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


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.


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.

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.


MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A central Alabama woman has pleaded guilty to gathering personal information that was used to file fraudulent tax refunds. Department of Justice officials say Lea'Tice Phillips, a former state employee, had access to state databases containing personal information. Authorities say Phillips used her state email account to send personal information to a co-conspirator, Antoinette Djonret, who then used the information to file fraudulent tax returns. Officials say the women recruited others to buy prepaid debit cards they could use to launder the money.


MOBILE, Ala. (AP) - The Mobile City Council is blocking the planned expansion of an Islamic center, a decision the head of the religious organization blames on discrimination. Council members cited parking concerns Tuesday in overturning a previous decision to approve an expansion of the Islamic Center of Mobile. Center president Shafik Hammami calls the decision a "travesty of justice." He claims religious discrimination is behind the decision. Opponents of the planned expansion deny that religion has anything to do with their position.

State of Alabama

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — An aide to Governor Robert Bentley says the administration will continue to explore its options after lawmakers adjourned Monday without acting on 70 nominees to various state boards. Jennifer Ardis, a spokeswoman in the governor's office, said the administration is worried that some boards may not have enough qualified members to do business. Many of the boards, however, allow sitting members to continue serving until their replacement are confirmed.


This Wednesday marks the season finale of “Alabama, Inc.,” the television program about business that airs on Alabama Public Television. The APR newsroom has been collaborating on the show, with News Director Pat Duggins conducting entrepreneur profile segments. This Wednesday, Pat sits down with Dr. David Bronner, the head of Retirement Systems of Alabama, or RSA. “I’ve had governors, a few of them, like me,” says Bronner. “I’ve had most governors hate the sight of me.” That might not be something you want on your resume. But, David Bronner doesn’t seem to mind.

Birmingham News/Birmingham Bar Foundation

“For me, it was just a day of resolve and resolution, and I said ‘sign me up,” says James Stewart

“Well, the first thing I tell them is that I went to jail, and they go ‘Oooh, Grandmama,” and I say well, let me explain…” recalled Eloise Gaffney.


NORTH COURTLAND, Ala. (AP) — Students at a north Alabama high school are campaigning to change traffic laws after a teenager died in a wreck at what they say is a dangerous intersection. Students at R.A. Hubbard High School in North Courtland want to lower the speed limit at an intersection where Hatton High School junior Caitlyn Martin was killed in April. Hubbard students are writing letters to legislators to lower the 65 mph speed limit at the intersection of Alabama 157 and Highway 101. Math teacher Karen Posey tells The Decatur Daily that traffic goes too fast at the intersection.


Alabama Public Radio continues its collaboration on a new television program about business. It’s called Alabama, Inc. and it airs tonight at 10 pm on your local Alabama Public Television station. So far this season, APR news director Pat Duggins has interviewed entrepreneurs who build shopping malls, design high-end fashions, and clean up toxic waste. This Sunday, the topic is a “sweet” family business based in Birmingham. Tricia Wallwork hears the stories from customers all the time.


Alabama Public Radio continues its collaboration on the new television program, Alabama, Inc. The show is about business in Alabama, and it airs every Wednesday on your local Alabama Public Television station. This week, how do you go green at your house? We recycle at the Duggins’ household, and we have re-usable canvas shopping bags at the supermarket, and a tankless water which uses less energy. We’re feeling “environmentally friendly,” right? That is, until I met Shannon Riley of Birmingham.

Westervelt-Warner Transportation Museum

Alabama Public Radio is collaborating with the Westervelt-Warner Transportation Museum on an oral history project connected the second anniversary of the tornado that hit Tuscaloosa on April 27, 2011.

Westervelt-Warner Transportation Museum

Alabama Public Radio is collaborating with the Westervelt-Warner Transportation Museum on an oral history exhibit for the second anniversary of the killer tornadoes that tore through our state. The goal is to preserve what survivors saw and heard on April 27, 2011, including Dr. Andrew Lee of Tuscaloosa… When the storm first passed, we didn’t really realize the extent of what just happened. Our ER entrance faces to the north, and we looked outside and it was actually a really pretty day, and windy. We didn’t really realize the devastation that happened behind us.

Westervelt-Warner Transportation Museum

Alabama Public Radio is collaborating with the Westervelt-Warner Transportation Museum on an oral history exhibit for the second anniversary of the killer tornadoes that tore through our state. The goal is to preserve what survivors saw and heard on April 27, 2011, including Wade Robbins of Tuscaloosa… “I was working at the Dollar Store, and I had just started my night shift. The weather was getting bad, so there were hardly any customers. I looked around, and the lights went off, and I thought to myself…it’s here.

Birmingham News/Birmingham Bar Foundation

Jail was like hell. It was four days of really hell. James Stewart of Birmingham was just a teenager on April 2, 1963. He took part in the Children’s March, and he was one of the first to arrested and jailed… “We were put in a room that could hold fifty or sixty people comfortably. They put three hundred of us in that room. It was standing room only,” Stewart recalls. “It was a concrete floor, it was concrete walls, very small windows with the bars on them. It was very hot. And they just kept putting us in that room. We had to develop a system just to sleep.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Relatives of four black girls killed when Ku Klux Klan members bombed an Alabama church are split over how to mark the crime 50 years later. Sisters of two victims said Friday they favor a proposed congressional medal honoring the girls and aren't interested in financial compensation. Their opinions differ from those of the bombing's lone survivor and the brother of another victim. They told The Associated Press earlier this week they want money and call the medal an unneeded token.


NOTASULGA, Ala. (AP) — The National Weather Service confirms that a tornado hit an east Alabama community overnight. An assessment team determined Friday that an EF-2 twister with winds up to 120 mph struck Thursday night in the Macon County community of Notasulga. The crew is still working on a damage assessment, but residents have reported damage to some homes and numerous trees in the area. Damage was reported in about a half-dozen counties.

Remembering Mal Moore

Apr 5, 2013
U of A

Friends, family, and fans of the Alabama Crimson Tide gathered in Tuscaloosa to remember Mal Moore. The former Alabama football player, assistant coach, and athletic director died just ten days after resigning his post at UA. A celebration of life was held at Coleman Coliseum, next to the athletics facility named in Moore's honor. Alabama Public Radio was there. APR's Pat Duggins and Stan Ingold put together this sound portrait.


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.

U of A

The University Of Alabama Board Of Trustees today approved the hiring of Bill Battle as Athletics Director. He’ll replace Mal Moore who resigned the position this week due to health reasons. The two men played on Legendary Coach Bear Bryant’s first national championship football team at Alabama back in 1961. “If I didn’t do this,” said Battle, “I’d regret it the rest of my life. Because it’s a great opportunity to pay back the university, if I can, what a great debt I owe the university.” That’s the soft-spoken Bill Battle.

University of Alabama

The University of Alabama announced today that Coach Mal Moore will step down as athletics director, effective March 20, 2013. He will become special assistant to President Judy Bonner. “Mal Moore is Crimson Tide sports,” said Bonner. “During his tenure as athletics director, our student athletes have experienced unprecedented success in every aspect of their careers at UA, on the field of play and in the classroom. His contributions to UA athletics on every level are unsurpassed.