Michael Hibblen / KUAR

As News Director, Michael Hibblen oversees daily news coverage for KUAR. He handles assignments for the news staff, helps develop story ideas and edits copy. Michael is responsible for starting a news-sharing partnership between public radio stations in Arkansas in 2009 which laid the foundation for what became Arkansas Public Media. He is also a regular panelist 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 daily newspaper the Miami Herald in 2003 when it partnered with NPR station WLRN, initially working as morning news anchor. Later Michael became department editor, then assistant news director. He also wrote frequently for the newspaper.

Michael returned home to Little Rock in 2009 to work for KUAR. At that time he also resumed taking classes at UALR to finish his Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communication, graduating in May of 2013.

Phone: 501-683-7386

E-mail: michael@kuar.org

State Sen. Linda Chesterfield, Dr. Jill Biden and State Rep. Jamie Scott pose with children at First Baptist Church in North Little Rock.
Daniel Breen / KUAR

Arkansas Democrats coalesced behind Joe Biden in his bid for president. Member Station KUAR's Michael Hibblen talked with Heather Yates, political science professor at the University of Central Arkansas and has a look on the factors that came together


Pixabay

Two years ago Arkansas voters approved an amendment allowing full-fledged casino gambling in the state. Since then owners of the casinos have been working to reach the broadest and most ideal base.


U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR)
KASU News

This week, impeachment proceedings against President Trump will ramp up in the Senate.

Member Station KUAR's Michael Hibblen spoke with Senator John Boozman (R-AR)---one of the 100 members who will decide the case.

You can get the latest from NPR’s coverage of the proceedings at 91.9 FM and online here.

Arkansas State Capitol
Wikipedia.org

This is an important day for Arkansas politics heading into next year's election.

The candidate filing period in Arkansas starts at noon on Monday (11/4) and is expected to last until  Tuesday, November 12.  Michael Hibblen, News Director with KUAR , spoke to Hal Bass, policital science professor at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelpha, about what to expect for the 2020 election in Arkansas.

Rep. John Walker speaking with reporters outside the federal courthouse in Little Rock on Nov. 22, 2013 after a judge gave preliminary approval of a settlement to resolve the long-running desegregation case involving central Arkansas school districts.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas civil rights attorney and state lawmaker John Walker has died. He was 82. The Pulaski County Coroner’s Office says he died Monday at his home in Little Rock. A cause was not immediately reported.

Freshmen Democratic Arkansas state Representatives Megan Godfrey of Springdale and Jay Richardson of Fort Smith give the party's response to Gov. Asa Hutchinson's State of the State address Tuesday.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Democrats in the Arkansas Legislature responded to Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s State of the State address Tuesday by expressing their priorities for the session that is just getting underway. In particular, they voiced concerns about the impact the governor’s proposed tax cut plan would have on the state budget.

Two freshmen representatives, Megan Godfrey of Springdale and Jay Richardson of Fort Smith, read a prepared statement saying that allocating money for highways and expanding pre-kindergarten education would benefit more Arkansans.

File photo of David Wildy, a prominent Arkansas farmer, in a field of soybeans that were damaged by dicamba.
DAN CHARLES / NPR NEWS

The Arkansas Agriculture Department has opened a 30-day public comment period regarding proposed regulations for the use of dicamba. The herbicide has been blamed in recent years for extensive crop damage after drifting on non-resistant vegetation. A public hearing has also been scheduled for next month.

Boozman.senate.gov

After an impasse that stretched on for months, a final version of the Farm Bill has been agreed to in Congress. The U.S. House and Senate are expected to vote on the compromise bill in the coming days.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson (left) listens to Arkansas School Safety Commission Chair Cheryl May during a press conference Monday to unveil the commission's final report with recommendations for schools.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

After nine months of work, the Arkansas School Safety Commission released its final report Monday with recommendations on how schools could best avoid mass shootings. The panel was created by Gov. Asa Hutchinson in March as a response to a school shooting in Parkland, Florida where 17 people were killed. 

"The State of the Heartland: Factbook 2018" uses socioeconomic factors to look at how the area’s economy has been performing in recent years compared to the rest of the country. The full report can be found here.

Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission announcing the first 5 applicants to receive a cultivation facility license to grow medical marijuana.
Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission

A company hired to grade Arkansas medical marijuana dispensary applications says it can deliver scores to the state by the end of next month. But at a meeting Tuesday, the chair of the state’s Medical Marijuana Commission voiced concerns that no physicians are part of the scoring team.

Pixabay

Next week, the first in a series of sentencing hearings will be held for former Arkansas lawmakers, a college president and others who were convicted or pleaded guilty for their roles in a wide-ranging corruption scheme.

Arkansas Department of Transportation officials and other dignitaries after the unveiling of a sign Monday dedicating part of U.S. 49 between Brinkley and Marvel as the Louis Jordan Memorial 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 Gov. Asa Hutchinson on March 6, 2017, presenting his proposed changes to the state's Medicaid-expansion program, which included the addition of a 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.

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.

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.”

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?”

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 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.

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.

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.

The story of the 1957 desegregation of Little Rock’s Central High School by nine black students is well known. But overshadowed is phase two of the school district’s desegregation plan, which involved 25 students attending five previously all-white junior high schools in 1961 and 1962.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe, a pioneering gospel singer and guitar player from Arkansas, will be among the 2018 inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She was born in the Woodruff County town of Cotton Plant in 1915 and achieved fame in the 1930s.  Tharpe was among six acts announced Wednesday for next year's induction ceremony and will be honored in the category Early Influences. 

Stephen Koch, host of the weekly feature Arkansongs, says given her influence, it’s an honor long overdue. He spoke with KUAR during All Things Considered.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson says diverting money from Arkansas’s tobacco settlement to help people with developmental disabilities has cut the number of families on a waiting list by 500.

Speaking at the quarterly meeting of the state’s Tobacco Settlement Commission Tuesday, Hutchinson praised commissioners for supporting a proposal he made in September 2016.

"You embraced that idea, which I wanted to thank you for," he said.

For a few hours Friday the Arkansas Department of Health did not issue any birth certificates, per a judge’s order. Gov. Asa Hutchinson eventually issued a directive that the department treat married lesbian couples the same as married heterosexual couples and to include the names of both spouses on birth certificates.

Pulaski County Judge Tim Fox took the action Friday morning, suggesting the state was delaying making a fix to the state’s birth certificate law, which the nation’s highest court said was unjust.

Four days of events marking the 60th anniversary of the integration of Little Rock’s Central High School got underway Friday with the eight surviving members of the Little Rock Nine speaking to reporters. It comes amid a time of uncertainty for public schools as Arkansas has seen a rapid growth of publicly funded charter schools and what some view as a resegregating of schools.

Work is progressing ahead of a ceremonial groundbreaking on Nov. 9 for a National World War I Memorial in Washington, DC commemorating the service of Americans in the military. The memorial likely won’t be completed as initially hoped in time for 100th anniversary of the end of the war, but substantial work should be visible by then.

With one week before a deadline for entities to apply for licenses to cultivate and dispense medical marijuana, officials still haven't received as many applications as expected.

As of midday Monday, Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration spokesman Scott Hardin said 27 applications for dispensaries had been received. That’s five fewer than the 32 officials expected to be approved, though more applications are expected in the coming days.

11 applications for cultivation facilities have been received, with five to be approved.

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