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 and fill-in host 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 providing its local news. Michael initially worked as a morning news anchor and reporter, later becoming the department's 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 the University of Arkansas at Little Rock to finish his Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communication, graduating in May of 2013. Michael also enjoys researching radio and railroad history in the state and is author of Rock Island Railroad in Arkansas, which was published by Arcadia Publishing in April 2017.

Phone: 501-683-7386

E-mail: michael@kuar.org

Ways to Connect

Ben Fry
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Toys of Desperation, a posthumously-released novel, written by longtime KUAR Station Manager Ben Fry is being featured as part of the Arkansas Literary Festival this weekend.

The book, published by Et. Alia Press, is about Billy Williams, who lives in the fictional town of Weir Arkansas. He traverses the town on his bike crossing the railroad tracks, while the 1973 Watergate hearings are being televised. Billy Williams hears the voice of his father and sets out to find what it is that his father is telling him.

Tony Alamo
KATV, Channel 7 News

The author of a new book about apocalyptic evangelist Tony Alamo is speaking Saturday at the Arkansas Literary Festival. Alamo, who operated compounds in Arkansas, died in federal prison in 2017 at the age of 82. He was convicted in 2009 of sexually abusing girls he considered his wives, one as young as nine.

Debby Schriver's book Whispering in the Daylight: The Children of Tony Alamo Christian Ministries and Their Journey to Freedom was released earlier this month. She spoke with KUAR about Alamo, which you can listen to above.

The 2018 Arkansas Literary Festival is taking place this weekend in Little Rock. More than 70 authors, performers and filmmakers are participating, including Pulitzer Prize and Grammy Award winners.

Events got underway Thursday with a performance by “queen of rockabilly” Wanda Jackson at the Central Arkansas Library System’s Ron Robinson Theater. Speaking Saturday night is bestselling author Sebastian Junger. You can find a full listening of events here.

Arkansas-born jazz musician Bob Dorough died Monday at the age of 94. While he was an acclaimed bebop pianist who was part of the 1950s New York jazz scene, Dorough reached his widest audience writing and singing songs designed to make learning fun for kids.

He was one of the primary musicians used in the Schoolhouse Rock! short films that aired between Saturday morning cartoons in the 1970s and ‘80s. The three-minute lessons were set to music and taught mathematics, grammar, civics and science.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Chris Ware/Getty Images/NPR.org

Sister Rosetta Tharpe, an Arkansas-native who influenced musicians later credited with creating rock and roll, is one of six acts being inducted this year into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Born in the Woodruff County town of Cotton Plant in 1915, Tharpe is being posthumously inducted during a ceremony Saturday night in Cleveland.

Tharpe rose to fame in the 1930s, breaking boundaries by being an African-American woman who sang while playing an electric guitar with heavy distortion. Her style would later be adopted by blues performers and iconic rock guitarists.

Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A North Little Rock engineering firm has been chosen to begin design on the Southwest Trail, a 67 mile biking and walking path that will connect Hot Springs and Little Rock. Garver LLC will begin the preliminary design, which is also called the “65 percent” design.

Opioid Attorney General Leslie Rutledge
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas is suing three drug makers claiming they’re at fault for the opioid crisis that has caused a drastic increase in the number of overdose deaths in Arkansas.

Connecticut Department of Public Health

203 people in Arkansas have died from the flu this season, according to the latest report issued Tuesday by the state Department of Health. That’s an increase of six since last week.

Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, medical director for immunizations, says while the flu is winding down for the season, the death toll is expected to keep rising.

"We’ll continue to likely get more deaths reported as the reporting process continues to go through the steps needed," she said.

Overall, reports from Arkansas’s 75 counties show fewer people are being impacted.

Central High School
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Hundreds of students at Little Rock’s Central High School walked out of class Wednesday in a show of solidarity with young people conducting similar demonstrations at schools across the nation and outside the White House.

At Central, students chanted slogans like “books not bullets” and “this is what democracy looks like,” while holding handmade signs that read things like “Never again,” “Central stands with Parkland,” and “Why are we still talking about this?”

Cheryl May Arkansas School Safety Commission
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A panel tasked by Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson to make recommendations on how schools can try to prevent mass shootings has begun its work. On Tuesday, the Arkansas School Safety Commission held its first meeting. You can hear the report above.

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