year long on Alabama Public Radio, we’ve been looking at water. Specifically, the APR news team is reporting on the condition of Alabama’s water supply and the health of our rivers. Alabama, by reputation, gets a generous amount of rainfall every year. But what happens when there’s not enough rain or if it falls at the wrong time. Irrigation may be a possible way for Alabama farmers to make more money when their crops come in.

The rumbling of tractors means harvest time is coming at the Dee River Ranch near Aliceville. If you want to see it all, you need a truck…

As part of Alabama Public Radio's continuing series of reports on Alabama's water supply and the health of our rivers, this video shows you how City of Tuscaloosa gets its drinking water. Deputy Director Stephen Daly took APR through the process from Lake Tuscaloosa to its treatment plants to customer's homes.

As part of Alabama Public Radio's continuing series of reports on Alabama's water supply and the health of our rivers, this video shows you how the City of Tuscaloosa gets its drinking water. Deputy Director Stephen Daly took APR through the process from Lake Tuscaloosa to its treatment plants to customers' homes.

Alabama is ranked number 3 and Auburn number 6 in the Associated Press college football poll. The defending national champion Ohio Buckeyes took the top slot by receiving all sixty one first-place votes from the media panel in the rankings released Sunday. The TCU Horned Frogs are ranked number two, followed by Alabama, Baylor and Michigan State. The Buckeyes won the first College Football Playoff championship last season and are trying to become the 12th team to win consecutive AP titles since the poll began in 1936. Alabama won back to back BCS titles in 2012 and 2013.


Now, that GOP front runner Donald Trump has moved on from his rally in Mobile, Texas Senator Ted Cruz is gearing up for a visit to Tuscaloosa on Tuesday. Alabama was once considered a flyover state for presidential hopefuls. But, state GOP leaders that’s not the case now and six Republican Presidential hopefuls are lining up for a chance to woo voters in this self-avowed consecutive state. Governor Robert Bentley last Monday endorsed Ohio Governor John Kasich. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker spoke in Talladega on Saturday.

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump arrived in flamboyant style to a rally in Mobile. The billionaire businessman circled Ladd-Peebles stadium in his private 757 jet before his speech. Trump told the estimated crowd of twenty thousand people that he knows "how Billy Graham felt" as he brings his campaign to thousands of Alabama voters. The former host of the TV reality show “The Apprentice” boasted "to have the election tomorrow" based on his standing in GOP polls. Trump was welcomed by an array of Alabama politicians, including Republican Senator Jeff Sessions.

There’s no finalized state budget. But Alabama lawmakers did pass one bill that lets members of certain agencies and boards to phone in their votes. The measure requires a majority of the panel's quorum would have to be physically present in the meeting room.The Alabama Public Service Commission, standing legislative committees, and the Alabama Ethics Commission would not be allowed to meet electronically. The bill now goes to Gov. Robert Bentley for his signature.

There’s no finalized state budget. But Alabama lawmakers did pass one bill that lets members of certain agencies and boards to phone in their votes. The measure requires a majority of the panel's quorum would have to be physically present in the meeting room.The Alabama Public Service Commission, standing legislative committees, and the Alabama Ethics Commission would not be allowed to meet electronically. The bill now goes to Gov. Robert Bentley for his signature.

A German auto parts maker has announced plans to build its first U.S. manufacturing plant in Alabama. The Alabama Department of Commerce says Schmidt Maschinenbau GmbH is planning to build its plant in Auburn. Production of engine components is expected to begin in 2016. The plant will make parts for Mercedes-Benz and other German automakers. Governor Robert Bentley says the plant will create fifty jobs and the company is planning to invest roughly $17 million in the plant.

As friends and family mourn the victims of Thursday's theater shooting in Louisiana, investigators are gathering clues on the alleged gunman for Phenix City, Alabama. Police say John Houser booby-trapped his Alabama home to keep anyone from living there after his pending eviction. The new owners found the gas starter tube in the fireplace was twisted out and ignited, the logs removed. Houser had grown into someone better known by neighbors and colleagues as an angry provocateur.

Former Crimson Tide quarterback Kenny Stabler, who later led the Oakland Raiders in the NFL, is dead. Stabler’s ex-wife, the University of Alabama, and the foundation that bears his name all confirm that the former football star died from cancer at the age of sixty nine.

A seven hundred million dollar spacecraft gave NASA a scare during the most critical part of its mission to the planet Pluto. The New Horizons craft, managed here in Alabama, is just nine days from its closest pass to Pluto when NASA lost touch. The craft switched to its back up computer to regain contact. The catch is, New Horizons can’t gather science data in back mode. NASA hopes to get the craft working again tomorrow. The New Horizons probe is managed through the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville.

The state is taking the first step to challenge a judge's order against the shutdown of the VictoryLand casino in Macon County. The Attorney General's office filed a notice of appeal in the case on Friday. The state will fight a ruling by Circuit Judge William Shashy. The judge ruled earlier this week that the state was wrongly targeting VictoryLand while letting other gambling halls stay open in the state. Shashy dismissed the state's attempt to keep almost two thousand machines and more than quarter million dollars seized in a raid two years ago. VictoryLand has been closed since then.