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

Kentucky Wesleyan College in Owensboro is the recipient of a $4 million estate gift from a graduate of the school.

Luellen Pyles passed away in late December at her home in Maysville. The 1944 Kentucky Wesleyan alumna taught English and Spanish in Kentucky and Ohio high schools before joining Burke Marketing Research in Cincinnati, where she became an executive vice-president.

Kentucky Wesleyan President Bart Darrell says Pyles led a life filled with great accomplishments.

“She was a pioneer for women in business on the ground floor of Burke, which is closely associated with Proctor & Gamble. She was a global businesswoman, and has done so many incredible things in her lifetime.”

During her time at Burke, Pyles helped open offices in Argentina, Brazil, France, Italy and Mexico.

Wesleyan plans to use the estate gift to support teacher education scholarships and alumni programming efforts.

Darrell says he spoke at Pyles funeral, something he called a “true honor.”

“One of her last requests was that she be buried in her Kentucky Wesleyan gown, and her 50-year alumni medallion. So, she embodied everything that we want in a Kentucky Wesleyan alum,” Darrell said.

City of Owensboro

The city of Owensboro is allocating $5 million for the construction of the new International Bluegrass Music Center project along the town’s riverfront.

The money is being made available through a partnership between the city and state announced Wednesday by Governor Beshear and city leaders.

Owensboro has been providing matching funds for a federal allocation supporting the riverfront. As a result of the new agreement, the state Transportation Cabinet will invest available state matching funds for a portion of the city’s responsibility for that federal allocation.

The move allows Owensboro to invest $5 million of its funds in the new International Bluegrass Music Center, completing the $15 million project.

Owensboro Mayor Ron Payne believes the entire state will benefit from the new music center.

“We told the Governor early on that this is really not an Owensboro project, this is a Commonwealth project. Bluegrass is international, and we will be promoting not only Owensboro, but the state of Kentucky.”

Payne says the new music center is needed because the International Bluegrass Music Museum currently housed in the city’s downtown has outgrown its current facility. He thinks the new center will a jewel along Owensboro’s riverfront.

“It will have an auditorium in the facility, and it’s the intention of the bluegrass folks to broadcast a bluegrass opry out of there throughout the world.”

Construction on the new bluegrass music center will begin this summer, with the opening scheduled for 2017.

Flickr/Creative Commons/Shirley Li/Medill

The man who chaired the Federal Reserve during the most tumultuous time in recent memory is speaking Monday in Evansville.

Ben Bernanke, who served eight years as Fed chairman before retiring in January of 2014, will give a speech and answer questions at the University of Southern Indiana, as part of the Romaine College of Business Innovative Speaker Series.

The college’s dean, Muhammad Khayum, says he’s interesting is learning how the former Fed Chair handled the pressure of knowing that anything he said about the economy could have major ramifications.

“I’m just curious as to how they internally respond to that level of attention and the kind of sway they have over individuals in our society,” Khayum said.

Some of the questions that will be put forth to Bernanke will come from USI students.

“There’s a question, for example, that the students put forward about the issue of student debt, and whether that’s the next bubble in the economy due to the magnitude of that student debt.”

Bernanke’s talk will begin Monday at 6 pm at the University of Southern Indiana Physical Activities Center.

It’s free and open to the public, and overflow seating and a live feed of the event will be provided if regular seating at the facility runs out.

Abbey Oldham / WKU Public Radio

An all-day speaker series in Bowling Green this week is dedicated to encouraging participants to make their innovative ideas a reality.

IdeaFestival Bowling Green is being held this Friday at the Downing Student Union Auditorium on WKU’s campus.  The school’s Innovate Kentucky Executive Administrator, Josh Raymer, says some of the topics discussed at this year’s event will include cancer research, branding and imaging, and making online content more social.

“And what we love is that these speakers all come from Kentucky, or neighboring states. So it truly is an example for everyone that these big ideas that you see in New York, or Los Angeles, or Chicago—they’re also happening right here in Kentucky.”

Another topic that will be addressed by several speakers is the future of the automotive industry.

“A lot of Corvette tie-ins, which is appropriate, given that it’s IdeaFestival Bowling Green,” said Raymer. “But once again, that’s about how important it is to stay on the cutting edge of innovation, especially in a hyper-competitive field like the automotive industry.”

The Bowling Green event is an off-shoot of the IdeaFestival held in Louisville each fall since 2000.

More information about this year’s IdeaFestival Bowling Green can be found here.

Kevin Willis

WKU is enhancing its commitment to offer fresh, locally-sourced food products at its campus dining facilities.

The school announced Monday that it had been named Kentucky’s tenth member of  the Farm to Campus program. The state Department of Agriculture will assist WKU in locating and procuring products sold under the Kentucky Proud label.

Edmonson County farmer Alan Davis says the effort will allow him to expand sales of his hydroponic lettuces and salad greens to the university.

“We think it will let us increase our new production and hire a few more employees. We’re really excited about having a place to bring our fresh produce to.”

WKU Sustainability Coordinator Christian Ryan says an increasing number of students are interested in having more local, sustainably-grown food choices on campus.

“Each year, I have more and more students make their way to me and say they want to see more local food here. And even more importantly, they want to know what they can do to help get local food on campus, and I love that.”

WKU

What looked like a WKU Lady Hilltopper blowout turned into a nail biter Friday afternoon in Birmingham.

WKU led Old Dominion by 18 points at the half in their Conference USA semifinal, but had to withstand afurious second-half rally by the Monarchs to win by only two.

WKU senior Alexis Govan hit two free throws with six seconds left to give the Lady Toppers a 61-59 win, and send the team into Saturday's Conference USA championship game against Southern Miss, which defeated Middle Tennessee in the other semifinal.

The winner of Saturday's title game gets an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.

WKU Athletics

Update:

The WKU Lady Hilltoppers will face Old Dominion in the Conference USA semifinals Friday afternoon in Birmingham.

The game begins at 12:30 pm central. The winner goes on to play in the championship game Saturday, with the winner of that contest earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

WKU beat Charlotte 70-67 Thursday in the C-USA quarterfinals.  

Original post:

The WKU Lady Hilltoppers enter their first-ever Conference USA basketball tournament this week as the team to beat.

They won the conference regular season crown, and they boast the league’s Player of the Year, Chastity Gooch, as well as Conference USA Coach and Defensive Player of the Year winners.

WKU

WKU is one step closer to offering a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing.

The Council on Postsecondary Education has approved the school’s proposal, which would allow students to pursue degrees in four tracts: fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction, and script-writing for film.

WKU is hoping the film component is something that will help the school’s new program stand out.

“We’re an hour away from Nashville, which has a thriving film industry. We’re about five hours away from Atlanta, which has a thriving film industry. And we have many undergraduates already working in film in Nashville, Atlanta, New Orleans,” said Dr. David Bell, English Professor and Director of Creative Writing at WKU.

If WKU receives approval from The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, it will admit its first class of students seeking the MFA in creative writing this fall.

WKU Athletics

The WKU women’s basketball is heading into their postseason conference tournament with some major individual awards to go along with their number-one seeding.

Conference USA announced Monday that WKU senior Chastity Gooch was named Player of the Year, after averaging over 17 points and 7 rebounds a game.

Sophomore Kendall Noble was named conference Defensive Player of the Year after setting a WKU record for steals in a season.

Michelle Clark-Heard was named conference Coach of the Year for leading the Lady Hilltoppers to a 27-4 record.

The awards were voted on by the league’s head coaches, a media member representing each school, and each school’s sports information director.

WKU plays Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Conference USA tournament, against the winner of Wednesday’s game between Charlotte and Marshall.

The Kentucky Republican Party appears ready to change the way it nominates presidential candidates—something that would help Senator Rand Paul run for the White House and Senate in 2016.

The executive committee of the state party gave preliminary approval Saturday to Paul’s request to hold a presidential caucus next year, instead of a primary election.

A formal decision on the move will come in August.

State law prohibits a candidate from appearing for more than one office on the same ballot.

By going to a caucus system, Kentucky Republicans are making it possible for Paul to seek Senate re-election and the presidency at the same time.

A county GOP leader told WKU Public Radio that executive committee members were told not to speak to reporters about the decision.

But he confirmed the vote to move to a caucus next year was unanimous.

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