Michael Hibblen

News Director

As News Director, Michael Hibblen oversees daily news coverage for KUAR. He handles assignments for the news staff, helps develop story ideas and edits copy. Michael is responsible for starting a news-sharing partnership between public radio stations in Arkansas in 2009 which laid the foundation for what became Arkansas Public Media. He is also a regular panelist on AETN's Arkansas Week, where journalists discuss issues in the news.

A native of North Little Rock, Michael started in radio in 1988, spending his first five years as a DJ for music stations in central and northeast Arkansas. After a 1993 internship at the C-SPAN Cable Network in Washington, DC, he transitioned to news, working for commercial radio stations KARN in Little Rock, WRVA in Richmond, Virginia and WIOD in Miami, Florida. In 2000, Michael became a nationally heard, Miami-based reporter for CBS Radio News, covering major stories in the region, including the anthrax attack at a tabloid publisher, an international custody fight over Cuban boy Elian Gonzalez, and the 2000 presidential election recount. He was hired by daily newspaper the Miami Herald in 2003 when it partnered with NPR station WLRN, initially working as morning news anchor. Later Michael became department editor, then assistant news director. He also wrote frequently for the newspaper.

Michael returned home to Little Rock in 2009 to work for KUAR. At that time he also resumed taking classes at UALR to finish his Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communication, graduating in May of 2013.

Phone: 501-683-7386

E-mail: michael@kuar.org

Ways to Connect

Sarah Whites-Koditschek / Arkansas Public Media

The execution of inmate Kenneth Williams on Thursday night has prompted calls for an investigation after reports that he was lurching and convulsing about 3 minutes into the lethal injection process.

Williams is the fourth convicted killer put to death in Arkansas over a period of 8 days.

What happened last night, and how is it linked to a controversial drug used in the deadly three-drug cocktail? We'll explain.

Varner Arkansas Department of Correction Cummins Prison
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Updated at 6:45 p.m.  

Kenneth Williams, who is set to be executed Thursday at 7 p.m. killed four people in separate incidents. But relatives of the victims are mixed about whether his execution should be carried out. Loved ones for the man whose case led to the death sentence are supporting the lethal injection, but relatives of another victim say the execution would only cause more pain.

As Arkansas's execution plans, initially scheduling an unprecedented eight lethal injections over an 11 day period drew national and international attention, news staff from KUAR and Arkansas Public Media have been reporting the blow-by-blow developments for NPR programs and news outlets worldwide. Below you can hear or find links to many of those reports. The entire news team has also been regularly filing short newscast reports for NPR News.

Varner Arkansas Department of Correction Cummins Prison
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

While legal challenges kept two lethal injections from being carried out as scheduled Monday night, Arkansas officials are vowing to execute five other convicted killers before the end of the month. The state hasn’t executed an inmate in 12 years and there were hopes that Monday would see the resumption of capital punishment before the state’s supply of one lethal injection drug expires next month.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson is to talk with reporters Thursday morning about the pending executions of seven death row inmates. The governor scheduled the lethal injections over a 10-day period before the state's supply of one of the drugs used in the process expires.

American Bar Association President Linda Klein
americanbar.org

The American Bar Association, which doesn't take a position on the death penalty, is urging Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson to reconsider the state's plan to execute seven inmates later this month. In a letter that the group says was delivered to the Governor's Office Tuesday, ABA President Linda Klein said the "unprecedented execution schedule undermines due process."

The full text of the letter is below:

Dear Governor Hutchinson:

Rex Nelson
Jacob Slaton / Clinton School of Public Service

What's it like inside the Arkansas Governor's Mansion as executions are carried out? As the state prepares to resume executions after a 12 year hiatus, with eight inmates scheduled to die by lethal injection this month, KUAR reached out to someone who has inside knowledge.

While courts can certainly intervene, before the execution process begins, the governor is asked by prison officials one final time whether to proceed.

Leslie Rutledge attorney general
oversight.house.gov/

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is praising President Donald Trump’s executive order Tuesday telling federal agencies to rewrite environmental regulations. She was part of a coalition of 29 entities involved in litigation against the Environmental Protection Agency over the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan.

In a written statement Tuesday, Rutledge said:

On the program:

-Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson signs a law to eventually bring concealed firearms into college campuses, the state capitol, stadiums and bars. How will the state adapt and who’s raising alarm?

-The Governor also puts pen to paper on a law officially separating Robert E. Lee and Martin Luther King.

-As planned executions for eight state inmates over ten days draws closer, we look at failed efforts to outlaw or limit capital punishment in Arkansas.

Tom Cotton
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

U.S. Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas says despite proposed changes to the federal healthcare bill introduced by Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan, he still cannot back the measure. He also doesn't think it will have the support needed to pass in the Senate.

In a statement Tuesday, the Republican said:

Despite the proposed amendments, I still cannot support the House health-care bill, nor would it pass the Senate. The amendments improve the Medicaid reforms in the original bill, but do little to address the core problem of Obamacare: rising premiums and deductibles, which are making insurance unaffordable for too many Arkansans. The House should continue its work on this bill. It’s more important to finally get health-care reform right than to get it fast.

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