Colin Jackson

Morning Edition Host/Reporter

Colin Jackson joined the WKU Public Radio news team in October 2018 as Morning Edition Host and Reporter. Jackson comes to Kentucky from Michigan where he worked in the newsroom of NPR member station WDET in Detroit. He also has experience as a host and producer with Townsquare Media in Lansing, Michigan and Impact 89FM in East Lansing.

Colin holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Relations & Policy and Spanish from Michigan State University. 

Colin Jackson

A new mural on Western Kentucky University's campus is honoring the legacy of a historic Black neighborhood in Bowling Green. Currently on display at the Kentucky Museum, the opening coincides with the return of students to WKU for the beginning of the fall semester.

The fresco-style installation is a collaboration between WKU Professor Michael Nichols, local artist Alice Gatewood Waddell, and students Aisha Salifu and Riley O’Loane.

It's a time-honored way of working that artists have used in classic works like the Sistine Chapel.

"It requires that artists paint into wet plaster, and if they do that the pigment they put on to the permanently locked into the plaster. And it lasts as long as the wall does because it’s not a skin on the wall like most paint, like that’s just latex on metal that will eventually peel off, it’s actually part of the plaster,” Nichols said.

Colin Jackson

Many are currently heading to The Medical Center in Bowling Green to receive their COVID-19 vaccine.

On the street corner closest to its main entrance, a sign marks "Shake Rag Historic District," a Black neighborhood once filled with businesses, homes, churches and other signals of life in segregated America.

Reminders of Shake Rag's old days still scatter the neighborhood. There's the George Washington Carver Center, now located in Lee Square along State Street and a block from the river front.

It's across the street from the empty brick gym for what used to be the segregated State Street High School, and kitty cornered from the Southern Queen Hotel, where greats like Tina Turner once stayed.

Stephanie Christian

The winner of the All-American Soap Box Derby World Championships in Akron, OH., is once again a Bowling Green native.

Nate Christian, 16, won first place in the super stoc division at the competition.

"As soon as I won, it didn't feel real. I still couldn't believe it. Still to this day, it's sinking in. It's definitely a dream come true," Christian said.

Christian, who has been racing at Phil Moore Park in Alvaton, KY since 2013, said this was his fourth time competing on the world stage. He says his success is due in large part to his experience taking part in rally races.

"For people that do rally races compared to people that do local races, I would say the rally people have more experience because you race more and you know more of the soap box people," Christian said.

Alana Watson

On June 19, hundreds of people gathered in Bowling Green to celebrate Juneteenth for the first time as a federal holiday

In January of 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. The proclamation declared “all persons held as slaves are and henceforward shall be free.” Unfortunately, this only applied to states that had seceded from the United States during the Civil War.


It wasn’t until June 19, 1865, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, that the remaining enslaved people in Texas learned they were freed. Juneteenth marks that moment of history.


One of the many communities celebrating Juneteenth was Bowling Green. There were numerous free events, including block parties and concerts. The Bowling Green-based group “Essence in Harmony” sang at a local NAACP pre-Juneteenth event. Through the songs they sang, the group showcased what makes Juneteenth a different type of holiday than what we would normally see on Memorial Day or 4th of July. Those holidays celebrate a collective national history. 


Creative Commons

The 7th Annual Owensboro Pride Picnic is returning to Daviess County on Sunday, June 25, for the first time since the pandemic began.

Organizer Emma Latta said she feels like the event has more support now than when she first started helping put on the picnic years ago.

"It's stronger now than it was back then. Because back then, it was still mainly everybody was still in the closet, and there wasn't very much support or movement for LGBT equality," Latta said.

She said, despite national progress, Kentucky still needs to do more at the state level to protect the LGBTQ+ community against discrimination.

For example, many cities in Kentucky have not passed anti-discrimination protections for the LGBTQ+ community known as Fairness Ordinances.

Jessica Coulter

It's nearly race day in Warren County, as dozens of people ages 8-20 in and around southern Kentucky will gather Saturday at Phil Moore Park in Alvaton. They're coming to town for what organizers describe as one of the largest double-elimination soap box derby races in the world.

Everything leading up to the 23rd annual BB&T All-American Soap Box Derby has to be done by the book, including race assignments, inspections, and car impounding prior to race day.

Four class divisions will be competing Saturday: Stock, Super Stock, Masters, and Super Kids. Stock caters to smaller children, while Super Stock and Masters allow for bigger and more experienced racers. The Super Kids race allows for those medically unable to drive on their own to also take part.

For most of the divisions, a win in Bowling Green means getting to compete at the World Chapmionship in Akron, OH. There, former Bowling Green winner and current race organizer Anthony LaPointe, said everybody calls you "champ."

Bowling Green area environmental activists celebrated Earth Day Thursday night with a rally and march from the campus of Western Kentucky University to the Warren County Justice Center.

The Sunrise Movement-organized event called for collective action against climate change in the form of policy changes, increased recyling, and decreased reliance on fossil fuels, among other steps.

Co-organizer De'inara Carter said she's encouraged by the Biden Adminstration's move to rejoin the Paris climate agreement, but wants more steps taken on the local level.

"I would like to see more recycling away from WKU," Carter said. "We do need to start mandating things within the city. Going green, solar panels...really getting our rural community together, getting them in on the conversation."

Whether it's art, literature, bluegrass, blues, or any other cultural form, Black Kentuckians have had a hand in shaping it.

Now, a new series airing Saturdays at 9:35 a.m. ET/8:35 a.m. CT during Weekend Edition on WKU Public Radio is exploring that history.

Show host and WKU student Lamont Pearley said The African American Folklorist will be an opportunity to provide a look at the more personal side of culture.

"The thing with folklore, outside of history or entertainment, is we have an opportunity to honor, celebrate, and platform the auntie that lives next door that only three people know about this lady. But those three people, since they were born, she provided some cultural service," Pearley said.

Hear more from Pearley below:

Colin Jackson

Saturday marked the one-year anniversary since Louisville police killed EMT Breonna Taylor during a raid on her home.

Several Bowling Green area residents gathered Saturday at the SoKY Marketplace to hold their own remembrance of Taylor's Life.

First-term Bowling Green City Commissioner Carlos Bailey was among those who spoke at the memorial.

He said proposals like a ban on no-knock search warrants like the one that led to Taylor's death can protect both citizens and officers.

"We want to protect people but also want to protect law enforcement as well. But we also want to make sure that people are held accountable when things do go awry. So hopefully, we've been talking behind the scenes and hopefully those conversations have been productive," Bailey said.

Taylor family

A Saturday event is giving residents in the Bowling Green area the chance to gather in solidarity to mark the one-year anniversary of Breonna Taylor’s death during a police raid in Louisville.

The rally organized by the group Bowling Green Freedom Walkers plans to honor the 26-year-old paramedic’s life with guest speakers, coat and jacket collections, and a banner to be presented to Taylor’s mother.

Karika Nelson, a founding member of the group, says she’s seen some progress since Taylor’s death, but would like to see more.

“I think Kentucky, since this whole movement with Black Lives Matter and after Breonna Taylor, that it has opened a lot of people’s eyes,” Nelson told WKU Public Radio. “But just saying, or seeing, or coming to a protest is not good enough—just agreeing with the theory. You have to be able to change somebody else’s mind, or stand up whenever it’s not the popular thing to stand up for.”

Warren County Public Schools

Warren County Public Schools will soon decide whether to accept new boundaries for its elementary schools.

The WCPS school board will vote at a Feb. 22 meeting on the proposed changes, which impact the boundary lines for a little less than half of the elementary schools in the district.

WCPS communications director Morgan Watson said being one of the fastest growing districts in the commonwealth means the district must re-examine its boundaries every few years.

"Whenever the district looks at the possibility of changing the boundary lines, they look at many things, including the transportation of students to and from the schools, proximity of that available transporation to and from the school. They also look at socio-economic background and future developments of schools, current developments in those areas," Watson said.

Ft. Knox

The Ft. Knox Army base has made substantial progress on getting its allotment of COVID-19 vaccine to patients.

The military installation first began administering the shots it received from the U.S. Dept. of Defense during the opening phases of its campaign on Jan. 6.

Dr. James Stephens, Chief of Preventive Medicine at Ft. Knox, said the Army post had administered 100% of the doses it had received within about two weeks.

"We are getting by-name lists regarding the military especially. We've already gone through several of the lists," Dr. Stephens said. "For the beneficiaries, those people who are active duty service members or family members who are high risk or otherwise, that is what the MEDDAC is working on right now."

Courtesy of Colmon Elridge

In November, Colmon Elridge became the first Black person to become the chair of the Kentucky Democratic Party.

He's taking over at time when America is facing a racial reckoning.

A grandchild of a housekeeper who was never allowed to use the front door where she worked, the Georgetown, KY, resident is now a welcome guest at the governor's mansion. It's a journey he said he takes with him every day.

However, Elridge is also inherting a party that has suffered several losses in recent elections, meaning the work is cut out for him.

Kentucky Department of Education

The Kentucky Department of Education's first ever chief equity officer has experience with adversity, segregation, and public schooling.

The Arkansas native and nationally honored former school superintendent, Dr. Thomas Woods-Tucker, plans on taking those lessons with him to the Bluegrass State.

The Kentucky Board of Education issued a resolution in July declaring its commitment to addressing inequality. It was a move that helped convince Woods-Tucker to take the position.

During a conversation this month WKU Public Radio, just days after starting the job, Deputy Commissioner Woods-Tucker said few other states have taken that step.

Colin Jackson

As COVID-19 cases surges, it's tempting to look back at other epidemics the country has faced, including HIV and AIDS in the 1980s and 90s.

Since COVID-19 is especially dangerous for those with pre-existing conditions, the care HIV and AIDS positive individuals receive is vital. One western Kentucky-based organization is continuing to provide as many services as possible during the pandemic.

In non-pandemic times, Matthew 25 AIDS Services, Inc. health educators LaDeirdre Mumford and Jenika Soni's job would involve going out into the community. Their normal duties range from holding testing events to attending activities like health fairs or even drag shows, and just about everything in between.