Michelle Billman

News Director

Michelle Billman (formerly Bliss) moved to the Silver State from North Carolina where she led the award-winning public radio newsroom in Wilmington. During her time down South, Michelle earned two regional Edward R. Murrow awards for her coverage of local politics and the water contamination scandal at Camp Lejeune. She also completed her master's degree in creative writing from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.

Here in Reno, the newsroom has been earning news awards under her leadership, including two regional Edward R. Murrow awards for reporting on Tesla's impact on Northern Nevada and the ongoing drought. Her team has also earned several awards from the Associated Press Television and Radio Association, which covers 13 Western states, for hard news reporting, best use of sound, best spot news, and other categories. 

When she's not covering a local story, Michelle works on other nonfiction writing projects, which have appeared in literary journals like River Teeth and Ninth Letter

Ways to Connect

Four people sit at a table. In front of them are microphones and name cards.
Krysta Scripter

Episode 7 - Proposing Solutions

This week Joey is joined by editor Michelle Billman while Bree is out reporting. Joey and Michelle talk about the affordable housing community conversation that KUNR held on June 20 at Moana Nursery. We hear from Kim Robinson of Truckee Meadows Regional Planning Agency, State senator Julia Ratti, Eric Novak from Praxis Consulting and Eddie Hult from La Causa Development Nevada. Each panelist gives some thoughts on the issue and some bring up some solutions.

The Northern Nevada Development Authority attracts new businesses and supports existing businesses in Lyon, Douglas, and Storey Counties, along with Carson City. The organization has reduced the vacancy rate of industrial spaces across that region from 26 percent back in 2010 to about 3 percent today, though challenges remain. Our News Director Michelle Billman spoke with the organization to learn more about what they’re grappling with as they continue expanding economic growth in these smaller communities.

The 34th annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering wrapped up in Elko over the weekend. Its theme focused on herding cultures, with a heavy emphasis on Basque people. Our News Director Michelle Billman spoke with two Basque performers who were highlighted during the festival.

Cultural competency is a form of training widely used in corporate and public work settings. Julie Hogan is a business professor at the University of Nevada, Reno who has devised many of these training materials, but she says it’s not effective. Now, she's proposing a different approach, a deeper dive through a concept called cultural humility. She’ll be giving a talk for Reno’s TedX series on this topic and she gave a preview to our News Director Michelle Billman.

The University of Nevada TEDx event is a series of talks from local and national thinkers who have innovative ideas to share. At this year's event later this month, Reno marriage and family therapist Steven Ing will be discussing how to select an ideal mate. He says partner selection is a big component for avoiding relationship trouble.

Susan Nissenbaum is a court appointed special advocate with the Washoe County CASA program. Many years ago, she was assigned to work with a teen named Grace, who ended up living in multiple foster and group homes. They attended court together for years and when Grace aged out of the foster care system, they remained close. They came to KUNR to remember those difficult times, which ultimately brought them together. 

Helix

Since 2016, Renown Health and the Desert Research Institute, or DRI, have been studying data from the genetic testing of 10,000 Northern Nevadans, as part of their Healthy Nevada Project. The goal is to learn more about health factors and risks for people across the region.

Over the next year or so, the project is going to grow significantly, as another 40,000 new participants are tested. Our News Director Michelle Billman spoke to Dr. Tony Slonim, the president of Renown Health, about the expansion.

Waste Management

Some Reno business owners, like Mark McKinnon, are getting letters telling them that they are in violation of city ordinances because they are not using the company Waste Management to haul their trash and recycling. Our contributor Bob Conrad of ThisisReno has been reporting on this situation and gave the latest update to our News Director Michelle Billman.

The actions mark an effort to solidify Waste Management’s exclusivity as the area’s waste hauler.

ThisisReno.com

The City of Reno is exploring new rules for cannabis facilities in order to address the issue of nuisance odors. Our News Director Michelle Billman spoke with Bob Conrad of ThisisReno to learn more.

It’s an attempt to get regulations in place when they become permanent, said City Code Enforcement Manager Alex Woodley. “(The ordinances will) replicate what Las Vegas passed.”

A student at Truckee Meadows Community College is one of the victims who was killed during the Las Vegas shooting Sunday. Our News Director Michelle Billman reports.

His name is Austin Meyer and he was at the country music festival celebrating his 24th birthday with his fiancée, Dana Getreu, who is a student at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Meyer was in the transportation technologies program at TMCC, which is a small cohort of students who work together closely. Kyle Dalpe is the dean of technical sciences and had to break the news to Meyer's classmates.

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