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

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.

Alabama lawmakers are gearing up for a special session later this summer to address the financial hole in the general fund budget. The House and Senate could consider an Alabama lottery, among other things, to close that gap. The legislature did pass a six billion dollar education budget for the coming fiscal year. Despite the large dollar figure, Alabama teachers may face pay cuts along with a growing workload. APR political commentator Steve Flowers has more…

The University of Alabama has a new President. University trustees approved Stuart Bell as the successor to Dr. Judy Bonner. Bell is currently the provost and executive vice president at LSU. Alabama system Chancellor Robert Witt is recommended him for the top job in Tuscaloosa. Bell says he’s ready to start next month. He was the only person recommended for the presidency following a four-month search. Bonner is retiring after less than three years. She's the first woman to hold the presidency at Alabama.

There’s an old saying that politics is the art of compromise. It’s possible Alabama anti-tax sentiment will put that belief to the test in a few weeks. Alabama state lawmakers are poised to meet in special session to address a gaping two hundred million dollar hole in the general fund budget. APR political commentator Steve Flowers talks about possible solutions that nobody in Montgomery seems to like

Today’s opening of the Paris Air Show included good news for the Mobile area. Hutchinson Corporation announced it will open an Aerospace Manufacturing Center of Excellence in Mobile. The facility will serve the region’s growing aerospace industry, including the new Airbus manufacturing plant. The center is expected to start operations later this year. No word on how many jobs this will mean for the Alabama gulf coast. The company specializes in improving customer comfort and safety.

Tuscaloosa World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Deontay Wilder won his first ever title defense before an Alabama crowd. The “Bronze Bomber” knocked down challenger Eric Molina several times before landing a hard right hook in the ninth round that ended the fight. Wilder made over forty percent of his jabs and fifty six percent of his power punches compared to only eight percent jabs for Molina and thirty seven percent of his punches. Observers expected Wilder to knock Molina out by the second round. However, the challenger held his own until the ninth and final round.

Former U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle "Gabby" Giffords of Arizona is being recognized with a Navy ship named in her honor at a shipyard in Mobile, Alabama. The former lawmaker is set to attend the christening of the USS Gabrielle Giffords. The four hundred foot ship was built at the Austal shipyard in Mobile. It's the Navy's tenth littoral combat ship designed to operate in shallow waters near the coast. Giffords was badly wounded in a 2011 shooting that left six dead and thirteen injured in Tuscon. The Democrat left Congress and later founded an organization that supports gun control.

Deontay Wilder makes his first ever boxing title defense in Birmingham against Eric Molina tonight. The Tuscaloosa native will fight on the campus of UAB, and not his hometown. Wilder won his first thirty two fights by knockout within the first four rounds before winning the title. He won a unanimous decision over Bermane Stiverne earlier this year. There hasn't been a title fight in Alabama, although native sons Evander Holyfield and Joe Louis were also heavyweight boxing champions. Eric Molina has won his last five fights, including three knockouts.


Hundreds of Tuscaloosa residents turned out on Saturday to honor local boxer Deontay Wilder. Alabama Public Radio’s Pat Duggins was at the event and files this report…

Wellwishers lined Greensboro Avenue as Wilder drove past in a red open convertible. From there, hundreds packed the Tuscaloosa amphitheatre

Jay Deas—“I give you the heavyweight boxing champion of the world from Tuscaloosa, Alabama—the bronze bomber—Deontay Wilder!

Deontay – And, guess what? He’s from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, baby!

There’s still a lot of haggling going on over the state budget. Governor Robert Bentley wants to plug a spending shortfall by raising taxes and that’s not being welcomed by Republican members of the legislature. As contentious as this issue is, there are other things the House and Senate are dealing with. One subject is prison reform. Alabama Public Radio’s political commentator Steve Flowers has a few thoughts on that...

Monday is the fifth anniversary of the Gulf Oil spill. Below are links to Alabama Public Radio’s national award winning coverage of the aftermath of the disaster off Alabama’s gulf coast in 2010. “Oil & Water: Recovering From the Spill” examined the initial recovery efforts, as well as the long-term effect of the spill on the economy, environment, and mental health of the region. "Oil & Water" won first place for best news series from "The Public Radio News Directors' Incorporated" in 2012.  It was APR's first PRNDI award in a decade.

Governor Robert Bentley is looking for more sources of state revenue and one agency may have found one. The Alabama Department of Revenue is considering a new rule requiring companies that offer digital streaming services to pay a four percent state tax. The fee would apply to movies, television programs and music. The revenue department says it's an attempt to update tax code for the digital era. Governor Bentley wants new taxes to plug a half billion dollar hole in the state budget. Opponents say the rule overreaches the bounds of current tax law.

The budget standoff between Governor Robert Bentley and the state legislature now involves state parks. State House member Joe Faust wants to make state parks self sufficient, so Montgomery doesn’t have to spend tax dollars on them. Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores is one of five facilities statewide that turn a profit. Still, Park Director Lisa Larraway says any budget cuts would be felt. Governor Bentley says he’ll veto any budget bill that doesn’t raise taxes to plug a half billion dollar spending shortfall. He’s proposing ideas like hiking cigarette taxes as one solution.

The former financial chief of two Alabama nonprofits for the poor and homeless will plead guilty to defrauding millions of dollars from the clinics and the federal agencies that fund them. The U.S. Attorney's office says Terri McGuire Mollica has agreed to plead guilty to almost twenty counts related to fraud against the government, including wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering. Mollica worked for Birmingham Health Care and the Central Alabama Comprehensive Health Inc.

The Kentuck Art Center near Tuscaloosa kicked off a capital campaign to renovate its facilities with the receipt of a $50,000 donation from Alabama Power. Mark Crews, Vice President of the utility’s western division, presented the check to the Kentuck board during a member event at Chuck’s Fish in Downtown Tuscaloosa. The campaign seeks to raise over a million dollars to refurbish its five building complex in the town of Northport. Part of the Kentuck complex had to be evacuated when it became infested by bats.

Forecasters say strong storms with damaging winds could hit Alabama. The National Weather Service says a strong cold front and an upper level disturbance moving in from the west will create a chance for severe weather on Friday. The risk is greatest in Alabama's northwestern corner early in the day, and forecasters say storms will spread to the southeast during the day before exiting the state. The weather service says periods of damaging winds and large hail are possible. So are some short-lived tornadoes, although forecasters aren't expecting a major outbreak of severe weather.

Alabama Public Radio is looking back on the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Battle of Mobile Bay. The engagement, on August 5, 1864, was a turning point in the “war between the states.” APR listeners heard about the re-enactment of the Battle of Resaca yesterday, but that’s not the end of the story. An Alabama cavalry unit took part in the actual battle. And, we warn you, there’s a twist.

One hundred and fifty years ago, the battle of Mobile Bay helped bring the U.S. Civil War to a close. Historians also credit the engagement with helping Abraham Lincoln win a second term as President. Over the next half hour, Alabama Public Radio will look back on the battle and Alabama’s role in the Civil War in 1864. Stan Ingold will examine the Mobile campaign from the perspective of the man who lost. Ryan Vasquez will explain how Mobile resulted in more Congressional Medals of Honor than any other U.S. Naval battle.

UAW versus Mercedes Benz

Alabama Public Radio

2014 saw the United Auto Workers union’s successful challenge of German auto maker Mercedes Benz before the National Labor Relations Board, the white-out snow storm that crippled central Alabama, and massive lay-offs at the International Paper Company’s mill in Lawrence County.

“At that time, we’d been singing songs, we shall overcome, and before I’d be a slave…be dead and buried in my grave,” says Bennie Lee Tucker. He’s seventy four years old, and he spent the last fifty five of those years here in Selma. “And we gonna let nobody turn us around, no more Governor Wallace…no more white folk,” he says.

On the front porch of his home on Eugene Avenue, Tucker recalls March 7th, 1965. It was the height of the voting rights movement. Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior wasn’t the name on everyone’s mind that day.

Supporters of the Affordable Care Act are pointing out Alabama’s participation on the fifth anniversary of the program. It was in 2010 when President Obama signed the Act into law. One hundred and seventy one thousand Alabamians were enrolled as of last month when the latest sign-up period ended. The U.S. Supreme Court could deal the Act a setback in June. That’s when the Justices rule on the legality of tax subsidies that help people buy policies. Pamela Roshell is regional director for the Department of Health and Human Services.

Tony Parker led five UCLA Bruins in double figures with a career-high twenty eight to beat UAB ninety two to seventy five to advance to the sweet sixteen of “March Madness.” A controversial “goal tending” call with seconds to go, gave the Bruins their win over the SMU Mustangs to make it to this round. The Blazer’s Robert Brown made his presence known with twenty five points. Chris Cokley made nine rebounds, but it wasn’t enough to hold off UCLA.


Friends, family, and fans of the late Kathyrn Tucker Windham gathered today at Judson College, just outside of Selma, as the storyteller became part of the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame. APR’s Pat Duggins asked Windham's daughter, Dilcy Windham Hilley (second from the left in our photo,) to relate her favorite story that her mother used to tell...

Alabama Public Radio news director Pat Duggins produced this video while covering the 50th anniversary jubilee of "bloody Sunday" on Selma's Edmund Pettus bridge.

Once again, the APR newsroom compiled this list of school closings and delays. For the most up-to-date information on your child's school, contact the front office or that school's website. Pat D.

AAMU: Open at noon Friday

ALCA Chapters 1 and 2 - “Building Bridges” workshop at Athens State University on Friday is CANCELLED.

Arab City Schools: 3 hour delay Friday

Athens City Schools: Closed Friday

Bethel Baptist School: Closed Friday

Bethlehem Christian Academy: Closed Friday

Colbert County Schools: Closed Friday