Emil Moffatt

Station Manager

Emil Moffatt returns to WKU Public Radio as station manager. Moffatt was previously at the station from 2013-2014 as local host of All Things Considered. His new duties also include overseeing operations for WKU’s student station, WWHR 91.7.

Moffatt’s news experience includes a year at Nashville Public Radio and three years at WBAP radio in Dallas. Prior to that, Emil was a minor league baseball play-by-play announcer in Fort Worth, Texas and a producer for Dallas Stars radio broadcasts.  

Moffatt holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Arlington. He is an avid runner and enjoys movies and live music. 

At first glance, an area of land near the state hospital in Evansville seems like a perfect place for a dog park. 

But not everyone’s on board with the proposed location.

Denise Johnson, executive director of Evansville’s Parks and Recreation department, says the 6.7 acres is well suited for a dog park.

“No. 1 there’s shade.  And you’ve already got very large trees that are 120 years old or less – but very large.  You’ve got great shade, and you’ve got a level surface to start with,” said Johnson.

She also says there is plenty of parking, it’s easily accessible by car and they’ve already worked out a deal with the state to acquire the part of the land that doesn’t already belong to the city. 

But Johnson says plans for the dog park are on hold right now. 

WKU Athletics

Jimmy Feix, who became the first Western Kentucky University football player to earn All-America honors, and later, the school's winningest head coach, died Sunday afternoon.  He was 83 years old.

“He is the coach. He’s the heart-and-soul of Hilltopper football,” said Paul Just, WKU’s sports information director emeritus.   “He lived it as a player, he lived it as an assistant coach, he lived it as a head coach; he lived it as the A.D.”

Funeral arrangements are pending.  Feix is survived by his wife Frankie, two adult sons and several grandchildren.  News of Feix’s passing was announced by the university Sunday night.

James Wyne Feix was born in Henderson on Aug. 1, 1931 and first made his mark on the Hill in the early 1950s as a quarterback for Western.  He was named to the All-Ohio Valley Conference team in 1951 and 1952. He led the team to a conference championship in 1952.

Emil Moffatt

Thousands of Kentucky workers continue looking for new opportunities in a state where the employment landscape continues to dramatically change.  Coal jobs have seen a steep decline – as have manufacturing positions – many of which have been relocated overseas. 

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes says congress can take action to make Kentucky and every other state more attractive to U.S. companies.

“We can fund investments in American businesses that create jobs for Kentucky workers,” said Grimes in a phone interview with WKU Public Radio Wednesday. “I think we can expand tax credits for businesses relocating to the United States and end the tax breaks for businesses that ship jobs outside of the Commonwealth.  Rebuilding Kentucky’s manufacturing sector is a priority for me,” said Grimes.

As for increased EPA regulations which have been partially blamed for the loss of coal jobs, Grimes says, if elected, she will work closely with lawmakers from both parties to make sure national energy policy has a “meaningful, long-term place” for coal.

Grimes is trying to defeat five-term incumbent Republican Mitch McConnell in the November 4th election.

City on a Hill

A new movie called The Song comes out in theaters Friday. The film is the first full-length feature directed by Bowling Green native Richie Ramsey.

The Song is said to be inspired by the Song of Solomon, so it's no surprise the film about a singer-songwriter is heavy with religious imagery. One of the first conversations between main characters Jed King and Rose Jordan involves a debate over a popular song from the 1960s that's based on biblical text.

Jed: I love that song too, it’s just not the Beatles.
Rose: Yeah it is.
Jed: No it’s the Byrds, you’re thinking of the Byrds.
Rose: No. Agree to disagree.
Jed: No, you’d still be wrong.
Rose: The lyrics are in the Bible. Can we agree that God wrote them?

Abbey Oldham/WKU Public Radio

For the last 10 weeks, Mustered Courage, a bluegrass quartet from Melbourne, Australia has been zigzagging across America in a white conversion van that, according to the band, hasn’t always been the most dependable.

“When we’re traveling down the road, it’s a lot better than when we’re on the side of the road, I’ll tell you that much,” said banjo player and lead singer Nick Keeling.

“We’ve had a couple of van breakdowns,” added guitarist Julian Abrahams.

They've also been crammed into small hotel rooms, eaten food of varying quality and had to dodge cars in some larger northeast cities while trying to cross the street.

Keeling is originally from Austin, Texas, Abrahams is a native Australian. The two met at school where they were studying jazz.  Later they would play together in a hip-hop band.

“Jazz actually has a lot of similarities to bluegrass the improvisation is such a key element to bluegrass music. Jazz is all about soloing and playing as many notes as you can, or as little notes as you can,” said Abrahams.

“Nick and I played too many notes in jazz, so we got ousted and banned from playing jazz; blacklisted and banished to the wasteland of bluegrass music,” said Abrahams with a grin. “Hip-hop? Well, we just didn’t want to be mid-30 year-old white rappers from Australia, so we thought we might be more suited to playing bluegrass in our 30s.”

General Motors

General Motors says it is delaying shipments of thousands of 2015 Corvettes and telling dealerships that already have the new models to stop selling them for the time being.  A spokesperson at the Bowling Green Assembly Plant says two safety issues are at the heart of the decision.

One issue concerns rear parking brake cables, the other with the part used to connect the airbag and steering wheel.

Bill Visnic, senior analyst with edmunds.com says the entire auto industry, not just GM, has learned lessons in the last year about disclosing potential safety problems.

“There’s definitely erring on the side of caution in this case,” said Visnic. “But at the same time, it’s just more-or-less simply the right thing to do, particularly when you’re talking about a high-performance model where someone might be using the car in fairly extreme conditions, you want to make sure you have all the requisite safety items where you need them to be.”

Over the last six years, a new type of online learning has developed across the country. They are classes called MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses.  WKU is offering its second such course this fall, called Origins and Progressions of Sports in America. It’s taught by retired kinesiology professor Randy Deere.

“It’s a free course and it’s not like a typical online course that you might sign up for through the university,” said Deere.  “All the material has to have…you have to have open access, open domain material.”

Deere says an unlimited number of people can sign up for the class. He says 70 people took the course this summer.

“Sport is a big domestic product and a huge domestic product financially for our country. It’s who we are it’s what we do and the information we’re trying to disseminate gives people a nice background of the country and how sport fits into it,” said Deere.

Deere says the course promotes lots of discussion among those who participate.  The MOOC begins September 21st. 

Kentucky Historical Society

When a young Bowling Green woman’s diary was published as a book in 2009, it gave a glimpse of life in Kentucky during the Civil War.

But those entries weren’t the end of Josie Underwood’s story.

A Louisville woman was browsing a bookstore when she picked up a copy of the diary.

 “[She] realized that she was related to the Underwoods and that she had some family papers and decided to go looking through her closet and lo and behold discovered that she had the second volume of Josie Underwood’s diary, ” said David Turpie, editor of the Register, a publication of the Kentucky Historical Society which has published Volume 2 of Underwood’s diary. It mainly covers the years 1862-66

“It also helps us to understand the thoughts and feelings of one individual, one young woman from Kentucky and that life went on for her,” said Turpie.

Tonya Ratliff’s 15-year-old son Tyler has been living with diabetes for 10 years.  Two years ago, doctors told the Owensboro family they’d have to start replacing the insert in Tyler’s diabetes pump more frequently.

“It already was a lot, and that would double it," she said. "So I was like ‘I don’t think I can do that,'."

With three sons, it would be an extra financial burden the Ratliff family. Their doctor told them about a foundation that helps pay for medical expenses not covered by a healthcare plan.  

Since 2007, the UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation has given 7,500 grants across the country. In the last three years, 90 of them have been in Kentucky, providing nearly $300,000 for families with children 16 and under. The organization is trying to increase the number of Kentucky families who receive assistance.

“It was a life-changing experience for us, because we literally lived paycheck to paycheck and this was a great burden off of us,” said Ratliff.

The program can cover up to $5,000 dollars in expenses, and each child can receive a maximum of $10,000 over a lifetime.

Hitcents

A new iPad app that attempts to recreate the experience of banging away at a manual typewriter is the brainchild of actor Tom Hanks and the creative minds at Hitcents in Bowling Green. 

Stuart Westphal was the point man for Hitcents on the project called “Hanx Writer”. Westphal says more than 20 members of the Hitcents team worked together to create the app. Designs for the project were inspired by actual manual typewriters.  

“It was actually a lot of fun,” said Westphal. “Tom sent three of his vintage typewriters to our Bowling Green office, which is our headquarters here at Hitcents. We unboxed them and it was kind of like a little holiday here at the office.”

Down to the smallest detail, the app is meant to replicate the look and sound of using a typewriter.

“Every opportunity that we get to go that extra mile, even if it’s something that not everybody would pay attention to, that’s important to us, and that goes all the way down to our code,” said Westphal.

Hear Tom Hanks’ interview with NPR’s Audie Cornish about the “Hanx Writer.” 

Abbey Oldham/WKU Public Radio

More than six months after a 45-foot sinkhole swallowed eight classic cars at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, the museum’s board of directors has decided the fate of the hole and the Corvettes that were rescued from its depths.

Earlier this summer, board members had strongly considered leaving part of the sinkhole intact and making it part of the museum experience.  But the estimated costs associated climbed to over a million dollars.

On Saturday morning, as thousands of Corvette fans buzzed around the museum, the board decided the sinkhole would be completely filled in a project set to begin this November.

“We really wanted to preserve a portion of the hole so that guests for years to come could see a little bit of what it was like, but after receiving more detailed pricing, the cost outweighs the benefit,” the museum’s executive director, Wendell Strode said in a written statement.

Abbey Oldham/WKU Public Radio

The cars are already buzzing around the new Motorsports Park track across the highway from the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green.  Museum officials held a grand opening ceremony Thursday morning. 

Bill Thomas from Corpus Christi, Texas is among the thousands of Corvette owners who made the trip. He says he’s anxious to take his 2014 yellow convertible Z-51 on the track.

“I haven’t been on this track yet, but we had a police escort from Little Rock, and we got up to 112 miles an hour coming up here,” said Thomas.

Corvette Museum Executive Director Wendell Strode says plans originally called for only one portion of the track to be open by now, but says the project has come in ahead of schedule.  

“Because of the great support of yourselves, corporate sponsors, acre club members and many other folks that have stepped up,” Strode told the crowd gathered for the grand opening ceremony.  “Not only do we have a two-mile West course, we have a one-mile East course, a three-mile combined course and a 22-acre paddock.”

Emil Moffatt

For 72 hours earlier this month, residents in Toledo, Ohio were told not to use the city’s water because of  toxic algae bloom.  It’s a story that gave many a renewed appreciation for being able to turn on a faucet and drink what comes out.

In Warren County, Bowling Green Municipal Utilities is in charge of the treating the water and delivering it to the community.

Doug Kimbler, superintendent of treatment plants,  took us  on a tour last week so we could get a better idea of what actually goes into the process.  We started by overlooking the source: the Barren River on the east side of downtown. Then, we briefly stepped inside.

“We have two pumps actually running in here right now, it’s fairly hot day for Bowling Green. We’ll probably produce somewhere between 21 and 22 million gallons of water between Bowling Green and Warren County for the day,” said Kimbler above the din of the pumps.

Kentucky LRC

A recent survey shows Kentucky ranks near the bottom when it comes to average Internet speed. One Kentucky lawmaker says a bill that passed with bi-partisan support the Senate, but languished in the House, could help boost access to broadband.  

Republican Floor Leader Jeff Hoover says Senate Bill 99 would have reduced companies’ obligation to provide traditional landline service to some areas of Kentucky, freeing them up to invest in broadband.

“Speaker[Greg] Stumbo made a commitment last summer that that bill would be voted on. He indicated he did not support it, but he would allow it to be voted upon this past legislation session,” said Hoover.

The bill was approved by the Kentucky Senate on a 34-4 vote, but was not put up for a full vote in the House.  The Jamestown Rep. says the bill was changed this year to reduce the number of residents whose traditional landline service might be affected. He says it would have been less than 5,000 households.

“But the important thing was, it would have allowed AT&T and some others to move forward on their hundreds of millions of dollars of investment in infrastructure to better serve those exact areas,” said Hoover.

Critics object to the part of the bill that lets phone companies cut back on the areas in which they’re required to provide landline telephone service.

Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site

At an auction house in North Carolina Tuesday morning, hundreds of Civil War artifacts hit the auction block.  The collection represents the life’s work of a Perryville, Kentucky man who died in April.

Jimmy Johnson says his company, based in Angier, N.C., has been dealing with Civil War relics for 30 years.  

“Lots of times you get little bits and pieces of different collections, but in this case, we’ve just got such a wide variety of different items,” said Johnson 

The collection belonged to James “Cotton” Reynolds of Perryville. He was 84 when he died this spring.

His two daughters were at the auction house Monday where hundreds of collectors previewed the trove of Civil War artifacts.

 “Obviously they’re excited, it is an emotional thing anytime you’re selling your parents items, it’s an emotional event,” said Johnson.  “But they saw their Daddy nurture these items and collect them over the years.” 

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