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

What’s the worst pair of eyeglasses you’ve ever worn? The black rimmed type sported by Clark Kent? How about the large red frames made famous by talk show host Sally Jessie Rafael? Others are considered cultural icons, like the gold rimmed specs worn by Beatle John Lennon. Those didn’t come from a fancy boutique. But rather, there were the standard frames available through the British National Health Service.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Statewide elections are still more than a year away, but candidates are busy raising money. The Anniston Star reported Sunday that state finance records show more than $11 million has been raised since June - when candidates first became eligible to receive contributions for their 2014 campaigns. The newspaper says Republican candidates have picked up $6.8 million of that cash, while Democrats garnered only $861,000. Political action committees pulled in $6.3 million over the same time period.


HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) - Forecasters say it's going to be a cold morning across north Alabama. The National Weather Service has issued a freeze warning for the Tennessee Valley region including Huntsville, and a frost warning is out for much of north-central Alabama. Predictions say the temperature could fall into the upper 20s in places including Florence, Athens and Scottsboro early Friday. Temperatures in the low 30s could mean frost in cities including Birmingham, Gadsden and Jasper.

Providence Journal

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - A disaster preparedness drill is scheduled to take place at the Montgomery Regional Airport. The mock disaster is expected to run from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Tuesday. The airport's Executive Director Phil Perry told the Montgomery Advertiser the exercise will involve responders performing a rescue drill involving passengers with simulated injuries in a regional jet on a closed runway. Perry says the mass casualty exercise is executed once every three years and Tuesday's drill will be the most realistic one the airport has conducted so far.


TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — A judge in Tuscaloosa says an election contest alleging voting irregularities by fraternities and sororities at the University of Alabama can proceed to trial. Circuit Judge Jim Robert denied a request by Cason Kirby to throw out an election contest filed by Kelly Horwitz. She lost a Tuscaloosa school board race to Kirby by 87 votes in August. At a hearing Tuesday, Horowitz's attorney, James Anderson, said as many as 397 fraternity or sorority members may have cast tainted votes.

Auburn University

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - A congressional study expected to be released later this month shows that two nuclear power plants in Alabama racked up 241 safety violations between 2000 and 2012. The Government Accountability Office report obtained by the Associated Press shows that Browns Ferry in Decatur was issued 141 safety violations during the time period. According to the report, six of the violations were for higher-level offenses. According to the report, Plant Farley, in Ashford, was also issued 100 violations between 2000 and 2012.


Alabama Public Radio continues its collaboration on the television program about business called "Alabama, Inc." The show is going statewide on your local Alabama Public Television station. This week's episode features my profile of University of Alabama graduate, and New York based fashion designer, Amanda Perna.

ANNISTON, Ala. (AP) - Some court officials are calling the practice of contracting probation services to third party companies extortion, while others say it's an efficient way of collecting the associated fees. The Anniston Star reported Sunday that there's growing concern over municipalities outsourcing probation management duties to third-party companies. Some say the arrangements can lead to defendants becoming locked into major financial obligations for relatively minor offenses and can end up in jail for nonpayment, even if they haven't been found guilty of the original charge.

Saturday Evening Post

NEW YORK (AP) - The NYPD is investigating after a Norman Rockwell was discovered missing from a Queens storage unit. According to the New York Post, the painting recently sold at auction for $1 million. The 1939 painting was discovered missing last month from Welpark Art Moving and Storage in Ridgewood, Queens. It's titled "Sport" and depicts a man in a row boat wearing a yellow rain jacket and smoking a pipe. The Post says the oil painting was sold by a private collector in Birmingham, Ala., at a Sotheby's auction on May 22.


NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Shrimp processors have lost a call for higher duties on frozen shrimp imported from five countries — China, Vietnam, Ecuador, India and Malaysia. The U.S. International Trade Commission rejected the proposal 4-2 Friday, saying the Coalition of Gulf Shrimp Industries failed to present strong evidence that the imports were seriously damaging the processors. A tie would have required the higher tariff. Coalition attorneys say the group will decide whether to appeal after the commission files a report explaining its ruling. An appeal would go to the U.S.


TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Gov. Robert Bentley is praising progress in integrating the racially segregated Greek system at the University of Alabama. Bentley says it's a "positive first step" that a few traditionally white sororities have accepted minorities as members. The governor's office issued a brief statement late Friday after the university said four blacks and two other minority students have accepted invitations to join white sororities at Alabama. President Judy Bonner says she expects the numbers to increase as the school year continues in Tuscaloosa.


With the sound of Denny Chimes in the background, there were more reporters than students for today’s planned anti-racism rally on the large grassy park, known as the “quad” at the University of Alabama--at least at first. A grassroots student campaign was begun shortly after reports surfaced in the campus newspaper "Crimson White" alleging that two African-American sorority candidates were rejected because of their race. Alabama student Archie Creech was part of the “boots on the ground” effort to get participation.


The Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama today issued a statement following allegations that two female African-American students were denied acceptance to two on-campus sororities because of their race.

Board President pro tem Paul Bryant, Junior said… “The Board of Trustees does not support the segregation of any organization at our institution on account of race. “We support the efforts of our administration to effect the change necessary to bring this principle to reality in the entire University of Alabama system.”


This Wednesday will be the 100th birthday of legendary Alabama football coach Paul "Bear" Bryant. The Center for Public Television and Radio at the University of Alabama will premiere a new documentary titled "Mama Called," on the life and times of "The Bear," Wednesday on WVUA-TV. Here are some memories of Coach Bryant...

University of Wisconsin

A controversial election for School Board in the city of Tuscaloosa may have violated state law. Published reports state that fraternities and sororities on the campus of the University of Alabama offered free drinks to member students who participated in Tuesday’s election. The incentive was reportedly a wrist band which entitled the bearer to a free drink at a local restaurant. If the offer is proven to be true, that could be in violation of Alabama Code 17-17-39. APR asked the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University to study the issue.


26 members of the National Transportation Safety Board, and an FBI evidence recovery team, will fan out today at the site of Wednesday’s crash of a United Parcel Service Airbus A300 aircraft. Both pilots were killed in the accident, which knocked local residents out of bed just before 5 am. <P>“When I saw the big flash in front of the trees, I saw of the flash of the explosion,” says eyewitness Peter Torres. “And, the big banging, the big explosion." Torres is a mechanic at the Civil Air Patrol facility at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport.


MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — State education officials say they expect to assemble a new list of failing schools before the end of the year. Alabama Department of Education spokeswoman Malissa Valdes-Hubert told test scores from last spring are likely to be released this fall and the data will help state officials recalculate schools' test scores. Valdes-Hubert says parents have until Jan. 1 to let schools know if they plan to transfer students based on the new failing schools list. She says parents are eligible for a $3,500 tax credit to help pay for private school tuition.


MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The launch of an initiative aimed at addressing childhood obesity in Alabama has slowed an increase of overweight children compared to other states, but hasn't improved Alabama's childhood obesity rate. The Montgomery Advertiser reported that obesity rates in Alabama's children and teens have increased by nearly 5 percent since 1999 despite an effort by the Alabama Department of Education to control what types of snacks are sold in vending machines on school campuses.

Smithsonian Institution

When people go to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., they seem to have a checklist of what they want to see. At the National Air and Space Museum, visitors frequently start at the Apollo 11 capsule that carried astronauts to the Moon. After that, it’s the “Spirit of St. Louis,” that Charles Lindberg flew across the Atlantic. For many, the next stop is upstairs, to an airplane with tan canvas wings and a wooden frame, which flew for just twelve seconds.


SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — A small number of U.S. states are joining a fight against the nation's leading name in green building, saying its standards discourage builders from using wood grown in their own forests. The U.S. Green Building Council's program is called Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED. It's so popular it grants voluntary environmental certification to roughly 1.5 million square feet of new construction daily. But some governors and lawmakers say strict standards for what LEED considers sustainably grown wood are hurting growers in their states. Georgia Gov.


CULLMAN, Ala. (AP) — Authorities in Cullman County have arrested nearly 60 people following an investigation into drug activity. The Cullman Times reports the county-wide roundup came after a six-month investigation by local law enforcement. Ninety warrants were served, and 58 people were arrested over a two-day period. The charges include distribution and manufacturing of a controlled substance, as well as a variety of lesser drug charges. Officers from the Cullman County Sheriff's Office, Cullman Police Department, and Hanceville Police Department participated in the effort.

City of Gadsden

GADSDEN, Ala. (AP) — A historic black cemetery in Gadsden has been named to the Alabama Historic Cemetery Register. The Gadsden Times reports that the Alabama Historic Commission says the largely abandoned cemetery has been known by several names, including Sixth Street and Sunset, but Southern Hills is the most familiar. The earliest known headstone in the cemetery dates to 1888. The commission says burials at the cemetery stopped in the 1940s when the city took the neighborhood by eminent domain. Area residents moved to another part of town, abandoning the cemetery.


MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Gov. Robert Bentley says he believes Alabama's new private school tax credits should not apply to students who never enrolled in a failing school. Bentley says the tax credits should only apply to a student who transfers out of a failing school, but he says the final determination is up to the state Department of Revenue. He expects that to be done before school resumes in August. Exactly who will qualify for the tax credits has been in question since Bentley signed the Alabama Accountability Act in March.

University of Alabama

In June of 1963, Vivian Malone and James Hood finished the trail Autherine Lucy blazed. Lucy was the first African American to enroll at the University of Alabama in 1956. She lasted only a few days after facing segregationist protesters who burned an effigy copy of the U.S. Supreme Court decision Brown V. Board of Education, which ordered schools be integrated. Malone and Hood’s ambitions to go school at the Tuscaloosa campus in 1963 prompted a political cash of titans. “It was an iconic time,” says Dr. Culpepper Clark, author of the book The Stand in the School House Door.


MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Louis Farrakhan and others are planning a caravan across Alabama on June 14 to encourage the U.S. Supreme Court to save a major portion of the Voting Rights Act. Southern Christian Leadership Conference CEO Charles Steele said the National Coalition of Leaders to Save Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act is also calling on Justice Antonin Scalia to step aside from the court case because of public comments he made. The leaders, including state Sen.

Jacksonville State University

ANNISTON, Ala. (AP) - Court records indicate that a lawsuit over alleged hazing at a Jacksonville State University fraternity will be handled outside of court. The Anniston Star reports that the plaintiff, Jason Horton, and the defendants, Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, its JSU chapter and fraternity officials, have agreed to mediation. Michael Petway, Horton's attorney, said the agreement gives all parties involved 30 days from Friday to agree on a mediator and 30 days after that to set up the mediation.


GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) — State officials are warning that the water along several stretches of beach in Harrison County may have high bacteria levels that could expose swimmers to an increased risk of illness. The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality issued a warning Saturday for two beach segments in Biloxi and Gulfport. Neither area has been closed to swimming. Officials issued the same warning Friday for three other stretches of beach in Harrison County. The department said it is working with local officials to inform residents about the potential problem.


MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama officials are alerting residents to be ready as hurricane season begins, even though it's been nearly a decade since the state took a direct hit from a storm. The 2013 Atlantic hurricane season began Saturday and runs through Nov. 30. Gov. Robert Bentley and forecast officials are underscoring the need for residents to prepare for the worst should the season usher in another Ivan, which decimated tourist areas in Baldwin County in 2004.


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — The former commander of the West Alabama Narcotics Task Force has been charged with stealing about $125,000 in drug proceeds that were seized by the agency. U.S. Attorney's officials say 55-year-old Jeffrey Lynn Snyder, of Carrollton, has agreed to plead guilty to stealing from the task force between June 2010 and June 2012, when he left the organization. The task force is staffed with police from Tuscaloosa, the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff's Office, the Northport Police Department and the University of Alabama.

des moines register

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — Former presidential candidate Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania has endorsed conservative writer and former Congressional aide Quin Hillyer of Mobile for a soon-to-be vacant south Alabama Congressional seat. Santorum said Tuesday that he supports Hillyer's position on strengthening America's economy and for his standing up for American values. Santorum says he plans to join Hillyer on the campaign trail and tell Alabama voters why Hillyer would be "the right conservative" to serve in the First Congressional District seat.