WKMS News Documentaries

(Photo courtesy of John Scopes, Jr.)

What makes a person voluntarily step into the middle of one of the most controversial and contentious issues of modern times? And what makes them voluntarily step back out?

Western Kentucky native John Thomas Scopes volunteered to be the defendant in a much-ballyhooed trial testing a law he opposed, a law banning the teaching of human evolution in Tennessee. He stood on principle in an intense spotlight... and when the trial was over, he stepped back out, determined to live his own life. But, history was not finished with him just yet.

The WKMS Newsroom recently received two national awards for the radio documentary Living on the Line: Poverty in Western Kentucky at the Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI) annual conference in Salt Lake City. Attending the conference as a Board Member of the organization, WKMS News Director Chad Lampe accepted the awards given to the WKMS Newsroom for reporting about people challenged by the economy in the WKMS listening area.

From the book William Kelly A True History of the So-Called Bessemer Process by John N. Boucher, Public Domain


The production explores the history and mystery of western Kentucky’s early 19th century iron industry and how one of the men behind it, William Kelly, developed the process of refining iron into steel that kickstarted America’s rise to industrial might.

However, there is much controversy surrounding Kelly’s invention and whether industrial espionage took it to Great Britain to begin the steel revolution there.

This documentary originally aired in 2011.

An hour-long WKMS News production about the Union and Confederate confrontations, battles and tribulations in the Four Rivers Region, featuring a full performance cast.

Listen to this documentary:


Austin Ramsey, WKMS

This documentary originally aired Sunday, September 1st, 2013.

In 2013 for the first time in over 50 years West Kentucky coal mines produced more than their eastern counterparts. Coal companies employ more than 4,000 people in 10 west Kentucky counties, and more than 90% of Kentucky’s power comes from this ancient mineral. But there is much more beyond these numbers. In the coming hour we explore West Kentucky Coal and its people, places and power in this WKMS News Documentary. 


In our first story, Chad Lampe and Austin Ramsey head 800 feet below western Kentucky, to Warrior Coal’s Cardinal Mine #2 to uncover what miners do and why they do it.

Then, Whitney Jones speaks with Mike Foster, a retired miner from Greenville, Kentucky, about a less-than-desirable legacy of his career in the coal mines: black lung.  And she discovers that if he could, Foster would go back in a heartbeat.

National Day of Listening Project – Stories of Perseverance

November 28 at Noon

Last year, WKMS set out to record stories from our region to air on the National Day of Listening. This year, we share stories of perseverance, of overcoming challenges you've faced: an illness, a military deployment, an injury, racism or sexism.


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.

From the collection of Todd Hatton

Irvin S. Cobb: Back Home is the latest entry in WKMS' award-winning series of documentaries that tell the stories of our Four Rivers region.  It originally aired March 30th, 2014, marking the 70th anniversary of the passing of one of western Kentucky's most famous native sons. 

His name, along with that of U.S. Vice President Alben W. Barkley, is ubiquitous throughout the region they both called home.  However, not many people today are aware of his remarkable career and his achievements in journalism, literature, the movies, and on radio. 

WKMS Documentary Wins National Journalism Award

Apr 16, 2014

The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) announced today that the WKMS News Documentary “Kentucky Dam – Power for the People” produced by Todd Hatton and Chad Lampe, is a recipient of a 2013 Sigma Delta Chi Award for excellence in journalism. 

Listen to the documentary, Kentucky Dam: Power For The People.

This documentary originally aired Sunday, June 2nd, 2013.

This documentary is a 2013 National Sigma Delta Chi Award Winner given by the Society of Professional Journalists.