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

Winthrop Rockefeller Collection

The late Johnny Cash was well known for his prison concerts, but this weekend the BBC will air a special looking at one lesser-known prison show that helped spur reform in Arkansas.  You can listen to the show here.

The international broadcaster sent a reporter from London to Arkansas to research the performance at Cummins Prison in 1969.

For the first time since before the Civil War, Republicans Tuesday night won control of both chambers of the Arkansas Legislature.

Republican incumbents from Arkansas in the U.S. House of Representatives also won re-election, while Tom Cotton won the 4th district seat being vacated by Democrat Mike Ross.

But the margins in the state House and Senate weren't as wide as Republican leaders had hoped, suggesting both parties will still have to work together in reaching mutually satisfying agreements in the coming legislative session.

Michael Hibblen filled in hosting the program that week.
Joe Ely- You Can Bet I’m Gone (Satisfied At Last)
Norman Blake- The Railroad Days (Fields of November)
Steve Goodman- City of New Orleans (Live at the Earl of Old Town)
Robert Earl Keen- Five Pound Bass (The Road Goes On Forever)
Guy Clark- Dublin Blues (Dublin Blues)
Billy Joe Shaver & Kris Kristofferson- No Earthly Good
The Carper Family- Another Town (Come See Yer Ol’ Daddy)
Hayes Carll- Little Rock (Little Rock)
Merle Haggard- Branded Man (Down Every Road Box Set)

Rodney Crowell- Anything But Tame (Kin)
Pat Green- All Just To Get To You
Merle Haggard – Big City (The Bluegrass Sessions)
Johnny Cash – I Won’t Back Down (American III: Solitary Man)

Interview with Dr. Ruth Hawkins, director of the Arkansas Heritage Sites program, who is overseeing the restoration of Johnny Cash's boyhood home in Dyess, Arkansas.  During a visit to Little Rock, she stopped by KUAR to provide an update on how the project is going.

Little Rock Airport
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Little Rock National Airport is being renamed in honor of Bill and Hillary Clinton. The airport's commission unanimously approved the name change Tuesday after hearing comments from the public.

Arkansas House Speaker-elect Darren Williams told the panel he believes it is an appropriate way to honor the 42nd President and the Secretary of State. 

Johnny Cash boyhoood home
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

On what would have been Johnny Cash's 80th birthday, dozens of family members joined hundreds of fans and residents in the east Arkansas town of Dyess Sunday to formally mark the beginning of work to restore his boyhood home.

"This project has been in the making for several years and I never thought that it would actually come to fruition," said daughter Rosanne Cash, who led the ceremony at the Dyess Community Center. "We never foresaw that it would take on this kind of life."

Michael Hibblen filled in hosting the program that week.

Johnny Cash- Like The 309 (American V: A Hundred Highways)
Rodney Crowell- Beautiful Despair (The Outsider)
Johnny Cash- I Still Miss Someone (Live at Madison Square Garden, 1969)
Johnny Cash- Five Feet High and Rising (Live at Madison Square Garden, 1969)
Johnny Cash- Pickin’ Time (Live at Madison Square Garden, 1969)

Michael Hibblen / KUAR

55 years ago, a modest home on West 28th Street in Little Rock was where the Little Rock Nine would meet to coordinate efforts to integrate Central High School.

During the days when National Guard troops kept them out of the school, it’s also where they would meet with tutors in the basement to keep up with their studies.

Today the home of L. C. and Daisy Bates is restored to the way it looked in those days and is available for tours from the National Park Service.

Arkansas Gazette
Arkansas Gazette

It was the oldest newspaper west of the Mississippi River and an institution in Arkansas. This weekend former employees of the Arkansas Gazette will gather to mark the 20 year anniversary of the newspaper’s death.

The last issue of the Gazette hit the streets on October 18, 1991, capping a fierce battle between it and the Arkansas Democrat.

Rock Island Clinton Presidential Park Bridge Bill Clinton
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Former President Bill Clinton led a dedication ceremony Friday in Little Rock for a new $10.5 million pedestrian and cycling pathway over the Arkansas River, which was built inside an old railroad bridge. He was joined by his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, daughter Chelsea, and the mayors of Little Rock and North Little Rock.

"This bridge is important because first, it keeps the promise we made," Clinton told the crowd. "We came up with the money that turned out to be two and a half times what the original estimate was to complete this trail loop.  It’s important.  I’m proud of it."

It was originally hoped that work to renovate the bridge, which was built in 1899, would be completed in time for the dedication of the Clinton Presidential Center in 2004.  But increasing costs led to it being repeatedly delayed.

Johnny Cash Festival
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A sold out show at Arkansas State University raised more than $310,000 for the restoration of the boyhood home of music legend Johnny Cash in the east Arkansas town of Dyess.

Four generations of the Cash family, including daughter Rosanne Cash, son-in-law Rodney Crowell and son John Carter Cash were on hand to pay homage to Cash, as were many of his longtime friends like Kris Kristofferson.

Two Rivers Park Bridge
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Hundreds of people came out Friday, many with their bicycles, for the dedication of the new Two Rivers Park Bridge.

"Welcome to your new bridge!” Pulaksi County Judge Buddy Villines said to a cheering crowd. 

The $5 million pedestrian and bicycle bridge crosses the Little Maumelle River where it meets the Arkansas River and links the Arkansas River Trail with Two Rivers Park. Construction of the bridge, which took a year build, was funded with 80 percent federal dollars and Pulaski County paying the rest. 

Dogpatch USA
wikipedia

It was once a big attraction in north Arkansas, but Dogpatch USA, a hillbilly theme park based on the Li'l Abner comic strip, closed in 1993.

Nearly two decades later, the property has now ended up in the hands of a 23-year-old who nearly died there. Pruett Nance and his family are considering what to do with the land, located between Jasper and Harrison.

In 2005, Nance was riding an ATV through the grounds when he was struck by a throat-high cable stretched between two trees.

Michael Hibblen/ KUAR

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.

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