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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Sports
9:22 am
Wed January 15, 2014

WKU Preparing for Possible NCAA Changes to Athlete Compensation

Some NCAA schools want to be able to award stipends that would cover costs not currently paid for by athletic scholarships.
Credit WKU Athletics

With the largest collegiate athletic conferences pushing to allow extra financial benefits for players, smaller schools like WKU are wondering how such changes would impact their bottom lines.

The issue of increasing compensation for college athletes is being discussed this week at an NCAA summit in San Diego. A group of high-profile conferences wants the ability to grant stipends that would pay for costs not covered by athletic scholarships.

NCAA President Mark Emmert recently said he believes such a stipend plan will soon become a reality.

WKU athletic director Todd Stewart says nothing is set in stone yet about how such stipends would be used.

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Health
4:56 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Poll: Three in Ten Kentucky Adults Went Without Health Insurance in 2013

Interview with Susan Zepeda, President and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky

An annual statewide poll shows that one-quarter of Kentucky adults are without health insurance.

The Kentucky Health Issues Poll is funded by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. That group's President and CEO, Susan Zepeda, says an even higher number of adults in the commonwealth was without coverage for at least part of 2013.

"Three in ten Kentucky adults were uninsured at some point in the last 12 months, which really underscores the need for helping people get access to insurance," Dr. Zepeda told WKU Public Radio.

Zepeda says the recent poll is important because it sets a baseline for how many Kentuckians have health insurance, and from what sources, ahead of the broader impacts of the federal Affordable Care Act.

That baseline, Zepeda says, will help policy analysts determine how much effect the changes related to the ACA are having on individuals and states.

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Regional
1:12 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Contract Awarded to Complete Next Phase of I-69 Project in Hopkins County

The next phase of the I-69 project will upgrade parts of the Pennyrile Parkway.

Governor Beshear has announced a new contract to remake a major interchange along the Interstate-69 corridor in Hopkins County.

The latest phase of the project involves creating a cloverleaf interchange connecting I-69 with the Breathitt-Pennyrile parkway, south of Madisonville.

The $29 million contract was awarded to the Nashville-based Rogers Group, Inc., and Louisville-based Qk4 Inc., with a completion date set for May of 2015. Kentucky’s stretch of I-69 will eventually run north to south from Henderson to Fulton, in far western Kentucky.

Political and business leaders hope upgrading the existing roadway will boost jobs and economic activity along the I-69 corridor.

Completing the project will mean major upgrades to parts of the Pennyrile, Western Kentucky, and Purchase Parkways, which were not built to handle traffic merging into 70-mile-per hour roadways.

Sports
5:00 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Jeff Brohm Introduced as Next WKU Football Coach, Eyes Conference Championship

Jeff Brohm, who served last season as WKU offensive coordinator, is now the team's new head coach.
Credit WKU Athletics

WKU football is heading into a new conference with its third head coach in as many seasons.  

At a news conference Friday afternoon on campus, Jeff Brohm was introduced as the new Hilltopper head coach. Brohm served last season as WKU’s offensive coordinator under Bobby Petrino, who left this week after 13 months on the Hill to become the coach at Louisville.

Brohm was asked whether he considered going to U of L with Petrino.

“Well, that was obviously always in the discussion, and Coach (Petrino) knew what I wanted," said Brohm, a Louisville native and former star University of Louisville quarterback. "There were some things that came up before this, some opportunities that I had a chance to do."

"We sat down and talked and Coach told me I had a great opportunity to be the (WKU) head football coach if I do things right.”

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Sports
4:41 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

WKU Athletic Director: No Comment Yet on Possible Petrino Replacement

WKU athletic director Todd Stewart has reportedly met with at least one candidate for the school's football coaching job.

WKU athletic director Todd Stewart comments Thursday about Bobby Petrino's departure

Despite reports that WKU could be close to naming a new football coach, the school's athletic director is refusing to address such speculation.

In a phone conference with reporters Thursday afternoon, WKU's Todd Stewart said he wanted to focus on former coach Bobby Petrino, who was introduced as the new coach at the University of Louisville Thursday morning.

Stewart was asked if he tried to keep Petrino from leaving WKU after only one season.

"Certainly the Louisville job, with where their program is, with what they've achieved in recent years, and with them heading into the ACC--that's a big-time job. I don't think there's anything that we could have done here that we weren't already doing that would have persuaded him to turn that down and stay here," Stewart said.       

Multiple media outlets have reported that Stewart has met with WKU offensive coordinator Jeff Brohm about the Hilltopper head coaching job.

WKU President Gary Ransdell told the Courier-Journal he considered Brohm the leading candidate for the job and planned to interview the former U of L quarterback Thursday.

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Politics/Health
1:32 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

Statewide Smoking Ban Put Forth by Bipartisan Duo of Kentucky Lawmakers

Two Kentucky lawmakers plan to file bills that would create a statewide smoking ban—an idea supported by Governor Steve Beshear.

The smoking ban measures are being championed by a bipartisan duo: Democratic Representative Susan Westrom of Lexington and Republican Senator Julie Denton of Louisville. The lawmakers point out that January marks the 50th anniversary of the first-ever report from the U.S. Surgeon General on smoking and health. That report is credited with helping to change public attitudes on the dangers of smoking.

Several Kentucky towns have passed ordinances that don’t allow smoking at work or public places. But supporters point out that nearly two-thirds of the commonwealth remains uncovered by such a ban.

Opponents say individual businesses should be able to determine whether or not they allow smoking on their premises.

Gov. Beshear voiced his support for a comprehensive ban during his “State of the Commonwealth” address Tuesday.

Politics
9:22 am
Wed January 8, 2014

Kentucky House Committee Considering Expansion of Domestic Violence Protections

A bill that would extend domestic-violence protection to dating partners is being taken up Wednesday by members of a Kentucky House committee.

House Bill 8 received an endorsement Tuesday night by Governor Steve Beshear, who spoke in favor of the bill during his “State of the Commonwealth” address. Supporters have been trying to get such legislation passed since 2007.

Kentucky House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Tilley of Hopkinsville sponsored a bill last year that died without receiving a floor vote.

Tilly is again sponsoring legislation this session that would allow dating partners to obtain domestic violence protective orders.

Politics
10:52 am
Tue January 7, 2014

McConnell: Another Extension of Long-Term Unemployment Benefits Can't Add to "Unstainable Debt"

Kentucky’s senior U.S. Senator says any extension of long-term unemployment benefits must be paid for by cutting spending elsewhere.

Long-term unemployment compensation expired on December 28. Sixty Senators, mostly Democrats, voted Tuesday to open debate on legislation that would extend the program for three months.

Kentucky Republican Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul voted against the procedure. In a speech on the Senate floor, McConnell said the Obama administration hasn’t done enough to improve the job prospects of those looking for work.

"Yes, we should work on solutions to support those who are out of work through no fault of their own. But there is no excuse to pass unemployment insurance legislation without also finding ways to create good, stable, high-paying jobs--and also trying to find the money to pay for it," Sen. McConnell said Tuesday.

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Regional
6:55 pm
Fri January 3, 2014

Warren County Circuit Family Court Judge Margaret Huddleston Dies Following Battle with Cancer

Margaret Mary Ryan Huddleston
Credit Jo-Anne Ryan

Warren County Circuit Family Court Judge Margaret Mary Ryan Huddleston passed away Friday at the age of 64 following a battle with cancer.

Judge Huddleston presided over the Warren County Circuit Family Court, Division III since her appointment by Governor Paul Patton in 1998, her subsequent election in 1999, and re-election in 2007.

Huddleston also served as Chief Judge from 2003 to 2005. She was the first female to serve as a circuit judge in the over two hundred year existence of the Warren Circuit Court. 

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Huddleston took medical leave from the bench in November after being diagnosed with a reoccurrence of cancer. She was diagnosed and treated for breast cancer in 2003. Following ten years of remission, doctors determined that the cancer had metastasized in her lungs.

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Politics
1:45 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Report: Outside Group to Make Major Ad Buy in Kentucky Boosting McConnell, Paul

U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY)

A conservative group is planning to blanket Kentucky in coming weeks with TV ads defending Republican Senator Mitch McConnell. The ad buy will also link McConnell with his fellow Kentucky Republican, Rand Paul.

The website Politico says it’s learned that the nonprofit group Kentucky Opportunity Coalition will spend nearly $400,000 over the next week on the ads. According to a script shared with Politico, the ad will tell viewers that Senators McConnell and Paul are “working together to stop Obamacare.”

The Kentucky Opportunity Coalition is a 501 (c) (4) group aligned with the SuperPAC Kentuckians for Strong Leadership. That group has already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on commercials attacking Kentucky Senate Democratic candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Democratic groups have also jumped into the fray, with Senate Majority PAC and the group Patriot Money labeling McConnell as an obstructionist who should be retired from office after nearly three decades in the U.S. Senate.

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