Michelle Billman | KUNR

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 helps run the KUNR Youth Media 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

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.

Karen Rubio works for Truckee Meadows Community College, helping recruit high school students to the school. She's a first-generation college grad who started at TMCC before transferring to UNR.

While in school at age 20, Karen became pregnant. Then, during the pregnancy, her mother died unexpectedly.

“At that point, it was the first time I said, ‘I’m just going to give up.’ I was like, ‘What am I trying to do? I’m eight months pregnant.’ I was going through a lot,” she remembers.

ThisisReno.com

The City of Reno is considering controversial vagrancy ordinances that prohibit specific behaviors. Critic argue that the new rules would target the homeless. Our News Director Michelle Billman spoke to our contributor Bob Conrad of ThisisReno to learn more.

ThisisReno.com

The City of Reno has given tentative approval to a project that would create a pipeline of treated effluent to the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center which houses companies like Tesla and Switch. Our News Director Michelle Billman spoke to our contributor Bob Conrad if ThisisReno to learn more.

The water is needed for Switch, Tesla and other businesses at the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center (TRIC).

Switch brought heavy-hitter “water czar” Pat Mulroy, formerly of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, to testify for the agreement, which mostly met with favor among council members.

Kaitlin Godbey / Travel Nevada

A 200-mile trail from Reno to Gerlach is being proposed to highlight Washoe County’s cultural, historic, and artistic elements. With $75,000 in grant funds from the the National Endowment for the Arts, Washoe County, working with Burning Man, envisions the trail to pass through Reno-Sparks, small towns, and tribal lands into Gerlach.

Joe Sale Photography

Reno is becoming the new home for a large, so-called Space Whale sculpture. Our News Director Michelle Billman chatted with contributor Bob Conrad of ThisisReno to learn more.

The sculpture is a life-size representation of a humpback whale mother and her calf. There were roughly 1,700 individual glass panels installed in this ambitious piece of public art.

The project is paid for out of the city’s portion of room tax funds that go into the city’s arts budget. 

ThisisReno.com

Reno City Council members are voicing frustration at a lack of progress on the issue of affordable housing. Our contributor Bob Conrad covered their last meeting and has the latest update for our News Director Michelle Billman. 

Bob Conrad courtesy of ThisisReno.com

Homeowners in the Wild Creek community are considering legal action to prevent a land transfer that would allow the Washoe County School District (WCSD) to build a high school on the Wildcreek Golf Course. Our News Director Michelle Billman breaks down the details with contributor Bob Conrad of ThisisReno.

The homeowners are considering legal action to prevent the Reno Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority (RSCVA) from transferring to the Washoe County School District (WCSD) the Wildcreek Golf Course for construction of a new high school.

Washoe County

So far, Washoe County has spent just over $3 million to clean up after historic flooding during the winter, and another $6 million in repair and capital improvement costs still remain to be covered. Our News Director Michelle Billman breaks down the situation with contributor Bob Conrad of ThisisReno.

ThisisReno.com

One bill signed into law by Governor Brian Sandoval during the recent legislative session will help preserve the Hillside Cemetery in Reno and all historic cemeteries. Our News Director Michelle Billman spoke with contributor Bob Conrad of ThisisReno to learn more. 

The law (AB203) restores local government oversight of cemeteries, and it requires a government entity “to make determinations before a cemetery authority may order the disinterment and removal of human remains.”

A Driving Force Behind Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center Retires

Jul 7, 2017
Sally Roberts / NNBW

The Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center has snagged companies like Tesla, Apple, and Switch among about 130 others. 

The massive industrial park opened in the early 2000s, thanks in part to the passion and perseverance of Dean Haymore, who has served as the director of building and community development for Storey County.

Haymore has just retired and he spoke with our contributor Brook Bentley to share some of his insights and memories. 

ThisisReno.com

KUNR contributor Bob Conrad, and his team at ThisisReno, have been examining the issue of homelessness, especially downtown, and reporting on the issue for a new podcast called Solutions.

ThisisReno.com

There have been clashes recently between the City of Sparks and homeless advocates. Let’s turn to our News Director Michelle Billman and Bob Conrad of ThisisReno to learn more.

 

The Sparks Police Department has allegedly been telling homeless individuals along the Truckee River to leave the area.

Northern Nevada Business Weekly

Pot. Weed. Mary Jane. Ganja. There are many names for the plant recently legalized in Nevada for recreational use. But not all words are created equal and some industry reps are using the term cannabis instead of marijuana because of its historical context. Let’s turn to our contributor Brook Bentley to learn more.

Washoe County Sheriff's Office

Washoe County is facing a wrongful death lawsuit from the family of a man who died during a struggle with deputies at the county jail. The suit comes just after the Reno Gazette-Journal reported an investigative series on a spike in deaths at the jail. Let's turn to our News Director Michelle Billman and Bob Conrad of ThisisReno to learn more.

ThisisReno.com

A property in downtown Reno is getting a makeover, forcing some of its residents to look for more affordable housing. Our News Director Michelle Billman spoke with contributor Bob Conrad of ThisisReno to learn more. 

A recently announced property makeover by Colorado’s Jacobs Entertainment has some residents looking for a new place to live.

Carla O'Day / ThisisReno.com

The Washoe County School District has plans to build a new high school and to re-purpose Hug High into a career and technical academy.

Several local entities have signed a letter of intent for the school in west Sparks, and that letter was approved Thursday by the board of the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority.

To learn more, our News Director Michelle Billman spoke with contributor Bob Conrad of ThisisReno.

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