Michael Hibblen

News Director

Michael Hibblen is the News Director for UA Little Rock Public Radio. He oversees news coverage for KUAR, which includes assignments for the staff, helping develop story ideas, editing news copy and ensuring accuracy and fairness in all reporting. Michael 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 the newspaper The Miami Herald in 2003 when it partnered with NPR station WLRN to provide 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 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. 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. He maintains a personal website with more on his career and outside interests at www.hibblenradio.com.

Phone: 501-683-7386

Email: michael@kuar.org

Ways to Connect

Arkansas Times

Former Secretary of State and First Lady Hillary Clinton is back in Little Rock for Monday’s dedication of the new children’s library, which is being named in her honor.

The Board of Trustees for the Central Arkansas Library System voted June 27th to honor Mrs. Clinton for her service to children.

“I think she’s done so much over the decades really working with children, particularly starting in Arkansas, even before she was first lady,” said CALS Director Bobby Roberts.

Dept. of Community Correction

The head of the Arkansas Department of Community Correction announced Monday he is retiring, as his agency faces questions about a parolee who was charged in a Little Rock murder.

The Department of Community Correction says Director David Eberhard’s retirement is effective immediately.

Corrections board chairman Benny Magness says he doesn’t know whether the abrupt departure is related to criticism over the recent case of a man on parole who was arrested for a Little Rock killing.

Martha Shoffner
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Former Arkansas Treasurer Martha Shoffner pleaded not guilty Thursday to federal charges accusing her of taking cash payments to steer state investments to a bond broker.

It was a brief hearing, with U.S. Magistrate Joe Volpe reading the 14 charges of extortion and bribery.

Her attorney Chuck Banks entered a plea of not guilty and requested a trial by jury.

Asked by the judge if that was her plea, Shoffner said “Yes, not guilty.”

Martha Shoffner (D)
Pulaski County Sheriff's Office

Former Arkansas Treasurer Martha Shoffner, who is facing extortion and bribery charges, is to have an initial appearance Thursday morning in federal court in Little Rock.

In a court filing, Shoffner said she will plead not guilty.

A federal grand jury indicted Shoffner June 5th on 14 counts. She resigned last month after the FBI arrested her at her Newport home.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Joe Volpe denied a request by Shoffner to waive her appearance at Thursday's arraignment.

She is accused of accepting cash payments to steer state investments to a bond broker.

Michael Hibblen/ KUAR

State and federal prosecutors announced Thursday that a joint lawsuit has been filed against the ExxonMobil Pipeline Company for the rupture of the Pegasus pipeline in Mayflower, which spilled an estimated 5,000 barrels of raw tar sands crude in a residential neighborhood.

“The oil spill disrupted lives. This oil harmed the environment and this oil spill was in violation of both state and federal law,” said Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel.

An Arkansas woman, who founded a group that advocates on behalf of children with incarcerated parents, was honored Wednesday at the White House.

Dee Ann Newell, executive director of Arkansas Voices for the Children Left Behind, was one of 12 people from around the country honored as a “Champion of Change.”

John Burkhalter (D)
Arkansas Highway & Transportation Dept.

Arkansas Highway Commissioner John Burkhalter says he will make an announcement Tuesday that will run for a statewide office, but isn't saying which one.

There has been a lot of speculation in recent months that Burkhalter is considering a run for the Democratic nomination for Governor.  Sitting Governor Mike Beebe is term-limited and can not run for re-election.

Burkhalter, who is also a small business owner and entrepreneur, has close ties to Beebe, as well as former President Bill Clinton.

Michael Hibblen/ KUAR

In advance of a CD release party later that evening, Amy Garland joined Flap Jones live on Not Necessarily Nashville to play a few songs and talk about her music.  Also joining Amy at KUAR to play guitar was Nick Devlin .

The new CD Hang A Light came out this month, and its release was marked with a performance at the Whitewater Tavern in Little Rock.

You can listen to excerpts of that week's program above.

Michael Hibblen/ KUAR

Former Arkansas Treasurer Martha Shoffner and prosecutors had agreed on terms of a plea deal, but Friday afternoon it was rejected by a federal judge.

“There were questions that I wasn’t comfortable with,” Shoffner told reporters as she left the courthouse in Little Rock.

Judge Leon Holmes questioned her during the hearing, asking if she understood the terms of the plea. She said “Yes.”

He also asked if Shoffner had taken the payments from a bond broker as alleged by prosecutors. She said “Yes, but it was offered. I didn’t demand it.”

Union Pacific
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Railroads have long been a key industry for Arkansas, with North Little Rock today being the home to one of Union Pacific's largest rail yards. It also houses a large locomotive servicing facility. The sprawling grounds are busy 24 hours a day with arriving and departing freight trains. 

It’s a complicated process, sorting rail cars that arrive from all over the country, changing crews and servicing the equipment. Directing the action from the top of a tower in the center of the yard is General Yard Master Robby Robelot. He says the biggest challenge is coordination and timing.

Nathan Vandiver / KUAR

US Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas Chris Thyer said Monday that allegations against state Treasurer Martha Shoffner are grave.

He spoke to reporters after Shoffner made her initial court appearance on charges she accepted money from a broker in return for investing state money with that broker.

Martha Shoffner (D)
Pulaski County Sheriff's Office

Arkansas Treasurer Martha Shoffner is to go before a federal judge Monday, after being arrested over the weekend on charges of extortion.

FBI spokeswoman Kimberly Brunell says agents arrested Shoffner Saturday at her home in Newport.

The Democrat serving her second term has been under scrutiny because of how her office has handled state investments.

Legislative auditors say that in 2011, 11 bonds were sold from the state’s investment portfolio before they had matured, resulting in a net loss of more than $434,000 worth of earnings.

Judge Grants Injunction In Arkansas Abortion Ban Case

May 17, 2013
State Sen. Jason Rapert (file photo).
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A federal judge has granted a request to temporarily block enforcement of a new Arkansas law that bans most abortions 12 weeks into a pregnancy.

U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright granted a motion Friday for a preliminary injunction against the ban, set to take effect in August.

The state's Republican-led Legislature enacted the ban in March by overriding a veto from Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe.

Congressman Tim Griffin of Arkansas will be among lawmakers with key questions Friday for the top Internal Revenue Service official who resigned this week amid a scandal over heightened scrutiny of conservative groups.

Former acting Commissioner Steven Miller is to testify before the House Ways and Means Committee. Griffin, a Republican from Little Rock, is a member of the committee.

Doug Steward

KUAR won seven awards for its news and arts coverage at the 2013 Arkansas Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists contest.

During an awards banquet Monday evening, the station learned four were first place winners, two won second place and one was a third place winner.

SPJ is one of the oldest organizations representing journalists in the U.S. Part of its mission is to encourage high standards and ethical behavior in journalism, while promoting and supporting diversity in the industry.

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