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.  Most recently, 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 alongside The New York Times, the Washington Post, ABC-TV, and PBS FRONTLINE. In addition, APR was selected over that year's RFK award laureates to receive the RFK Human Rights Foundation's "John Siegenthaler Prize for Courage in Journalism," the first radio news operation to be  so honored. Duggins and the team also investigated conditions at Alabama prisons which won APR's third national Sigma Delta Chi award from the Society of Professional Journalists. Following the airing of this series and documentary, the U.S. DOJ began an investigation into Alabama prisons, and Governor Kay Ivey enacted a law that stops judges from overruling jury recommendations of life in prison in murder cases, and imposing the death penalty.

APR 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 back-to-back National Sigma Delta Chi awards from the Society of Professional Journalists.

The Radio Television Digital News Association also honored Pat and the team with three national Edward R. Murrow Awards, including the prestigious prize 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 APR's first national PRNDI award from the Public Radio News Directors' Association in a decade, as well as 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 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


The City of Huntsville and the state of Alabama have a Tuesday deadline to present a proposal to Boeing. Huntsville, which is home to the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, the U.S. Army Redstone Arsenal, and corporations including Boeing and Lockheed-Martin, is in the running for a new assembly plant for Boeing’s 777X aircraft. Other states, including Texas, Missouri, and South Carolina, are also vying for the project. As the deadline draws close, APR student reporter Kyle Lawley spoke with Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle as his community and the state of Alabama makes its case to Boeing.

Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox spoke at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government today about the city's response to the April 27, 2011 tornado. I sat down with the Mayor just before he headed to the Boston area. Maddox says no disaster plan could have covered every challenge Tuscaloosa faced that day...

ATHENS, Ala. (AP) — City leaders in Athens are looking for ways to attack blight downtown and are leaning on owners of the buildings to show they're making progress. The Decatur Daily reports that the city has been trying to eliminate dilapidated structures by forcing owners to fix them or removing the problem and billing the owners. Laurie McGuire bought five empty stores downtown about five years ago, during the economic downturn. She used a grant to fund storefront improvements but hasn't had the funds to continue the work until she recently got a loan.


Between now and Monday, fans of Christopher Columbus can get a taste of what life was like during his 1492 voyage of discovery to the New World. Replicas of two of his vessels, the "Nina" and the "Pinta" are docked along the Tennessee/Tombigbee River in Demopolis. I spoke with Captain Morgan Sanger who was aboard the Pinta.

Morgan Sanger—“Well, it’s an educational exhibit we’ve been doing for twenty years now, and we go to school groups, and families—showing them what life was like five hundred years ago, and how good they have it now.”

Auburn University

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Alabama and Auburn are preparing for one of the biggest Iron Bowls in history. The top-ranked Crimson Tide and No. 4 Auburn meet Saturday in only the in-state rivalry's second Top-5 matchup. It's a winner-takes-the-SEC-West game between two-time defending national champion Alabama and another surprising contender. The only other Top-5 Iron Bowl matchup came in 1971. Bear Bryant's No. 3 Alabama beat No. 5 Auburn and Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Pat Sullivan 31-7.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The state Department of Agriculture and Industries is donating nearly 800 pounds of fresh collards to help feed the needy. A department spokeswoman says the collards were grown in the department's community garden, and the department wants to share them for Thanksgiving. The collards will be presented to the Society of St. Andrew on Monday in Montgomery. The society collects fresh food to help the needy through food banks, kitchens and other agencies. Officials say society will distribute the collards to agencies that will prepare and serve them.


SEATTLE (AP) — Boeing Co. is soliciting bids from more than a dozen locations that want to build the new 777X airplane. Company spokesman Doug Alder said Saturday that requests for bids began going out Friday. Boeing wants the proposals returned in a few weeks, and the company hopes to make a final decision early next year. Alder declined to specify the locations but said each had asked for the chance to compete for the 777X work and met the company's qualifications.

Marshall County

eadline. < MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - The former Marshall County Revenue Commissioner is facing charges of violating the state ethics law. Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange announced the arrest of Joey Masters on Wednesday. A warrant charges Masters with using his official position to obtain personal gain, a misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months in the county jail and a fine of up to $6,000. His attorney, Dan Warnes, says Masters has resigned and didn't intend to violate state ethics laws.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - The Republican establishment put its money and its clout behind Bradley Byrne and came out a winner in Alabama's 1st Congressional District. With 100 percent of the precincts reporting Tuesday night, Byrne won the Republican runoff with 52.5 percent of the vote while tea party supporter Dean Young drew 47.5 percent. Young said he had a strong grassroots campaign, but he couldn't overcome the money the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and more than two dozen Republican members of Congress put behind Byrne.


Mobile's Mayor-elect, Sandy Stimpson, took the oath of office on Monday. I sat down for a one-on-one conversation with the new Mayor to talk about his plans for the City and what Monday will be like... Sandy Stimpson: Well, it all starts off with a meeting at 10:30, and where I’ll actually be sworn in at the auditorium at Government Plaza. Then, we’ll go right to work right after that, there are a lot of things that the Mayor will to execute at that time.

HOOVER, Ala. (AP) — A dentist in Hoover has collected more than 100 pounds of leftover Halloween candy to send to American troops overseas. reports Dr. James Sanderson Jr. held a two-hour candy buyback Friday afternoon. Sanderson offered to pay people a dollar for every pound of candy donated. His daughter Sara Franklin tells the website more than 180 people showed up. Sanderson says he wants to brighten the day of U.S. troops overseas with care packages. This was the 10th year in a row that Sanderson has held his leftover candy buyback.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - The state of Alabama has agreed to settle the remaining challenges over its toughest-in-the-nation crackdown against illegal immigration. The state and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a proposed settlement Tuesday that would end a federal lawsuit over the law, which has mostly been gutted by court rulings. ACLU lawyer Cecillia Wang says the state also is settling a suit filed by the Justice Department.

Alabama Senate

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Republican state Sen. Bryan Taylor of Prattville says he won't seek re-election next year. The 37-year-old freshman senator announced Monday that he wants to focus on his law practice and his family with a third child on the way. Taylor said he will serve out his full term and has no plans to lobby when he leaves the Legislature. Taylor was policy director for Gov. Bob Riley when he decided to run for the Legislature in 2010.

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...

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.