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. 

Master Musicians Festival

Counting Crows, a band which had several hits in the 1990s, is set to perform this weekend at the Master Musicians Festival in Somerset.  The schedule of artists also includes St. Paul and the Broken Bones, a band featured in March on Morning Edition.

Festival president Tiffany Bourne says organizers aren’t restricted to any particular kind of music when they finalize the lineup.

“We just look at any and all genres for musical excellence,” said Bourne. “We try to bring musical excellence to rural Kentucky.  We don’t really have a criteria, we just pick what we think the crowd’s gonna like.”

Bourne says this weekend’s lineup will include some local fare.  Four local singer-songwriters have been chosen to perform in the “Songwriter Social” at Noon Eastern Saturday.

“That’s another great part of our festival is that we have a lot of local bands that get to share the same stage as national artists,” said Bourne.

Abbey Oldham/WKU Public Radio

When severe thunderstorms fire up around the Commonwealth, forecasters with the National Weather Service often make use of a network of automated weather observation stations around the state. The network, known as Kentucky Mesonet, has seen steady growth over the last eight years.

But the challenge now facing the network is long-term sustainability.

State climatologist and WKU professor Stu Foster says the automated reporting sites provide real-time data such as temperature, wind speed, wind direction and rainfall amounts. The data is collected and uploaded to the Kentucky Climate Center every five minutes and is available for anyone to see. 

He says it can give the weather service a better idea of what’s actually going on on the ground in addition to what they can see on radar.

The Kentucky Arts Council is examining data gathered by two studies regarding the status of art education across the commonwealth.  The studies were conducted by South Arts, an organization that represents Kentucky and eight other states.  Lori Meadows is executive director of the Kentucky Arts Council.

“Arts education really contributes to the education of the whole student,”  said Lori Meadows, executive director of the Kentucky Arts Council.  “In other words, it teaches creative thinking skills and the ability to connect different curriculum and different subject areas together.”

The studies found that a sampling of Kentucky schools is performing at-or-above national averages when it comes to providing access to arts education.  But Meadows cautions that only 27 percent of schools in the state responded to the a voluntary survey known as Phase One. But Phase Two, says Meadows, profiled an individual program that has shown success. In Kentucky’s case it was Owensboro Public Schools.

“Children in that district – the students start out and they have the ability to participate in visual art, drama, music and dance,” said Meadows. “And at that particular high school [Owensboro High School]  the drama program, known as the Rose Curtain players, is the oldest high school drama program in the state.”

Meadows says community support of arts education is equally important as what is provided by school districts.

LRC Public Information

House Republican Floor Leader Jeff Hoover, a defense attorney by trade, has known and worked with Mark Stanziano for many years and says he was stunned by the news out of Somerset Friday morning.

Stanziano, 57, was fatally shot as he walked near his law office. Police have taken 40-year-old Clinton Inabnitt into custody in connection with Stanziano's death. He's now charged with murder.

“Well I was just in shock and disbelief,” said Hoover. “Then I was sick at my stomach thinking that such a senseless act could take place, you know, just a guy going to his law office and he gets gunned down.”

Hoover, who works in neighboring Russell County, says Stanziano never shied away from taking high-profile cases and called him a “very, very good” defense attorney.

“He was very knowledgeable; he was very good in front of a jury.  He did not shy away from high-profile or high-publicity cases. In fact, I think Mark enjoyed those.”

Hoover says representing accused criminals in small town, high-profile cases can be especially challenging. He says he had known Stanziano for many years and had several cases pending with him.

Police say the man charged in connection with Stanziano’s death had contact with the attorney as recently as Thursday. Inabnitt told police Stanziano had failed to help him with an unknown problem.

Abbey Oldham/WKU Public Radio

Louis Hatchett was a graduate student in search of a master’s thesis when he came upon a book called “Adventures in Good Eating”.  The author was Duncan Hines and the book would transform the course of Hatchett’s professional life.

“Duncan Hines is probably a kindred spirit,” said Hatchett. “When I read that he would travel from Chicago to Detroit for lunch, I said ‘this man is just like me’, because I’ve traveled 200 miles to eat a steak and gone back home the same day.”

We visited recently with Hatchett at the Duncan Hines Exhibit at the Kentucky Museum on the WKU campus.

After compiling reams of research, the Henderson, Kentucky author eventually produced a 750-page manuscript.  He whittled the content down to 75 pages for his thesis and 300 pages for a book called “Duncan Hines: How a Traveling Salesman Became the Most Trusted Name in Food”.  The book was originally published under a slightly different title in 2001, but was republished this spring.   

In the book, Hatchett contends that Hines created a revolution when it came to roadside dining. He says more people died from food poisoning in the 1930s along American roadways than they did in car accidents.   

Emil Moffatt

Former Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning says there’s a good chance the man who took his place in the Senate will run for president in two years.  Bunning says Rand Paul has done a “good job so far” in the Senate, but still has some time to gauge who his primary opponents might be.

“Right now, my answer is ‘yes’,” said Bunning when asked about Paul’s prospects of a White House run in 2016.  “My gut feeling is, he will feel out the primary field and see. If he thinks he can win the primary, then I think he will continue.”

Great American Brass Band Festival

The Great American Brass Band Festival celebrates its 25th anniversary this weekend in Danville.  Brass band music fans from around the world are expected to descend upon the town for the event.

“The best brass bands play on our stages – it’s quite an honor for them to do so. And so we bring the best of the best, and I think that’s part of why we’ve survived for 25 years and we intend to be around for many more, ” said executive director Niki Kinkade.

Kinkade says the event is expected to draw 30,000 people this weekend.

“It’s very much a community driven festival, we are basically financially supported by our community and through volunteerism and through all sorts of different activities that go on over the four-day weekend," said Kinkade. "The entire community comes together and helps to put this event on.”

International Bluegrass Music Center

Ground is expected to be broken later this month on the International Bluegrass Music Center in downtown Owensboro.  The city has already pledged $3 million to the project and now Daviess County says it’s contributing $500,000 dollars to the project over the next five years. 

County Judge-Executive Al Mattingly says the music center will be the next step in the development of downtown that already includes the new convention center and two new hotels.

“This area, this block – an entire block – sits right at the end of that corridor,” said Mattingly.  “It certainly will be an attraction to people who come into the community for conventions and in and of itself will be an attractor for visitors.”

Mattingly says the county’s money for the project comes from excess from a hotel-motel tax. He says in the past, similar money has been used to pay a million dollars on a bonded indebtedness of the Riverpark Center.

“We thought that since this [money] comes from visitors who come into this community, it’s specifically tasked to be spent on arts organizations in the downtown area and tourism,” said Mattingly.

The Bluegrass Music Center could open as soon as next year. The $12 million project has also received $5 million dollars in private donations. It's scheduled to include a 1,000-seat indoor theater and a 2,000-seat outdoor stage.

Emil Moffatt

After a 10 minute climb up a gentle incline just off the main trail at Mammoth Cave National Park, Rick Toomey stands on a wooden platform overlooking Dixon Cave.

“It’s one of our most important hibernation sites,” said Toomey, the park’s research coordinator.

He says during the winter thousands of bats, including several different species hibernate here.  But those numbers might be on the verge of a drastic change.

“This is a site that could be vastly altered in five years.  In five years we might go in there and find five or ten bats total,” said Toomey. “It’s a very realistic possibility based on what’s been seen elsewhere. And that would be devastating to our ecosystem up here.”

The problem: White Nose Syndrome. It started in the northeast in 2006. It was first noticed at Mammoth Cave in 2013 and has since spread to the caves that welcomed nearly half-a million visitors last year.

Toomey says the fungus that gives White Nose Syndrome its name is just one of the symptoms of the devastating disease.

National Corvette Museum

A milestone was reached Tuesday morning at the site of the new Motorsports Park in Bowling Green.  Crews began laying pavement for the 3.1 mile road course across the highway from the Corvette Museum. 

“We’re using a 3D paving system, which is something relatively new to the paving world, there’s only a few contractors who use it,” said Motorsports Park General Manager Mitch Wright.  “What they’re telling us, is that it will hold the surface to within an eighth of an inch – which is pretty amazing if you think about it.”

Wright says the quality of surface can make or break a track and first impressions are important.

“If the track is rough or bumpy, or whatever – that’s what it becomes known as. If you’ve got an extremely smooth surface, that’s again, just a huge added benefit to us.”

Wright says the paving process is expected to take about a month.  The track is set to open in August in conjunction with the Corvette Museum’s 20th anniversary celebration.

Emil Moffatt

Next to Western Kentucky University’s main dining hall a red, metal cardboard crusher – one of three on campus, flattens a mess of card board boxes into a tightly-compacted bunch ready to be hauled away. But cardboard is just part of the equation. Throughout campus, there are hundreds of recycling bins, encouraging students and staff to reduce the amount of trash WKU puts into landfills.

“Anything the university no longer wants that is not in a trash can,” said Sara Hutchison, WKU’s recycling and surplus coordinator. “That can be cardboard and the single-stream recycling, which includes the aluminum cans, tin cans like a Campbell’s soup can; plastic bottles; mixed paper – magazines, newspaper, office paper.”

Hutchison is our tour guide for an inside look at what happens to all of the discarded by-products of a college campus.  

Abbey Oldham/WKU Public Radio

If you’re up late Friday night – or early Saturday morning, you could be in store for a dramatic light show in the sky.  Dr. Richard Gelderman, director of WKU’s Hardin Planetarium says we could see the best meteor shower of the year – possibly the decade.

“A comet has just passed near the sun and we are about to run into its trail,” said Gelderman.  “That’s going to probably be a whole lot of dust. It’s going to come when the moon is not going to be in the sky, so it will be nice and dark and it will come when our part of the earth is slamming right into the dust stream.”

Gelderman says the best time to view the comet will likely be between midnight and 2 a.m. central time Saturday morning, but he notes those time estimates aren’t always precise.

Crews continue working to patch a large sinkhole at the Austin Peay University football field in Clarksville, Tennessee.  University spokesman Bill Persinger says the hole is near the north end zone of the field.

“At first it was just a relatively small hole in the track," said Persinger.  "As they progressed with their construction and began to dig to remediate the sinkhole, they ended up realizing it was much larger than anticipated."

The hole measures 40-feet wide and 40-feet deep.  Persinger says sinkholes are common in that part of Tennessee because of the topography.

“In fact, some of the main features of our campus at the center points of campus are remediated sinkholes that are now student gathering areas we call ‘the bowls’,” said Persinger.

He says renovation work on Governors Stadium expected to be complete in time for Austin Peay’s football season opener.

Emil Moffatt

Just days away from the Kentucky primary, Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes has her eyes fixed on November and a potential general election matchup with incumbent Senator Mitch McConnell.

In front of an estimated crowd of more than 200 supporters Friday evening at Circus Square Park in Bowling Green, Grimes spoke after being introduced by State Rep. Jody Richards. It was the final stop of the day on Grimes' bus tour of Kentucky. 

“The energy, the excitement is contagious,” Grimes said to the crowd.  “I know you are ready, not only for May 20th but to give me enough shoe leather to run all the way until November.”

Grimes’ criticism of McConnell was unrelenting, calling the incumbent the “senator of yesterday.”

“Yesterday’s view of minimum wage, yesterday’s view against women getting equal pay for equal work. Yesterday’s view against actually bringing funding here for our universities, yesterday’s view against actually realizing it’s the job of a U.S. Senator to actually bring jobs to this state,” said Grimes.

Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site

A searchable database containing the names of 5,800 Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the battle of Perryville is now available online, thanks in part to a computer science class at Centre College in Danville. 

Kurt Holman, manager of the Perryville Battefield State Historic Site, has worked for three decades collecting the names. He reached out to the college looking for assistance in building an online version of the database.