2021 Hall of Fame Barbara Bailey Cowden

Barbara Bailey Cowden is a native of Harlan, Kentucky, and a Harlan High School Green Dragon and University of Kentucky graduate. Cowden started out as a performance piano major at UK, but a summer job changed her course, and she earned a Bachelor of General Studies degree in 1977. Her first job in journalism was as a staff reporter for her hometown newspaper, The Harlan Daily Enterprise. Under the guidance of then Enterprise editor, Ewell Balltrip, she discovered her passion for journalism. After her first byline in the newspaper, she knew that she had found her desired career path.

Cowden welcomes the opportunity to get back on campus when she can, speaking to journalism classes and meeting with students. Along the way, Cowden also taught journalism at UK and Asbury University.

She began working at WKYT in 1979, never realizing it would be a career of more than 40 years. She co-anchored the consistently No. 1 rated newscast with John Lindgren, Sam Dick and Bill Bryant. During her tenure at WKYT, Cowden worked as a reporter, anchor, producer and weather person in nearly every time slot. She worked early mornings, late nights, weekends and dayside.

Cowden has been active in the community with organizations including Big Brothers/Big Sisters of the Bluegrass and of America; the Center for Women, Children, and Families; the Junior League of Lexington; Kentucky Tomorrow; and the Lexington Chamber of Commerce. She has served on the boards of the Ronald McDonald House, the Alzheimer’s Association, the Kidney Foundation of Central Kentucky, the American Heart Association, and Chi Omega. She served on parent– teacher organizations at Christ the King School and Lexington Catholic High School during the years when her children attended those schools.

She was inducted into the Kentucky Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2019 and was honored as a distinguished alumna of the University of Kentucky School of Journalism in 2018. She was also inducted into the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame in the fall of 2020. Cowden is married to Roger Cowden. They have two children, Courtney Woomer and Clark Cowden, and two grandchildren, Callie and Caroline Woomer.

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