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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Politics
8:00 am
Mon November 3, 2014

Election Day Spells End to Contentious Kentucky House Race

Republican challenger Jeff Jobe (left) and Democratic State Representative Johnny Bell
Credit LRC Public Information, Facebook

Republicans will find out in Tuesday's election if they will take control of the Kentucky House for the first time in nearly a century. 

Twenty-nine Democratic incumbents are defending their seats.  With so much at stake, a few of the races have turned especially negative.  Among them, the 23rd District match-up between Representative Johnny Bell and GOP challenger Jeff Jobe, both of Glasgow. 

Personal attacks have dominated the race, which both candidates say were never their intent.  Representative Bell blames a lot of the negative advertising on outside political groups.

"I'm disappointed this race has taken that tone, but in all honesty, it looks like a push from outside interests trying to gain control and power here in the commonwealth of Kentucky without having any connection or vested interest," Bell told WKU Public Radio.

Bell has hammered Jobe for his past DUI conviction and accusations of domestic abuse.  Jobe has made an issue of Bell’s failure to settle a federal tax lien and his legislative record.

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Education
1:39 pm
Fri October 31, 2014

WKU Regents Approve New Doctor of Psychology Degree, Swear in New Faculty Regent

Dr. Barbara Burch is sworn in as WKU's new Faculty Regent by the Regents Chairman, David Potter
Clinton Lewis/WKU

WKU is one step closer to offering a doctorate in Applied Psychology.

The school’s Board of Regents approved the degree program at its quarterly meeting Friday. The new Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) would be offered through the Department of Psychology in the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences.

The Council of Postsecondary Education must now OK the program before the school could begin offering classes in the fall of 2015.

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Arts & Culture
12:00 pm
Fri October 31, 2014

Sixth Novel By WKU Author David Bell Explores Issues Involving Family, Trust

WKU English Professor and author David Bell spoke to WKU Public Radio about his sixth novel.
Credit Abbey Oldham

The Forgotten Girl is the latest book by author and WKU English Professor David Bell. Like many of his previous novels, The Forgotten Girl centers largely around family dynamics and unresolved issues from the past that rear their ugly heads in the present.

Bell came to the studios of WKU Public Radio to talk about his latest book, the book trailer that accompanied it, and whether or not he wishes he could change any part of his previous books.

Here are some excerpts from our interview:

WKU Public Radio: The Forgotten Girl opens with the character Jason Danvers having an unexpected encounter with his younger sister. Without giving away the ending, can you give us an idea of the dynamic between this brother and sister?

David Bell: Jason has moved back to his hometown because of a career change, and he has not seen his younger sister for five years. His sister throughout her life has struggled with substance abuse issues. So he and his sister basically reach this crossroads where he practiced tough love and said, “You’ve got to stay out of my life if you’re not going to have your act together.”

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Politics
4:18 pm
Thu October 30, 2014

Beshear Says GOP Control of House Would Set Kentucky Back to "19th Century"

Control of the Kentucky House is up for grabs Tuesday, Nov. 4, when commonwealth voters go to the polls.

Governor Steve Beshear says Kentucky risks running off the “progressive path” it’s on if voters give the GOP a majority of state House seats.

Beshear’s comments came in Glasgow Thursday, following the announcement of state funding for a local infrastructure project. Beshear has been on the road this week, announcing funding for projects in districts where incumbent Democratic House members are facing competitive challenges by Republican candidates.

The state GOP and several super PACs have targeted Democratic Representatives they think are vulnerable, in an effort to give Republicans a majority of seats in the House. After the announcement in the Barren County High School Auditorium, Beshear was asked how he thought a GOP-led House would impact the state.

“If people will just look at Mississippi, Alabama, and a lot of these southern states where they’re dominated by far-right wing, conservative Republican parties both in the House, Senate, and the governorship—all of those states are in a race to get back to the 19th century,” Beshear said.

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Politics
1:32 pm
Fri October 17, 2014

Latest Poll Shows McConnell Up 8 Points in Kentucky Senate Race

Sen. Mitch McConnell and Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes
Credit Offices of Sen. McConnell and Sec. Grimes

A poll conducted by the group Rasmussen Reports shows Senator Mitch McConnell leading Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes by 8 percentage points.

The telephone survey of 1,000 likely Kentucky voters showed 52 percent supporting McConnell, while 44 percent said they would vote for Secretary of State Grimes.

Two percent said they preferred another candidate in the race, and three percent said they were undecided.

See the entire Rasmussen Reports poll findings here.

The latest poll shows McConnell  receiving overwhelming support from Kentucky Republicans, with 83 percent saying they will vote for the incumbent. At the same time, McConnell is backed by 24 percent of those who identified as Democrats.

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Regional
4:26 pm
Thu October 16, 2014

Anderson, Williams, McCray Inducted into Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame

Two of the 23 individuals inducted into the Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame Thursday have ties to WKU. The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights announced those who are part of the Hall of Fame’s Class of 2014 in Bowling Green.

Dr. Alan Anderson is a professor of social ethics and racial justice at WKU who once worked with Dr. Martin Luther King Junior in efforts to desegregate Albany, Georgia, in the 1960s. When he was arrested for his participation in those projects, Anderson fasted for six days in jail to protest discrimination in the town.

Also inducted Thursday was Abraham Williams, the executive director of the Bowling Green Housing Authority who has worked with WKU to take children in public housing to China over the past three years.

When he moved to Bowling Green 19 years ago, Williams says he was told that public housing children weren’t capable of learning.

Another inductee into the state’s Civil Rights Hall of Fame is Linda McCray, the former long-time executive director of the Bowling Green Human Rights Commission.

You can see the complete list of Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame inductees here.

Education
10:47 am
Thu October 16, 2014

Former WKU Provost Burch Elected New Faculty Regent

Former WKU Provost Barbara Burch is the school's new Faculty Regent.
Credit WKU

WKU President Gary Ransdell, in an email to faculty and staff Thursday morning, announced that Barbara Burch has been elected as the school's new Faculty Regent.

The former WKU Provost will be sworn in as a regent at the board's Oct. 31 meeting. The Faculty Regent position was previously held by History Professor Patti Minter, who chose not to seek another term.

Dr. Burch is currently a professor with WKU's Educational Leadership doctoral program.

In his email, Dr. Ransdell also said "that the Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) has requested a formal all-encompassing ruling with regard to faculty, staff, and student regent elections at all public institutions as those elections relate to employee relationships of immediate family members.  This is not our request, but CPE has made the request with our encouragement.  We want to be sure that clarity in these elections is the norm in the future.  I would expect this ruling to be rendered in a few weeks."

Regional
2:55 pm
Tue October 14, 2014

Latest Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame Inductees to be Announced in Bowling Green

WKU's Carroll Knicely Conference Center in Bowling Green
Credit WKU

The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights is in Bowling Green this week to announce the latest inductees into the state’s Civil Rights Hall of Fame.

The Commission will unveil which of the 35 nominees will receive the honor at a ceremony Thursday afternoon at WKU’s Carroll Knicely Conference Center. The executive director of the state’s Human Rights Commission, John Johnson, says those nominated for the Hall of Fame have made contributions to a wide variety of causes throughout the commonwealth.

“They have a wide span of interests and involvement, whether it’s dealing with people with disabilities, or dealing with legislative issues, or working to improve the quality of life of people based on sexual orientation.”

Among the nominees are:

  • Dr. Alan Anderson, a retired WKU Philosophy and Religion professor who worked with Martin Luther King, Junior, in efforts to desegregate parts of Georgia
  • Samuel Byrd, who has been a long-time leader with the Owensboro N.A.A.C.P
  • Linda McCray, the former longtime executive-director of the Bowling Green Human Rights Commission

See the entire list of nominees for the 2014 Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame and their profiles here.

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Science
1:00 pm
Mon October 13, 2014

Nye: U.S. Risks Standing as Global Innovation Leader Unless it Improves Science Education

Bill Nye is coming to WKU Oct. 15.
Credit PBS

The man known as “The Science Guy” is coming to WKU Wednesday evening. Scientist, author, and former PBS show host Bill Nye will speak at E.A. Diddle Arena as part of the WKU Cultural Enhancement Series.

Nye is a passionate spokesman for science education in the U.S., and he often warns his audiences that the country faces the threat of losing its reputation as the leading global innovator unless it starts putting greater emphasis on teaching young people science and math.

In February, Nye made headlines when he came to northern Kentucky to debate Ken Ham, the president of the group “Answers in Genesis” that operates the Creation Museum in Petersburg.

See the entire debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham here.

Ahead of his appearance in Bowling Green, Nye spoke to WKU Public Radio about science and religion, and what he thinks is the biggest long-term impact of the U.S. underperforming in science and math education.

WKU Public Radio: What do you think will happen to the U.S. if we don’t put greater emphasis on science education?

Nye: The U.S. economy will flag. It will fail. What keeps the United States in the game economically is not our manufacturing, as such—it’s our innovation. It’s our new ideas. This is the reason the U.S. is still doing very well economically around the world, even though all the stuff we wear is made somewhere else, and the cars we drive are largely made elsewhere.

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Health
3:53 pm
Thu October 9, 2014

New Program in Kentucky Seeks to Distribute Used Hearing Aids to Those Who Can't Afford Cost

The SHARP program is collecting used hearing aids for Kentuckians who need the help.
Credit WikiMedia Commons

A new program is seeking to collect, refurbish, and distribute used hearing aids to Kentuckians who need assistance.

The Statewide Hearing Aid Assistance and Reuse Program—or SHARP—accepts hearing aids of any age of condition. The donations will be evaluated and refurbished to like-new condition, or will be used for parts.

Jimmy Brown, director of the Kentucky Assistive Technology Service, the group SHARP, says providing hearing aids to someone who can’t afford them will transform their lives.

“Communication is the key. Individuals with a hearing impairment, whether they’re completely deaf or hard of hearing, that communication is key, and being able to provide that component to that individual is going to open many doors, whether it’s for education, or for work, or for their everyday community living-type access.”

Medicare and most health insurance plans don’t cover the cost of hearing aids, and Brown says the average cost of a pair of hearing aids is prohibitively high for many Kentuckians who need the help.

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