Willis Kern | WGLT

Willis Kern

News Director Emeritus

Willis is a Bloomington, IL, native. During his senior year at Bloomington High School, he finished third in the "Radio Speaking" division of the state speech contest, the only year he competed.

Willis began his radio career in 1975 at a now-defunct station in Normal. He worked swing shifts at WJBC in Bloomington while attending ISU. He served a 14-year stint as the nighttime announcer. Willis joined WGLT in 1993 and was named news director in 1997. He has won numerous awards for reporting and news writing and has been named Downstate Best Reporter four times by the Illinois Associated Press, once in 2004 and three consecutive years 2007-2009.

Willis volunteers at his church and is involved in prison ministry. He is married with two sons and loves the St. Louis Cardinals.

What's In Your Wallet?

Apr 27, 2017
MpegMan / Flickr

You've probably seen the Capital One TV commercials, where celebrities Samuel L. Jackson and Jennifer Garner ask, "What's in your wallet?" More and more people are keeping less and less cash in their wallets, but is what's left over in your wallet something that should be there?

Redbird Scholar

The possibility of legal pot being available in Illinois has left one drug and crime expert 'stunned.'

Proposed legislation in Illinois would make recreational use of marijuana legal. The proposal would allow possession of up to one ounce by people 21 and over. Smoking in public would be prohibited, and driving under the influence would remain illegal.


Administrators at Heartland Community College are preparing a strategic budgeting process that calls for the college to dip into reserves only if state funding completely dries up and even then, not for a couple more years.

Staff / WGLT

The proposed $15 per hour minimum wage for Illinois could cost Illinois State University about $8 million.

That's according to ISU President Larry Dietz, who spoke to the Senate Higher Education Appropriations Committee in Springfield Tuesday.


Obtaining and doing away with property will occupy Bloomington aldermen when they meet in regular session tonight.

paulbr75 / Google images

Realtors in the Peoria area are touting improved consumer confidence and attractive mortgage rates for a slight gain in first quarter home sales.

There were 17 more single family homes and condos sold in the greater Peoria area during the first three months of 2017 compared to last year. That's a 1.7 percent increase.

NPD / Facebook

A 35-year old Bloomington man has been arrested on child pornography charges.

Carthell Nibbelin was jailed after being picked up by police from both Normal and Bloomington. His arrest stems from a year-long investigation started by NPD.


Faculty and students at Illinois Wesleyan University are expressing disappointment 13th District Congressman Rodney Davis has decided to pass on an invitation to hold an open event on campus.

Chris Koos watches results
Cristian Jaramillo / WGLT

The final canvassing of ballots has taken place and incumbent Chris Koos has been re-elected as Mayor of Normal. Koos' margin increased by four votes as he won by an 11 vote final margin. Nearly three dozen mail-in and provisional ballots were counted Tuesday morning.

Koos edged challenger Marc Tiritilli 3,125 to 3114 votes.


Police in Normal are searching for a suspect in connection with a home invasion that reportedly occurred Saturday afternoon.


Longtime central Illinois State Representative Dan Brady says he's not ready to announce if he'll run for re-election next year.

During a Sound Ideas interview, the Bloomington Republican Brady acknowledged there's a renewed interest in running for office among progressives in the state. But he says that has nothing to do with whether he'll seek a tenth term in Springfield.

Mid Central Community Action / Facebook

Mid Central Community Action is partnering with Commonwealth Edison for another year of low-income energy assistance for customers in Livingston County that meet income eligibility guidelines.

Paypal Petr

There is no "one-size fits all" when it comes to personal finance. There aren't many areas of life where the same rules apply to everyone, and personal finance is certainly one where each person should develop their own financial roadmap.

During Sound Ideas, Edgar Norton, Director of Illinois State University's Institute for Financial Planning and Analysis, examined some commonly-held beliefs about personal finance.

Staff / WGLT

Republicans in Springfield voted against the so-called 'lifeline' budget that cleared the Illinois House house last week.

The plan appropriates $815 million for things like homeless services, domestic violence programs, and MAP grants for low-income college students. One of those voting against the lifeline plan was Bloomington Republican Dan Brady.

Emma Shores / WGLT

Illinois State University President Larry Dietz is set to appear before two legislative committees in Springfield this month to testify about the budgeting process--or lack of one.

Thursday, he will speak about budget issues to the House Higher Education Appropriations Committee. Then next week, he'll do the same thing on the senate side.

Heartland Community College / WGLT

An incumbent lost his seat on the Heartland Community College Board of Trustees.

James Drew finished third in a four way race for two, six-year terms. Incumbent chair Gregg Chadwick won re-election, but finished a distant second to challenger Mary Campbell, who wins a board seat.

Stefan Powell / Flickr

The earliest combined data on housing and employment for the first several weeks of 2017 in Bloomington-Normal suggests an economy that is remaining flat.

Chris Koos watches results
Cristian Jaramillo / WGLT

When all the votes to be counted Tuesday were in, Normal Mayor Chris Koos held a slim seven-vote lead over challenger Marc Tiritilli.

Staff / WGLT

McLean County voters head to the polls Tuesday, and for many it will be the first time at the ballot box since the election of Donald Trump.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

The U. S. Senate Judiciary Committee votes today to submit the name of Neil Gorsuch to the full Senate for confirmation as the next U. S. Supreme Court justice.

What happens next is anyone's guess, and the options play out like the scene from a political science fiction movie. Meghan Leonard, Professor of Politics and Government at Illinois State University, and a judicial politics scholar,  said during Sound Ideas the stage for all of this was set last year when the Republican-controlled Senate failed to call President Barack Obama's nominee Merrick Garland for a vote in an unprecedented move.


Home sales in Bloomington-Normal were strong during February, and the head of the realtors' association says there aren't enough homes on the market right now.


At least three confirmed cases of mumps have been reported in the past few days at Illinois State University, triggering outbreak status for the communicable disease at ISU.

Cristian Jaramillo / WGLT

In their last face-to-face meeting prior to next Tuesday's municipal election, the two candidates for mayor of Bloomington debated whether the community is in a recession.

Cristian Jaramillo / WGLT

Illinois Senator Dick Durbin greeted about 500 central Illinois residents at a town hall meeting in Bloomington Friday with the words, "There was good news from Washington today."

Durbin was referring to the failure of the U.S. House to pass a Republican-backed replacement for the Affordable Care Act.

Emma Shores / Staff

The second-ranking Democrat in the U.S. Senate will host a town hall in Bloomington on Friday and GLT will broadcast the event live. 

Assistant Minority Leader Dick Durbin will host the event 5:30 p.m. Friday, March 24, at Westbrook Auditorium in Presser Hall at Illinois Wesleyan University, at 1210 Park St. 

Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council

The 11th annual One Voice contingent of McLean County elected officials, business, social service and education leaders is preparing to head to Washington, D.C.

Cristian Jaramillo / WGLT

The future of cooperation between Bloomington and Normal was among the topics discussed Thursday at the WGLT-League of Women Voters Candidate Forum featuring hopefuls from Wards 3 and 9.

With the Bloomington city council agreeing to dissolve the Metro Zone agreement with Normal, and the resulting exchanges between the two mayors including the words "disingenuous" and "untrustworthy," how the two governing bodies move forward is a matter of concern for the community.

U.S. Rep. LaHood

The health care replacement bill developed by Republicans and working through House committees on Capitol Hill establishes a starting point for improvements to the U.S. health care system, according to Congressman Darin LaHood (R-18) of Dunlap.

In a GLT interview, LaHood said the process is "complicated and nuanced."

Cristian Jaramillio / WGLT

The West Bloomington Revitalization Project (WBRP) is acquiring new property and expanding its scope of services. The organization has announced it is purchasing the former Jesus House at 724 W. Washington Street and will consolidate its operations into the location, which will feature a bike co-op.

John Morgan / Flickr

This year, taxpayers have an additional three days to get income taxes sent in to the federal government.

April 15 falls on a Saturday, and this would usually move the filing deadline to the following Monday — April 17. However, Emancipation Day — a legal holiday in the District of Columbia — will be observed on that Monday, which pushes the nation’s filing deadline to Tuesday, April 18.