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

Molly Tayler/Facebook

A string of heavy storms has led to a demonstration of community support for its local animal shelter.

The heavy rain that hit southern Kentucky early Tuesday morning led to an evacuation of the Glasgow-based Barren River Animal Welfare Association.

Staff members, city workers, and volunteers moved 40 animals—including dogs, cats, and rabbits—out of BRAWA.

“Everybody is safe, nobody was injured, and most of them never even got wet,” said BRAWA board member and volunteer Molly Taylor.

She said there was standing water throughout the facility when volunteers arrived to see the damage.

Scott Chacon via Flickr Creative Commons

The uneasy issue of genocide is in the news. 

President Joe Biden on Saturday became the first U.S. President to call the killing of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire during WWI an act of genocide

Someone with a keen interest in the subject of genocide is Marko Dumancic, an associate professor of history at Western Kentucky University, who teaches courses on the subject. 

He's giving a talk on Monday, April 26, to the Owensboro Area World Affairs Council called, "Never Again, and Again, and Again: Debating and Recognizing Genocide in the 21st Century." 

He spoke to WKU Public Radio about whether the world has gotten any better over the decades at recognizing genocide as it's happening, and intervening. 


WKU Public Radio

The audio file that accompanies this web post contains some examples of the outstanding work produced in 2020 by WKYU reporter Rhonda Miller. 

You'll hear sound from Rhonda's stories focusing on some of the many ways the COVID-19 pandemic impacted life in our region last year, including reports about how businesses handled pandemic restrictions. 

You'll also meet a career advisor who has gained a reputation across southern Kentucky as someone who creates countless"sucess stories" by placing out-of-work individuals in some of the area's hardest-to-fill jobs. 

Rhonda also reported on the plight of a local coal mine for sale, and the platform of a U.S. Senate candidate who rose to state and national prominence after being considered a longshot.

Thank you for considering this entry in the category of Radio Reporter for the 2020 KBA Impact Awards. 


WKU

Western Kentucky University has placed a fraternity on interim suspension after one of its members was arrested and charged with rape.

A statement emailed to WKU Public Radio Friday afternoon by WKU Media Relations Director Bob Skipper came after the school’s police department released the arrest report involving the incident at the Sigma Nu fraternity house.

Fraternity member Benjamin Massingille, 21, of Tompkinsville, was placed under arrest Monday, and has been charged with 1st degree rape; 1st degree sodomy; and 1st degree unlawful imprisonment, after a woman reported Massingille attacked her following an early-morning argument on Feb. 27.

According to the arrest report, a friend of the woman told police she received a text message from the woman saying she was “in distress and that she was being assaulted”.

Ryan Van Velzer

Kentucky is preparing for the likelihood of big snow and ice accumulations this week, with the heaviest snowfall likely to hit starting early Monday afternoon.

Some parts of central Kentucky are expecting to get up to eight inches of snow, with snowfall rates exceeding one-inch-per-hour in parts of the commonwealth.

The National Weather Service also predicts that up to half-an-inch of ice accumulation could occur through tomorrow, in an area of the state south and east of a line from Tompkinsville to Richmond.

Another winter storm system is expected to hit the region Wednesday night, bringing more snow and the potential for added ice.

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet crews will be focused on maintaining mobility on the interstates, parkways, and highly-traveled routes.

J.C. Kirby & Son Funeral Chapels

Western Kentucky University is mourning the loss of one of the school’s most beloved athletics figures.

John Oldham passed away Monday morning in Bowling Green.

He was 97 years old.

“We are very saddened to learn of the passing of John Oldham,” WKU Director of Athletics Todd Stewart said.  “Coach Oldham is one of the all-time iconic figures in Western Kentucky University Athletics history who impacted the Hilltoppers as a player, head coach, athletics director and developer of the Red Towel athletics logo."

The Ohio County native played four seasons with the WKU men’s basketball team, and served three years in the U.S. Navy during World War II after his freshman season.

Mika Baumeister via Unsplash

Gov. Andy Beshear announced on Saturday 3,711 new cases of COVID-19 in Kentucky. That’s the second-highest daily total of new cases yet. The record was set on Friday.

Beshear announced 21 new deaths due to the coronavirus. The positivity rate is 9.14%, meaning about one in every 11 people who get tested are positive. Beshear said 202 Kentuckians are currently on ventilators and 370 are in the ICU.

“We continue to be in exponential growth, which will threaten the health care capacity in this state,” Beshear said. “That’s why we’re taking action, and that’s why we’re fighting back.”

New restrictions aimed at schools, restaurants, bars and other public spaces began on Friday evening.

Becca Schimmel

Students in the seven states that border Kentucky will soon be able to attend Western Kentucky University at in-state tuition rates.

The school announced Thursday that starting next fall, in-state tuition rates will be offered to residents of Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.

WKU currently offers in-state tuition rates to residents of a few counties in neighboring states, mostly in northern Tennessee and southern Indiana. 

WKU also announced Thursday it will offer in-state tuition rates to the children and grandchildren of school alumni, regardless of what state they live in.

Kevin Willis

Kentucky’s Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate says a scaled-down pandemic relief bill unveiled by Republican Mitch McConnell Tuesday isn’t good enough.

Amy McGrath says Congress needs to pass a measure that helps states handle the crushing economic effects of COVID-19.

The Republican measure cuts by hundreds of billions of dollars the $1 trillion proposal the GOP had initially offered, and is significantly less than the $2.2 trillion plan pushed by Democrats.

Speaking Tuesday at a campaign event in Glasgow, McGrath said McConnell’s bill doesn’t address the serious damage the pandemic is doing across the nation.

WKU

Western Kentucky University has announced that it will no longer require standardized test scores, like the ACT and SAT, from most applicants for admission.

That change goes into effect beginning with the spring 2021 semester.

The university said it began considering such a change last year, and in the meantime has consulted “internal constituencies” that endorsed the move.

WKU Vice President for Enrollment and Student Experience Ethan Logan said in a statement Friday the school looked at multiple national studies indicating that a student’s high school grade point average is a better predictor of collegiate success than standardized testing scores.

Clinton Lewis | WKU

Monday marked the first day of the fall semester at Western Kentucky University.

Like schools across the country, COVID-19 safety precautions and restrictions are in place, and WKU students have been given choices on attending classes in-person, or studying remotely.

Just ahead of the start of the semester, WKU President Timothy Caboni spoke to WKU Public Radio about the school’s approach to conducting the elements of higher education amid a pandemic.


Kevin Willis

The debate over mail-in ballots and the U.S. Postal Service made its way to Bowling Green Tuesday afternoon.

A small rally in support of the post office was held across from the city’s downtown postal facility on State Street. Those in attendance called on federal lawmakers to make sure the postal service has the funding and technology it needs to handle a high number of mail-in ballots anticipated this fall, including those sent in Kentucky.

President Trump recently said he would oppose a Democratic plan to provide more funding for the postal service, because he opposes efforts to boost voting through the mail. He then softened those comments after coming under intense criticism from Democrats, and even some Republicans. 

Democrats have been advocating for more opportunities to cast ballots through the mail due to the health concerns related to being around large groups of people amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Owensboro Multicultural Festival Facebook

The pandemic has forced the cancellation of countless arts and cultural events throughout the region.

One event that’s persevering is the annual Owensboro Multicultural Festival—although it’s going to look radically different this weekend.

The festival will be online only, with all events streamed Saturday through the festival’s Facebook page.

Festival Committee Chair Debbie McCoy said Owensboro is home to people from many different backgrounds, due in part to the local refugee resettlement center. She hopes the digital festival promotes understanding of local refugees and immigrants.

“It’s not a matter of them fitting in, it’s a matter of them being able to flourish in whatever way they feel is important,” said McCoy.

Kevin Willis

Kentucky Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Amy McGrath is launching a statewide voter registration initiative.

McGrath is joining local leaders and voting rights advocates Saturday in Hopkinsville, Lexington, Louisville, and Owensboro to register new voters ahead of the November general election.

McGrath is trying to unseat Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

During a campaign visit in Bowling Green Friday, McGrath said she wants all registered voters in Kentucky to be able to cast ballots through the mail this November, as a way of protecting people from the coronavirus.

The retired U.S. Marine fighter pilot said the number of people who voted through the mail in Kentucky’s recent primary election shows it’s the right thing to do.

Rhonda J. Miller

Charles Booker has been endorsed by two of the nation’s most high-profile progressive politicians in his race for Kentucky’s upcoming U.S. Senate primary.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York on Tuesday endorsed Booker’s campaign.

Booker is a first-term state Representative from Louisville, and one of ten Democratic candidates running in his party’s primary for the U.S. Senate.

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