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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2:42 pm
Thu October 9, 2014

Former WKU Guard Gordon, Now at UMass, Talks About Coming Out as First Gay Men's D1 Basketball Player

Derrick Gordon began his college basketball career at WKU. He later transferred to the University of Massachusetts, and he is now the first openly gay athlete to compete in Division I men's basketball. He recently spoke to ESPN about his decision to come out. "I was coming out or giving up basketball," Gordon said. "It was breaking me down."
By Jeff Goodman | ESPN.com AMHERST, Mass. -- UMass guard Derrick Gordon told ESPN that he would have quit basketball if he did not come out publicly as gay last April. The 6-foot-2 junior, who averaged 9.4 points last season for a UMass team that lost to Tennessee in the NCAA tournament, said he was beyond miserable and was on the verge of quitting the sport.
Arts & Culture
6:00 am
Thu October 9, 2014

Muhlenberg County to Host Tribute to Everly Brothers Music

Phil and Don Everly

Muhlenberg County is hosting a show this weekend that pays tribute to the area’s most famous musical sons. The show, called “Walk Right Back”, honors the music of the Everly Brothers.

Don Everly was born in Muhlenberg County in 1937, and during 15 years beginning in 1988, he and his brother Phil performed an annual “homecoming” concert in Central City.

Joe Hudson, the executive director of the National Thumbpickers Hall of Fame and the organizer of Saturday’s concert says the influential harmonies that the Everly Brothers sang in the late 1950s and 60s played a major role on future musical acts.

“The significant impact that the Everly’s harmonies had on other bands, even The Beatles, is really humbling when you look at the fact that it all roots back here to a small town in the middle of Muhlenberg County," Hudson told WKU Public Radio. "They had that family harmony that you just cannot reproduce, and their harmonies are still known as some of the best and tightest harmonies that have ever been recorded.”

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Politics
3:57 pm
Tue October 7, 2014

AFL-CIO Vows Help for Grimes, Kentucky Democratic House Candidates

A visit to Kentucky by an AFL-CIO official comes the same week Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes got good polling news concerning her race against Sen. Mitch McConnell.
Credit AFL-CIO

The national AFL-CIO says it has its eyes on several Kentucky state House races, as the group tries to counter GOP efforts to flip control of the chamber.

Republicans are hoping to win a majority of state House seats for the first time in nearly a century.

AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Schuler is in Kentucky this week, rallying labor members ahead of the November 4th general election.

She says her group is especially concerned about one of the central tenets of the Kentucky Republican legislative agenda.

“Primarily because of the folks who have been touting Right to Work as a goal of theirs to pass, as the first order of business if the House changes hands,” Schuler told WKU Public Radio Tuesday.

Kentucky Republicans have promised to pass what they call “right to work” legislation if they gain control of the state House. Such a bill would give workers the ability to decide whether or not to join a union.

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Health
8:30 am
Tue October 7, 2014

Glasgow Physician: Americans Need Better Understanding of Health, Academic Impacts of Lack of Sleep

Research shows that the average teen needs over nine hours of sleep to function at a high level academically and athletically.
Credit Flickr/Creative Commons

As researchers learn more about the human brain and body, we’re starting to understand more about the importance of sleep. For many in the health field, getting enough sleep ranks alongside diet and exercise in terms of importance.

For Dr. Phillip Bale, increasing the understanding of the importance of sleep is crucial to improving health, as well as the academic performance of children. Bale is a Family Physician from Glasgow where he serves as the Medical Director and Founder of the Bale Center for Prevention of Heart Attack, Stroke & Diabetes. He spoke to WKU Public Radio about his concerns over the quantity and quality of sleep the average American is getting—especially young Americans.

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Politics
4:45 pm
Wed October 1, 2014

McConnell: EPA "Crusade" Against Emissions from Coal Plants Will Have No Impact on Environment

Sen. Mitch McConnell (left) spoke to WKU Public Radio's Kevin Willis Wednesday.
Credit Abbey Oldham

Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell has made no secret of his plans should he win re-election next month and should he become Senate Majority Leader.

The latter will happen if McConnell defeats Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes and Republicans win a net of six Senate seats in November. McConnell has told audiences and reporters that, if he became Senate Majority Leader, he would seek to defeat President Obama’s legislative agenda by adding language to spending bills that would strip funding from projects the President supports.

In an interview with WKU Public Radio Wednesday, McConnell was asked specifically which programs he would seek to defund.

WKU Public Radio: What specific programs or initiatives would you seek to block if you were to become Senate Majority Leader?

Sen. Mitch McConnell: Well, my first choice, obviously, is to see what the President is willing to do with us. We need to do comprehensive tax reform. It’s been 30 years since we scrubbed the code. The President says he wants to do trade agreements. That’s a big winner for Kentucky agriculture. So I think you would anticipate kind of a mix of things, hopefully working on things we can agree on together.

But there are some things we would differ on. The initiatives that the President has carried out through the regulatory side have been quite burdensome to the economy. And we would indeed seek to reign in the regulators, and a good example of that is the war on coal, which has created a depression in eastern Kentucky.

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Regional
12:00 pm
Thu September 25, 2014

KSP and DEA Want to Get Unused Prescription Drugs Out of Homes and Properly Destroyed

Kentucky State Police and the DEA are partnering for a pill "take back" program Saturday, Sept. 27.

Kentuckians wanting to get rid of unused prescription medicines can drop them off this Saturday during a statewide “pill take back” program.

The partnership between Kentucky State Police and the Drug Enforcement Administration will include take-back locations at the KSP posts in Bowling Green, Columbia, Elizabethtown, and Henderson, as well as 12 other locations statewide.

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Environment
2:52 pm
Wed September 24, 2014

WKU Graduate Peppers Keeps Busy at Mammoth Cave Preventing Ginseng and Wildlife Poaching

Mammoth Cave National Park Chief Ranger Lora Peppers
Credit National Park Service

The chief law enforcement officer at Mammoth Cave National Park says one of her top challenges is keeping ginseng-poachers out of the area.

The plant’s root is highly prized for its alleged medicinal benefits, and Mammoth Cave Chief Ranger Lora Peppers says wild-grown ginseng can command high prices on the black market--especially in certain Asian countries.

“Digging ginseng in the park is obviously not allowed, but a lot of people are looking for that wild-grown ginseng. The ginseng that you find in some farms is not valued as highly as native ginseng.”

Peppers, an Edmonson County native and WKU graduate, says park employees have scoured the area to find ginseng and mark plants found within the park’s boundaries. Those markings make it much easier to prosecute poachers who sell illegally-harvested ginseng taken from the Mammoth Cave area.

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Education
8:12 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

Minter Won't Run for Another Term as WKU Faculty Regent

Dr. Patricia Minter, WKU History Professor and Faculty Regent
Credit WKU

WKU History Professor Patti Minter, in an email to WKU faculty Thursday evening, says she will not stand for re-election for another term as faculty regent.

Minter's last day as regent will be Oct. 31, the same day as the fourth quarterly meeting of the Board of Regents.

"My seven years on the Board of Regents have been interesting, challenging, and often lively," Minter said in her email. "As the faculty’s voice and advocate on the Board, I have always done my best to strengthen WKU’s educational mission and to advocate for the interests not only of my faculty constituents but also for all employees and students of Western Kentucky University."

"I have also worked hard to abide by my oath of office and fiduciary responsibility to act in the University’s best interests, even when this meant voicing dissent. In closing, I want to offer my heartfelt thanks for your past support, without which any forward progress would not have been possible."

Politics
5:40 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

Both Guthrie and Leach Hope U.S. Can Avoid Sending More Ground Forces to Fight ISIL

U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-Bowling Green)
Credit Kevin Willis

Kentucky’s Second District Congressman says his vote in favor of the President’s plan to train moderate Syrian rebels was based largely on his desire to keep U.S. ground forces out of the effort. 

Bowling Green Republican Brett Guthrie told WKU Public Radio he wants to see ground forces from Middle Eastern countries taking on the Islamic State, also known as ISIL.

While Guthrie says he understands the reluctance of some lawmakers who voted against the measure that ultimately passed the House Wednesday, he believes it’s in the country’s interests to help those fighting the Islamic State.

“If we don’t engage them in Syria, then that will become a safe haven. It’s like the Vietnam War and Cambodia, when every time we would push (the VietCong soldiers), they would cross back into an international border that we were not allowed to cross. So if they have a safe haven, they can retreat, they can wait, and they can come back.”

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Economy
3:17 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

Kentucky Ranks 40th in the Nation in Child Poverty Rate

New data released by the U.S. Census Bureau show Kentucky ranks 40th in the nation for child poverty.

The Census Bureau’s American Community Survey says 25.3 percent of Kentucky children lived in poverty in 2013, which is a little more than three percent higher than the national average.

The latest Census Bureau figures also include child poverty rates for Kentucky counties with populations of over 65,000 people:

  • Boone County   12.5%
  • Bullitt County     13.8%
  • Campbell County  24.8%
  • Christian County  15.0%
  • Daviess County  20.9%
  • Fayette County  23.2%
  • Hardin County   20.7%
  • Jefferson County  22.4%
  • Kenton County  22.4%
  • McCracken County  31.9%
  • Madison County  21.3%
  • Pike County  25.7%
  • Warren County  22.5%

Kentucky Youth Advocates director Terry Brooks says anything that can be done to alleviate the number of economically distressed young people will pay off down the road.

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