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. 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

Two Rivers Park Bridge
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Hundreds of people came out Friday, many with their bicycles, for the dedication of the new Two Rivers Park Bridge.

"Welcome to your new bridge!” Pulaksi County Judge Buddy Villines said to a cheering crowd. 

The $5 million pedestrian and bicycle bridge crosses the Little Maumelle River where it meets the Arkansas River and links the Arkansas River Trail with Two Rivers Park. Construction of the bridge, which took a year build, was funded with 80 percent federal dollars and Pulaski County paying the rest. 

Dogpatch USA
wikipedia

It was once a big attraction in north Arkansas, but Dogpatch USA, a hillbilly theme park based on the Li'l Abner comic strip, closed in 1993.

Nearly two decades later, the property has now ended up in the hands of a 23-year-old who nearly died there. Pruett Nance and his family are considering what to do with the land, located between Jasper and Harrison.

In 2005, Nance was riding an ATV through the grounds when he was struck by a throat-high cable stretched between two trees.

Michael Hibblen/ KUAR

After a suspicious fire that heavily damaged KUAR's transmitter Saturday night, authorities say it now appears more likely that the blaze was intentionally set.

“At this point in time we’re looking at it like an arson,” said Grover Crossland, Resident Agent in Charge of the Little Rock office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Johnny Cash
Columbia/ Legacy Records

More than seven years after the death of Arkansas-native Johnny Cash, a new collection has just been released of rare, vintage recordings.

As FM 89's Michael Hibblen reports, “Bootleg II: From Memphis to Hollywood” spans the first 15 years of Cash's music career, and includes his first radio broadcast, when Cash and the Tennessee Two got a weekly show on West Memphis station KWEM.

Michael Hibblen

The radio program Beaker Street, which debuted 45 years ago playing progressive rock on Little Rock powerhouse KAAY and had regular listeners around the country, could be coming to an end.  It's being canceled by its current broadcast home, KKPT, The Point 94.1.

Things haven't changed much over the decades.  Listeners of Beaker Street still hear records fade out, strange background sounds come up and then the mellow voice of Clyde Clifford.

Singer-songwriter James McMurtry sat down with KUAR's Michael Hibblen to talk about his music and play a couple of songs.

For more than two decades he's been releasing albums with often bleak lyrics, developing a loyal following.  Author Stephen King has called him "the truest, fiercest songwriters of his generation.

McMurtry came by KUAR for the interview July 20, 2010 before a show that evening at Juanita's in Little Rock.   You can learn more about him at: www.jamesmcmurtry.com.

Michael Hibblen

An Arkansas singer is hoping to show how the childhood of Bill Clinton helped shape the future president. She is putting together an opera that is a day in the life of the then 14-year-old Clinton growing up in Hot Springs.

The production is to be called Billy Blythe, which is the name Clinton went by until he adopted his step-father's last name in high school.  It's the brainchild of 30-year-old Bonnie Montgomery.

Michael Hibblen / KUAR

Includes personal reflections by KUAR's Michael Hibblen.

Work is finally getting underway to renovate the 111-year-old Rock Island Bridge adjacent to the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock. Former President Bill Clinton is to lead a groundbreaking ceremony Friday morning at the bridge, which at one time was slated to be torn down.

The pledge to renovate the railroad bridge was made nine years ago, but beginning the work was repeatedly delayed, prompting some to wonder if it ever would happen. Now, after securing funding from numerous sources, the $10.5 million project is finally ready to get underway.

“We are standing at the foot on the south side of the Rock Island Bridge, now known as the Clinton Park Bridge.  It was renamed last week by Little Rock City Board of Directors," said Clinton Foundation spokesman Jordan Johnson.

It will serve as the eastern end of the 14 mile river trial.

“This will be a ramped pedestrian bridge, completely ADA compliant," said Jordan.  "We're looking at the trusses here and there will be, in essence, a bridge built inside the existing structure.  So we're going to preserve the existing structure, but also build a footpath through it that will level off at the lift span and then gradually go back down to the North Little Rock side."

Michael Hibblen / KUAR

The nine African-Americans who integrated Central High School in 1957 are being featured in this week's issue of the New Yorker that looks at civil rights icons.

Standing in front of the school, the nine posed for the renowned photographer known as Platon, who has taken portraits of presidents and world leaders and was brought to Little Rock by the magazine for the assignment.

Members of the Little Rock Nine are now in their late 60s.  Only three live in Arkansas today, with the rest spread out around the world.

Rock Island
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A battle is brewing in Saline County between community leaders who want to build a highway over an abandoned railroad bed and homeowners who say it would encroach on their property.  It would provide another route connecting Benton and Little Rock.

Walking on a clear path where tracks once carried the trains of the Rock Island Railroad, Irene Thompson said, "Looking at it, it's unbelievable isn't it?" But she and her husband Tommy dread the thought of a highway being constructed on their property.

“If they build this highway in here then we’d have a straight shoot from Little Rock trouble to Benton trouble and we just really don’t want that kind of crap coming down here,” said Tommy Thompson.

The couple has lived there nearly half a century and bought a small stretch of the Rock Island right-of-way, which bordered their property, after the railroad went bankrupt and was shut down in 1980.

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