Michael Hibblen

News Director

Michael Hibblen is the News Director for UA Little Rock Public Radio. He oversees daily news coverage for KUAR, which includes assignments for the news staff, helping develop story ideas, editing news copy and ensuring accuracy and fairness in all reporting. 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 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 the daily newspaper The Miami Herald in 2003 when it partnered with NPR station WLRN and provided its local news. Michael initially worked as a morning news anchor and reporter, later became the department's editor and 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 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 the author of Rock Island Railroad in Arkansas, which was published by Arcadia Publishing in April 2017.

Phone: 501-683-7386

Email: michael@kuar.org

Ways to Connect

Jon Woods
Ashley Gardner

Former Arkansas state Sen. Jon Woods was sentenced Wednesday to more than 18 years and four months in prison for his role in a bribery scheme. The Republican must also serve three years of supervised release and pay over $1.6 million in restitution.

Woods was convicted in May of 15 felony charges. Prosecutors alleged he took kickbacks in exchanging for steering state money to a private Christian college. Woods co-defendant, Randall Shelton Jr. is scheduled to be sentenced on Thursday.

Elizabeth Eckford
National Park Service/ Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A bench now on display across from Little Rock’s Central High School commemorates one key moment from the school’s desegregation. It is a replica of one Elizabeth Eckford of the Little Rock Nine sat on in 1957 after being kept from entering the school by national guardsmen.

Tuesday’s unveiling coincided with the 61st anniversary of the event.

Central High School’s Memory Project aims to encourage students to remember past events of the high school and to keep the memory of the Civil Rights Movement alive.

Jon Woods
Arkansas Times

A sentencing hearing is to begin Wednesday at 9 a.m. for former Arkansas state Senator Jon Woods. He and several others have been convicted or pleaded guilty as part of a wide-ranging corruption investigation. Woods' co-defendant Randell Shelton Jr. will be sentenced Thursday, while their accomplices are scheduled to be sentenced next week.

Doug Thompson, a reporter for the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, covered Woods' trial from start to finish and spoke with KUAR about Woods' case.

Deadline To Report Work Info Or Lose Arkansas Works Coverage

Aug 31, 2018
File photo: Gov. Asa Hutchinson presenting part of his Arkansas Works plan, the state's version of Medicaid expansion.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Thousands of Arkansans are at risk of losing their healthcare coverage this weekend for failing to comply with a recently enacted work requirement for the state's Medicaid expansion program. The deadline is Friday at 5 p.m.

August is the third month that a work requirement has been in place for the Arkansas Works program. Enrollees who fail to report three months in a row will lose their coverage on the first day of the following month. That means those who haven't reported anything will be cut from the program on Saturday.

Downtown Little Rock
Wikimedia Commons

Central Arkansas leaders fear the region is fighting a problem of perception. While northwest Arkansas is viewed as booming, the Little Rock metro area – at least according to some around the country – appears to be struggling.

Arkansas Business reporter Kyle Massey digs into that for a story in this week’s issue. He spoke with KUAR's Michael Hibblen during Morning Edition, which you can hear above.

Interview Highlights

Rusty Cranford
Arkansas Nonprofit News Network

Next week, the first in a series of sentencing hearings will be held for former Arkansas lawmakers, a college president and others who were convicted or pleaded guilty for their roles in a wide-ranging corruption scheme.

It’s a complicated story largely centered around Rusty Cranford, a once-powerful lobbyist. Reporter David Ramsey wrote about this in a story for the Arkansas Nonprofit News Network.

Bill Gwatney
Arkansas Business

Monday marked the 10th anniversary of the murder of Bill Gwatney, chairman of the Democratic Party of Arkansas. He was shot August 13, 2008 at the party’s state headquarters in Little Rock and died several hours later. The gunman would be shot and killed by police later that afternoon.

The Arkansas Repertory Theatre
www.therep.org

The Arkansas Repertory Theatre in Little Rock, which shut down in April because of financial difficulties, is preparing to reopen with a new season of performances in January.

The turnaround of the professional theater is thanks to more than $500,000 in donations, which was matched by the Windgate Charitable Foundation in Siloam Springs, according to Ruth Shepherd, the chair-elect for The Rep’s board of directors.

Arkansas Baptist College
Arkansas Business

Arkansas Baptist College is again struggling to organize its finances. Members of the school’s board blame former President Joseph Jones with squandering a budget surplus by not focusing on enrollment and replacing staffers with new employees who were paid higher salaries.

Jones is accused of hiding the deteriorating financial situation from the board until the college was in a crisis. Now officials are working to address an estimated $4 million hole.

Arkansas Business digs into the situation in this week’s issue:

Jeff Sessions Cody Hiland
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions visited Arkansas on Wednesday for a pair of events. Speaking at the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, he called for a fix to a Supreme Court ruling regarding violent offenders. Sessions later joined Gov. Asa Hutchinson and other officials near Hot Springs to discuss school safety.

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