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. 

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.” 

Bringing It Home the Movie

A documentary called "Bringing it Home," which trumpets the benefits of industrialized hemp, was shown before an audience in downtown Hopkinsville Saturday.

The film, by two North Carolina filmmakers spotlights the effort to use hemp as a building material for homes and warehouses.

 “[It’s] a material that is mold and mildew resistant, fire-retardant, pest-resistant and in addition to that, it’s absorbing carbon out of the atmosphere as well as toxins. What they’ve found is that it’s not only breathable but a very good thermal regulating construction material," said film co-director Linda Booker.

Booker has shown the documentary in several states, says the film was well-received in Christian County.

 “It was really great to see such a diverse audience of all ages,” said Booker.   “I know that there were farmers there and people just interested in looking at new job opportunities and new economic opportunities for your state.  And of course we talk about this on a national level as well."

Several industrial hemp pilot projects associated with state universities continue this summer across Kentucky. The mission of those projects is to figure out which types of hemp seeds grow best in the current climate.  The documentary’s co-director is Blaire Johnson.

Abbey Oldham/WKU Public Radio

For months, crews with heavy construction equipment have been busily converting a busy Bowling Green intersection from one controlled by traffic lights to a roundabout.

“It’s been a little chaos, but we’ve managed,” said Betty Kirby who lives in the neighborhood.

“But this whole week, we haven’t gotten any U.S. Mail and I really didn’t think that was necessary to stop the mail. We got here, so I don’t know why they didn’t bring the mail. I guess it’ll get here next week,” she said.

Kirby says the roundabout should help relieve congestion in the intersection as long as drivers “watch what they’re doing – which they don’t a lot of times.”

The roundabout at the intersection of University Boulevard, the 31-W Bypass and Loving Way was officially unveiled Friday morning with a ribbon- cutting ceremony.  Warren County Judge-Executive Mike Buchanon was among the state, county and city officials who attended.

“I think this is an extraordinary advantage to moving traffic safely and continuously through this tremendously active roadway.  This intersection is very important to getting people to and from work and home safely,” said Buchanon.

Emil Moffatt

The first weekend in August in western Kentucky means only one thing: Fancy Farm. The small town suddenly transforms into the epicenter of the Kentucky political universe.

And to keep a tradition going for 134 years, it takes some pretty committed volunteers.

“Each family in the church has a responsibility and this family has taken care of the hamburgers and hot dogs for decades,” said Will Hayden, who was working the grill Saturday morning.

Hayden and Brad Page of Fancy Farm spoke to us as they were cooling down after a long morning and afternoon tending to a hot grill. Page says they normally start grilling between 7:00 and 7:30 in the morning. Fancy Farm has been a part of their lives as long as they can remember.

“Oh, I’m 45, so 42 [Fancy Farms] that I know of,” said Hayden.

Page also says he started volunteering as a child.

“It’s been handed down generation to generation.  I’ve got my kids, and his kids,”  said Page pointing to Hayden. “Hopefully they’ll get in there and get at it.”

Emil Moffatt

Late Wednesday morning Bob Thomas was pontificating about the state of the local economy and congress as he was filling up his green Toyota pickup truck at the city owned fuel station.  The facility is bare-bones with no snacks, no sodas and no lottery tickets.  It’s not on a main thoroughfare, but set back a bit from Highway 27.

It has been open less than a week, but has generated plenty of controversy and nationwide attention. It’s believed Somerset is the first municipality to sell gasoline directly to customers.

“It should have been this way years ago: fair,” said Thomas.  “You get me? If the people at the refinery is making money on the gas and the city is going to make a little money. I don’t mind you making you a  living whenever you come to work for me and pay you a fair wage.  But I don’t want to send you to the Bahamas on a 30 day vacation, though.”

It was complaints similar to Thomas’ that led Somerset’s City Council to broach the topic of selling its own gasoline.  The city had already been selling compressed natural gas for two years. In fact, much of the infrastructure the city needed to begin selling gasoline was already in place to service Somerset’s fleet vehicles.

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