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

A fire and smoke on the side of a mountain.
Image from ALERTWildfire Greater Tahoe cameras on Twitter @nvfirecams

8:00 a.m. | July 9, 2020

The Bureau of Land Management said the Numbers Fire, burning near Gardnerville, has charred 17,400 acres. Firefighters have built containment lines around 20 percent of the burn area.

An illustration of an ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses.
Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Correction: An earlier version of this blog post stated an incorrect number of active COVID-19 cases in Washoe County for July 8, 2020. The post has been updated with the correct number. 

8:09 p.m. | July 8, 2020

Nevada COVID-19 Cases Surpass 24,000
By Jayden Perez

The State of Nevada reported 516 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, bringing the total of confirmed cases to more than 24,000. The death toll statewide has increased to 553, according to the state’s online dashboard. There has been a record number of 12,776 daily new tests reported.

An illustration of an ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses.
Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

7:36 p.m. | July 7, 2020

Nevada Reports Nearly 900 Additional Cases Of COVID-19, Officials Discuss Limitations Of Contact Tracing
By Lucia Starbuck

The Nevada Department of Health and Human Services reported 876 additional cases of COVID-19 Tuesday. There are now nearly 550 COVID-19-related deaths in Nevada, and there have been close to 384,000 COVID-19 tests performed. The growing number of cases in the state is causing challenges related to contact tracing.

An illustration of an ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses.
Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

7:51 p.m. | June 30, 2020

Nevada Reports More Than 500 Additional COVID-19 Cases
By Lucia Starbuck

The Nevada Department of Health and Human Services reported 562 additional cases of COVID-19 Tuesday. There are now 507 COVID-19-related deaths in Nevada. There have been nearly 323,000 COVID-19 tests performed in the state.

An illustration of an ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses.
Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

7:23 p.m. | June 23, 2020

Nevada Sees Another Record Day Of COVID-19 Cases
By The Associated Press

The Reno Police Department's use of force policy was updated on June 5 to include a warning before using deadly force is required when reasonable, and officers are required to intervene in excessive force situations.
Courtesy of the Reno Police Department

The Reno Police Department, or RPD, has announced some changes to its use of force policy in response to community input. The changes are in light of protests against police brutality, both locally and nationally, following the death of George Floyd, a black man in Minneapolis who was killed while in police custody after a white officer pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for several minutes, even after Floyd stopped moving and pleading for air.

An illustration of an ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses.
Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

7:08 p.m. | June 9, 2020

Nevada Reports Highest Spike Of New COVID-19 Cases
By Lucia Starbuck

An illustration of an ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses.
Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

8:24 p.m. | June 2, 2020

More Than 176,000 COVID-19 Tests Performed Statewide
By Lucia Starbuck

An illustration of an ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses.
Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

10:10 p.m. | May 26, 2020

Nevada Can Enter Phase 2 Of Reopening Process Friday

By Michelle Billman

An illustration of an ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses.
Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

8:23 p.m. | May 19, 2020

Washoe Co. Health Officials Say More Cases Indicate Community Spread
By Danna O'Connor

Women and children in red shirts stand outside of a hospital building holding protest signs.
Trevor Bexon of This Is Reno

Some of the nurses at St. Mary’s Hospital in downtown Reno demonstrated in front of the facility last week to express their concerns about working conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Bob Conrad is publisher of This Is Reno and he was there covering the protest. He shared what he learned with KUNR’s News Director Michelle Billman.

KUNR Journalism News Awards 2019 and 2020. A collage of photos and illustrations from KUNR stories that have been recognized by the 2019 Associated Press Radio and Television Association for radio two division or 2020 regional Edward R. Murrow Awards.
Crystal Willis / KUNR

The KUNR newsroom has earned several awards from multiple contests for work produced by its reporters, editors, digital staff members, and student reporters in 2019. 

An illustration of an ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses.
Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

8:18 p.m. | May 5, 2020
By Danna O'Connor

Washoe County Human Services Agency Contractor Tests Positive For COVID-19

An illustration of an ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses.
Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
An illustration of an ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses.
Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

For recent updates on Coronavirus in Nevada, visit our updates and resources webpage.

Coronavirus In Nevada Updates: Wednesday, March 18

10:17 p.m. PDT | March 18, 2020
By Michelle Billman

State Total Of COVID-19 Cases Hits 85

An illustration of an ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses.
Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

For recent updates on Coronavirus in Nevada, visit our updates and resources webpage.

Southern Nevada Health District Announces Three New Positive Cases Of COVID-19
A Total Of Five Presumptive Positive Cases Reported In Clark County

Washoe County School Bus
Carla O’Day

Washoe County School District (WCSD) has a critical shortage of school bus drivers. The unemployment rate is low in the Reno-Sparks area, at 3.2 percent, and there is fierce competition for qualified employees. The district is seeking qualified people in the community to apply for school bus driver positions.

Barriers stand up against a body of water.
Bob Conrad / This is Reno

Washoe County commissioners are taking steps to contain Lemmon Valley’s Swan Lake to a specified boundary, although county staff have cautioned that a solution to flooding in that area hasn’t been identified and funding questions remain. To learn more, KUNR’s News Director Michelle Billman spoke to Bob Conrad, the publisher of ThisisReno, to learn more about this issue.

The KUNR news team has earned three 2019 regional Edward R. Murrow awards from the Radio Television Digital News Association, or RTDNA.

A close-up image of a marijuana plant.
ThisisReno

Outgoing Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval wants to move a percentage of marijuana tax dollars to fund education-related programs. To learn more, KUNR News Director Michelle Billman spoke with Bob Conrad of ThisisReno about Sandoval's budget recommendations for the state.

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