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.

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3:49 pm
Fri August 29, 2014

New York Times Magazine Profiles McConnell-Grimes Race (With Great Pics of Both Candidates)

Lead in text: 
It was the first Saturday in August, and Mitch McConnell was sermonizing from a fake redbrick porch beneath a corrugated metal overhang in Fancy Farm, Ky. (population 458), not far from the Mississippi River. Despite the 90-degree heat, McConnell, the 72-year-old Senate minority leader, wore a starchy yellow dress shirt and crisp khakis, a BlackBerry securely fastened to his belt; his silver hair was neatly combed along a distinct side part. McConnell is often lampooned as a creature of Washington, but he is quite proficient with the schlock and pomp of the stump.
"There's only one thing Barack Obama needs to keep his grip on power," Mitch McConnell said, his voice cracking amid the applause. "He needs the U.S. Senate!" It was the first Saturday in August, and McConnell was sermonizing from a fake redbrick porch beneath a corrugated metal overhang in Fancy Farm, Ky.
Health
8:40 am
Fri August 29, 2014

Many Low Income Kentuckians Eligible for Free Colon Cancer Screenings

Many Kentuckians who lack health insurance can receive free colon cancer screenings through their local health department. The program is jointly funded through the state and private donations, and targets Kentucky residents who meet certain age and income guidelines.

Madeline Abramson, wife of Lieutenant Governor Jerry Abramson, is speaking out on behalf of colon cancer awareness in Kentucky. Mrs. Abramson is honorary chair of the Kentucky Cancer Program’s “Dress in Blue Day”, a program aimed at educating the public about colon cancer.

She says the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the nation can often be detected and treated through screenings.

“It’s unusual to have a screening test where the cancer or pre-cancerous node can be taken care of at that time," Abramson told WKU Public Radio.

Abramson says some people are embarrassed to talk about the disease in the same way many refused to openly discuss breast cancer decades ago.

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Education
2:58 pm
Thu August 28, 2014

WKU to Collaborate with University of Pikeville on Health-Related Degrees

A new partnership between WKU and the University of Pikeville will offer new opportunities for students in eastern Kentucky to earn three master’s degrees in health-related fields. The deal announced Thursday will also open up Pikeville’s College of Optometry to WKU students

WKU President Gary Ransdell and UPIKE President James Hurley announced what they’re calling the “East Meets West” partnership. Speaking at the Pikeville campus, Dr. Ransdell said he began conversations with his Pikeville counterpart about a year ago over how the two schools could work together.

WKU will begin offering to UPIKE students this fall an online Speech-Language Pathology pathway program that includes all of the pre-requisite courses students needed to qualify for a master’s in Communication Disorders.

Also available to UPIKE students will be the WKU Master of Healthcare Administration degree, starting in the fall of 2015. The online program will allow current UPIKE medical students and those completing their residency program to finish both a master’s degree and their medical degree at the same time.

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Education
11:50 am
Fri August 22, 2014

Ransdell Implores Campus Community to Do Everything Possible to Retain Students

Dr. Bruce Kessler, head of WKU’s Department of Mathematics, received the 13th annual Spirit of WKU Award.
Credit Clinton Lewis/WKU

WKU President Gary Ransdell says it’s every employee’s job to help the school retain as many students as possible.

Addressing faculty and staff at Friday morning’s convocation at Van Meter Hall, Dr.Ransdell cited examples of academic progress, including an increase in the average ACT score of first-time baccalaureate students.

But he added that the school is still allowing too many students to leave campus without finishing their degrees.

“We are graduating just over 50 percent of our students in six years and we are still losing 25 percent of each freshman class within one year of their initial enrollment. So, for our students’ sake—if not for our own financial stability—please become part of the solution to keeping our students at WKU until they graduate.”

The WKU President said he was concerned about the value of the school’s remedial courses that many freshmen take. Ransdell added he’s worried the school is losing students who return home after their first semester with only three to six credit hours.

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12:09 pm
Thu August 21, 2014

"Bourbonism" Having Major Impact on Business, Tourism in Kentucky's Largest City

Lead in text: 
Angel's Envy, Michter's, and Evan Williams are just a few of the names highlighting Louisville's growing trade in bourbon.
The worldwide bourbon boom emanating from Kentucky has an increasingly Louisville address. At 120 N. 10th St., on the western edge of downtown, Corky Taylor is turning a former tobacco market and burlap bag factory into the Kentucky Peerless Distillery and visitor center.
Regional
2:51 pm
Wed August 20, 2014

Community Bands Together in Effort to Find Missing Southern Indiana Woman

Friends, family, and residents in the Boonville, Indiana, area are searching for missing 27-year-old Kristy Kelly.

Hundreds of volunteers are assisting in the effort to find a missing Warrick County, Indiana, woman.

Twenty-seven-year-old Kristy Kelley of Boonville was last seen at the local VFW post on the morning of Friday, Aug. 15. She was later reported missing after she didn’t show up for work.

Volunteers have searched the area where Kelley was last scene, looking for any clues related to her disappearance.

Kelley is white, with a petite build, blue eyes and long, brown hair.

Investigators have also not been able to locate Kelley’s car, a silver 2003 Nissan Xterra.

Anyone with information on Kelly's whereabouts is encouraged to call the Warrick County Sheriff's Department at 812-897-6180.

Warrick County Sheriff Brett Bruse told the Evansville Courier and Press that investigators have no evidence that foul play was involved. Kruse is asking area businesses that use video surveillance cameras to check their footage from early Friday morning to see if they captured any images of Kelley or her vehicle.

A candlelight vigil for Kelley is being held tonight on the Boonville square.

7:18 pm
Tue August 19, 2014

Questions Raised Over McConnell's Absences During Agriculture Committee Hearings

Lead in text: 
A new report claims Senator Mitch McConnell has a trend of skipping out on Senate Agriculture Committee hearings for events unrelated to his home state.
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has touted his work for Kentucky farmers on the campaign trail, but back in Washington has a trend of skipping out on Senate Agriculture Committee hearings for events unrelated to his home state. He's already been hit by Democratic opponent Alison Lundergan Grimes for missing every Agriculture Committee hearing since 2009.
7:05 pm
Tue August 19, 2014

Grimes Denies Any Improprieties Concerning Rates Paid for Campaign Bus

Lead in text: 
Kentucky's Democratic U.S. Senate candidate is denying allegations that she received a sweetheart deal on the use of her campaign bus. The response came after POLITICO reported Tuesday that a company owned by Grimes’ father purchased the bus and appeared to be renting it to her campaign at a discounted rate.
Under fire from Republicans for reportedly getting a special deal for her campaign bus, Alison Lundergan Grimes on Tuesday asserted that the payments made for the 45-foot-long vehicle are within market rates. The response came after POLITICO reported Tuesday that a company owned by Grimes’ father purchased the bus and appeared to be renting it...
Politics
3:49 pm
Mon August 18, 2014

McConnell Accepts KET Invitation to Debate Grimes

McConnell and Grimes will debate Oct. 13 on KET.
Credit Offices of Sen. McConnell and Sec. Grimes

Senator Mitch McConnell has accepted an invitation to debate Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes on KET in October.

KET announced Monday that the incumbent Republican said he would appear alongside the Democratic Secretary of State October 13 on the program Kentucky Tonight.

Senior Director of Communications for KET Tim Bischoff told WKU Public Radio that Libertarian candidate David Patterson, who qualified for the November ballot last week, would not be invited to the KET debate.

Bischoff said candidates were chosen for the event based on specific criteria. According to a document Bischoff sent to WKU Public Radio, those criteria are:

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Politics
2:28 pm
Mon August 18, 2014

Pro-McConnell NRA Mailer Blasting Bloomberg Comes As Senator Defends Wife's Role on Bloomberg Board

This mailer from the NRA Institute for Legislative Action says Sen. McConnell will "Stop the Obama/Bloomberg Gun Control Agenda".
Credit Kevin Willis

The lobbying wing of the National Rifle Association has sent a mailer to some residents in Kentucky that says Senator Mitch McConnell will stop the “gun control agenda” of President Obama and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.  

It hit mailboxes shortly after it was revealed that McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, sits on the board of a charity run by Bloomberg.

The mail piece came from the NRA Institute for Legislative Action, and by law cannot be authorized by a candidate or candidate’s committee. Featuring on the front photos of Bloomberg and President Obama, with a dark, grainy picture of New York City in the background, the mailer says “Restricting Your Second Amendment Rights is Obama’s Unfinished Business.”

The back features a picture of McConnell, with assurances that the incumbent Republican opposes “any bans on guns and ammunition”, “a federal gun registration database”, and what it describes as the President’s “anti-gun nominees for the U.S. Supreme Court.”

The NRA’s criticism of Bloomberg’s gun control views comes as McConnell was recently forced to answer questions about his wife’s role on the board of Bloomberg Philanthropies.

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