Willis Kern | WGLT

Willis Kern

Correspondent, Retired News Director

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.

Michael Hill / WGLT

Some officials at public universities in Illinois are at least floating the idea of taking legal action against the governor and the Illinois legislature over the absence of a state budget. During an appearance on GLT's Sound Ideas, Illinois State University President Larry Dietz said it's not likely that will happen, but admitted some educators are considering going to court.

Linda Healy/WGLT

Ray LaHood spent more than two decades in Congress and served another 4 1/2 years as President Barack Obama's first Secretary of Transportation. Next month, his book, “Seeking Bipartisanship: My Life in Politics” is being released.

He spoke in Normal Wednesday to the Illinois chapter of the American Planning Association state conference. But before that, he stopped by the GLT studios to discuss transit funding, politics and life after governmental service with WGLT's Willis Kern.

Staff / WGLT

The town of Normal could generate more than $6 million in additional revenue once the 1% sales tax increase goes into effect next year. A quarter of that is earmarked to community-wide mental health improvements. The remainder is up for grabs.

UAW local 2488 officials had hoped to have a contract agreement with Mitsubishi ready for rank and file members to approve Sunday. However, no deal has been reached and the current contract, already extended on a short-term basis was extended again. The latest extension will expire at 11:59 p.m. tonight.

Illinois State University

Time magazine named the many volunteers fighting last year's Ebola outbreak in western Africa their "Persons of the Year." One of the volunteers selected to literally be the "face" of this effort was Ella Stryker, a New Jersey native and public educator who began volunteering only last year with Doctors Without Borders.

Flickr user Gareth Simpson via Creative Commons

The NBC-TV affiliate in Peoria is being sold. Quincy Newspapers Incorporated has agreed to purchase WEEK-TV from Granite Broadcasting.

Federal Communications Commission approval of the deal requires ending a sales agreement between WEEK and ABC affiliate WHOI, and WAOE-My59. The stations will continue to share news staffs.

Quincy President and CEO Ralph Oakley says he looks forward to upgrading equipment and programming at the stations.

The sale is expected to close in about a month. The purchase price was not disclosed.

Illinois State University

One of the key figures in the fight to control last year's African ebola outbreak says it was unbelievably exhausting and difficult work. Ella Stryker, a volunteer for Doctors Without Borders is speaking about her experiences during an appearance at ISU.

City of Bloomington

The work of the City of Bloomington Task Force is complete. The panel designed to help aldermen come up with a workable plan to eliminate a $7 million structural deficit released its final report last week, the same day the city council approved by a wide margin a 1% increase in the sales tax rate. WGLT's Willis Kern talks with Mayor Tari Renner.

LendingMemo.com / Flickr via Creative Commons

Bloomington-Normal's unemployment rate declined last month compared to a year ago. The Illinois Department of Employment Security says the jobless rate dropped 1.2% to 4.5%.

That remains the lowest metro unemployment rate in the state. Peoria's rate went from 7 to 6%, but the area lost 2,600 jobs. Other areas seeing job losses last month were the Illinois side of the Quad Cities, Springfield, Kankakee, Decatur and East St. Louis.

Department Director Jeff Mays says that a portion of a decline in unemployment rates occurs when people drop out of the labor force.

Courtesy of Lendingmemo.com via CreativeCommons.org

Many equate putting money into the stock market with gambling. There are many similarities, especially when the market is as volatile as it's been lately. But there are even more similarities than you probably would have ever imagined. Willis Kern has more during Sound Money.

Courtesy 401kcalculator.org via CreativeCommons.org

Proven financial practices and solid economic data often take a backseat to gambling-type behavior when it comes to personal investing. During this edition of Sound Money, Willis Kern tries to find out if that kind of activity is ever the right way to approach financial matters.

Photo courtesy TaxRebate.org.uk via CreativeCommons.org

Most of us like to think we are sound financial stewards, basing our planning on solid economic data and proven practices, but that's not always the case. In this edition of Sound Money, Willis Kern explores the world of Behavioral Finance.

The McLean County Health Department is looking into cases of mumps in the area. Department Director Walt Howe says the ages of the sick people range from 19 years old down to less than a year.

Howe says they cannot yet label it an outbreak because investigators have not linked the cases. He also says workers will be looking at possible connections to the University of Illinois which has had more than 100 cases of mumps this year, the bulk of the reports in the state.

Social media is playing a big part in the campaign's effort to increase fundraising, volunteerism and overall commitment by 8%. WGLT's Willis Kern has more.

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