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, she's garnered two news awards from the Associated Press Television and Radio Association, which covers 13 Western states, for her reporting on the use of equine therapy for stressed out adults and how one organization in Truckee is helping athletes with life-altering injuries.

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

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As the presidential candidate pool starts to thin after the Iowa caucuses, the nation is now looking to New Hampshire. And in just a few weeks, all eyes will be on Nevada.

Our News Director Michelle Billman talked with two local political scientists to hear their thoughts on which candidates will resonate in the Silver State.  They include Eric Herzik from the University of Nevada, Reno and Fred Lokken from Truckee Meadows Community College.

More than 18,000 kids and young adults in Nevada suffer from serious mental illness. A new outpatient program launched in Reno this week will treat young people who have just experienced their first episode of psychosis, without having to institutionalize them. The goal is to eventually offer the service statewide.

To learn more, let's turn to our News Director Michelle Billman who interviewed Nevada's First Lady Kathleen Sandoval and Tracey Green, chief medical officer for the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health.

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A new Nevada law has revised how the state refers to car accidents, changing the word "accident" to "crash." Reno Public Radio's Michelle Billman explores why.

State officials are changing the verbage used in every Nevada law related to car crashes. 

"Really, the reason is to send a message that many car crashes are preventable," says Meg Ragonese, a spokeswoman for the Nevada Department of Transportation. 

She says 321 people died on Nevada roads last year.

Rainshadow Community Charter High School

The 113 students at Rainshadow Community Charter High School in Reno will get to continue their courses this spring despite the school's teetering finances. The Washoe County School Board voted Wednesday to keep the facility open--at least for right now. Reno Public Radio's Michelle Billman has the story.

In order to avoid a large deficit this spring, the school has proposed slashing salaries by 16% and cutting three positions. The changes will keep the school just slightly in the black, but there are risks.

Lottritz Family / hlottritz.wordpress.com

Hanna Lottritz is a journalism student at the University of Nevada, Reno and she recently wrote an essay that has gone viral. It’s called “Why I won’t be taking shots on my 21st birthday" and it candidly shares the story of how Hanna ended up in a coma after a night of drinking in Yerington.

Hanna stopped by KUNR to talk with our news director Michelle Billman about what happened.

While out with a group of friends at the Night In The Country Music Festival in Yerington last summer, Hanna joined in on a drinking contest. 

Alexa Ard

The City of Reno is moving forward with the process to update its master plan. This week, city council members heard the latest update from the Reimagine Reno campaign which has been gathering community input on how the city should grow in the next twenty or so years. Reno Public Radio's Michelle Billman reports.

After holding dozens of community workshops and offering surveys online, the Reimagine Reno team has heard from more than 5,800 residents.

City of Reno

Reno City Council unanimously approved an annexation request for a small chunk of Lemmon Valley, just north of the city, at its last meeting. That's despite complaints raised by several nearby residents.

Reno Public Radio's Michelle Billman has the details.

The land is being eyed for development and its owner says the 730 acres would be ideal for new housing. 

Amy Westervelt

The Natural Resources Conservation Service collects a lot of data, including snowpack measurements from more than 80 snow telemetry stations, also called SNOTEL sites, across the Sierras and Northern Nevada.

Now that we’re halfway through this winter, NRCS Hydrologist Jeff Anderson is digging into what those numbers mean, and he visited with News Director Michelle Billman to share some of his early findings.

Alexa Ard

Gun deaths have topped motor vehicle deaths in more than twenty states, including Nevada. Reno Public Radio's Michelle Billman has the details.

In 2014, there were 429 people in Nevada who died from firearms compared to 319 people who were killed by motor vehicle incidents. That's according to a new report released from the Violence Policy Center, or VPC, which advocates for more gun control.

Washoe County School District

Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt says the board of trustees for Washoe County Schools did break the state's open meeting law last March. 

At that meeting, board members approved a motion to hire Traci Davis as superintendent for the district. The problem is that they didn't inform the public that they would be taking that vote. 

Within mere hours, the board rescinded Davis's appointment. They ultimately hired Davis at their next meeting in April after including appropriate notification in that meeting's agenda. 

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