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

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.

Michael Hibblen/ KUAR News

National Train Day was expanded this year to include Little Rock, with an event Saturday at the city's Union Station.

Families lined up on the platform to tour an Amtrak train that was on display. 

Jerry Driscoll and his family from Beebe had never been onboard an Amtrak train, only riding short tourist lines in recent years, and decided to see what cross country rail travel could be like.

Dustin McDaniel
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel says he's concerned about the lingering health implications from the Mayflower oil spill.

It has been about five weeks since the Pegasus pipeline ruptured, spilling hundreds of thousands of gallons of raw crude, but McDaniel says people near the site are still feeling the effects.

“As we met with residents and groups that represent them, like Remember Mayflower, I heard time and time again about their health, especially the health of their children,” McDaniel said at an afternoon news conference.

KARK News 4

Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel will have an announcement Tuesday at 3 pm regarding the Mayflower Oil Spill.

His office has been conducting an extensive investigation into the rupture of a pipeline owned by ExxonMobil. 

McDaniel has said the investigation is a precursor to litigation. There’s no more specifics on what he will discuss.

More than 200,000 gallons of raw crude spilled on March 29th. Since then the oil giant has had a small army of workers cleaning up the affected areas.

Bill Clinton
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Many of the state’s top political leaders – and those aspiring for office – are taking part in a conference considering the best ways to revive the poverty-stricken Delta region.

The two-day Delta Grassroots Caucus started Thursday night with participants hearing from the Republican candidates for Arkansas governor, a freshman congressman and former President Bill Clinton.

“For the first time, literally in a generation, the larger demographic and other forces that are working on the world will help the Delta region,” Clinton said.

Nathan Vandiver/ KUAR

KUAR is proud to have won five awards at the Arkansas Associated Press Broadcasters Association's 2012 contest.  The awards for radio and TV stations were presented Saturday in Little Rock.

Michael Hibblen/ KUAR

Workers on Monday removed a 52-foot section of a buried pipeline that ruptured last month in Mayflower, spilling more than 200,000 gallons of raw crude oil.

It’s being sent to an independent lab for analysis, said ExxonMobil spokeswoman Kim Jordan. “We want to learn the cause of the breach.”

Jordan was at the site, describing the process in a telephone interview with KUAR News as workers were cutting the pipe at safe distances from each end of the 22-foot gash.

Arkansas Capitol
flickr.com

After planning to vote Friday on a bill to use federal Medicaid funds for a "private option," Arkansas House Speaker Davy Carter said the chamber will wait until Monday.

Many lawmakers had said they wanted to take time to go back to their districts this weekend and talk with constituents before casting their votes.

75 of the 100 members of the Arkansas House would need to approve the bill.

The plan won support from most House members Thursday, but didn't get the 75-vote supermajority needed for an attached budget bill.

Michael Hibblen/ KUAR

Officials say some residents whose houses were evacuated when an oil pipeline ruptured in Mayflower can go home this week.

Federal on-scene coordinator Nick Brescia says residents of four homes could be allowed back Thursday, while residents of another eight or nine homes can return in the coming days.

Crews are still cleaning up the scene with heavy equipment.

The pipeline ruptured nearly two weeks ago, sending hundreds of thousands of gallons of raw crude flowing down a street in what was described by residents as a "river of oil."

Arkansas Attorney General's Office

Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel says investigators are beginning to go through documents related to a pipeline that ruptured nearly two weeks ago.

Late Wednesday more than 12,000 pages of subpoenaed material were delivered to his office.

McDaniel also disclosed during a press conference that the hole in the pipeline is “substantially larger than many of us initially thought,” measuring more than 22 feet long and two inches wide.

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