Michael Hibblen

News Director

Michael Hibblen is the News Director for UA Little Rock Public Radio. He oversees local news coverage for KUAR, working with the staff to plan story ideas, edit news copy, and ensure accuracy and fairness in reporting. Hibblen has been a regular panelist and fill-in host on Arkansas PBS' Arkansas Week, where journalists and newsmakers discuss the top issues facing the state.

In March 2019, he  was named one of 53 fellows selected to participate in the Editorial Integrity and Leadership Initiative at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. The intensive 100-day training program for newsroom leaders from across the country was funded by a $1 million grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. It involved a week of training that August at the Phoenix campus, working regularly with a coach and smaller group remotely, then returning to give a final presentation and graduate in January. The group began meeting again online to discuss challenges and issues facing newsrooms as COVID-19 began spreading across the nation.

A native of North Little Rock, Hibblen 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, Hibblen became a nationally-heard, Miami-based radio reporter for CBS 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 Miami Herald in 2003 when the newspaper partnered with NPR station WLRN to provide local news. Hibblen initially worked as a morning news anchor and reporter, later became the department's editor, then assistant news director. He also wrote frequently for the newspaper.

Hibblen returned home to Arkansas 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 2013. Hibblen 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. He has also been involed in the preservation of the railroad's depot in the City of Perry, West of Little Rock. Hibblen maintains a personal website with more on his career and outside interests at www.hibblenradio.com.

Phone: 501-916-6377

Email: michael@kuar.org

Ways to Connect

The KUAR transmitter building on Shinall Mountain west of Little Rock, which authorities say was intentionally set on fire Saturday.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

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-AM 1090 and had regular listeners around the country, could be coming to an end.  It's being canceled by its current broadcast home, KKPT-FM, 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. But while doing his show Sunday, Clifford acknowledged the end is coming, at least at the show's current home. 

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.

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