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 on a year long investigation of rural health in Alabama, which was recognized with the 50th annual "Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for Radio." The team was honored alongisde The New York Times, the Washington Post, ABC-TV, and PBS FRONTLINE. Duggins and the team also covered the 2011 Alabama Tornado outbreak 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.  His efforts, and those of the APR news team, were recognized with the first two of three 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, 2015, 2016, and 2017. 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 one hundred awards for excellence in journalism. Duggins is also the recipient of a Suncoast Regional Emmy.

Ways to Connect

Please find enclosed Alabama Public Radio’s entry for the RFK Award for best radio documentary, titled “Help Wanted: Alabama’s Rural Health Care Crisis.” The three member Alabama Public Radio news team spent the year, with no budget, investigating why the system here is so badly broken and why solutions aren’t being pursued.

On September 27, 2017, the Washington Post published an article about how only one half of rural hospitals in the U.S. can deliver a baby.

In rural Alabama, it’s barely a third.

Please find enclosed Alabama Public Radio’s entry for the best continuing coverage, titled “Jones/Moore Race for the U.S. Senate.”

The race for Alabama’s junior U.S. Senate, formerly held by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, generated more than a little national attention. Civil rights champion, and former U.S. Attorney Doug Jones faced twice-removed Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore. The campaign pitted Jones’ view of putting Alabama on the “right of history” against Moore’s “fire and brimstone” goal of taking his brand of evangelical Christianity to Washington, D.C.

Alabama’s prison system has been in the news a lot this year, and not for good reasons. Inmate riots, allegations of mismanagement and corruption, and a failed prison building plan in the state legislature have pointed out plenty of problems. The Alabama Public Radio news team has spent the past several months examining what happens as people go into the state’s prison system and what happens when they come out. This week, I examine what the State of Alabama does when people are convicted of crimes they didn’t do. Critics say, not much…

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a temporary stay in the case of convicted Alabama killer Vernon Madison. His legal team has argued that the inmate should be spared because he has developed dementia and can't remember killing a police officer three decades ago. Madison was sentenced to death for the 1985 killing of Mobile Police officer Julius Schulte. The lawman had responded to a report of a missing child placed by Madison's then-girlfriend. Prosecutors said Madison crept up and shot Schulte in the back of the head as he sat in his police car.

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.

As the nation honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior this weekend, southern states are banding together to promote civil rights tourism. Fourteen states stretching from Kansas to Delaware, including all of the Deep South, are joining to promote the U.S. Civil Rights Trail. The monument highlights about one hundred and thirty sites linked to the modern civil rights movement. The list includes the hotel in Memphis where Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated to the birthplace of the confederacy. The joint effort is being unveiled as part of the MLK holiday weekend.

APR

“We can’t react to every statement, every Tweet that the President feels necessary to put out,” says actor and activist Danny Glover following alleged racist statements by President Trump.

Democratic U.S. Senator Dick Durbin confirmed that Mr. Trump referred to Haiti, El Salvador, and Africa as ****hole countries. The reported statement prompted outrage and demands for a Presidential apology from lawmakers and officials in the U.S., Africa and elsewhere.

The lawsuit over Alabama’s voter ID law may not be over just yet. Groups, including the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, are appealing a federal judge's dismissal of a lawsuit challenging the measure. U.S. District Court Judge L. Scott Coogler tossed out the lawsuit on Wednesday, saying the state had provided free voter IDs to people who did not have them.

The Alabama Crimson Tide hoisted its seventeenth national championship trophy last night. APR’s Pat Duggins reports it was a come from behind win over the Georgia Bulldogs that took the last few minutes, and a touchdown in overtime, to clinch…

Fan Central
Pat Duggins / APR

It’s the Tide versus the Bulldogs for tonight’s College Football Championship. Georgia and Alabama each won their shot at the title by winning the Rose Bowl and the Sugar Bowl respectively. Now they’re playing for the national title, and APR’s Pat Duggins got some predictions from fans near Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The Alabama Crimson Tide are back at practice for this Monday’s national championship game in Atlanta. The Tide will face Georgia after the Bulldogs defeated Oklahoma in this week’s Rose Bowl game in Pasadena. Alabama won its slot in the title game by beating Clemson in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. This was the third time the Crimson Tide has faced the Tigers in a major game. And one football historian says it might not be the last time. APR’s Pat Duggins reports on how legendary Alabama coach Bear Bryant dealt the same coaches time after time, just as Nick Saban is now…

Alabama’s U.S. Senate race is over…now, is Roy Moore gearing up for a race for Governor? The state of Alabama officially certified Democrat Doug Jones as the state’s new U.S. Senator after a Montgomery judge rejected Moore’s request for a restraining order. The twice removed chief justice alleges irregularities. Political observers think Moore may be setting himself up for a race for Governor. A Moore spokesman dropped a hint about it on CNN last night. Moore's campaign was plagued by accusations of sexual assault and child molestation.

Alabama Republican Roy Moore is losing the battle for campaign cash to Democrat Doug Jones—badly. That from the latest Federal election funding report as the candidates for Alabama’s junior U.S. Senate seat make the final sprint to Election Day on December twelfth. Moore raised under two million dollars during October and most of November, according to the report. During that same time, Doug Jones raised almost ten million.

Alabama’s Democratic U.S. Senate hopeful Doug Jones is trying to shore up support among black voters. Alabamians head to the polls in just over a week to choose between Jones and twice removed Chief Justice Roy Moore for the state’s junior seat in the Senate. Jones will participate in today’s Christmas parade in Selma. He’s appealing for an end to the divisiveness that has long been part of the state's politics. Jones is attempting to be the first Democrat elected to the U.S. Senate from Alabama in 25 years, but it's an uphill fight.

Please find enclosed Alabama Public Radio’s entry for the Best Student Radio Feature titled “The High Cost of Sugar,” by APR student intern Miranda Fulmore.

The University of Alabama is ranked ninth in the nation for “sugar babies,” which are young women and men who seek cash from “sugar daddies,” or “sugar mamas,” often on websites that provide opportunities to “link up.” Sometimes this money is sought to pay off college costs, while others use these dollars to support a preferred lifestyle. Miranda brought this story to my attention and asked to pursue it.

On her own initiative, Fulmore arranged interviews with female students who created financial relationships as “sugar babies.” One young woman felt it was an easy way to make money. Another used her “sugaring” payments to pay college costs not covered by the “GI bill” from her military service. Miranda also went to an Atlanta winery where young women received tips from staff members of the website “Seeking Arrangement.”

Fulmore also interviewed Dr. Pepper Schwartz who teaches Sociology at the University of Washington, with a focus on sexuality and sexual roles.

Miranda’s second report, as requested, was a spot story on the reaction of Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks following President Donald Trump’s endorsement of Luther Strange in the race to fill the state’s junior U.S. Senate seat.

Paying for college is a on-going problem in the U.S. The website studentloanhero.com says the average graduate ends up with $37,000 worth of debt along with their diploma. That’s almost one and a half trillion dollars overall -- more than what U.S. households owe on their credit cards.

APR student reporter Miranda Fulmore reports there’s a growing trend on college campuses to address this money crunch, and it’s raising eyebrows.

The University of West Alabama takes a big step forward toward opening its own charter school today, amid some concerns that the school may siphon state funding from existing schools in the area.

Pre-registration begins today for Sumter County students from Kindergarten to eighth grade who are interested in attending the new University Charter School.

Members of the Alabama Public Charter School Commission met with school officials in Livingston last month to sign the charter for the new facility, which will teach science, math, technology, and art.

President Donald Trump is deflecting questions about whether Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore should drop out due to sexual misconduct allegations against him. Trump, who has been traveling in Asia, says he hasn't had time to see television news coverage about Moore because he's usually too busy reading documents. The story has produced a wave of concern among anxious GOP officials in Washington but little more than a collective shrug from many Republicans in Alabama. The state is holding a special election on December twelfth to fill the junior U.S.

The Majority leader of the U.S. Senate says Roy Moore should drop out of the race for Alabama's junior U.S. Senate seat if reports in the Washington Post are true. The newspaper reports Moore had sexual contact with a fourteen year old, when he was thirty two years old. The woman, Leigh Corfman, told the Post that Moore touched her intimately and guided her hand to do the same to him. Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell says if the allegations are true, then Moore should leave the race. The twice-removed Alabama Chief Justice denies the reports, blaming the news on politics.

The two men campaigning to be Alabama’s junior U.S. Senator have received invitation to a debate. WHNT-TV in Huntsville wants Democrat Doug Jones and Republican Roy Moore to face off ahead of the December twelfth general election. Jones is accusing Moore of avoiding a public discussion of his record. Alabama’s suspended chief justice backed down from his call for a religious litmus test for Congress. The second highest ranking Republican in the Senate disagreed with Moore’s stance and candidate backed down.

A federal judge is dealing a double blow to anti-abortion lawmakers in Alabama. Judge Myron Thompson is striking down two restrictions to women seeking abortions in the state. One is a limit to how close abortion clinics can be to public schools. The other is a ban on a procedure to terminate pregnancies in the third trimester. The double ruling is a blow to abortion opponents who are criticized for enacting laws to chip away at the Roe V. Wade decision legalizing a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy.

KUT

Today is the deadline for contractors to finish prototypes for President Trump’s so called border wall, and an Alabama company is among them. The Caddell construction company in Montgomery has two designs for the wall to be built along the U.S. border with Mexico. One has a thick base and a concrete upper wall. The other design has a see through top half and a solid bottom half. Competing designs from Texas, Pennsylvania, and Arizona are in the mix for the job. A private company will begin testing the prototypes in November.

The Interior Department is gearing up for what’s called the biggest oil and gas lease sale ever held in the United States. The seventy seven million acres sits off the gulf coast of Alabama, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida. The sale is set for next March and includes all available unleased areas on the Gulf's Outer Continental Shelf. The proposal surpasses a lease sale conducted last year by about a million acres.

The state of Alabama will give prosecutors 674 names of voters who crossed party lines during the September GOP primary for the U.S. Senate. Those people, who voted in the Democratic primary and later in the Republican primary, are in apparent violation of the state's new crossover voting ban. Secretary of State John Merrill says he plans to send the names to the attorney general and district attorneys after local election officials check the list for errors. The move signals a hardline approach to the new state law — used for the first time in the U.S.

APR

During today's University of Alabama homecoming, members of the 1992 championship football team will be recognized for the 25th anniversary of their victory over Miami. Not every reunion of the 92' team was to bask in past gridiron glory. Click here for this APR story from 2012. Pat D.

Not every lesson on the football field involves passing or blocking.

William Bell is out and Randall Woodfin is in as Mayor of Birmingham. Voters in the Birmingham mayor's race elected the challenger over incumbent Bell by a wide margin. Al.com reports Woodfin will be the youngest Birmingham mayor in the city's modern history. Woodfin is the youngest mayor since David Fox took office in 1893. News organizations report that Woodfin got almost sixty percent of the votes over Bell's forty percent, and that Bell conceded the race around 10 p.m. last night. Bell had served as mayor since 2010.

Former Vice President Joe Biden was in Birmingham to stump for Democrat Doug Jones for the U.S. Senate. APR's Pat Duggins reports the campaign is also welcoming news from Montgomery along with support from Biden…

All year long on Alabama Public Radio, we’ve been looking at rural healthcare. Advocates of rural healthcare in Alabama say a critical element is how to pay for treatment. Today’s failed effort by Republican Senators to repeal the Affordable Care Act only serves to punctuate these concerns. Alabamians already face the fourth highest health insurance rates in the nation and rural hospitals here receive among the lowest reimbursements from Medicare. APR’s Pat Duggins has more on what this means for rural healthcare providers, and the people who need that help…

NCAA

An assistant basketball coach at Auburn is among ten people arrested by the FBI on federal corruption charges. Auburn’s Chuck Person was taken into custody along with coaches from Arizona, the University of Southern California, and Oklahoma State. The FBI says they were caught taking thousands of dollars in bribes to steer NBA-destined college stars toward certain sports agents and financial advisers. They are in federal custody and expected to make court appearances sometime today.

Former White House advisor Steve Bannon is heading to Alabama to campaign for former State Chief Justice Roy Moore ahead of Tuesday’s GOP runoff election. Bannon will speak Monday at a Moore which will also feature “Duck Dynasty” personality Phil Robertson. Moore is facing current U.S. Senator Luther Strange who held a rally on Friday headlined by President Trump. Both candidates are embroiled in controversies ahead of Tuesday’s vote.

President Donald Trump stumped for Luther Strange, despite controversies that dog both candidates in the GOP runoff race for Alabama’s junior U.S. Senate seat. The President declared Strange a "swamp" fighter without close ties to GOP leaders. The runoff remains right between Strange and suspended Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore. Prosecutors claim Strange’s fundraising chair has ties to a non-profit accused of bribing a former member of the Alabama State House. Moore has his own legal worries as well.

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