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

Christopher Columbus Pinta Nina
Great Lakes Today

Replicas of two ships used by explorer Christopher Columbus, which led to the European colonization of the Americas, are to visit Arkansas in October and November. The replicas of Niña and Pinta are traveling together around the U.S. to help people learn more about the voyage in 1492 that led to the discovery of what was called the New World.

But a recent stop along Lake Ontario in north-central New York drew protests from Native Americans who say the ships only tell half of the story.

Interstate 40 Interstate 55 West Memphis
peggydavis66 / Wikimedia Commons

A study is to be completed by the end of summer on whether Arkansas should raise the speed limits on interstates in rural areas to 75-miles-per-hour.

One of the new state laws going into effect Tuesday, which was passed earlier this year by the Arkansas General Assembly, opens the possibility.

"It doesn’t mean we will go out and do it, it just enables us to," said Danny Straessle, spokesman for the department that on Tuesday will become known as the Arkansas Department of Transportation.

Levon Helm
Kevin Kresse

A fundraising campaign has been launched to create a permanent memorial in east Arkansas for Levon Helm. The legendary drummer and singer, who was best known for his work with The Band, grew up in the Phillips County community of Turkey Scratch, helping his family pick cotton.

Plans are to finish restoring the sharecropper's house his family lived in, which has been moved to the nearby town of Marvell. A statue of Helm is also to be completed and placed downtown.

Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton of Arkansas joined their Republican colleagues in voting to begin debate on repealing and possibly replacing the Affordable Care Act.

In written statements released after the vote Tuesday afternoon, both were cautious in their support with so much unknown about what will be presented. Boozman said it was "just the first step," while Cotton said he will be "carefully monitoring any legislative changes that are proposed."

Two other Republicans in the Senate voted against it, with Vice-President Mike Pence breaking a tie vote.

Repeal And Then...

Jul 21, 2017

Arkansas’s U.S. Senators Boozman and Cotton say they both support repealing without immediately replacing the Affordable Care Act. That comes as support for GOP-crafted healthcare legislation tears apart at the seams. Meanwhile, Gov. Asa Hutchinson suggests it may be time for a bipartisan approach.

U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R).
CSIS

U.S. Senator Tom Cotton is in favor of a Republican plan for a straightforward repeal of the Affordable Care Act without a replacement. Both of Arkansas's Republican senators, Cotton and John Boozman, have long favored ending the Affordable Care Act, but neither has spoken publicly about the now-flopped repeal and replace plan.

2017 has seen a sharp increase in violent crime in Little Rock, but the nightclub shooting a week ago that injured 28 people left authorities saying something drastic needed to be done. Gov. Asa Hutchinson has brought together state and federal manpower in a coordinated effort to combat crime in the state's capitol city. We'll discuss what that will involve.

Also on the podcast, a proposed ban on the herbicide dicamba, which is blamed for extensive crop damage. And state revenue increases at the end of the budget year, leaving officials who had been nervous a few months ago with a surplus.

Asa Hutchinson
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson is recommending Arkansas not provide all voter information requested by the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. President Trump set up the commission to investigate claims of voter fraud in November's presidential election.

In a statement Wednesday on Twitter, Hutchinson said he has spoken with Secretary of State Mark Martin and concluded the request is "too board and includes sensitive information" about Arkansas voters.

Power Bar and Ultra Lounge Mass Shooting
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

  

Little Rock police say 25 people were shot at a club called the Power Bar and Ultra Lounge early Saturday morning. There were no reported fatalities. Police said three others had injuries that were not from gun shots.  

The club is on the second floor of a building in downtown Little Rock located at 220 West 6th Street. 

Little Rock police say they do not believe the incident was terror-related or involved an active shooter, but resulted from a dispute, which could possibly be gang related. 

A controversial Ten Commandments monument was put on display this week at the Arkansas State Capitol, but less than 24 hours later it was destroyed.  We'll have an in-depth discussion about what happened to the monument.

Also this week we talk about Governor Hutchinson calling for changes to the healthcare bill that for now is stalled in the U.S. Senate. Lately there hasn't been much comment on the topic from Arkansas’s two senators.

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