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

It's nothing  but Medicaid expansion special session talk on this week's podcast from the KUAR News crew.

We'll take a look at what was and wasn't on the call. Arkansas Works passes with comfortable margins in this week's long-anticipated special session but a bigger hurdle looms for the governor's healthcare plan for over 250,000 Arkansans in next week's fiscal session.

Can the Republican governor unite his party around healthcare expansion made possible by the Affordable Care Act?

Charlie Collins
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

Arkansas legislators have given initial approval to Gov. Asa Hutchinson's plan to continue a modified form of the state's Medicaid expansion, but the margins suggest it will be an uphill battle to approve funding.

On this week's podcast, the KUAR news staff discusses preparations for next week's special session of the Arkansas Legislature on healthcare, the debate over whether the state should continue to elect high court judges and the decision to expand charter schools in Little Rock.

You can listen to the podcast above or Subscribe on iTunes.

World War I Memorial Joseph Weishaar
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A native Arkansan is leading the design of a World War I Memorial in Washington, DC. On Thursday, 25-year-old Joseph Weishaar was honored for his role in the project during a ceremony at the Arkansas State Capitol that formally established a centennial commemoration committee for the state.

Weishaar is a recent graduate of the University of Arkansas Fay Jones School of Architecture who today lives in Chicago, but is preparing to move to Washington to oversee the project.

Wes Flanigan UALR Little Rock Trojans
Nelson Chenault / UALR

Wes Flanigan is the new head coach of the Little Rock Trojans. He takes over for Chris Beard, who led the men’s basketball team to a record season and the NCAA tournament this year. Beard has now been hired by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Flanigan has spent five years with the UALR program and most recently served as associate coach.

School officials made the announcement Thursday, with Director of Athletics Chasse Conque saying Flanigan "brings a wealth of experience, strong recruiting ties and a tireless worth ethic to the position."

Asa Hutchinson governor
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he’s confident Arkansas legislators will continue the state’s Medicaid expansion program with his proposed changes. But some lawmakers are more iffy about implementing a managed care program.

A special session on the topic is to begin April 6. The governor says he’s working with lawmakers now to draft the bills, along with industry officials to "make sure we have the right language in the bills and that we have the right safeguards for patients."

Hutchinson told reporters Tuesday that he expects both bills will pass after he works with lawmakers.

Chris Beard UALR Little Rock Trojans coach
University of Arkansas at Little Rock

After recently leading the Little Rock Trojans to the NCAA Tournament and a record 30-5 season, basketball coach Chris Beard is leaving for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

UALR made it official Monday, after reports Sunday night that Beard had agreed to terms of a contract with UNLV.

While he spent just one season with the university, Chancellor Joel Anderson says Beard leaves the team in better shape than when he arrived.

This week, the KUAR News staff discusses Tuesday's presidential primary elections, and reaction from Gov. Asa Hutchinson as Donald Trump continues to gain momentum. We also have interviews with Sen. John Boozman and his Democratic challenger Conner Eldridge on the president's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, highlights from Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola's State of the City address and UALR's victory in round one of the NCAA championshihp.

  • The governor releases a $5.3 billion budget but it's all up in the air with the issue of Medicaid expansion still unresolved.
  • Getting to the other side of the road, the replacement of the Broadway Bridge in downtown Little Rock hits a highwater snag.
  • The LRSD braces for even more charter school expansion.

Ben Fry
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A memorial service is scheduled for Monday at 11 a.m. for longtime KUAR and KLRE General Manager Ben Fry, who died in his sleep early Thursday. He was 54. It will be held at St. James United Methodist Church at 321 Pleasant Valley Drive in Little Rock.

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