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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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.

tourgreenville.com

The leader of a Muhlenberg County town said the economic damage inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic will force city and county governments to make “impossible” budget choices.

Greenville Mayor Jan Yonts joined her Louisville counterpart, Greg Fischer, Thursday on a conference call with reporters, asking the U.S. Senate to pass a relief bill with economic aid for state and local governments.

Yonts said her county government is now operating on a $2.3 million dollar budget shortfall due to the economic damage caused by the coronavirus. She said a recent string of local drug overdose deaths, burglaries, and fatal fires show the need to maintain essential services.

J. Tyler Franklin

Gov. Andy Beshear is moving up the date that people will be allowed to travel and gather in groups of 10 or fewer to Friday, May 22. That’s three days sooner than his original plan to lift the restrictions on Memorial Day, May 25. Beshear said he has decided to accommodate the holiday weekend.

“I’ve got to live in the real world like everyone else,” Beshear said during his daily news briefing Thursday. “I understand what people are going to want to do, and my job is to get the best results.”

medcenterhealth.org

A southern Kentucky physician who has helped shape the local response to the coronavirus has tested positive for COVID-19.

Dr. Rebecca Shadowen, an infectious disease expert at Med Center Health in Bowling Green, released a statement through the health care group saying she tested positive for the virus Tuesday.

She said she doesn’t think she contracted the virus while working at the hospital, but instead came in contact with an elderly family member who was exposed to an infected caregiver.

Becca Schimmel | WKU Public Radio

A Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Kentucky is criticizing Republican Mitch McConnell for allegedly trying to defund a federal program that detects and curbs the spread of infectious diseases.

Amy McGrath is one of 10 Democrats seeking her party’s nomination for the Senate seat held by McConnell.

The New Yorker recently reported that in 2017, McConnell pushed an amendment that would have ended funding for the Prevention and Public Health Fund.

McGrath also blames McConnell for decreased funding for important public health organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Owensboro Health

Owensboro Health reopened outpatient surgery programs Monday at its hospitals in Daviess and Muhlenberg counties. The procedures had been unavailable due to policies put in place after the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Owensboro Health President Greg Strahan said anybody scheduled to undergo a procedure at Owensboro Health Regional Hospital or Owensboro Health Muhlenberg Community Hospital has to be tested for COVID-19 in advance.

“We’ve already begun calling patients, having them come in and have a test done. It’s a 72-hour test that we have to wait for,” he said.


WKU

A new report shows Kentucky is on pace to meet a goal of having at least 60% percent of the state’s working age population with a postsecondary degree by 2030.

Figures released this week by the Council on Postsecondary Education show nearly 47% of Kentucky adults have a credential from a college or university. That's a 4.5% increase since 2014.

Virtually all of that growth came from short-term certificates awarded by the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. The number of degrees awarded by the state’s four-year schools was essentially flat.

CPE President Aaron Thompson says the state needs to get more KCTCS graduates to continue their education.


Rhonda J. Miller

Western Kentucky University announced changes Wednesday in response to the coronavirus.

Spring break has been extended a week and faculty will develop new ways to deliver instruction without being in the classroom.

The first change announced by President Timothy Caboni is that spring break will run until March 22, instead of ending on Sunday, March 15.

However, residence halls will open on March 15, as planned. 

President Caboni said closing residence halls isn’t an option. 


Abbey Oldham

Rand Paul says there’s no mystery concerning how the vote for President Trump’s upcoming trial in the U.S. Senate will turn out.

Sen. Paul predicts that none of the 53 Republican U.S. Senators will vote to remove Trump from office.

In an interview with The Hill, the Kentucky Republican said he thought every Senator, regardless of party, had already made up their mind about how they’ll vote.

“I think the votes have been decided. As much as anybody will be pretending to be judicious about this, I don’t think that there’s one senator who hasn’t decided how they’re going to vote,” Paul said. 


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