Kevin Willis

News Director

Kevin is the News Director at WKU Public Radio.  He has been with the station since 1999, and was previously the Assistant News Director, and also served as local host of Morning Edition.  

He is a broadcast journalism graduate of WKU, and has won numerous awards for his reporting and feature production. 

Kevin grew up in Radcliff, Kentucky and currently lives in Glasgow.

Ways to Connect

Kentucky State Parks

Hundreds of volunteers are expected at an event Saturday designed to clean up the area around a southeastern Kentucky park.

The group PRIDE serves 42 counties in the region, and is kicking off its Spring Cleanup Campaign Saturday morning at Cumberland Falls State Resort Park.

PRIDE president Tammi Wilson says the effort will target trash pickup along the roadway leading into and out of the park in McCreary and Whitley counties.

“We’ve had as many as 507 volunteers at this event at one time. We pick up about, just under, a thousand bags of trash on that 27 miles of roadway. So you can just imagine the impact that that makes—almost a thousand bags of trash no longer on the roadway," Wilson said.

Creative Commons

A new statewide polls finds 42 percent of Kentucky adults say they aren’t getting the recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetables.

The Kentucky Health Issues Poll also found that the availability of healthy food options remains a barrier for many low-income Kentuckians.

Nearly one-quarter of low-income earning adults said they didn’t have easy access to fresh fruits and vegetables and whole-grain foods. Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky President Ben Chandler said better eating would lead to better results for the commonwealth.

City of Bowling Green

The mayor of Bowling Green says he doesn’t think recent comments about a so-called “massacre” in the city will harm its reputation.

A senior advisor to President Trump, Kellyanne Conway, cited what she called the “Bowling Green massacre” in defense of the administration’s controversial travel ban. Those comments were aired Thursday night in an interview on MSNBC.

Two Iraqi citizens were arrested in Bowling Green in 2011 on terrorism charges, but there were no attacks or deaths related to the incident.

Western Kentucky University has identified 22 students and two faculty members who are from the countries impacted by President Trump’s executive order banning entry into the U.S.

The school issued a statement Monday saying it doesn’t know of any affected students or faculty members who are currently overseas or being prevented from re-entering the U.S.

Trump’s order barred travelers from seven majority-Muslim nations from entering the U.S. for 90 days.

WKU says its advising students and employees from those seven countries to avoid leaving the U.S. while parts of the ban are still in place.

GM

The Bowling Green General Motors plant is temporarily shutting down later this year to make changes to its vehicle production process.

The facility will temporarily lay off employees while the changes are being made.

A spokeswoman for the plant said a decision on the exact dates and length of the shutdown hasn’t been made, but that it would likely cover parts of the summer and fall.

The plant employees about 840 hourly workers, along with 165 salaried individuals. The spokeswoman said some employees will be asked to work through the temporary shutdown, with the plant making those decisions based on the facility’s needs.

David Brinkley

Western Kentucky University has its next president.

The school’s board of regents voted unanimously Friday to offer the job to Timothy Caboni.

The 47-year-old currently serves as vice chancellor for public affairs at the University of Kansas.

He was formally introduced as WKU’s next president at a Friday afternoon news conference.

In an interview with WKU Public Radio, Caboni said his top challenge as the school's next leader is figuring out how to retain more first-year students.

"Those first-year students that we recruit must graduate in four years. Right now we're losing about a quarter of those students, and that's not acceptable. I've told that to faculty, staff, students, and anybody else who will listen. We're going to do better, and we're going to do better starting next year. It's going to take the entire community creating a culture of completion."

WFPL News

Two Amish men are suing the city of Auburn, Kentucky, in Logan County, saying a city ordinance is placing a substantial burden on their freedom of religion.

The ordinance, passed in 2014, requires all horses within the city of Auburn to be outfitted with equine diapers to catch their waste.

The plaintiffs are members of the Old Order Swartzentruber Amish religion, widely considered the most conservative Amish order, and affixing diapers to their horses is not permitted by the Swartzentruber church.

WKU

Three people who have dedicated their lives to educating others have been selected to be inducted into the Kentucky Teacher Hall of Fame.

A statement from Western Kentucky University, which houses the hall, says the current or former teachers selected are Opal T. Sibert, Ron Skillern and Joe Westerfield. All three will be inducted during a ceremony on March 8 in Frankfort.

The statement says Sibert was an influential educator for 30 years in Laurel County before retiring in 1986 and was known for her persistence.

Westerfield taught history and government in Daviess County schools for 33 years before retiring in 2002 and was known for his enthusiasm.

Skillern, who is still teaching social studies after a 30-year career in Bowling Green and Warren County schools, has been described by former students as a great motivator.

WKU

The Western Kentucky University presidential search committee is meeting in closed session Thursday and Friday in Nashville.

The group is considering candidates to replace WKU President Gary Ransdell, who is retiring next summer after 20 years at the school.

The school has issued an agenda for the meeting saying that the search committee will meet in closed session at the Nashville Airport Marriott to discuss applicants for the presidential position.

Kentucky law allows the search committee to conduct the hiring process behind closed doors,without members of the public or media present.

Some WKU employees have asked the search committee to conduct open meetings, and allow members of the community to meet with finalists before a decision is made.

J. Tyler Franklin

The head of the Warren County Republican Party says his party’s huge gains in the state House are more evidence of how the GOP has expanded its influence in Kentucky.

Scott Lasley, who is also a political science professor at Western Kentucky University, says the 17 seats Republicans picked up Tuesday are the result of the party’s increased focus on selecting quality candidates.

He says the party is now competitive in parts of the state where it used to not even put up a challenger against Democratic incumbents

If you go back and look at the data and the evolution of open seat races and uncontested races, it’s always that you had a bunch of Democrats that are running uncontested. Now it’s a bunch of Republicans that are uncontested,” Lasley said.


Lefteris Pitarakis/AP

An announcement this week from the Oxford University Press landed like a bombshell in the laps of Shakespeare fans and scholars.

The prestigious publisher revealed that its new edition of the complete works of William Shakespeare will credit the 16th century British poet and playwright Christopher Marlowe as co-author of the three Henry VI plays.

There have long been debates and controversy over whether the many plays, sonnets and other works attributed to Shakespeare were, in fact, written by him. The decision by Oxford University Press will likely further stoke the discussion.

WKU Public Radio spoke with Western Kentucky University English Professor and Shakespeare scholar Gillian Knoll about her reaction to the decision to credit Marlowe as co-author of the Henry VI plays.

Webmd.com

Kentucky State Police and the Drug Enforcement Agency are partnering together in an effort to dispose of unwanted prescription drugs.

Take Back locations will be set up at fifteen K-S-P posts this Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Trooper Josh Brashears, a public affairs officer with the state police, says the Take Back initiative has led to the destruction of thousands of pounds of drugs across the state.

“We do it semi-annually. We did one in April of this year, and it netted about 1,010 pounds of prescription drugs,” Brashears said.

Nearly 10,000 pounds of medicine has been collected since the program began in 2010.

All solid dosage pharmaceutical products and liquids in containers will be accepted at the Take Back locations across the state.

Whitney Jones/WKMS

Kentucky’s Agriculture Commissioner is predicting 2017 will be the biggest year yet for the state’s hemp program.

The commonwealth is now accepting applications for those who want to take part in the pilot research project next year.

Ryan Quarles wants to build on the increasing amount of hemp that’s been planted since the program began in 2014.

“In the first year, about 30 acres were planted. In the second year, about 900. This year, over 2,000. And we fully expect there to be substantial growth in 2017,” Quarles said.

More information on Kentucky's program, including the 2017 policy guide and a downloadable application, can be found here.

Kentucky is running its program under a federal law that allows industrial hemp pilot projects.

Creative Commons

A new study shows fewer Kentucky adults are delaying or skipping medical care because of cost concerns.

The report from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky says a little more than 20 percent of Kentuckians who are 18 and older put off treatment this year because they couldn’t afford it.

That’s a big improvement over the 32 percent who skipped or delayed medical care in 2009.

“It’s still too high a figure, and we’re still higher than the national average,” said Foundation President and CEO Ben Chandler. “But it’s certainly better than what it was, and it’s a good sign and a step in the right direction.”

Chandler says the increasing number of Kentuckians who have health coverage under the Affordable Care Act has made a big difference. He points out income level is also a big predictor of whether Kentuckians had to put off getting medical care.

Art Smith, EPA

Thousands of tons of arsenic-contaminated material have been removed from a site in Ohio County.

The state dug up contaminated soil and replaced it with dirt and loose stones.

Kentucky inspectors believe that containers of arsenic were dumped in a wooded area of Ohio County between 50 and 60 years ago.

The arsenic leaked out of those containers, made its way into a culvert, and showed up on two residential properties.

John Mura, spokesman with the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet, says the state removed the contaminated soil.

“You have to dig up the ground that is contaminated. And we have very sophisticated measuring devices that we can tell when we’ve removed enough. In total in the site, we removed 4,833 tons of material.”

The state doesn’t know who is responsible for dumping the arsenic containers in Ohio County decades ago.

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