Bowling Green city commissioner takes teaching job at Western

Dave Shinall

The ties that bind Western and the city of Bowling Green got a little tighter this semester.

City Commissioner Alan W. Palmer accepted a full-time teaching position in the School of Journalism and Broadcasting.

The former WKCT afternoon talk show host teaches three public relations courses five days a week to about 90 students on Gordon Wilson Hall’s third floor.

The six-term commissioner has an extensive background in public relations and politics.

He garnered 7,459 votes in the Nov. 7, 2000 general election, more than any other commission candidate, making him mayor pro tem. He also won the non-partisan primary last May.

“I’ve always said, if you can’t sell yourself, how can you sell something else?” Palmer said. “And that’s what campaigning is all about, letting the public know what you stand for, what you believe in, and hoping that your philosophies mesh with theirs.”

Palmer said he emphasizes to his students that public relations will be part of any career they choose.

“In every business they go into, you will find some form or fashion of public relations,” Palmer said.

Palmer has lived in Bowling Green nearly all of his 51 years. He graduated from Western where he majored in mass communications and minored in government.

First elected in 1980 at age 28, Palmer was then the youngest to serve on Bowling Green’s four-member city commission. He held the job until 1991 when his wife Cathy gave birth to their son Christopher and the family moved outside the city limits.

They later moved back, and Palmer won a reelection bid two years ago.

“You can tell he knows a lot about what he’s doing and his field,” said Owensboro junior Emily Durbin, a student in Palmer’s Fundamentals of Public Relations class.

Jo-Ann Albers, director of the School of Journalism and Broadcasting, said having a politician and former talk-show host teach public relations should add depth to the program.

Palmer is one of four Western faculty members running for the city commission in the Nov. 5 general election.

Professors Brian Strow, Michael May and Kenneth Kuehn, also running for the commission, oppose the city building a 4,000-acre industrial park and airport on Bowling Green’s northeast corner.

Palmer supports the proposed Kentucky Trimodal Transpark.

Reach Dave Shinall at [email protected]