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. 

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.

Orchestra Kentucky

Joe Roberts, a Bowling Green native who played guitar for more than a decade as a part of Orchestra Kentucky shows, died Monday of an apparent heart attack.  He was 56 years old. 

Roberts was a member of the group The Rewinders. He was a self-taught guitar player who received acclaim for his solos.

“Well he really loves music and you could see that in his playing,” said Orchestra Kentucky music director Jeff Reed. “When he played solos, it was definitely from the heart and it exhibited his love for the music he was playing.”

Roberts’ death came just days before Orchestra Kentucky’s scheduled “Beatlemadness” concert in Bowling Green. Reed says the song “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” won’t be the same without Roberts’ guitar solo.

“That song has become associated with Joe as he would play the Eric Clapton solo.  You know, Eric Clapton played the original guitar solo,” said Reed.  “He never failed to get a standing ovation whenever we played it in the many places we played around the United States.”

Abbey Oldham/WKU Public Radio

For 33 years, hundreds of the members of the very tight-knit community of Corvette owners make their way to Bowling Green for the Corvette Homecoming.  It’s happened every summer since 1981 and heat can usually be the biggest weather concern. But this year, the problem was rain.

There was a steady drizzle all day Saturday in Bowling Green – not conducive to walking around and looking at Corvettes in a parking lot. The cars were still there, just not in the numbers as have been seen in past years.  Most of the action was taking place inside, under the roof of the Sloan Convention Center where some of the most prized Corvettes were on display.

Fans of the car from all over the country were in attendance. For some, they make it a yearly pilgrimage.

“Just the camaraderieship. Mingling with people, having fun, talking Corvette stuff.  Good stuff,” said Cedric Wingo of Clarksville, Tennessee.

Emil Moffatt

Disappointment from earlier this year has been turned inside-out for the Bowling Green-Warren County Regional Airport. 

In late April, Governor Steve Beshear vetoed $750,000 dollars from this year’s budget that would have gone to help lure a commercial airline to Bowling Green for the first time in decades.  But airport general manager Rob Barnett learned Thursday morning, Kentucky will be able to invest that $750,000 dollars in July 2015 in the second year of the biennium.

“We now have a total incentive package of two million dollars to offer airlines that might be interested in servicing Bowling Green, Kentucky,” said Barnett.

Barnett says a recent study showed over 700,000 airline tickets were purchased by residents in Warren and nine surrounding counties over the past year. He says he’ll continue dialogue with potential airline partners over the next year. Barnett says he never lost confidence that the airport would receive the state funding, even after the veto in the spring.

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet says it is working toward compliance with the federal REAL ID Act from 2005.  The law sets 39 standards that must be met in order for a state-issued driver’s license to be accepted at certain high-security locations. Kentucky is one of 10 states currently not in compliance.  That means Kentuckians trying to access restricted areas at federal facilities will have to present a passport or military ID beginning July 21. 

Lisa Tolliver with the Transportation Cabinet says the state has completed a key step needed for an extension and is waiting to hear back from Homeland Security.

“What we’re doing is just working toward it. We don’t have a timeframe as to when we’ll be completely finished,” said Tolliver. “But once we get an extension – that will allow Kentucky driver’s licenses – they won’t be compliant, but they will be acceptable.”

As early as 2016, non-compliant driver’s licenses may prevent someone from boarding a commercial airliner unless they have a second form of ID.  But that provision can't be enacted until after Homeland Security has evaluated states’ progress early next year.

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.

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