The Online Home And Archive Of Radio Journalist Michael Hibblen




With its presidential primary two months earlier than in recent years, Arkansas got several visits by candidates for president this year, especially in the heated race for the Republican nomination. I was part of KUAR's extensive coverage leading up to the primary, reporting on the Hillary Clinton campaign opening a state office three weeks before election day, covered a rally by Marco Rubio and assisted NPR's All Things Considered in an interview aired nationwide with Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who had harsh words about Donald Trump.

Arkansas lost a political legend with the death of former U.S. Senator and Governor Dale Bumpers. He was one of the first politicians I covered after becoming a reporter. As part of KUAR's coverage, I have the thoughts and some stories by his longtime Arkansas colleague in the Senate David Pryor.

The second-oldest bridge in Arkansas, which has been abandoned for decades, could finally see new life. A $500,000 grant will allow restoration to begin of the Saline River bridge near Benton, which is being envisioned as part of a cycling and pedestrian trail between Little Rock and Hot Springs.

Last year, I oversaw the launch of KUAR's Week-In-Review podcast, with the station news staff discussing the biggest stories we cover each week. You can hear recent episodes on the link, or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.

See my Reports & Biography page on KUAR's website.

  On the air at KUAR

On the web since 2002, this is where I share details of working for decades in radio and news. You can hear audio of some stories I've covered, see photos, videos and PDF files of newspaper stories. I started my career in Arkansas, made my way up to Washington, DC, down to Richmond Virginia, then spent 12 years in Miami, Florida before finally returning home to Little Rock, where today I'm news director of NPR station KUAR-FM 89.1 at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. I also have sections on photography, railroads and other assorted interests.



Monday, January 25, 2016

Remembering Radio Veteran Ron Breeding

Ron Breeding interviewing Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton in the 1980sWhat started as an effort for me to digitize some old cassettes of notable broadcasts by the late Ron Breeding, who I worked for twice over the last couple of decades, has grown into a full tribute page. It features audio of newscasts, reports and interviews from the 1980s and 90s, as well as photos, including some great old images that his sister shared with me, like the one to the left of Ron interviewing then-Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton in the 1980s.

As I write on my Ron Breeding Tribute page, he became an icon for radio news in Arkansas through his strong reporting, newsroom leadership and mentoring of young aspiring news people like myself. He worked as an anchor, reporter and news director at several stations or networks over the years, including three rounds at KARN, which is the flagship of the Arkansas Radio Network, and 12 years as news and program director at KUAR.

Ron died June 2014 at the age of 54 and the outpouring of grief from the news and at his memorial service was telling of the impact he had on the industry. This page is my effort to allow vintage recordings of his work to live on. It's still a work in progress which I hope to expand on.


Friday, January 8, 2016

Paying Tribute To Former Senator And Governor Dale Bumpers On Arkansas Week

I was proud to be alongside University of Arkansas journalism professor Hoyt Purvis and veteran journalist Ernie Dumas to talk about former U.S. Senator and Arkansas Governor Dale Bumpers on AETN's Arkansas Week with Steve Barnes. I coudn't add much compared to the decades of experiences they had with Bumpers, but enjoyed being on the program. I covered Bumpers only a few years in the 1990s, but always got so much out of each interview. Bumpers was easily accessible, never minding an early morning call at home to do an interview, weighing in on matters going before the Senate or to offer thoughts on national or international issues. Dumas also spoke two days after the program at the memorial service for Bumpers. If your browser is having trouble loading the video below, you can also watch the program here.


Friday, June 26, 2015

Filling In Hosting AETN's Arkansas Week After Major Supreme Court Rulings

I'm a regular panelist on AETN's Arkansas Week, but a few times a year I get to fill in hosting the week-in-review program while regular host Steve Barnes is away. Each week the program, aired statewide on the six stations that make up the Arkansas Educational Television Network, features journalists, political scientists and newsmakers discussing the top stories. That week we got word shortly before going on the air that the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled states cannot prohibit same-sex marriages. It also came the day after the high court had upheld a key part of President Obama's Affordable Care Act, so we had plenty of big news to talk about. I was joined that week by columnist Ernie Dumas, reporter Steve Brawner and my colleague, KUAR political reporter Jacob Kauffman. If your browser is having trouble showing the video below, you can also watch the program here.


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Reporting For NPR News On Arkansas Religious Objections Law

Arkansas Senate President Jonathan Dismang listens as Gov. Asa Hutchinson talks with the media about the religious objections bill. National attention over "religious objections" laws shifted to Arkansas at the start of April, when Governor Asa Hutchinson asked state lawmakers to recall a bill that was sent to his desk for signature. The Republican had vowed to sign the measure a week earlier, but with businesses like Walmart and economic development officials concerned about the image it would present of Arkansas, Hutchinson asked for changes to be made. In my photo to the left, Senate President Johnathan Dismang listened as Hutchinson spoke to the press.

The bill passed the Arkansas Legislature shortly after a similar bill went into effect in Indiana, drawing criticism from many who said it would allow the open discrimination of homosexuals. An example of the types of arguments being made was that a baker with deeply held Christian beliefs shouldn't be required to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. But the hundreds who carried signs demonstrating in the halls of the Arkansas Capitol said it was much more than that, with language from the Arkansas bill allowing people to go much further than that in refusing to provide services for LGBT people and asked Governor Hutchinson for a veto. He didn't do that, but requested that changes to be made in the legislation.

NPR.orgShortly after Governor Hutchinson made the announcement, I went live on NPR's midday program Here and Now by telephone from the press room of the Capitol to discuss the developments. Later I produced a piece that led the second hour of All Things Considered that afternoon. Below are links where you can hear and read my reports for the network.

  • Live two-way on Here & Now, talking with co-host Jeremy Hobson, April 1, 2015.

  • A packaged report for All Things Considered, April 1, 2015.

  • The bill had passed with strong support in the legislature and there was resistance from some lawmakers to making changes, calling for the governor to make a decision one way or another: either veto it or sign it. But legislative leaders were able to convince most members to make changes and found shell bills that had been filed before a session deadline, but not used that could fit the purposes of filing a similar bill, but making it more closely mirror a federal law. With quick work by the legislature, a new bill was ready to be signed the following day. Activists said that while the second bill was an improvement from the original bill, it still fell short of providing protections for all Arkansans. I covered Governor Hutchinson's signing ceremony on April 2, which allowed lawmakers to wrap up the session, with a formal adjournment later that month.



    Read About My Radio Background
    Details 28 years in radio and news with photos and audio from each station, network or newspaper. I started as a DJ in Arkansas, made the transition to news through an internship at C-SPAN, spent 12 years in Miami working for CBS News and the Miami Herald, before returning home to Little Rock.
    See My Black & White Photography
    While I love the convenience and quality of digital cameras, nothing compares to the look of black and white film. Many years back I put together a few galleries, focusing on some of the more consistent topics I shot over the years. I hope to eventually revise and expand this section to include more photos.
    Beat Writers & Spoken Word
    For about a year in 1994, in addition to my regular show on KABF, I hosted a beat poetry and spoken word program. I took every opportunity to interview some of my favorite writers and poets, including Allen Ginsberg when he gave a reading in Arkansas.

    I also have a few other sections that may be of interest for some. I maintain a section looking at the long gone Rock Island Railroad in Arkansas, with recent photos and MP3 interviews with former employees. As Mike Huckabee emerged as one of the leading candidates for President in 2007, I put together this profile of him based on my experiences. This includes an MP3 with an interview I recorded in 1996 just before he became governor, articles, reports and photos from my days of covering him in the mid-1990s. I've also got photos of Miami's fascinating, long shuttered Marine Stadium, which was damaged by Hurricane Andrew, but is the focus of preservation efforts by those who would like to see it reopened and restored to its former glory.

    I welcome your Feedback. If you have any questions, notice any errors, links that no longer work or other problems with this site, please let me know. Or if you just want to share any comments about what I've got here, I'd love to read it. Thanks for stopping by and please check back again. I try to update this regularly, it's just a slow, slow process!.

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