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

Abbey Oldham/WKU Public Radio

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes will speak to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia next week.

Grimes was one of dozens of speakers added to the agenda on Thursday. The secretary of state is in her second term in office, having narrowly won re-election in November.

Grimes gained national prominence in 2014 for her challenge to veteran U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell. McConnell won the race and would go on to become Senate majority leader.

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton campaigned for Grimes several times in her Senate campaign. The Clinton family is close with Grimes and her family, including Jerry Lundergan, Grimes' father and former chairman of the Kentucky Democratic Party.

Grimes' mother, Charlotte Lundergan, is a superdelegate pledged to support Clinton.

WKU

Western Kentucky University is dropping the cost of its dual credit courses.

The cost of a three-hour course will now be $156, down from the previous rate of $210.

The move follows the recent announcement of a new scholarship initiative launched by Governor Matt Bevin which will provide high school seniors with up to two free dual credit courses.

The executive order issued from Gov. Bevin’s office says the goal of the scholarship initiative is for high school students to graduate with at least nine hours of postsecondary credit and to “increase the education and skill level of the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s workforce and its workforce and its workforce participation rate.”

Dewayne Neely, head of the WKU Dual Credit Program, says an increased focus on preparing students for college and work will likely increase the demand for dual credit programs.

Emil Moffatt

The Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center has named Rick McCue has its permanent executive director.

Rick McCue was named interim executive director of SKyPac in May, after the group parted ways with Jan Zarr.

McCue is a former Vice-President and General Manager of WBKO Television in Bowling Green.

In a statement released by SKYPAC Tuesday,  McCue said the facility and its mission have been a passion of his since it opened in 2012.

SKyPAC is a 1,743 seat auditorium that is home to Orchestra Kentucky, and traveling musical and arts performances.

Abbey Oldham, PBS Newshour

Kentucky U.S. Senator Rand Paul says he hopes speakers at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland reach out to the nation’s immigrants.

Paul told WKU Public Radio he hopes the GOP sends the message “that our party is welcoming to all people, no matter where you came from, or where you immigrated from. That we look at immigrants seeking freedom and prosperity as assets to our country, and that we’re the party of opportunity, and the party that wants to alleviate poverty through the creation of jobs.”

The Bowling Green Republican says he disagrees with statements made by his party’s presumptive presidential candidate, Donald Trump, about banning all Muslim immigrants from entering the country.

In December, the Trump campaign issued a statement saying the candidate was “calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on.”

WKU

Western Kentucky University is looking for military veterans who want to earn a college degree.

The Veterans Upward Bound program helps former service members enroll into any university, community college, and technical school throughout the country. Veterans Upward Bound helps prospective students fill out admission applications, apply for federal financial aid, and receive G.I. Bill benefits.

WKU coordinator Rick Wright says the program has assisted both young and old veterans gain college admission—including a World War Two veteran studying at Southern Kentucky Community and Technical College.

“The age range of our students is pretty broad—it ranges from 18 to 88, believe it or not. We have one man, a World War II veteran, who is 88 years old, and we got him admitted to SKyCTC here in Bowling Green because he wanted to study computers.”

Flickr/Creative Commons

Two dozen Hardin County area nonprofits are trying to gain a better picture of the local homeless population.

The groups are hoping to draw 300 to 400 families to an event Wednesday afternoon in Elizabethtown.

Megan Stith, President and CEO of United Way of Central Kentucky, says the groups are reaching out to those who may have been missed during a statewide homeless count conducted earlier this year.

According to Stith, those could be people “who are living with relatives, in between housing situations and staying with friends, or have family staying in multiple locations, or staying in a shelter or some kind of temporary or transitional housing.”

Stith says the event will be a one-stop opportunity for those who are housing or food insecure in Hardin County to learn more about local programs that can help. Feeding America is providing food distribution at the event.

Creative Commons

Barren County is the latest southern Kentucky county to consider allowing package alcohol sales.

Cumberland and Metcalfe counties recently voted to go wet. The city of Leitchfield, in Grayson County, also voted to allow package alcohol sales.

Western Kentucky University graduate and retired Navy veteran Sonya Hamrick is leading a petition drive to get the issue on the ballot in Barren County.

She says she started thinking about pushing for change when she moved to Barren County after retiring from the military.

“To me, it only seemed reasonable to have alcohol for adults in an area that’s convenient for them. That’s what I was used to, and when I came back home I discovered there was no such thing here.”

WKU Athletics Media Relations

Four former Western Kentucky University athletes are being inducted into the Kentucky High School Basketball Hall of Fame in Elizabethtown.

Dwight Smith, Jim Rose, Gene Rhodes, and Harry Todd are part of the Hall’s fifth class of inductees.

Smith and Rose are being honored posthumously.

Smith is a Princeton native who led Dotson High School to the state tournament in 1963. He went on to score 1,142 career points at WKU, while averaging 11 rebounds a game.

Rose led Hazard High School to three straight Sweet 16 appearances in from 1964-66, and was named all-state in his final three high school seasons. He finished 34th on the all-time WKU scoring list, and was a key member of the school's 1971 Final Four team.

LRC Public Information

South-central Kentucky lawmakers are again pushing the state to provide matching funds for a veterans nursing home in Warren County.

A bi-partisan group of legislators from southern Kentucky tried and failed to get $10.5 million in state support during this year’s General Assembly. The federal government has pledged to kick in between $20 million and $30 million if Kentucky lawmakers provide money for the effort.

Warren County Republican Rep. Jim DeCesare is co-sponsoring a bill for next year’s legislature. He says a lot of pieces are already in place to make the veterans nursing home a reality.

"The property has been donated, the veterans groups have met with the folks in Washington D.C., they've met with the folks in Frankfort. So they've got broad support from not only the state entities, but also the federal entities."

Creative Commons

A Bowling Green-based health group is expanding the number of naloxone training programs in southern Kentucky.

Naloxone is a medication that helps prevent overdose deaths from opioids such as heroin.

The Barren River District Health Department is planning trainings with Simpson County law enforcement and nurses who work in several local school districts, including Bowling Green Independent, and Barren, Butler, Hart, Logan, Metcalfe, and Simpson counties.

Chip Krause, a disease intervention specialist with the Barren River District Health Department, is leading the tsessions.

City of Bowling Green

The Bowling Green Police chief says his department has been training for a mass shooting situation since the 1999 Columbine High School attacks.

Police preparation for mass casualty events has once again come into focus following the Orlando nightclub shootings.

Chief Doug Hawkins spoke to WKU Public Radio about the BGPD’s ability to handle catastrophic incident like the one scene at the Pulse nightclub. Hawkins says Bowling Green police have access to high-powered rifles that can penetrate body armor worn by attackers.

“One of the added pieces of equipment that we’ve added over the last few years is a patrol rifle. The Bowling Green Police Department, like a lot of other police agencies, used to utilize shotguns. But shotguns do not defeat body armor.”

Hawkins says his department is putting a lot of effort into building relationships with community members, especially Bowling Green’s immigrant and refugee populations.

Kevin Willis, WKU Public Radio

Members of the Western Kentucky University presidential search committee are laying out a timeline of next steps in the hiring process.

The executive search firm helping identify candidates will meet later this summer with WKU faculty, staff, and student groups.

Search committee members have been looking through the first draft of a profile containing input from those on and around the school’s campus.

Search committee chairman Dr. Phillip Bale says a big part of that draft is a list of the characteristics those groups want to see in the school’s next leader.

“I don’t there’s a person that exists in the world who has all them, so part of our charge, as it were, will be to figure out what is most important.”

WKU

The Western Kentucky University Board of Regents has approved a $402 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

Fifty-one-percent of the budget is funded by student tuition and fees. The new spending plan includes a 4.5 percent tuition increase, and factors in a 4.5 percent reduction in state funding.

Student regent Jay Todd Richey cast the lone vote against the budget. In a prepared statement read before the vote, the Glasgow native said he couldn’t support certain parts of the plan, including a reduction in funding for the Track and Field program.

Speaking to reporters after the budget was passed 8-1, Rickey said many WKU students believe the burden of decreased state funding for higher education isn’t being shouldered evenly.

WKU

A legal scholar at Western Kentucky University says Thursday's Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action is good for the country’s college classrooms.  

The high court upheld the affirmative action program at the University of Texas.

WKU History Professor Patricia Minter says having a diverse student body creates a better learning environment for everyone.

“As much as we empathize with the struggles of others, we sometimes need to let groups and people speak for themselves about their own lived experience.”

Opponents of affirmative action programs have argued that factors like race, ethnicity, and gender shouldn’t factor into university admissions policies.

Minter says Thursday’s high court ruling isn’t necessarily the last Supreme Court decision regarding affirmative action. She says the country’s racial and ethnic makeup is rapidly changing, and those factors could lead to future court challenges.

You can hear Minter’s conversation with WKU Public Radio by clicking on the “Listen” button above.

Creative Commons

Kentucky’s export totals are on the rise.

Kentucky exported nearly $7 billion in goods and services during the first quarter of the year. That’s a 1.2 percent increase over the same time period last year.

Many Kentuckians would likely be surprised at the state’s number one export. It’s not bourbon or automotive parts.

Instead, it’s aerospace products.

Kentucky exported more than $2.6 billion in aerospace parts between January and March.

That’s an increase of nearly 23 percent over last year’s first quarter.

The state’s top five international trading partners are Canada, France, the United Kingdom, Mexico, and Brazil.

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