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

Relocation, Arkansas: Aftermath of Incarceration
www.relocationarkansas.com

A documentary film probes the impact that a World War II Japanese American internment camp had on a community in southeast Arkansas, and on later generations. "Relocation, Arkansas: Aftermath of Incarceration" is being shown Friday at 3 p.m. at the Ron Robinson Theater in Little Rock.

Bishop Woosley Arkansas Lottery
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery reports that during the budget year that ended June 30, a record $500.4 million in revenue was collected. Nearly $92 million of that will go toward college scholarships, which is the third highest amount since the lottery was created in 2009.

"We broke several records, and we had an excellent year for our proceeds," said Lottery Director Bishop Woosley. He attributed the growth to a number of factors, including large Powerball and Mega Millions jackpots, along with growth in the sales of instant ticket games.

Louis Jordan Highway
Stephen Koch / Arkansongs

A pioneering musician from Brinkley is being posthumously honored by having part of U.S. 49 in eastern Arkansas dedicated as the Louis Jordan Memorial Highway. A ceremony was held Monday with officials from the Arkansas Department of Transportation and other dignitaries who came together to unveil a sign alongside the highway.

Arkansas Works Governor Asa Hutchinson Work Requirement
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Unless there has been a rush of people this week who successfully logged on to a state website before a 9 p.m. deadline Thursday, thousands of Arkansas Works enrollees will be out of compliance with a newly-enacted work requirement.

Marci Manley, a spokeswoman for the Arkansas Department of Human Services, says that of the 8,534 people who needed to check in, as of June 29, only 370 had reported that they were in compliance. If the enrollees fail to report their information for three months over a 12-month period, she says they will lose their healthcare coverage.

Arkansas School Safety Commission
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The Arkansas School Safety Commission is recommending that each school in the state have an armed presence on campus. That means at least one trained person with a firearm would be available to immediately respond to any act of violence, including an active shooter.

The recommendation was one of 19 included in a preliminary report from the panel, which was created by Gov. Asa Hutchinson after a February school shooting in Parkland, Florida that killed 17 students and staff and wounded 17 others.

KAAY Barry McCorkindale Arkansas Sounds John Miller
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A legendary Little Rock radio station will be celebrated with an event Friday night. In its heyday during the 1960s and '70s, KAAY-AM 1090 played top 40 music during the day and progressive rock at night. With a powerful signal that reached most of Arkansas during the day, at night KAAY's secondary pattern reached much of the U.S., as well as other counties.

Arkansas Razorbacks Blaine Knight
University of Arkansas

The Arkansas Razorbacks baseball team could win its first national championship Wednesday night. Arkansas faces Oregon State beginning at 6 p.m. after winning the first game Tuesday 4-1. If Arkansas loses Wednesday night, a decisive game three will be held Thursday.

KUAR spoke with veteran Arkansas sports writer Harry King about what has put the Razorbacks in such a strong position this year. You can hear the interview above.

Rev. Betsy Singleton Snyder of First United Methodist Church calls for compassion for migrant families during Wednesday's press conference.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Midway through a press conference with the Arkansas leaders of several religious denominations who were calling for an end to separating children from their parents at the U.S. border with Mexico, David Cook’s phone vibrated. The legislative director for Faith Voices Arkansas read a news bulletin that said President Donald Trump had reversed his position on families caught crossing into the U.S.

Cook then stepped to the podium to share the news.

Jake Files
Arkansas Times

Former Arkansas state Sen. Jake Files was sentenced Monday to 18 months in federal prison for what the judge called "egregious" violations. The Republican of Fort Smith pleaded guilty in January to charges of wire fraud, money laundering and bank fraud as part of a wide-ranging corruption investigation.

Sarah Whites-Koditschek / Arkansas Public Media

A revised set of standards for accrediting Arkansas public schools is scheduled to be considered Tuesday afternoon by the Administrative Rules and Regulations Subcommittee of the Arkansas Legislative Council. 

The changes were unanimously approved May 30 by the Arkansas Board of Education, despite concerns from some like board Chairman Jay Barth who worry the new rules could be too much of a departure from a uniform set of standards.

Arkansas Supreme Court Lee Rudofsky
courts.arkansas.gov

The Arkansas Supreme Court heard oral arguments Thursday in a challenge by the state to a circuit judge’s order that halted the issuing of medical marijuana cultivation licenses. It was also revealed that investigators are looking into allegations that a bribe was offered by one company to a member of the Medical Marijuana Commission.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen ruled in March that the process for how the commission decided which companies would get five licenses was constitutionally flawed.

Almost 25 years to the day that Conway Twitty died at the age of 59, relatives, former bandmates and fans of the country and rockabilly singer gathered Friday in his hometown of Helena, Arkansas for a celebration of his life. 

Born Harold Lloyd Jenkins in 1933 at Friars Point, Mississippi, his family moved to east Arkansas at the age of 10. After serving in the military, he returned home and had to decide between two dreams: music or baseball, according to Doug Friedlander, organizer of Friday's events. Inspired by the sound of Elvis Pressley, Jenkins traveled to Memphis, working with Sam Phillips at Sun Records.

Asa Hutchinson III
Washington Co. Sheriff's Office

The son of Gov. Asa Hutchinson has again been arrested on a charge of driving while intoxicated, authorities report.

An Arkansas State Police tropper stopped William Asa Hutchinson III in Washington County early Monday for allegedly driving 88 miles-per-hour in an area where the speed limit is 70. Hutcinson reportedly had bloodshot eyes, prompting the trooper to investigate whether he was intoxicated. He was speeding, DWI, violation of the implied consent law. The final charge was because he refused to submit to a test that would determine his blood-alcohol content.

Donald Trump speaking at Barton Coliseum in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

As Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson faces a challenge from the right in Tuesday’s Republican primary election, he now has the backing of President Trump.

The endorsement came in the form of a tweet Monday evening after Hutchinson and four other Republican governors dined with the president at the White House to discuss border security and other issues. Trump wrote on Twitter that Hutchinson had “done an incredible job with a focus on lower taxes, border security and crime prevention.”

File photo. Attorney General Leslie Rutledge (R).
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge was expected to testify Friday morning in a lawsuit accusing her of obstructing ballot initiatives in her role of approving the language of items being placed on the ballot. But as the hearing was getting underway, it was announced that the trail was being moved from state court to federal court.

It comes just days after Pulaski County Circuit Judge Griffen issued a strongly worded opinion ordering Mr. Rutledge to testify and not allowing her to defer it to a lower level staffer.

Leslie Rutledge Attorney General
Talk Business & Politics

A judge is denying a request by Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge to quash a subpoena calling her to testify in a lawsuit.

A group that has been rejected in its efforts to get language for a ballot initiative approved by the AG’s office argued that Rutledge "has acted in bad faith" and is abusing her power. The Committee to Restore Arkansas’ Rights wants to change the sovereign immunity provision in the state constitution.

The Arkansas Repertory Theatre
www.therep.org

A rally will take place Tuesday afternoon in support of the Arkansas Repertory Theatre. It comes after last week’s announcement that The Rep was suspending operations because of financial problems. Since then people have been discussing ways to help the theater resume operations.

Skip Rutherford, dean of the Clinton School of Public Service, is helping to organize Tuesday's event, which begins at 5 p.m. in front of The Rep at 601 Main Street in Little Rock.

Rutherford spoke with KUAR in advance of the rally. You can listen to the interview above or read a transcript below.

Ben Fry
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Toys of Desperation, a posthumously-released novel, written by longtime KUAR Station Manager Ben Fry is being featured as part of the Arkansas Literary Festival this weekend.

The book, published by Et. Alia Press, is about Billy Williams, who lives in the fictional town of Weir Arkansas. He traverses the town on his bike crossing the railroad tracks, while the 1973 Watergate hearings are being televised. Billy Williams hears the voice of his father and sets out to find what it is that his father is telling him.

Tony Alamo
KATV, Channel 7 News

The author of a new book about apocalyptic evangelist Tony Alamo is speaking Saturday at the Arkansas Literary Festival. Alamo, who operated compounds in Arkansas, died in federal prison in 2017 at the age of 82. He was convicted in 2009 of sexually abusing girls he considered his wives, one as young as nine.

Debby Schriver's book Whispering in the Daylight: The Children of Tony Alamo Christian Ministries and Their Journey to Freedom was released earlier this month. She spoke with KUAR about Alamo, which you can listen to above.

The 2018 Arkansas Literary Festival is taking place this weekend in Little Rock. More than 70 authors, performers and filmmakers are participating, including Pulitzer Prize and Grammy Award winners.

Events got underway Thursday with a performance by “queen of rockabilly” Wanda Jackson at the Central Arkansas Library System’s Ron Robinson Theater. Speaking Saturday night is bestselling author Sebastian Junger. You can find a full listening of events here.

Arkansas-born jazz musician Bob Dorough died Monday at the age of 94. While he was an acclaimed bebop pianist who was part of the 1950s New York jazz scene, Dorough reached his widest audience writing and singing songs designed to make learning fun for kids.

He was one of the primary musicians used in the Schoolhouse Rock! short films that aired between Saturday morning cartoons in the 1970s and ‘80s. The three-minute lessons were set to music and taught mathematics, grammar, civics and science.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Chris Ware/Getty Images/NPR.org

Sister Rosetta Tharpe, an Arkansas-native who influenced musicians later credited with creating rock and roll, is one of six acts being inducted this year into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Born in the Woodruff County town of Cotton Plant in 1915, Tharpe is being posthumously inducted during a ceremony Saturday night in Cleveland.

Tharpe rose to fame in the 1930s, breaking boundaries by being an African-American woman who sang while playing an electric guitar with heavy distortion. Her style would later be adopted by blues performers and iconic rock guitarists.

Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A North Little Rock engineering firm has been chosen to begin design on the Southwest Trail, a 67 mile biking and walking path that will connect Hot Springs and Little Rock. Garver LLC will begin the preliminary design, which is also called the “65 percent” design.

Opioid Attorney General Leslie Rutledge
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas is suing three drug makers claiming they’re at fault for the opioid crisis that has caused a drastic increase in the number of overdose deaths in Arkansas.

Connecticut Department of Public Health

203 people in Arkansas have died from the flu this season, according to the latest report issued Tuesday by the state Department of Health. That’s an increase of six since last week.

Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, medical director for immunizations, says while the flu is winding down for the season, the death toll is expected to keep rising.

"We’ll continue to likely get more deaths reported as the reporting process continues to go through the steps needed," she said.

Overall, reports from Arkansas’s 75 counties show fewer people are being impacted.

Central High School
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Hundreds of students at Little Rock’s Central High School walked out of class Wednesday in a show of solidarity with young people conducting similar demonstrations at schools across the nation and outside the White House.

At Central, students chanted slogans like “books not bullets” and “this is what democracy looks like,” while holding handmade signs that read things like “Never again,” “Central stands with Parkland,” and “Why are we still talking about this?”

Cheryl May Arkansas School Safety Commission
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A panel tasked by Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson to make recommendations on how schools can try to prevent mass shootings has begun its work. On Tuesday, the Arkansas School Safety Commission held its first meeting. You can hear the report above.

Bill Clinton
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Bill Clinton was known as the rock ‘n’ roll president – the first from a generation that grew up on the music to reach the highest office in the nation. Sunday, he spoke at the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock at the opening of a temporary exhibit that looks at the impact rock music has had over the years on politics and social movements.

marijuana
npr.org

The five companies selected to cultivate medical marijuana in Arkansas should soon be able to set up shop and begin growing. Scott Hardin, a spokesman for the state Department of Finance and Administration, said Friday that since the top companies were named last week by the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission, all have met their  required financial obligations.

"Over the past week we’ve been receiving the licensing fees from the companies, we’ve been receiving the performance bonds, and as of this morning, all five companies have paid," Hardin said.

Dr. Christopher M. Jones at a 3D printer inside the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub in North Little Rock.
Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub

A new executive director and lead maker has been named for the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub. The non-profit based in North Little Rock provides cutting edge tools like 3D printers and advanced computer technology to inspire people, help them learn and create.

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