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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Education
3:27 pm
Thu September 4, 2014

WKU's Girls in Science Day Encourages Female Students to Pursue STEM-Related Classes

Educators nationwide have become concerned recently over the lack of girls in certain science-related classes and professions.
Credit Flickr Creative Commons

WKU wants to convince more middle and high school girls to pursue classes in the STEM fields. More than 200 area girls in grades 5-12 will be on campus Saturday, Sept. 6, for the Girls in Science Day event.

The effort will focus on helping girls explore fields of study in science, technology, engineering, and math. Program coordinator Melissa Rudloff says many girls who initially excel in science-related classes take fewer of those courses as they get older.

“Research tells us that going back to elementary and middle school, many of those girls who may have entered those professions definitely had interest and ability in those fields. But somewhere along the way they become channeled in different directions. And many may do that themselves, or maybe it’s through the lack of experiences they have,” said Rudloff, who is the Professional-In-Residence at WKU’s SKyTeach program, which instructs future middle and high school math and science teachers.

One of the events at the Girls in Science Day gathering will be a talk led by Cheryl Stevens, Dean of the Ogden College of Science and Engineering. Rudloff believes it’s extremely important for girls to meet women who have succeeded in science-related fields.

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Politics
11:34 am
Wed September 3, 2014

Right-to-Work Legislation Central to Kentucky House GOP Agenda

Left to right: State Representative Michael Meredith, House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover, and State Representative Jim DeCesare appear in Bowling Green to introduce priorities if Republicans win control of the Kentucky House in November.
Credit Lisa Autry

Republicans in the Kentucky House are aiming to end the nearly 100-year reign of Democrats this November. 

As part of that effort, GOP leaders are talking up the legislative agenda they plan to pursue should the party pick up enough seats to take control of the state House. 

Currently, Democrats hold a narrow eight-seat edge over the GOP.  Republicans would need a net gain of five seats to take the majority. 

The number one focus of what Republicans are calling their "Handshake with Kentucky" will be jobs and the economy. 

At a stop in Bowling Green Wednesday, House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover vowed to make Kentucky more business friendly by passing right-to-work legislation.

"Right-to-work may be the single most important thing we can do to open Kentucky for business and create new private sector jobs," stated Hoover. 

According to a Bluegrass poll released last week, a majority of Kentuckians support right-to-work legislation that would give workers the freedom to decide whether or not to join a union. 

Meanwhile, the head of a major labor organization in Kentucky says the plan championed by Kentucky House Republicans is a "bad faith deal" that puts corporate interests ahead of the state's workers. 

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Politics
2:12 pm
Tue September 2, 2014

Poll: Majority Opposed to Changing Law that Would Allow Paul to Run for White House, Senate

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Bowling Green is considering a run for the White House in 2016.
Credit WKU PBS

A majority of Kentuckians are against the idea of changing a state law to allow Rand Paul to run for both the White House and Senate in 2016.

The Bluegrass Poll of 647 registered voters shows two-thirds are against changing the law, including a majority of Republicans.

See the poll's data here.

Paul, a Bowling Green Republican,  is up for re-election to the Senate in 2016, but is also considering a presidential bid that year. Kentucky law disallows a candidate’s name from appearing on the same ballot for two different offices.

Some highlights from the poll:

  • 66% of those surveyed were opposed to changing the law, with 27% in favor.
  • 54% of Republicans were opposed, while 78% of Democrats said the law should not be changed.
  • Sen. Paul is viewed favorably by 39% of those surveyed, 32% view the Bowling Green Republican unfavorably, and 24% said they were neutral
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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)

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

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

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.

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