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

Owensboro Health

Owensboro Health has named its next President and CEO.

Greg Strahan has been promoted after serving in the roles on an interim basis since mid-April. He previously helped oversee construction of the Owensboro Health Regional Hospital as the system’s chief operating officer.

Strahan says increasing primary care opportunities in the region is one of his biggest challenges.

“In Owensboro, we’re always looking for more primary care access points, because there’s a shortage of primary care in the general region. I wouldn’t say just in Owensboro, but in our region.”

Owensboro Health has 4,445 employees, and is the largest employer west of Louisville.  

He says Owensboro Health’s expanded footprint outside Daviess County has allowed for more healthcare access points in largely rural areas.

“Part of what we’ve done to eliminate some of their needs is that we’re putting these healthplexes in Henderson, Muhlenberg, and Madisonville. And we manage the hospital in Muhlenberg County.”

Strahan says another goal is to increase telemedicine opportunities at Owensboro Health’s hospitals and clinics across the region. Telemedicine allows physicians to diagnose and treat certain patients through the use of telecommunications technology.

Kevin Willis

A Bowling Green boxing coach wants to create new opportunities for anyone in the world to learn the sport.

Chadrick Wigle runs a small gym in Bowling Green called BGKY Boxing, and is the coach of the Western Kentucky University intramural boxing team. He says he wants to connect with anybody who would like to learn the basics of the sport known as “the sweet science.”

So he’s put online about 100 free videos he recorded of practices featuring WKU boxing club members.

“We filmed every practice of WKU since March 16th, and we put them up online,” Wigle told WKU Public Radio. “That way anybody who wants to learn boxing, all they have to do is grab their brother, cousin, sister, Dad, go to the garage, and do the same drills they’re doing.”

Wigle says the videos he posts differ from much of what is found elsewhere on the internet. He says his goal was to provide an unfiltered view of what it’s like to learn boxing fundamentals.

Kentucky Labor Cabinet

Governor Matt Bevin’s administration is counting on a growing apprenticeship program to help fill Kentucky’s future workforce needs.

More than 1,100 Kentucky employers are currently partnering with the state to provide apprenticeship opportunities. Apprenticeships allow high school upperclassmen and those who have a GED to gain on-the-job training tailored to a company’s needs.

Kentucky Labor Cabinet Secretary Derrick Ramsey is touring the state in an effort to encourage more companies and schools to participate in the effort. He says a wide variety of skills can be learned through the program.

“When we talk about the skills, and when we talk about the apprenticeships, we're not only talking about construction--road construction, building construction,” Ramsey said in Bowling Green Wednesday. “We're talking about I.T.--we're apprenticing that, as well. We're talking about health care."

Ramsey says those learning blue-collar skills in the apprenticeship program could help build the next generation of roads and bridges in the commonwealth.

Kentucky State Parks

Four Kentucky state resort parks will receive $4.9 million in funding for renovations.

The announcement this week is part of a campaign called “Refreshing the Finest”—a statewide effort providing structural repairs, painting, and other upgrades.

The latest round of funding will be used at Barren River, Dale Hollow, Lake Cumberland, and Rough River Dam State Resort Parks.

“Most of the money is either going toward safety upgrades or other aesthetic improvements," said Kentucky State Parks spokesman Gil Lawson. "For example, at Lake Cumberland, we had several sidewalks that were cracked or in disrepair, and work on that is nearly complete.”

Lawson said the funding will also provide new dining room finishes and painting at Dale Hollow; electrical repairs and painting at Barren River; and conference center painting and repairs at Rough River Dam.

A total of $18 million has been dedicated to state resort park improvements that are scheduled to be done by the end of next year.

Kevin Willis

Kentucky’s Second District Congressman says his party needs to tone down some of its rhetoric about illegal immigration, and better explain how its economic policies could help those coming to the country legally.

Bowling Green Republican Brett Guthrie told WKU Public Radio Monday that the GOP is missing opportunities to appeal to immigrants who arrived in America legally in search of jobs and a better life.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has proposed banning all Muslims from entering the U.S., and has called for a wall to be built between the U.S. and Mexico. Guthrie says Republicans can’t afford to be painted as a party unwelcoming to immigrants.

“We as a party can’t look like we’re against people coming here legally,” Guthrie said. Instead, the Warren County lawmaker said Republicans need to reach out to immigrants wanting to “invest in the American Dream and the American future. Guthrie said he thought “some of the rhetoric gets hot,” leaving some voters with a negative impression of the party.

Kevin Willis

Western Kentucky University’s latest fundraising totals are the highest in school history.

The school announced today that it raised $23.1 million in donations during the fiscal year that ended June 30.

That’s a 22 percent increase over the school’s previous record.

Marc Archambault, Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations at WKU, says he was impressed by the number of donations made by people who aren’t WKU graduates.

“Forty-five percent of the dollars that were contributed in this last fiscal year came from ‘friends’—people unaffiliated with the university,” he said.

The contributions made to WKU last fiscal year include nearly $10 million for the school’s endowment, and nearly $8 million for student scholarships.

Kentucky LRC

Kentucky is undergoing rapid changes in how it treats drug offenders.

A growing number of communities are offering needle exchange programs for IV drug users. There’s a greater availability of naloxone, a drug which counters the effects of an opioid overdose. The state legislature passed a bill this year offering more treatment options for heroin addicts.

Someone with an up-close view of these recent changes is John Tilley, a former Kentucky House member from Hopkinsville who now serves as Secretary of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet.

Tilley says there’s been a growing recognition from both conservatives and liberals that simply throwing drug addicts in jail doesn’t cure the problem.

Kevin Willis

About forty refugee children living in Bowling Green are getting some help in preparing for the upcoming school year.

The Warren County-based International Center of Kentucky partnered with four community organizations to provide school supplies to the children.

One of those in line Thursday to get a backpack filled with supplies was 14-year-old Maya Nayab. She and her family arrived last week in Kentucky after fleeing religious persecution in Pakistan.

She says she’s looking forward to starting ninth grade classes next week.

“I think it’s going to be important for me and my life—the studies are most important. I love to study, so I’m going to complete my graduation as soon as possible,” said Nayab, who is one of ten family member who recently relocated in Bowling Green.

The other groups contributing to the school supply campaign are Starbucks, the WKU Store, Strawberry Fields Yoga, and Women’s Intercultural Café.

Kayla Luttrell, a case manager with the Bowling Green-based International Center of Bowling Green, says the children and their parents are grateful for the help.

Kevin Willis

The Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center is holding a town hall meeting to gather suggestions on ways to improve arts education.

SKyPAC is hosting the meeting Thursday, Aug. 4.

SKyPAC education outreach coordinator Joshua Miller says the goal is to get feedback from community members, educators, and artists about the center’s outreach efforts aimed at young people.

“What you’re investing in is potentially the citizen for the next 30 years of where you’re living. I think it’s just important that we pore into them, and create opportunities for the youth--as well as the community--to express, to collaborate, to be together in spaces, especially with everything going on in our society today.”

Miller says those attending will be asked for input on the following questions:

Abbey Oldham, PBS Newshour

Kentucky’s Secretary of State says Americans can expect a big contrast between this week’s Democratic National Convention and last week’s Republican gathering in Cleveland.

Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes is speaking at her party’s convention in Philadelphia. She told WKU Public Radio Democrats will offer a more positive view of the U.S. than the one described by GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump.

“You’re going to see people from all across this nation, and importantly, our nominee, that believe America is already great. And we need a President that recognizes that, and will build upon that—unite people, not dividing them with hateful rhetoric.”

Grimes called Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton a role model and friend for more than 24 years. 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.

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.”

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