Michelle Billman

News Director

Michelle Billman is the news director at KUNR Public Radio in Reno, Nevada where she oversees a scrappy crew of multimedia storytellers. She’s a transplant from the East Coast, where she earned degrees in creative writing and English from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and Virginia Tech.

Under Michelle’s direction, and in close partnership with Noticiero Móvil, KUNR has become an early adopter within public media for providing Spanish digital content to its local audience in an effort to start addressing language access gaps. This initiative has been recognized with a national Edward R. Murrow award for innovation and a Public Media Journalists Association award for collaboration.

Working with developing reporters is important to Michelle, which is why she established an internship program at KUNR for students at the Reynolds School of Journalism. Under her editorial guidance, college reporters have earned national and regional awards. She’s also served as a mentor for NPR’s Next Generation Radio program and runs a youth radio program for high school students in Washoe County.

Outside of radio, Michelle is usually busy chasing her toddler, Alex, or doing art projects with her first grader, Nora. Michelle also enjoys working on nonfiction writing projects, which have appeared in literary journals like River Teeth and Ninth Letter

Ways to Connect

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

4:50 p.m. | November 24, 2020

Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve Pleads With Residents To Follow New COVID-19 Restrictions, ‘Our Businesses Are Holding On By a Thread’
By Lucia Starbuck

In Nevada, nearly a quarter of all COVID-19 cases were identified this month, pushing Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak to impose new restrictions. The governor is calling it a “pause” — not a full shutdown.

A landscape with hills and smoke filling the sky.
Bureau of Land Management California via Twitter

As of 4:55 p.m. PT on November 23, 2020, KUNR is no longer actively updating this blog. You can find information about this fire on Inciweb.

This blog included earlier updates from the Pinehaven Fire near Caughlin Ranch in Reno, Nev., from Tuesday, Nov. 17. For updates related to that fire, please visit our live blog

A landscape with trees, hills and houses with smoke filling the air.
Jon Humbert

Editor's Note: As of Saturday, Nov. 21, KUNR is no longer actively updating this blog. For the most current information about the Pinehaven Fire, visit @RenoFireDept and @RenoPolice on Twitter or the City of Reno's website.

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

6:50 p.m. | November 17, 2020

Washoe County Reports Two COVID-19-Related Deaths, 230 New Cases
By Lucia Starbuck

Washoe County reported two COVID-19-related deaths on Tuesday, a woman and man in their 80s, both with underlying health conditions. There are now 222 COVID-19-related deaths in the county.

Officials are also reporting 230 additional cases of COVID-19 today and 102 recoveries.

KUNR 2020 election blog. An illustrated silhouette of the state of Nevada with a red and blue striped background.
Crystal Willis / KUNR

As of Nov. 17, this blog will no longer be updated. For related articles, please visit our 2020 election webpage.

KUNR’s 2020 Election Blog is a space for updates throughout Election Day and night, as well as short articles based on conversations our reporters have had with community members and local stakeholders to provide greater context to the election process. Because of the heavy reliance on mail-in voting this election due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there may not be final results for some races on election night in 2020. We will post results and updates to this blog as they come in.

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

5:14 p.m. | November 10, 2020

Washoe County Reports Four COVID-19-Related Deaths, Testing Only Available For Symptomatic Residents
By Lucia Starbuck

Washoe County reported four COVID-19-related deaths today, including four men, one in his 70s, two in their 80s and one in his 90s. Officials also reported 263 new cases of COVID-19 and 265 recoveries.

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

5:17 p.m. | November 3, 2020

Washoe County Report
By Jayden Perez

Washoe County reported almost 250 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday. Health officials are also reporting just over 100 recoveries. There are now over 2,400 active cases and over 14,100 total cases of COVID-19 in Washoe County.

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

5:50 p.m. | October 27, 2020

Nevada Task Force, Washoe County To Meet After Virus Surge
By Lucia Starbuck

The Nevada coronavirus task force has called an emergency meeting with the Washoe County Health District to address the county's plan to manage an increasing surge in confirmed coronavirus cases. 

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

3:57 p.m. | October 20, 2020

Washoe County Reports 143 New Cases Of COVID-19
By Lucia Starbuck

Washoe County is reporting 143 new COVID-19 cases today and 51 recoveries. There are 1,526 active cases of COVID-19, the highest the county has seen. 

KUNR 2020 voter guide. Illustration of a ballot being placed into a box. A pencil and a roll of stickers are in front of the box.
Crystal Willis / KUNR

The 2020 elections are a critical opportunity for voters across Northern Nevada to cast their ballots in support of the leadership they want to see at the local, state, and national levels on many issues, including public health, criminal justice reform and affordable housing.

KUNR’s local voter guide is meant to introduce you to candidates for several local races that impact your community, so you can make empowered decisions. We commend your efforts to be informed and participate in the democratic process.

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

5:28 p.m. | October 13, 2020

Nevada Reports 487 New Cases Of COVID-19
By Lucia Starbuck

The Nevada Department of Health and Human Services reported 487 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday. The department reported 10 additional COVID-19-related deaths statewide.

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

7:14 p.m. | September 29, 2020

Sisolak Raises Cap On Public Gatherings To 250
By Paul Boger

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak says he will issue an executive order loosening the state's cap on large gatherings. 

Sisolak's new directive will expand the state's current cap on public gatherings from 50 to 250 people for churches, sporting events, live entertainment, and conventions.

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

5:37 p.m. | September 22, 2020

Nevada Reports 260 New COVID-19 Cases
By Jayden Perez

The State of Nevada is reporting over 260 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total of confirmed cases to over 76,000. The death toll statewide is over 1,500, according to the state’s online dashboard. Fifteeen deaths were reported on Tuesday.

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

7:30 p.m. | September 15, 2020

Nevada Reports 226 Additional Cases Of COVID-19 And 26 COVID-19-Related Deaths
By Lucia Starbuck

The Nevada Department of Health and Human Services reported 226 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday. The department reported 26 additional COVID-19-related deaths statewide. There are nearly 1,500 COVID-19-related deaths in Nevada, and there have been more than 948,000 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

8:06 p.m. | September 1, 2020

Nevada Reports 405 Additional Cases of COVID-19 And 8 COVID-19-Related Deaths
By Lucia Starbuck

The Nevada Department of Health and Human Services reported just over 400 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday. The department reported eight additional COVID-19-related deaths statewide. There are over 1,300 COVID-19-related deaths in Nevada, and there have been more than 859,000 tests performed in the state.

Bureau of Land Management Nevada / Twitter

As of 9:15 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020, KUNR is no longer actively updating this web post. For the latest updates on the Loyalton Fire, follow #LoyaltonFire, @TMFPD or @Tahoe_NF on Twitter or visit the InciWeb Incident Overview

Update: Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020 at 9:14 am

The Loyalton Fire has consumed just more than 47,000 acres and is 75 percent contained. All evacuations related to this fire have been lifted and there are no road closures due to this fire.

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

7:54 p.m. | August 18, 2020

Nevada Reports 25 New COVID-19 Deaths
By KUNR Staff

In Nevada, health officials reported 25 additional deaths Tuesday related to COVID-19, bringing the total number of deaths above 1,100. More than 670 new positive cases were also noted, bringing the total number of cases above 62,000.

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

6:53 p.m. | August 11, 2020

Nevada Reports 548 Additional Cases Of COVID-19 Tuesday
By Lucia Starbuck

The Nevada Department of Health and Human Services reported 548 additional cases of COVID-19 Tuesday. The department also reported 18 additional COVID-19-related deaths statewide. There are now 981 COVID-19-related deaths in Nevada, and there have been over 712,000 tests performed in the state.

Smoke billowing near U.S. 395 near Hallelujah Junction.
Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District via Twitter

As of 4:10 p.m. on August 6, 2020, KUNR is no longer actively updating this post. For the latest updates on this fire, follow the Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District on Twitter @TMFPD or search Twitter for #NorthFire.

4:08 p.m. | Aug. 6, 2020

The North Fire near Hallelujah Junction is 70 percent contained according to the Bureau of Land Management and has consumed more than 6,800 acres. Crews are continuing to put out any remaining hot spots and patrolling the area, according to InciWeb.

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

6:38 p.m. | August 4, 2020

Nevada National Guard Extended
By Noah Glick

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak announced Tuesday that hundreds of Nevada National Guardsmen will remain on duty through the rest of the year to help deal with the effects of COVID-19.

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