Chad Lampe

Angie Smith is in the middle, both literally and figuratively. She’s a single mom in the middle of raising two kids. She’s in the middle of updating and moving into a home built by her late grandfather. She’s in the middle of her life, at 42-years-old mostly marked with low income jobs starting at 18.

But that wasn’t her plan. Her childhood dream was to work aboard a ship for Greenpeace, protecting whales. She still wants to work in an environmental field.

Whitney Jones / WKMS

Joseph Lee Taylor grew up in a poor family. His father traveled as a truck driver and his mother had an injury when he was in high school that kept her from her job as a secretary.

Joseph worked to help support his family and take care of his mother, but doing so made it difficult to successfully finish college.


WKMS News presents a new documentary: Living on the Line: Poverty in Western Kentucky.

Living on the Line tells the story of three families, each making less than a living wage. They share stories of dealing with hardships, trying to move forward and staying optimistic in spite of their situations. Each family has hope for better days and works to get out of poverty.

Like it or not, television has the power to shape our perceptions of the world. So what do sitcoms, dramas and reality TV say about poor people?

In life and on TV, "poor" is relative. Take breakfast: For Honey Boo Boo's family, it's microwaved sausage and pancake sandwiches; for children in The Wire's Baltimore ghetto, it's a juice box and a bag of chips before school; and on Good Times, set in the Chicago projects back in the 1970s, it was a healthier choice: oatmeal.

Dr. Bob Long is the Murray State University Distinguished Professor of Nonprofit Leadership and a Senior Fellow at Arizona State University's Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation, where he has launched a new graduate course called "Strategic Philanthropy: Learning by Giving." This new program is sponsored by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, which is focused on addressing hunger, conflict and poverty. He speaks with Kate Lochte on Sounds Good about the initiative and its origins.

Fifty years ago today, President Lyndon Johnson stood before Congress and declared an "unconditional war on poverty in America." His arsenal included new programs: Medicaid, Medicare, Head Start, food stamps, more spending on education, and tax cuts to help create jobs.

Agriculture Commissioner James Comer is challenging leaders in eastern Kentucky to accept the decline of coal production and invest in a new economy to help pull the region out of poverty.

"A lot of leaders in Eastern Kentucky keep talking about ‘coal is the answer and there is a war on coal.’ I’m a friend of coal. I support the coal industry. But the coal industry’s future doesn't look bright and we have to look beyond that and learn to develop a new economy in Eastern Kentucky," he says.


The number of African Americans living below the poverty line in Kentucky increased in 2012, while the rest of the state’s poverty data showed little or no change. That’s according to the American Community Survey the U.S. Census Bureau released today. 

More than a third of African Americans were living in poverty in 2012, up three percentage points from the previous year.


A new report by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy shows a big gap between Kentucky’s income levels on who pays taxes. The report says Kentucky’s top 1 percent income bracket pays roughly 5 percent of the state’s income, while the bottom 20 percent pays 9 percent.

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A group of concerned residents of Marshall County have joined together to provide medical services for people in need in the county. And they want to provide those services for free. The Marshall County Free Clinic’s mission is to provide professional medical care for people who otherwise couldn’t afford it.