Overall Excellence-- Alabama Public Radio

Jan 18, 2014


Early in the morning, on August 14, 2013, some residents of Birmingham were jolted out of bed by the impact. Others saw the fiery flash. Still more smelled the fumes of jet fuel. A United Parcel Service Airbus A300 cargo jet had crashed just short of the runway at Birmingham/Shuttlesworth International Airport. The Alabama Public Radio covered the story from the initial reports, the perspective of witnesses at the scene, worried homeowners who were left coughing from the fuel spill, to investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board and the FBI Evidence Recovery Team.

2013 also included APR coverage of Alabama’s challenge to the 1964 Voting Rights Act going before the U.S. Supreme Court. The Justices would later overturn part of the law. APR travelled to Miami as the University of Alabama Crimson Tide football team faced the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame for the BCS College Football Championship. Along with stories of the game, APR told the story of volunteers from Tuscaloosa and South Bend teaming up to build a community garden in Miami’s Overtown neighborhood. Residents there have to walk two miles to the nearest grocery store. APR also covered the national controversial where University of Alabama sororities denied two African American candidates membership, allegedly because of their race. Students on the Tuscaloosa campus responded with an anti-racism rally which drew five hundred protesters, and led to reforms at the school.

Alabama Public Radio also focused on the connection between Montgomery and Orville and Wilbur Wright. The famous aviators built the nation’s first civilian pilot school in Alabama, which was commemorated by the dedication of Wright Brothers Park. The event was attended by the Wrights’ great grand niece.

APR also spent a year researching and producing features to remember the fiftieth anniversary of key moments of the civil rights movement, which occurred in 1963. Our listeners heard reports on jailhouse letters written by the man convicted of building the bombs that exploded at the 16th Baptist Church, as well as one of the survivors of the blast. Many TV viewers in the U.S. got their first exposure to racial unrest in Birmingham during what became known as the “children’s march.” The 1963 news footage included young protesters being met with fire hoses and police dogs. APR produced the series and documentary Civil Rights Radio, which tracked down protesters as well as the local Birmingham radio disc jockey who signaled the start of the protest with coded messages in his radio show. 1963 also marked the fiftieth anniversary of the stand in the schoolhouse door, where Governor George Wallace tried to prevent two African American students from registering at the University of Alabama. APR also traveled the state locating key landmarks of the civil rights era now being marketed as tourist attractions.

Alabama Public Radio Overall Excellence Rundown 

--Maggie Martin’s Morning Edition report on Crash of the UPS Cargo Jet crash in Birmingham

--Pat Duggins long form feature on the UPS Cargo jet crash

--Stan Ingold’s update on the NTSB investigation into the UPS cargo jet crash

--Pat Duggins report on the community protest following the UPS cargo jet crash

--Ryan Vasquez’s feature on Alabama’s legal challenge to the Voting Rights Act

--Pat Duggins’ news spot on the fuel tanker explosion in the Port of Mobile

--Pat Duggins’ Alabama Anti-Racism Rally sound portrait

--Pat Duggins’ feature on the dedication of Wright Brothers’ park in Montgomery

--Stan Ingold’s news spot on the execution of “Halloween killer” Andrew Lackey

--Ryan Vasquez’ feature on the movie “Wolf of Wall Street” and the “Alabama connection”

--Pat Duggins’ spot on preparations for the BCS College Football Championship

--Pat Duggins’ feature on the BCS title game

--Pat Duggins’ Post-BCS game spot

-- Sound portrait with Jason Dunn’s remembrances on the day of the death of Alabama football coach Bear Bryant

-- Parts one through four of Pat Duggins’ series “Civil Rights Radio”

-- Ryan Vasquez feature on the young survivor of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in 1963

--Maggie Martin’s feature on jailhouse letters from “Dynamite Bob” Chambliss, the 16th Baptist church bomber

--Ryan Vasquez’ feature on how the Alabama media failed to cover the civil rights movement in the 1960’s

--Stan Ingold’s feature on Civil Rights locations becoming tourist attractions

--Maggie Martin’s report on Springhill College in Mobile, singled out by Martin Luther King, Junior as the first college in the South to integrate in the 1950’s

--Pat Duggins’ feature on the  50th anniversary of the “stand in the schoolhouse door” at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

--Maggie Martin’s report on the 50th class reunion at Tuskegee High School, which was ordered to integrate in 1963

--Jeremy Loeb’s APR Newscast from December 20, 2013