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

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.

ThisisReno

Washoe County recently conducted a citizen survey on quality of life in the area. Our News Director Michelle Billman spoke with contributor Bob Conrad of ThisisReno to learn about the results.

 

KUNR: What did the county learn from this study? What are residents saying about the local quality of life?

The Orvis School of Nursing at UNR started out with just 12 students and 5 faculty. Now, 60 years later, the school has about 300 students each year. The school's dean is Dr. Patsy Ruchala, and she sat down with assistant professor Emily McClure to share some of her memories about the profession.

Emily McClure: So, Dr. Ruchala, over your timeframe of being a nurse, how have you see the transition of nursing from when you first graduated to you as dean of the Orvis School of Nursing?

www.adl.org/education

Nurit Stites is the daughter of a Holocaust survivor. She visits classrooms around Washoe County to share her family’s story with young people, and she spoke with our News Director Michelle Billman about her work.  

Stacey Montooth, RSIC

Johni Bill is a member of the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony who just opened her own salon called Alluring Beauty in Sparks. Colony spokeswoman Stacey Montooth says Johni is a role model for other Native American entrepreneurs, who can face unique challenges. Montooth spoke to our contributor Brook Bentley of the Northern Nevada Business Weekly to explain why.

Eric Norris / CC BY-SA 2.0

A bill that would mandate fluoridating the water in Truckee Meadows is receiving heavy opposition. Our News Director Michelle Billman spoke with Bob Conrad of ThisisReno to learn more. 

KUNR: Who is proposing this bill and what reasons have they given?

ReubenGBrewer / Wikimedia Commons.

One bill in the Nevada legislature aims to protect small waste haulers against the exclusive contracts that many cities have with larger companies. Our News Director Michelle Billman spoke with Bob Conrad of ThisisReno to learn more. 

TMRPA

There’s not enough affordable housing in Washoe County…and more and more residents are getting priced out of owning their own homes.  That’s according to a study by the Truckee Meadows Regional Planning Agency. Kim Robinson is the organization’s executive director and Jeremy Smith is GIS coordinator. They talked to our news director Michelle Billman about their findings. 

MICHAEL COGHLAN / FLICKR / CC BY-SA 2.0

On Friday, Nevada's First Lady Kathleen Sandoval presented Assembly Bill 472, which would make several changes to the state's juvenile justice system. The governor's proposed budget includes $1.5 million to support the legislation, if it's approved by lawmakers. Our News Director Michelle Billman spoke with Kathleen Sandoval to learn more about the reforms being considered.

During our conversation, Nevada’s First Lady highlighted three key components to the legislation, describing them as:

ThisisReno.com

The City of Reno spent considerably more money on its annual address than neighboring municipalities. Our contributor Bob Conrad of ThisisReno first reported the story and has been receiving a slew of comments on social media about it.

Some say the money was well spent since Reno is trying to attract new businesses to the area and raise its profile. Others say it's fiscally irresponsible. Our News Director Michelle Billman spoke to Bob to learn more.

City of Reno

The City of Reno has selected Sabra Smith Newby as its new manager. Our News Director Michelle Billman talks to Bob Conrad of ThisisReno to learn more about the city’s newest leader, who will start next month.

KUNR: Bob, what do we know about Sabra Smith Newby?

South Lake Tahoe resident Leon Malmed is a child of the Holocaust. When he was a young boy, his parents were rounded up and deported to Auschwitz. A neighboring family took in both Leon and his sister Rachel, raising them as their own. Leon will be speaking about his experiences at the Northwest Reno Library on Wednesday, April 5, at 5 pm. He also talked to our news director Michelle Billman back in 2015 and today we'll listen back to their conversation.

Julia Oversloot

Local resident Julia Oversloot is the author of Decency and Luck: Two Dutch Couples During World War II. It's the story of her parents, who helped a Jewish family hide during the war. They were honored by the Yad Vashem Holocaust center in Israel back in 1975 as being what is called Righteous Among The Nations. Julia will be sharing their story at the Northwest Reno Library on Wednesday, April 5, at 5 pm.

Oversloot says her parents were just everyday people who chose to do the right thing.

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